Research Highlight

Tracking bird flu

Subhra Priyadarshini

doi:10.1038/nindia.2008.248 Published online 28 July 2008

Mathematicians can now predict the probable transmission route of the bird flu virus H5N1 from a particular place of outbreak. Indian researchers, watching the virus closely, have designed a statistical transmission model for the bird flu virus1.

The model takes into account factors that affect the epidemic transmission such as source of infection and various social and natural factors. It also suggest various control measures to contain the virus.

Avian influenza primarily affects chickens and wild water birds. On rare occasions, it infects other species including pigs and humans. Lethal strains of bird flu have spread across the globe mainly in South East Asia, parts of Central Asia, Africa and Europe.

The researchers investigated patterns of spread of the epidemic during one week in February, 2006 when the virus surfaced in India.

"Our aim was to study the spread of avian influenza, both in time and space, to gain a better understanding of the transmission mechanism," says one of the researchers V. Sree Hari Rao. The model yields satisfactory results seen in the simulations and may be used for the prediction of future situations of epidemic for longer periods, he says.

The authors of this work are from: Department of Applied Mathematics, Indian School of Mines University, Dhanbad, Jharkhand, India and Department of Mathematics, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, India.


  1. Upadhyay, R. K. et al. Modeling the spread of bird flu and predicting outbreak diversity. Nonlinear Anal—Real 9, 1638-1648 (2008) | Article |