Bird flu becoming more serious, more intriguing (!).
Though Qinghai wild bird deaths have reportedly slowed, there's speculation that once these birds migrate south, they'll carry h5n1. Also, some folk fingering migratory birds as source of the outbreak there, though doesn't seem too likely based on the evidence (partly as no such die-offs reported on migration routes to the south).
Authors of a recent paper in Nature found the virus in Qinghai is v similar to that from poultry farms in south China, collected this year; suggest the outbreak may result from one introduction from poultry. One of the authors of this paper just accused of leaking state secrets. Before this, came accusation that the team did not travel to Qinghai to collect samples, and their research lacked credibility. (Team was much as one that helped identify cause of SARS.)
Some rebuttals for arguments that wild birds have been spreading the nasty h5n1 variant(s) are at: http://wildlifedisease.blogspot.com[/url]
A paper appeared at the same time in Science, by mainland researchers (officially sanctioned). Includes sentence saying Qinghai breeding birds migrate as far as Australia and New Zealand.
The wildlife disease blogspot cites reports from Philippines that authorities there have contingency plan for flu killing wild birds: "the DA and the DOH will isolate a particular spot where there is a daily death of three percent of the bird population. He said two agencies would isolate the area within a three-kilometer radius quarantine area.
The agriculture secretary added that if findings become positive, the area will be stretched to a seven-kilometer radius and all the birds stamped out." - reported in online version of a Philippines newspaper.
Just heard on HK radio: researchers have found the virus from Qinghai more deadly than previous (h5n1 variants), killing chickens in 20 hours, mice in three days.