Another paper out in continuing hunt for the Tooth Fairy Bird (which can survive and sustain and spread H5N1 poultry flu). Experiments showed that Mallard may be a candidate species; but other ducks, such as Tufted Duck, liable to die when infected, so maybe sentinels. I’ve just posted to aiwatch group:

I’m not so up to speed re wild ducks etc n h5n1 – after all, seems to me the story is so often the same old same old; here we have more of the search for the Tooth Fairy BIrd, with suggestion it might exist (as a mallard) but not actually found. I recalled work by Webster n co – leading Tooth Fairy Bird chasers! – which involved H5N1 that was virulent to mallard. I’ve the paper someplace, but easier to google for quick info; and find: "In laboratory experiments in mallard ducks, it rapidly shifted from being potentially fatal to causing only asymptomatic infections. Nevertheless, it remained highly virulent to domestic chickens and, presumably, to people. A resilient wild waterfowl, such as the mallard, could therefore become a permanent biological reservoir for a strain of avian flu with pandemic-causing potential."

I wonder, then, re the strain used in the newer TF Bird experiments: not quite the same as some strains, inc used by Webster. Once again, we have evolution to the rescue. I know virologists – many of them – don’t believe in it, instead looking to mutations and mixing, but not evolving; don’t really know why this is: too busy peering into microscopes to see wider pictures? Again: a virus getting from poultry farms to wild will evolve to low pathogenicity in wild birds (as Webster’s rather simple experiments showed – simple compared to the wild that is). I’d like to again ask: has there been anything like the effort expended in blaming wild birds used to assess the situation re official and unofficial poultry trade? – or is the situation that, with poultry trade and friends having the main money for H5N1 research, the funding tends to go into areas that can point finger of blame away from poultry industry? So far, silence re this.

You can find the paper re Mallard etc at: http://www.cdc.gov/eid/content/14/4/600.htm