I was intrigued by the comments from Bird Life International – Nigeria would be one of the worst places in the world to try to establish the origin of the virus. There are too many potential pathways of introduction to be sure of the origin and the late recognition of the disease in poultry complicates this further.

I must admit I am finding the whole argument re role of wild birds a bit tedious.

There is now a strain of H5N1 virus capable of infecting poultry and a range of wild birds that has spread across Eurasia and extended to Africa. The relative contribution of wild birds and trade in the movement of this virus is almost irrelevant because precautions will have to be taken to prevent contact between both populations of birds through enhanced biosecurity. If contact cannot be avoided (as with scavenging chickens) then the only option is to use vaccination as a barrier to infection. Imperfect? Yes but the best available short of eliminating this sector vital to the economic well being of the rural poor.

Virus transfer in both directions between poultry and wild birds can occur and any control program that does not recognise the potential risks from both sectors will fail.


Les Sims