Ducks, like most wild avian species are hosts to a pool of influenza A viruses. Even though scientists have a growing number of avian influenza virus (AIV) genome sequences, their understanding of the genetic structure and transmission in waterfowl in North America is still limited. The Atlantic flyway, located on the eastern shore of the United States, is lacking on knowledge about AIV. To further their knowledge, scientists analyzed 109 AIV genome sequences from waterfowl from the Atlantic flyway to determine their genetic structure, observe gene flow compared to other birds in various locations along the flyway.. The experiment included 25 AIVs from ducks gathered in Newfoundland, Canada, and 84 duck AIVs dispersed throughout Atlantic flyway. High amounts of diversity of viral genes and genomes were identified in the 109 samples tested. Transmission between continents were very small, roughly 2%, while the rate of transmission between North American flyways is much more abundant, roughly 75% of the genes could be linked to genes found in the other three North American flyways, namely the Mississippi, Central, and Pacific flyways.
The take home message of this article is that AIV, like most avian viruses, are spread through close contact and proximity. It is expected that most of the genes and genomes would be similar or linked in a specific flyway since most ducks migrate within species and stay in relatively close proximity as they travel up and down the flyway. The reason the rate between contents are so low is because the only time the two birds are in contact during mating, this only happens in some species, or if a flock is blown off course by a strong trade wind.