Turkey outbreaks and highways map n info

Here's a map I've been sent, from a correspondent (sent a while ago, but a post deleted after server swap). Also info, below. IMAGE(<a href="http://www.drmartinwilliams.com/components/com_simpleboard/uploaded/images/turkey_road_flu.jpg)">http://www.drmartinwilliams.com/components/com_simpleboard/uploaded/imag...

Attached is an updated road map (via Microsoft Autoroute). I have included some of the administrative divisions/villages that have been listed in the official OIE report (No1 – No2 08/01 – 12/01/06). I have started the route from Aralik (journey may have started from different location in area) and ended in Bursa (this could possibly be extended to include Istanbul depending on where the journey ended). I have also set the map up to go via the village of Cayirhan, Nallihan - this is where the dead wild ducks were recorded and also where the two boys apparently contracted the virus from gloves used to carry the dead birds - I believe this is circumstantial evidence that has not been confirmed but I would imagine many people will treat it as fact. Could this have been an overnight stop? The attached route also avoids the toll roads near Bolu (Ankara) - the route on the previous map was via the toll roads.

Most of the route is along the roads numbered D100 and D200. The journey is approx 1,000 miles so I would imagine it would take at least 3-4 days. As per your previous e-mail it appears that it is standard practice to transport large quantities of poultry from West to the East of the country (see following page). The sequence of events appear to indicate that the disease spread from East (Aralik) to West (Bursa) judging by the recorded dates of the outbreaks. As previously mentioned, could an earlier consignment of birds (see news report from October) have missed detection and then when another delivery was made say in December, the villages along the route were infected on the return journey (possibly during overnight stops or distribution of infected domestic birds en route?).

The spacing of the numbered villages could indicate stop off points. Is there a possibility that birds were transported back from East to West. Perhaps just a few birds (ducks or chickens?) were brought back and dropped off in villages as payment for accommodation etc? (Or am I getting carried away here?) The official reports advised that contact with wildlife was the cause of infection but it did also indicate that other reasons are under investigation. The information regarding the pigeons in Bitlis is dated 02/12/05 – the death of these pigeons may relate back to the earlier outbreak that may have gone undetected.

No doubt the migrating birds will be blamed as the cause of the initial outbreak. Could it have originated from illegal/legal shipment via road or sea from the Ukraine? (I have read that the virus sequence is the same as the Ukraine outbreak.) I am really out of my depth here and can only make amateur assumptions. What is also really worrying is the increased use of the phrase ' Control of Wildlife Reservoirs' that is appearing on OIE reports. I also noticed that the latest outbreak in the Ukraine in the poultry farms has been blamed on migrating birds via contamination of water.

I wonder if any tests were done to prove this or if it is circumstantial evidence? There are many factors at play with so many unknowns. Conditions, facilities and skill levels in certain areas also have a massive impact on early detection etc. Sadly, the more this situation goes on the more damage is being done to the welfare and reputation of wild birds (I also find the method in which the domestic birds are being culled very distressing). If only all the outbreaks were properly investigated instead of making assumptions then there may be a chance to get to the bottom of how this horrendous virus is actually being spread. From NY Times:

The huge number of animal outbreaks across the country is also perplexing, scientists said. One theory is that migrating birds seeded the disease in various areas in late December. But that is contradicted by the fact that no outbreaks have been reported in adjacent countries where the birds would also have passed. Another possibility is that poultry-selling practices in Turkey contributed to the spread. In Dogubyazit City, home to 4 of Turkey's 15 human H5N1 cases, people said the big chicken farms often send huge trucks of old birds to the town, selling them to poor farmers for one Turkish lira, or about 60 cents.

The last truck arrived two or three weeks ago, they said. If even one bird on such a truck had bird flu, experts said, it could have quickly infected the others on board, disseminating H5N1 to many villages. "We are very keen to support the Turkish authorities in exploring the details of the movements of poultry," Mr. Sumption said.


Turkey plays down bird flu outbreak – Mon, 17 Oct 2005

About 1000 hens out of a flock of 6000 perished on Friday and Saturday in the province of Agri, at the border with Iran, prompting fears among local authorities that the birds, which were brought from the northwest, might have been infected with bird flu. The hens are believed to have perished because of a lengthy journey from western Turkey in bad transportation conditions, he said.

'Experts' pluck Turkish chicken farmers


Thieves are posing as veterinary experts investigating bird flu to con farmers into handing over their chickens, a Turkish agricultural official said Thursday. People claiming to be agriculture department agents have turned up in villages in the north-eastern province of Igdir to collect chickens for "tests for the presence of avian flu," local agriculture official Aysel Agayar told Anatolia news agency. "There is no avian flu in Igdir. Neither the department of agriculture, nor the governor's office nor the local council are collecting chickens. Our citizens should not give their poultry to anyone," Agayar said.

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In above, mentions that perhaps H5N1 spread partly as trucks made return journeys. This, then, of some interest:

[quote]David Halvorson, DVM, a veterinarian in avian health at the University of Minnesota in S. Paul, said today that H5N1 is probably being spread both by the movement of poultry and by the movement of wild birds, but no one is absolutely certain.

"The fact is we don't really know why it's being found in so many places so suddenly," he told CIDRAP News.

Halvorson suggested that trains may play a role in the spread of H5N1, as they have in past outbreaks. In the United States in 1925, "People were shipping poultry to New York live bird markets. Then dirty, contaminated crates were being shipped back." This contributed to the spread of a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak.

"I think that the trans-Asian railway system fits the temporal and spatial pattern of virus distribution starting in July of last summer," Halvorson commented. "For us in the Western Hemisphere, it would be extremely unusual for water birds to be migrating thousands of miles in July and August, a time when they are ordinarily taking care of their young."

Even today it is normal to ship chickens by rail in many places. Birds also can be found on buses and trucks under circumstances that could contribute to spreading the virus, Halvorson said.[/quote]

"Disease surveillance needs a revolution"
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Mark Savey, an epidemiologist who heads animal health at France's
food-safety agency, also welcomes the proposal, but cautions against
the "mirage of technology" in surveillance. "You don't need
satellites, PCR and geographic information systems to fight
outbreaks," he says. The labs' top priority should be building large
teams of local staff, who are familiar with the region and its
practices, he argues. "If you do not have that, then surveillance
will stay in the Middle Ages."

Savey recalls his trip to Russia last summer as part of a European
team investigating outbreaks of avian flu. "You have a paper Michelin
map; you have people who speak the language; you put red circles on
outbreaks; and you use a pen and paper to compare them with things
like the dates of market openings, and with how outbreaks line up
with railways." Such local knowledge is crucial to interpreting data,
he says. [b]"If you don't know what the Trans-Siberian Express is like,
with people cooped up for days, exchanging chickens and eggs at every
stop, you would never guess that it was the Trans-Siberian that
mainly spread avian flu across Russia."[/b]

From a correspondent:

I never believe this hypothesis !
i know very well russian trains
sure, it's many, many very poor great mothers which travel with bucket of eggs or chicken from their vllages to the next town

but not sufficient !

for me, transiberian appears one day in the russian press agencys; after the departure of migrating birds !
it was a new reason to distract from poultry industry

if really transsiberian, why not bird flu in Moscow or Vladivostok :-))))))))
why, after Ural, direct to the south -without transsiberian -? to Volga and Don ?

in Russia, very few roads, very few trains
I'm fast sure that the poultry industry don't take train, but trucks which travel through all the country with the virus !
and in russia, no sense of hygiene

For news re H5N1 in Turkey, also map showing affected areas:

Bird flu pages: http://openturkey.com/main/bird_flu

Turkey avian flu detected cities map: http://openturkey.com/main/turkey_bird_flu_detected_cities_map