Title: Evolutionary ecology of avian influenza viruses in Australia, and how this may inform our preparation for HPAI

Speaker:  Dr Michelle Wille, University of Melbourne


Abstract:  Low pathogenicity avian influenza viruses have co-evolved with wild waterbirds, which include the order Anseriformes (ducks, geese, swans) and Charadriiformes (shorebirds, gulls, terns). These viruses are found in birds globally, including Australia, and cause no clinical disease signs. This is in contrast to high pathogenicity avian influenza, which in the last 2 years has caused >10,000 outbreaks and resulted in the death or destruction of hundreds of millions in poultry, wild birds and mammals. Herein I will discuss the evolutionary ecology of low pathogenicity avian influenza in Australia, and how this may inform our preparation and surveillance approaches for high pathogenicity avian influenza when it should arrive. Furthermore, I will outline the results of ongoing surveillance of arriving migratory birds and results of recent viral incursions into Australia. We are currently in the highest risk period for an incursion of high pathogenicity avian influenza, coinciding with the arrival of millions of migratory birds from Asia, and continued improvements to biosecurity, enhanced surveillance, and other preparation activities should continue to be of high priority.


Biography:  Dr. Michelle Wille is a senior research fellow at the Centre for Pathogen Genomics at the University of Melbourne. Her interests centre around viruses of wild birds. She has been working on avian influenza since 2008, and has worked in North America, Europe and Australia. Her recent work has revealed both the ecology and evolution of these viruses in Australia, and she is involved in activities pertaining to preparation for the potential emergence of HPAI to Australia. She has also worked extensively on the virus communities in wild birds, describing not only a wide variety of viruses in healthy birds, but also interrogating factors that may influence these communities.


About School research seminars

Seminars cover all aspects of chemistry and molecular biosciences and are delivered by visiting national and international academics. PhD completion seminars are also incorporated into the program.

Seminars are usually held in person and via zoom. All are welcome to attend.  



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