Henry Niman wild goose chase for flu in russia

Another email from Nial Moores, re bird flu map (for nw China and nearby Russia) and quirky associated commentary at:

http://www.recombinomics.com/H5N1_Map_2005_Tomsk.html[/url]

The commentary that comes with this Wendy contains yet more bizarre observations. Not only are the Bar-headed Geese said to be moving north after breeding (something which seems extraordinary, even more so as it takes them into areas where they have never been found before), but then they are also apparently moving both west and east from the source of outbreak ALONG the border ("Similarly, the western migration along the southern border of Russia and the northern border of Kazakhstan, signals H5N1 movement toward Europe in the fall, and points south in the winter.."). For them to follow the border, presumably these birds have migration routes that take them through selected passport check points before they can go south again? Additionally, the same Bar-headed Geese presumably, are now (it is suggested) going to continue their migration to Europe --- where incidentally they have never been recorded (apart from in bird collections and as an eg feral introduced population in Sweden). It feels increasingly like the dam that usually holds human sense in place is leaking like a sieve... Best wishes, Nial Birds Korea Note: forwarded message attached.

Nial Moores Birds Korea: The national and international network dedicated to the conservation of birds and their habitats.

http://www.birdskorea.org[/url]

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Ah yes, Niman seems to have stopped bothering about petty things such as facts.

His commentary includes:
[quote]Since many birds that nest or rest at Qinghai Lake go on to summer at Chany Lake. It is very likely that the sequences of H5N1 from both places is similar.[/quote]

- well, it would be bizarre for birds that breed at Qinghai (during their spring/summer) would then move a good way north for summer.
Evidence here of Niman wanting things both ways - I've seen another post from last month, in which he said there was already snow in Qinghai, and birds already moving south from there.

"It is very likely..." - again, we don't really need facts when there's a story to tell.

And, it is indeed likely I think; but that could be because it's a similar virus that's being spread in poultry. (Which I figure could be transported in whichever direction - especially along highways, as the outbreaks perhaps follow.)

Sad thing is, Googling for "chany lake qinghai geese" in case there does happen to be a source for Niman's bizarre assertion about goose movements between the two lakes, I found no such info, but 34 results, most of them quoting Niman.
One of the sites with the info is freerepublic.com - "the premier online gathering place for independent, grass-roots conservatism on the web." I figure this is for people who are a darn sight scarier than any geese.

Post edited by: martin, at: 2005/08/13 06:09

Another email in from Nial Moores

He's replying to this request, from two epidemiologists at British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

[quote]It looks like AI appeared:
- in Quinghai province (China) in mid-April to mid-May 2005
- in neighbouring Xinjiang province (China) in mid-May to mid-June
2005
- in southwestern Siberia in mid-July (18 Jul 2005 1st reported onset)
- in Kazakhstan in mid-July (22 Jul 2005 1st reported onset).

Looking at a map of the region, it is telling that these areas are in
a rather direct north-west line from each other. Moreover, Qinghai province is also in line with Thailand and Northern Vietnam.

Is it possible that a particular species of migratory bird travels
this north-west route in the spring/summer and could be spreading the virus? We would be interested to know if there are (local?) experts with knowledge about specific Asian avian migratory routes who might be able to help pinpoint one or more avian species that could be spreading the virus. This would be interesting to know and would contribute to our understanding -- and perhaps to our ability to control -- these avian influenza outbreaks.[/quote]

[quote]-- As well as detailing my own opinion below (based on 15 years work on bird conservation and research in Far East Asia and as director of Birds Korea), I am also forwarding this question and mail to both Dr. Taej Mundkur of Wetlands International (one of the most published and respected waterbird specialists in Asia) and Dr. Martin Williams in Hong Kong, an ornithologist who is the leading (english-speaking) figure for raising awareness of poultry flu outbreaks in this region. [!! - Martin]

You ask: Is there a species that basically just keeps migrating north west ward during the sping and summer.

This question to me seems to have three elements:
(1) Does the timing of outbreaks really seem to follow a Northwest line?
Well, looking at the map (if accurate) at http://www.recombinomics.com/H5N1_Map_2005_Tomsk.html the pattern seems rather more erratic than that to me.

(2) Do any species migrate that way (either north-west through the spring or summer or erratically through the spring and summer)?
In short, no.

(3) Do individuals of any species migrate between all affected areas, with presence coinciding with outbreaks?
None, as far as I know.

By way of longer explanation, this kind of migration pattern would be an extremely odd and wasteful behavior for any species.

Generally, as in North America as in Asia, most bird species that breed in the northern hemisphere do so in months between March and August/September. The further north they nest, the later the migrants will arrive on the breeding territory, which will still be occupied for a number of weeks or months. In the far north, most summer visitors will lay eggs and fledge young in May-June-first half of July, for example.

In some cases, such as in some shorebird species (peeps, curlews, plovers etc), failed breeders, after migrating all the way to northern breeding areas (getting there in late May), will then start soon to migrate south again, with increasing numbers of such adults arriving back at key staging areas (often coastal) as early as mid to late July (eg as far south as Korea).

In a few other species, individuals will not complete their northward migration in spring and will therefore not go as far as the full adults, summering at a site well south of their breeding grounds.

For the majority of all species, they simply (and logically) occupy breeding areas for several weeks/ months (between e.g May and July), after which many species undertake some form of moult before southward migration. In the case of many ducks and geese species, most individuals are effectively flightless or have restricted powers of flight in mid-summer. All parts of this biological cycle are fairly regular and predictable, evolved to meet given environmental conditions.

Of especial interest in this regard is the Bar-headed Goose, presented by some "authorities" as a likely vector.

Please note, beyond not migrating as far north as Novosibirisk, the following expert account on Bar-headed Goose:

"Spring migration starts in March in India and Pakistan; arrives at Kok Nor Mar-Apr; and northern Gobi and Pamir mid-May."

Egg-laying in "early to mid-may in Tianshan; incubation 27-30 days...breeding pairs with goslings start wing moult 24-28 days after young hatch; both adults lose all primaries and secondaries within 24 hr. Able to fly 32-25 days later with young; by then, primaries 80% of normal length, and within 40-45 days, wings fully grown"

"Autumn migration starts in northern breeding areas in late Aug, in Pamir end Sept".

(Wurdinger I.,, 2005: in J. Kear (editor), Ducks, Geese and Swans. Bird Families of the World. Oxford University Press.)

This gives us approximate spring/summer dates thus:

Arrival at e.g. Qinghai in late April/early May
Egg-laying and incubation;
Early June-mid-June hatching of goslings;
Early July-late July wing moult of adults starts, when these geese are FLIGHTLESS until early August/mid-August, and capable of longer flights only by the end of August.
End of August capable of longer flights
"Autumn migration starts in northern breeding areas in late Aug, in Pamir end sept".

(Odd that some "authorities" are apparently suggesting that the geese during this flightless period have been flying north to Siberia and west to Kazakhstan!!!).

As to the third element of your question, looking at the distribution of outbreaks (since 1997 rather than just this year) and the distribution of species, I think probably the only species, species-group that might have occured in all of these areas when and where H5N 1 is implicated or likely to be implicated (from Indonesia to Japan, to Korea to China to Mongolia to Kazakhstan) would be: (1) "ducks"; (2) Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, and (3) "shorebirds" (peeps, curlews, plovers).

( I would very much welcome correction from Taej, Martin or others if appropriate.)

It is of course essential to put and KEEP the above paragraph in context.

1) As noted before, only one species of northern duck regularly migrates to Indonesia, albeit quite scarcely, the Garganey Anas querquedula. However, it does not occur in Korea or Japan in winter for example, and breeds north of the area where this summer's outbreaks have occurred. There is no duck species occurring in all areas - and certainly therefore no individuals fanning out missile like from some central Asian breeding ground (!).

2) As it is a very widespread species in Europe and Asia, likely only the Grey Heron would be found in northernmost, southermost, westernmost and easternmost sites where outbreaks have occurred in the past few years, but although a partial migrant I am not aware of any evidence (or even possibility) of a Grey Heron migrating the whole distance from e.g Indonesia north to Russia. Seems extremely unlikely.

This would appear to be very wasteful behavior for such a large species and not supported as far as I am aware by any banding recoveries.(correct Taej?)

I am not sure of the exact status of Grey Heron in more tropical areas, but I would imagine largely resident, with populations in some areas supplemented by northern breeders wintering southward. I do not believe any have been found infected? And of course, if this was a significant vector species, surely it would have already infected birds in many other countries to which it migrates (eg in South Asia) where the disease has yet to be detected.

3) Shorebirds/peeps etc are a very large family; with many species; and many different migration strategies.

Firstly, NO shorebirds, individuals or species, would be moving around nomad-like to each site spreading disease.

However, there are so many species, in some their migrations are so lengthy, and as they are found in every country of the region during migration or as non-breeders, it is possible that some individuals of one or other species could perhaps have been in the same area at the same time as each outbreak.

Several of these shorebird species migrate the length of the Flyway to Alaska and down to Indonesia and to Australia and New Zealand, to many areas where there have been outbreaks, and even more where there have been none. Some of these shorebird species are generally considered (on the basis of extensive published research) to be among the most adapted of bird species in terms of energetics. This is believed to make them among the most susceptible to disease. It has been suggested that one adaptation to this susceptibility is that many such species of shorebird nest in the Far North or in mountains (NB: a general belief simply put is that such species have low resistance to disease, and this kind of Arctic environment is less conducive to disease outbreaks than the tropics and lowlands). Although generally susceptible to disease, no shorebirds have yet been found that are infected that I am aware of.

In summary to parts 2 and 3 of your question:

1) In NO case that I know of does a species arrive in the Northern Hemisphere at a breeding area, then during the breeding season disperse both west, north and east of there.
2) No species will likely have been present at the sites of all outbreaks; even no species group can be obviously associated (certainly not geese that do not migrate to Indonesia, are rare in Viet nam and northern Thailand; not wild ducks; not gulls). In no case, therefore can a single wild species be obviously implicated, linking the sites together.
3) The spread and timing of the disease really does not match the behaviour and movement of wild migrant birds (not only this summer, but also in previous outbreaks).

I have not yet heard whether there were domestic ducks at all of these recent outbreak sites? Or poultry? Or whether the route of spread better matches highway and human transport systems? I wonder too if the same vectors are likely even responsible in each outbreak?

For the record, I have little knowledge of disease, with no medical background, so I would be reluctant to dismiss wild birds involvement in the spread of the disease. It is of course possible that some species might have been involved as vectors in one or more of these outbreaks (in the case of Qinghai, timing of outbreak for example could coincide with arrivals of wild ducks coming from SE China, where also many domestic ducks are kept in natural wetlands; if infected in SE China but still capable of migration and shedding the virus -- itself possible?- they would then mix with Bar-headed Geese and Great Black-headed Gull arriving from the southwest. Not only are thery both species arriving from areas where they would likely have no resistance to the disease (S Asia), but they are also both species that nest at Qinghai in colonies). However, I believe from what I have read that there is no proof yet that wild birds are vectors, despite very many claims. And even if the viral strain is the same at several of these sites, common sense dictates that the virus likely did not arrive at each site in an identical manner (unless through human influence).

In contrast, some outbreaks have been confined to poultry houses and in areas with few wild waterbirds. It seems extremely obvious, therefore, that the MAJOR cause of spread has been and very likely will continue to be poultry (here including domestic ducks): not only are they far more abundant overall than wild waterbirds, they are maintained in an environment where disease is easiest to spread and evolve; they are the only bird species found in probably each and every area; and the only species known to move throughout the region, but not freely into neighboring regions (such as Europe and North America).

It is clear therefore that two major steps do need to be taken urgently to reduce the danger of the spread of this disease:
1) much greater regulation and restrictions on poultry industry and transport; and
2) much greater controls put in place to keep domestic ducks, geese and chickens away from areas where wild waterbirds occur - so that such species do not fall victim to outbreaks.

With very best wishes,

Nial Moores
Director, Birds Korea[/quote]

I replied to Nial (and others cc'd to), adding: [quote]Hi Nial: Thanks again for another strong email. Couple of points: In Hong Kong (sub-tropical), one or two Grey Herons found dead with H5N1. One was around mid-winter as I recall - not a time when herons migrating into HK. So, surely hadn't flown far to HK with the virus (as surely wouldn't harbour virus for weeks, then suddenly sicken and die). My guess - it scavenged a chicken tossed out by farmer, maybe in HK, quite possibly just across the border. (Remember, there's secrecy re h5n1 in mainland.) A few other wild birds found with h5n1 in HK - inc little egret, black-headed gull. None fitting them migrating to HK bringing the virus (eg egrets mostly resident, the gull during mid-winter).
All had one thing in common: all dead. And, no sign of infection spreading - even though occurrences at same time as tens of thousands of waterbirds wintering in HK. [As in Thailand, where infection among storks didn't spread, seems it's not so easy for infected birds to spread h5n1 even locally, let alone over distance.] I'm not at all sure ducks from se China would migrate to Qinghai; think they'd instead head north, to ne China and east Russia. Henry Niman is suggesting the Qinghai infection came from birds wintering in India - even tho no h5n1 reported in India, and no indications of wild bird deaths there or elsewhere on migration routes to Qinghai. For Aleina Tweed and Eleni Galanis: I've done pages on bird flu that may interest you: Debunking wild birds as vectors for 2003/2004: http://www.drmartinwilliams.com/birdflu/birdfluintro.html Info and links: http://www.drmartinwilliams.com/birdflu/birdfluinfo.html Also started a forum re wild birds and bird flu (posts welcome):
I'm attaching a map I did for 2003/2004 outbreaks, when superficial look suggested they lay along migration routes; look at timings of outbreaks and bird movements, and species involved, and becomes clear wild birds weren't involved. [here, too, outbreaks going "backwards" along migration routes. As Nial indicates, birds pretty much stay put [especially if flightless!!!] or move south after around end of June; unlike bird flu reports.] It would also be interesting to see maps of highways and poultry farms, and how these fit with outbreaks! Best regards, Martin[/quote]

I emailed reply to Nial (and others on the email distribution list): [quote]Hi Nial: Thanks again for another strong email. Couple of points: In Hong Kong (sub-tropical), one or two Grey Herons found dead with H5N1. One was around mid-winter as I recall - not a time when herons migrating into HK. So, surely hadn't flown far to HK with the virus (as surely wouldn't harbour virus for weeks, then suddenly sicken and die). My guess - it scavenged a chicken tossed out by farmer, maybe in HK, quite possibly just across the border. (Remember, there's secrecy re h5n1 in mainland.) A few other wild birds found with h5n1 in HK - inc little egret, black-headed gull. None fitting them migrating to HK bringing the virus (eg egrets mostly resident, the gull during mid-winter).
All had one thing in common: all dead. And, no sign of infection spreading - even though occurrences at same time as tens of thousands of waterbirds wintering in HK. [As in Thailand, where infection among storks didn't spread, seems it's not so easy for infected birds to spread h5n1 even locally, let alone over distance.] I'm not at all sure ducks from se China would migrate to Qinghai; think they'd instead head north, to ne China and east Russia. Henry Niman is suggesting the Qinghai infection came from birds wintering in India - even tho no h5n1 reported in India, and no indications of wild bird deaths there or elsewhere on migration routes to Qinghai. For Aleina Tweed and Eleni Galanis: I've done pages on bird flu that may interest you: Debunking wild birds as vectors for 2003/2004: http://www.drmartinwilliams.com/birdflu/birdfluintro.html Info and links: http://www.drmartinwilliams.com/birdflu/birdfluinfo.html Also started a forum re wild birds and bird flu (posts welcome): 
I'm attaching a map I did for 2003/2004 outbreaks, when superficial look suggested they lay along migration routes; look at timings of outbreaks and bird movements, and species involved, and becomes clear wild birds weren't involved. [here, too, outbreaks going "backwards" along migration routes. As Nial indicates, birds pretty much stay put [especially if flightless!!!] or move south after around end of June; unlike bird flu reports.] It would also be interesting to see maps of highways and poultry farms, and how these fit with outbreaks! Best regards, Martin[/quote]

Bit more reading via Google, and another comment from me:

Just come across a page by Henry Niman where he forecast bird flu from Qinghai in July "will soon arrive in areas to the east, south, and west, of the summer location."
http://www.recombinomics.com/News/07280502/H5N1_Qinghai_Evolution.html

Yet when it spread to the north instead, he wasn't fazed - just said bar-headed geese move north from Qinghai to a lake in Russia.
And never mind, apparently, this happens at a time they're flightless. (Presumably, Niman figures they walk pretty fast.)

From a New Scientist piece: [quote]Craig Pringle, viral diseases moderator for ProMed Mail cautions that although the virus has been found in migratory birds, it is a leap to assume they can spread it to domestic poultry. He told New Scientist that it is possible the virus could have reached Russia and Kazakhstan through general trade routes.[/quote]

Here's a response I made to post on Agonist, asking why I assert poultry industry is clearly main vector for h5n1 bird flu: Timings help. For 2003/04, say, the outbreaks did not fit migratory bird routes, timings (and species travelling). Nor were there outbreaks noted among migratory birds indicating that any were carrying h5n1 around; some cases of birds getting it and becoming sick or dying. Extensive testing, inc in Hong Kong (a major place along flyways here) didn't find in healthy wild birds. So, if not migratory birds, what else? Only poultry industry seems left. Inc in China, where vaccinations maybe (maybe, I'm not gonna start slam dunking closed cases around) helped create a silent epidemic
seems the h5n1 variant has been around since at least 1996. Outbreaks do fit with notion of h5n1 being carried around in poultry industry - birds mingling in markets and so on; in Thailand, some links to trade in fighting cocks. To me, too, fit pretty well with peat fire-like spread: the silent epidemic in vaccinated birds, flaring up when to regions without vaccines (Thailand, Indonesia etc in 2003/04, Xinjiang, Russia, Mongolia recently [for latter, yes, maybe wild birds, but those timings again looking odd - how about trade routes though? Pattern also sits fairly well with highways; FAO has suggested can be a change in transmission, from original flyways, to highways and byways.
Again, why no maps of highways and byways here? There is too little info; China secrecey not helping. (note re Nature paper, saying virus at Qinghai similar to poultry in se China, and maybe came from a single introduction from poultry. Branded a leak of secrets - not something I'd expect if the authors were really wide of the mark.) Poultry trade as vector looks better to me than flightless geese moving north at wrong time, or whatever. (Come on, Doc Niman, those shearwaters [Niman suggested Great Shearwaters might be vectors for bird flu; had been die-off reported, after ocean currents led to less food, but no hint of flu involved] - what next, little green men spreading it around the universe?!)

Just reading some info on Niman's site

Includes:
"The Qinghai isolates were also virulent in chickens. Experimentally infected chickens dies within 20 hours." [not so good, then, for wild birds to get infected, then fly a long way in the wrong directions, especially if they happen to be flightless from moulting]

Niman on his certainties re migratory birds spreading the virus:
http://www.recombinomics.com/News/08120501/H5N1_Migration_Monitoring.html
[no info on species involved, nor info on migration routes and timings, no explanation of why virus first spread northwest during/late in the breeding season, no real ideas re just how if it's moving in wild birds only the virus can get into so many farms so quickly ... Bah!]

He concludes this page by saying:
"However, the mounting dead bodies on the ground, should easily define the migratory routes, which will likely cover most of Asia, Europe, and beyond."
- well, we'll see.
As yet, we are not seeing spread along migration routes - not following timings of migrations, anyway.
Whether a pattern will emerge of outbreaks that actually do follow known info on bird movements, we'll have to wait and see. As for me, I'm sceptical; but expect that will see more outbreaks following other routes - known as roads.

email in re two commentaries by Henry Niman on Recombinomics site

Extracts of commentaries:

[quote]H5N1 Wild Bird Flu Spreads to Kursk in Western Russia?

Recombinomics Commentary
August 17, 2005

According to the Ministry's report for today makes about 11,300 poultry
heads dead of the bird flu in Russia. Now the Ministry has received
confirmation of the epidemic in Kursk Oblast.

The above comments indicate the H5N1 wild bird flu has moved to the
western edge of Russia (see map). However, the major jump has not been widely reported. If true it seems that H5N1 will spread throughout
Europe this fall. Some had speculated that the migration this fall
would only affect more southern regions of Europe such as the Caspian
and Black Seas, as well as the Mediterranean.

However, H5N1 has been reported in many species and several migratory
paths overlap in Europe, so if some or most inflected flocks can
transport and transmit H5N1, the widespread infections would be
expected.

The path from Qinghai Lake to Xinjiang Province, to Chany Lake to the
Ural Mountains demonstrates that migratory birds can easily and quickly
transport and transmit H5N1 over long distance, raising the distinct
possibility that soon H5N1 will be distributed worldwide.

http://www.recombinomics.com/News/08160501/H5N1_Talapker.html [/quote]

[quote]H5N1 Wild Bird Flu in Talapker Kazakhstan Targets Mediterranean

Recombinomics Commentary
August 16, 2005

"In the village of Talapker, the North Kazakhstan Region, over one
hundred geese, hens and ducks died on August 8-15. Laboratory tests
identified avian influenza," the territorial department of Kazakhstan's
Ministry of Agriculture told Itar-Tass. [/quote]

both had wrong info, according to WWF Russia:

[quote]
The Ministry (Agriculture) has no information about bird flu in Kursk
region. Additionally, the AI was not confirmed in Kalmykia: the death of
domestic birds was caused by other stomach infection. [/quote]

just made another post to the Agonist.org forums; without giving all previous posts, followed another by Niman saying it's perfectly clear re wild birds spreading bird flu in Russia just now

Surely OIE report for the two outbreaks in n Xinjiang are just repeating info from officials in China. The reports give no evidence wild birds were involved; none amongst the dead or sick - just farmyard geese. Right on the border with Kazakhstan.

How is the story clear re migratory birds when outbreaks came at a time when Qinghai birds are sedentary (even flightless)? As you yourself say, Doc Niman, migrations are predictable;here, get result contrary to predictions yet you're unfazed.
Russian reports to OIE also cite wild birds with no real evidence I can see - and astonishing simultaneous outbreaks at 13 farms up to 600 km apart. So, what happened here? - some infected bird flew a wild flight, against migration direction, pooping in farm ponds here and there as it went? Or several birds, even flocks of birds [can poop from one bird really infect a farm pond sufficiently?] - which gets even more unlikely in late summer/early autumn, especially if propose that all the way from Qinghai.
Again, looks like rather hasty official conclusions (after H2 initially announced, too). Deja flu all over again, as it were, recalling 2003/04, say.

Just because virus in Russia looks similar to that in Qinghai doesn't mean Qinghai was the source. (If I go to bank here in Hong Kong, draw out a US$, and it looks like those you have, does it mean it came from you?) The Russian virus also, like Qinghai, looks a lot like h5n1 in se China. And that virus could and did kill geese, and swans (captive - either farm, or ornamental).
Qinghai virus reportedly killed 8 of 8 chickens innoculated in 20 hours. In a Russian outbreak, mortality in poultry reported to be just over 3 percent.
Much is mystery, not helped by official obfuscation and secrecy.

No whooping cranes died in Mongolia; they were whooper swans. (A tough species that won't head south till winter's close - I've seen a few fly south on ne China coast, in November, when temps getting towards freezing.) Three birds found with h5n1, all dead; 6500 birds seen, with living birds looking fit and well, and those tested, testing negative.
This error helps highlight the chasm in your knowledge re wild birds.
Perhaps you could get out to a migration watchpoint near you - should be some migration getting underway around now, talk to some knowledgeable birders. Migrations in US not identical, but have similarities to those in Eurasia, including massive tendencies to northward components in spring, almost static during summer, then massive southward component during autumn.

Watch what happens: outbreaks will continue to be haphazard when compared to migratory bird routes/timings; but fit trade. Just as 2003/04. Already signs of this - the outbreaks post Qinghai mostly well to north, with Lhasa popping up; then big outbreak in Japan.
[You had predicted outbreaks following Qinghai would be to west, south and east; presumably as those migration routes are so predictable. Well, we await significant outbreaks at places to the south - and my guess is, we will keep on waiting, for by now the migrants have little of the h5n1 variant left: they've died, become too sick to migrate, killed off the virus with immune responses, the virus has evolved/recombined to more benign forms. A guess, as I say, but fits previous patterns, even Mongolia just recently. Maybe, even, at least some have been culled?]

Legal and illegal poultry trade transport may be less sexy than migrants flying like intercontinental ballistic missiles (in words of one over-excited journalist - think he needs a lie down, and less beer), but with trade there's no need to come up with bizarre explanations (partly flightless geese suddenly flying/walking north late in breeding season), nor to suggest what we know about migration routes is wrong. (And we're not so very ignorant; there are Russian ornithologists, increasing amount of ornithology in China, plenty of birders in India. But Damien's right: migration routes and timings are complex. That, however, is no excuse for simply being vague and waffly in saying "wild birds" with no notions re vector species.)

Oh, and Captain Tripps - the cartoon brought big smile to my face! Bightened up a grey, rainy day here in Hong Kong, where I've just tried looking for migrants, but few terns only.

Post edited by: martin, at: 2005/08/20 06:08

Post edited by: martin, at: 2005/08/20 06:14

New Scientist: "And the infections reported so far do coincide geographically with major rail, trade and travel links through the region." - also cites the ProMed message from Ip of USGS (which I sent the mag, hoping to write em an article - tho they may have received from elsewhere too; this says there's little evidence wild birds are behind spread - see another post on this forum)

cf Y2K - Grauniad leader http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2005/aug/23/health.birdflu1

So, not all crazy wing flapping panic. Despite Nimanism. Phew.

from another post I've made to Agonist

Maps to date show outbreaks do not follow ways birds move. (Static over summer, inc period of flightlessness for bar-headed geese, then some southward trends.) No bird movements shown to fit the patterns.
Watching the blue dots on penquinzee's animation (glad someone has time for all this!) helps show this too; v nifty. Map of confirmed h5n1 poultry franken-flu in migratory birds would also be illuminating; so too indications re numbers of birds, and their condition (dead, not flying, seeming typical).

I've predicted elsewhere: h5n1 poultry flu in wild birds will fizzle as it's done in past outbreaks, and recently at Mongolian lake (and Qinghai, after monstrous flare up).

There will be continued outbreaks in and near poultry, with occurrences looking pretty random, but fitting spread by trade, legal and otherwise.
Vaccinations have been thought to create "silent epidemics"; where vaccinations employed, the h5n1 poultry flu virus will persist (seem to have helped it remain in China for a decade. Maybe - maybe - persisting like this in Thailand now, in which case maybe not good idea for Russia to import Thai chickens [not sure if already started, in which case....]).

Where vaccinations not used, there may be more outbreaks, but with eradication of infected poultry flocks, and biosecurity, these may be controlled, again as has happened with high path bird flus (inc this one in HK, back in 97).

Few if any migrants arriving in winter areas to south will be found to have h5n1, despite extensive testing [from Alaska west to Europe]; too few to cause outbreaks in gatherings of wild birds, let alone in poultry.

Not really crystal ball gazing; more based on what's happened with h5n1 poultry flu so far.

It seems the Russians aren't convinced migratory birds are solely/mainly behind the h5n1 poultry flu spread: [quote]The authorities have set up ‘sanitary zones' around all farms in Kaliningrad, and all the roads coming to them from the borders are closed[/quote]

Russia fights to control bird flu

Wetlands International has an informative Powerpoint presentation online: Wild birds as potential vectors of Avian Influenza between SW Siberia and the Netherlands
Looking through this, I thought a route map better fit Niman's purported wild bird flu spread map than I'd expected. Nial Moores reckoned not: [quote]Might be missing something, but movement around Urals still does not seem to me to fit at all Niman's pattern does it? Outbreaks reached Novosibirisk, and then simply mostly went east and west from there along the border -- in late summer, not in autumn. Not north. Thats also a long way from the area marked on the migration map (with 'lower arrow' pointing southwestward). Additionally, would be interested to know how much of that apparent northward movement is really proven, rather than assumed? How much is due to earth's curvature rather than actual northward movement? Were there actually many recoveries of individuals actually north of breeding areas, or rather in areas to WNW? Seems very likely that there would be a nice divide in some species/populations in north and south of western europe (thermoclines, habitat types), but are there many people actually to observe movement between middle Ob and Urals and Russian coast? Also, still trying to find where South Yamal is... Thanks very much for the link to gulls: as you say seems very odd to dismiss as HIAP so quickly if wild birds died... Too much to absorb, and pity that language is perhaps still not being used precisely enough... Best wishes, Nial Birds Korea[/quote]

I believe that geese move north in the summer and then follow the magnetic
lines during the fall. I have gotten good info from niman and followed up to the fact there is no hard tracking evidence of the migration routes of numerous species of avian, such as the bar headed geese. The migration routes that are imposed apon us is from remote regions of the world. siberia,
tibet, and former russian lands.
The H5N1 virus is being passed by conjugative transfer from commersal bacteria laying on the plasmids gene pods for the allowence of RNA Swapping
for resistance genes.
I wonder if anyone can add or subtract from my last statement, but yes there
has to be avian movement and there has to be outbreaks of human diseases
to account for the movements. B)

Evidence for wild birds spreading H5N1 in Russia looks very circumstantial. (Yes, yes, there's Niman's ink blot test map, but really, that should be laughed off the Internet.) According to best info so far, scenario we have is: No known H5N1 among wild waterbirds in winter areas; but asymptomatic H5N1 in domestic ducks in Vietnam. Very nasty H5N1 at Qinghai, killing geese, shelducks etc. Asymptomatic H5N1 (presumably) arriving in ducks (from where?) to various ponds scattered across Russia. It waits, for weeks, so far as we know without causing alarming numbers of wild bird deaths; seems all is fine. Then, when into poultry, this H5N1 kills chickens.
Other wild birds killed too (including ducks?) - which doesn't add up I just tried "google news" for report I've heard of on UK foot-and-mouth disease [in cows] outbreak, a couple of years or so ago - I'd heard the report says transport among farms was responsible for more spread than was admitted at the time. Didn't find the report in news, but instead, headlines like: "Foot-and-mouth disease spreading in Russia's Far East near China" and [added later]
Foot-and-mouth disease spreading throughout Primorye region, near China.
Also reports of possible foot-and-mouth outbreak near Qinghai: China Culls Cattle in Qinghai Tibetan Village]. Hmm, don't suppose anyone can blame wild, flying cows for this. Interesting, though. There is info on UK foot and mouth outbreaks, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_UK_foot_and_mouth_crisis Includes, [b]"By the middle of spring 2001, several cases of foot and mouth were reported in Ireland and mainland Europe, following unknowing transportation of infected animals from the UK. The cases sparked fears of a continent-wide pandemic, but these proved unfounded."[/b] - change the disease to bird flu, place names to Russia, Mongolia etc, and just maybe looks rather similar to h5n1 today.