With Times of London just publishing some nonsense re wild birds and H5N1, it's perhaps time to post re some of the chief poop the media has published on the topic. Time Asia made impressive bid for most stupid prose, in January 2004, with supposed possibility that
Since huge amounts of virus are shed in bird feces, such an epidemic among migratory birds would mean death raining down from the sky in the form of H5N1 virus.
Appears in On">http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,501040126-579024,00.htm... High Alert, in which the writer notes that:
In November and December of 2002, there were numerous migratory-waterfowl deaths due to H5N1 in Hong Kong's Penfold and Kowloon parks. Mysteriously, when further screenings of migratory birds were conducted immediately after, no H5N1 was detected.
- without doing bit of thinking and concluding that maybe wild birds weren't responsible. Duh!
Thanks to Charliesbirdblog - on bird flu for noting re this quote, from an article by Nicholas Zamiska in the Wall Street Journal on August 8th 2005:
The worst-case scenario is that these birds -- which can travel thousands of miles, from Scandinavia to Senegal, for instance -- will become the epidemiologic equivalent of intercontinental ballistic missiles, capable of eluding even the strictest quarantine measures on the ground.
article is online at Ornithology meets epidemiology - and to be fair, next paragraph does say:
Still, other experts question how central a role migratory birds play in the global spread of disease, and some worry that rare species may be slaughtered unnecessarily. They point to the ground transport of domestic poultry as the most likely means of spreading the virus.
but my oh my: intercontinental ballistic missiles!!!
Staying with military parallels, Helen Branswell weighed in with a fine contribution:
The vast new geographical expansion of the dangerous H5N1 virus has avian influenza experts worried a bird version of the Stealth Bomber may be at play.
Nature - yes, the hugely respected scientific journal - not too hot when did two news items on 27 October, one focusing on likelihood of H5N1 being carried by birds migrating to Africa (hahaha), and other on some research into migrants and flu spread. Did say:
after recent outbreaks of the H5N1 strain in wild birds in Romania, Turkey and Greece, experts have little doubt that it was carried by birds migrating from Siberia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia, where H5N1 outbreaks occurred earlier in the year.
- without noting are others who doubt this, and evidence for Turkey is especially flimsy [plus, turned out it wasn't bird flu in Greece] But worst of all I think, the lead photo - captioned "Migratory birds could expand the geographical spread of the avian flu virus as far as Africa this year." - shows snow geese (an American species)! :woohoo: The Times (of London) just adding to the pile of poop - which is way bigger than I indicate here, with two contributions in one day.
Many millions of migratory birds and wildfowl carry the disease, and some species of duck are able to carry the virus without showing symptoms.
Everything you need to know about bird flu
There's no evidence whatsoever to substantiate this, re H5N1. Then, article notes:
Birds pass on the virus through their droppings, feathers, saliva and breath
- through their saliva and breath, eh? Ever seen ducks or other wild birds French kissing, or sneezing? Or swapping feathers? Bah! also a scary hype piece, by book author and the Observer's medical editor Jo Revill:
First, there is a risk that H5N1 will arrive here in birds soon, because all kinds of waterfowl migrate from the east into the UK over the winter months.
So, dear Jo, do these birds actually carry H5N1? No is the answer, so be a good girl, and put on the dunce's hat to join the other writers here.
This is from her new book, Bird flu: it's on its way]. Well, perhaps Jo should also read thread here re evolutionary biology. Because if natural selection still works h5n1 is indeed a scary prospect - if you're a chicken that is. Otherwise, seems where there's hysteria there's money, for some.