Quite a turnaround here for FAO, after chief vet Joseph Domenech so readily blamed wild birds for spreading H5N1:

There is no solid evidence that wild birds are to blame for the apparent spread of the H5N1 virus from Asia to parts of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, an animal disease expert said on Wednesday.

There was also no proof that wild birds were a reservoir for the H5N1 virus, Scott Newman, international wildlife coordinator for avian influenza at the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, said at a bird flu conference in Bangkok.

“We know that some wild birds have probably moved short distances carrying viruses and then they died, but we have not been able to identify carriage of H5N1 across large scale spatial distances and then resulting in spread to other birds and mortality in poultry flocks,” Newman told Reuters.

He said fecal tests on some 350,000 healthy birds worldwide had to date only yielded “a few” positive H5N1 results.

Furthermore, in instances and places where wild birds were found with the disease, there were no concurrent outbreaks of the virus in poultry.

“So we don’t have at this point in time a wildlife reservoir for H5N1 … so they can’t be a main spreader of the disease,” Newman said.

He stressed the need to focus attention on the poultry trade, and particularly smuggling, adding that these factors may instead be spreading and sustaining the deadly disease.

Don’t blame wild birds for H5N1 spread: expert