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Using RFID tags to track bird flu

RFID is spreading its wings in the pursuit of tracking a deadly threat.

Smart-tek, a company based in British Columbia, has successfully completed a test by using RFID tags to track birds in China, with an aim toward following the spread of bird flu. It is certainly a novel concept, and Smart-tek officials think that they have convinced the more than 50 government and industry experts who attended the recent demonstration.

The system has a rather long name – RFID Tracking Alert Containment and Poultry Monitoring, otherwise known as RTAC-PM. Birds are tagged and then monitored, with user-defined alerts.

If this kind of system does its job, it could help prevent what many health officials fear could become a pandemic. China has more than 13 billion chickens, the main spreaders of avian flu so far. Since 2003, 184 people have been infected and 103 have died from bird flu, mainly through contact with infected bird carcasses.

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