Senior author Daniel Janies, associate professor of biomedical informatics at Ohio State University, said the resulting visualizations, based on results of the data analysis, represent the most comprehensive map to date of how avian flu has been transmitted among sites in Asia, Africa and Europe.
"We are taking into account more data but at the same time, we're making simpler visualizations, allowing users to choose what they want to see," Janies said in a statement.
"We've created an environment where people can avail themselves of flu information specific to their region of the world or their area of interest. We waded through all of the complexities so people in the public health realm who want to determine how a flu virus got from point A to point B can find that out, and we'll have better public health outcomes as a result."
Janies and colleagues said the method, combined with the increasing availability of sequenced genomes of isolated flu strains, is expected to help public health officials make more knowledgeable predictions about how the H1N1 flu pandemic will evolve.
The visualizations and application are available at: http://routemap.osu.edu.
The research appears online in the journal Cladistics.