Mammals might play role in avian influenza outbreaks, study suggests

A government wildlife researcher has found that rabbits and skunks can become infected with the bird flu virus and shed it enough to infect ducks — offering scientists one more clue about how bird flu may move in the environment and spread between farms, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Experiments done last year demonstrated that striped skunks and cottontail rabbits in a laboratory transmitted a strain of bird flu to mallard ducks after they shared food and water sources, National Wildlife Research Center biologist Jeff Root said in a statement.