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Health

New Study Says Bird Flu Spread By Wind, Humans, Fowl

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PEGGY LOWE/HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA
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As a massive outbreak of bird flu stretches across the Midwest, scientists are still working to get a handle on how the virus spreads. But as Harvest Public Media’s Peggy Lowe reports, it remains a mystery for now.

Up to this point, officials had blamed the introduction and spread of the H5N2 virus on migratory birds.

Now a new government study, released Monday, points to several culprits, including workers spreading the virus from farm to farm and even the possibility that the virus was airborne.

T.J. Myers, a deputy administrator for vet services with the USDA, says scientists thought the bird flu virus could be carried in the wind for just a few hundred feet. The report found the virus could be airborne for about a half mile.

“If we are seeing spread from farm-to-farm that’s further apart than that, this would be something that we haven’t seen before, at least over those distances,” Myers says.

Scientists say the risk of bird flu spreading to humans is very low and hasn’t happened during this outbreak. It has killed 47 million birds so far.