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A consortium of veterinary virologists says it will make samples of the H5N1 bird flu virus available to researchers worldwide to process for genetic information that could help monitor the spread of the virus.

Ilaria Capua and colleagues from the scientific committee of OFFLU (the World Organization of Animal Health/UN Food and Agriculture Organization Network of Expertise on Avian Influenza) say they will do this in collaboration with the US National Institutes of Health.

The FLU-ID project — an OFFLU initiative — will make samples of H5N1 from several countries available. The full genetic sequences will then be available in a public database known as GenBank.

This kind of information, say the virologists, is of great value to researchers trying to tackle the spread of avian influenza.

In their letter to Science, they invite other veterinary researchers to join their initiative.

Link to full letter in Science

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