Millions of chickens and other poultry were killed in the last 12 months in an attempt to stop the spread of avian, or bird, flu - but scientists have this week discovered that the virus has nothing to do with the animals at all. Despite its name, avian flu doesn't affect birds, and the creatures aren't responsible for the H1N1 virus responsible for the epidemic. Birds were also blamed for spreading the flu pandemic that killed 20 million people in 1918, but, again, they weren't responsible, as scientists have finally revealed. Researchers from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency made the discovery by carrying out a simple experiment - they injected the 2009 and 1918 H1N1 'bird flu' strains into a group of chickens. Even nearly three weeks later, none showed any flu symptoms or any tissue damage, although half the chicken developed antibodies to the virus. (Source: Journal of General Virology, 2010; 91: 339-42).