I don't believe wild birds are spreading h5n1

post I just made in response to a question on Agonist.org, may be of interest:

In short, yes, I do believe

Wild birds are not spreading bird flu

- not h5n1 variant that we're so concerned about. (But they carry plenty of flus; benign for vast vast majority, till farming gets them and transforms [into frankenflus - yikes!].)

Bit longer: birds were claimed to be vectors during 2003/2004, when there was extensive spread in east and se Asia. But, nowhere did such claims look credible; instead, movements within poultry trade (including illegal, inc fighting cocks) looked way more likely. At Qinghai, I'm sure that birds spread the virus amongst each other at the colonies (eg geese defecating on grass, grazing on it). But whether any that survived will go on to become vectors remains to be seen.

After a time, what will happen to h5n1 in wild birds - will there be some evolution, even recombination, to form that is less harmful to them, and us - even unable to cross species barrier to humans? [they might be fine mixing vessels for flus, with plenty of H's and so on - but these are for great part benign, which is a lot why birders have been little concerned re bird flu till now] I think we should then look south, along the true migration routes from Qinghai; come later autumn and winter, Indian scientists and birders will surely watch for potential vectors, see what happens. (There's already a nice web page with h5n1 info by an Indian birder, indicating interest.) Now, with spread to Russia, I'm not certain birds haven't moved virus over significant distances, but I think here too there is major cause for doubt.

Again, as 2003/04, timings of outbreaks go against migration routes/timings. Instead of figuring there are errors in these, maybe could look for another vector. I think the Chany Lake outbreak just might be from wild birds, but might also be that from poultry farms (run-off entering a shallow wetland, hence to food eaten/water drunk by waterfowl). [Again, timing indicates latter to me.]

For spread between farms, I believe markets etc will be mixing sources. The wild birds dying at lake in Mongolia also a concern; I'm intrigued to hear reports from team inc Wildlife Conservation Society members who were reportedly going to investigate. It's too bad that China is so secretive about bird flu; there, I've seen at least one official claim of wild birds being vectors that apparently had not a shred of evidence. Russia, so far, more open, which is good (how odd to be reading reports from Pravda, on the Internet, in English!). I've just been cc'd an email from WWF Russia, saying,

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.

Maybe of some interest. To me, just reported outbreak in Japan (yet) again is an outbreak fitting trade - which can also involve smuggled birds (as smuggled ducks to Quemoy some time ago, with h5n1).

I've been in touch with/been cc'd emails from various conservation organisations, including Birds Korea, Wetlands International, Wildlife Conservation Society (international and Thailand program), WWF Hong Kong (now WWF Russia), Birdlife International, Birdlife Asia. All have similar views: wild birds can be victims, but not shown to be vectors of h5n1 (even though they - especially waterfowl - are reservoirs of flu viruses, which can become problematic thro evolution in poultry).

Also just in, email trying to check species affected at Qinghai (again, Chinese authorities could be such a help here). Based on names in a macine translated news item [posted here??]; here giving widely known English names in brackets. Some at least already named on this thread; one or two still bit baffling; I'm about to recheck thread in case more names given. Looking at numbers, striking to me just how high the proportion of bar-headed geese is; again, as faecal to oral route simpler I guess. For the gulls, I wonder if at least partly thro scavenging carcasses of dead birds. Cormorants - I don't know, but they certainly defecate a lot when sitting around (after feeding by swimming, diving for fish). spot headed geese 5412 (Bar headed Goose) brown headed gulls 641 cormorants 1151 fishing gulls 1064 (Pallas's Gull) red beaked diving ducks 121 (Red-crested Pochard) red feet ducks 34 (Ruddy Shelduck???) ring neck birds 23 (Common Pheasant???) swallow gulls 12 (Terns) white-headed crane 6 (Hooded Crane - unlikely on range; probably young Black-necked) Phoenix headed bird 11 (Northern Lapwing???) black neck crane 2 (Blac-necked Crane) raincoat feather crane 1 (Demoiselle Crane)

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Dear Dr Martin,

I am new to your forum as a contributor but you have cited my review paper previously to support your views (Sims et al Vet Rec (2005) 157 159-164) on the routes of spread of H5N1 viruses other than wild birds.

I am a veterinarian, not an ornithologist, and have been closely involved with the avian influenza outbreaks in Asia since 1997, while working for the government in Hong Kong (1993-2002) and subsequently as a veterinary consultant working for FAO in China, Mongolia, Viet Nam, North Korea and Thailand

Firstly let me reiterate that the major route of spread of avian influenza is via infected poultry, poultry products and contaminated items associated with the industry. This is especially true once a virus is established in an area.

I have long been a sceptic of claims relating to wild birds, especially in places where the viruses are endemic in poultry, especially those with many domestic waterfowl (known "silent' excretors in countries where the virus is endemic), and poultry are sold through poorly regulated live bird markets, providing ample opportunities for spread of the viruses.

However, there are some cases where spread via domestic poultry or trade in poultry appears extremely unlikely as the source of infection. The recent outbreak in wild birds in Mongolia, which has a tiny commercial poultry industry concentrated largely around Ulan Bator and very few "village-level" poultry, is the least convincing.

In the Mongolian case there are few plausible explanations available for the outbreak other than introduction by a wild bird. However, this raises questions as to how this occurred, especially when the timing of the outbreaks do not match the movement of migratory birds, as you have argued previously and clinically healthy birds tested so far are virus negative.

To explain this, the possibility of introduction of virus followed by silent amplification in some species for a period of time needs to be considered. Not all H5N1 viruses are uniformly fatal in ducks even though they are still highly pathogenic for other poultry (and perhaps other wild birds). Alternatively, low level mortalities in some sites could go unnoticed for a period of time and in less densely populated lakes spread would not necessarily be explosive.

I have not visited the infected wild bird sites in Mongolia or Qinghai but from information I have seen on the latter, the density of birds there would provide an ideal environment for spread and amplification of an H5N1 avian influenza virus.

All it would take for a virus to establish in such a population is the entry of one infected bird excreting virus.

We know that experimentally infected mallards can excrete Asian H5N1 virus for up to 17 days and therefore the possibility of an asymptomatic short term carrier duck introducing the virus is a possibility.

Why do we not find healthy wild birds excreting virus? Perhaps such birds are rare and our capacity to test is limited. A negative result on limited number of samples does not rule out this possiblity (e.g. if only 1 in 1000 birds were excreting virus you would need to test about 3000 birds from a population to be 95% confident that this population was free from infection). Also, if we are looking at places where virus was introduced some time ago then we may not find the original "carrier(s)".

All of this is still speculative but there is a genuine need to explain the origin of the outbreaks in wild birds in places such as Mongolia. The above explanation appears the most plausible after considerable thought on the issue.

Finally I would like to add a few comments on vaccination of poultry, of which you have been critical.

The situation in a number of countries in the region is such that vaccination is the only rational course of action to reduce the levels of viral excretion and contamination. This in turn reduces the likelihood of infection of wild birds.

H5N1 is not going to be eradicated from Asia for a long time and we need to use all of the tools at our disposal. Vaccination will remain, in my view, the most valuable of these especially in places where there are large numbers of scavenging poultry forming a key part of village economies that cannot be reared in biosecure facilities.

Kind regards,

Les Sims

Hi Les:

Many thanks for your post; most welcome to have such informed comment.

Yes, Mongolia lake is puzzling. I've seen more from Wildlife Conservation Soc team who investigated this, and they too aren't certain what happened, tho wild bird flying some distance with h5n1 looks most plausible reason. (Mentioned that a US outbreak of HPAI [in poultry] was traced to empty poultry crates being transported some distance - surely not what's happened here, but does indicate odd things can happen.)

Timings indeed odd. I'd figure that whooper swans and bar-headed geese would be sedentary (breeding) by time the 2 swans and 1 goose died.
So, maybe they were infected by virus that had lingered for a few weeks, maybe passed between a few birds.
I read of ducks shedding for up to 17 days; but also that Qinghai variant (which may/may not be near identical to the one in Mongolia/Russia) was more lethal than h5n1 a Chinese team had previously tested - killing 8 of 8 chickens in 20 hours, so perhaps harder to have ducks survive and shed.
There is some summer tourism to Erkhel; might outbreak be linked to this? No evidence; but just about plausible.
Yet again, more info needed.
But, h5n1 evidently hasn't spread well in wild birds here; seems more like other known outbreaks in wild, except Qinghai.

Qinghai rather odd; so many birds reportedly killed; and dearth of info afterwards, that I've seen anyway (how many birds survived?, say; not possible that some over-zealous officials opted for cull [tho later in outbreak, came reports that cull dediced against]?

Thanks, too, for comments re vaccinations. I'd drawn my info from New Scientist, and some info on FAO site (FAO perhaps rather reluctantly agreed to more widespread vaccinations for h5n1?).
Seems vaccination should be used sparingly, in cases as you note; but China (especially - I believe HK poultry, say, now vaccinated) now uses extensively.
This, to me, could explain how the h5n1 traced back to 1996 domestic goose sample from Guangdong has stayed with us so long; other HPAI outbreaks, as H7N7 that killed [vet] in Netherlands evidently eradicated by slaughtering infected poultry. HK seemed successful at likewise slaughtering poultry to eradicate h5n1 in 1997, but it clearly survived elsewhere, inc S China [as you'll well know; this info might be useful here lest others come across this thread].


Wow. Where has this forum been? I found it by accident while arguing with a certain Dr elsewhere. The spread from Qinghai is so closley matched to the bike race there that I'm thinking that it's one and the same. The more that I look at dates and number of people- including their geographical range - it appears that it is a part of the spread.

I know about the initial infections before the race found in the Chany Lake area. That area is actually (for those who don't know) made up of several hundred lakes and thousands of ponds. There are also more than one lake that shares Chany's name. Chany is the largest lake.

I believe that it's mostly smuggling. People take for granted that I mean bird smuggling. Not at all, I'm talking about H5N1 smuggling in on wet items. Birds, shirts, tires and feet. Anything that took a run over infected feces or dead birds. H5N1 can remain viable for many months in a cold wet place.

The rest is explained through plain economics in the farmer's hands. One bird or your neighbor's birds get sick, run far away and sell yours now. Maybe ask a far away cousin to keep them with their birds.

I can explain this a hundred ways faster than I can a wild bird approaching a domesticated bird area. Have you ever seen dog approach another dog's yard? Try that on a rooster or goose. Same result. A fight.

That's enough for now. Time to read...


Hi Lewis:

Thanks for the post.

Hmm, without more info such as on bike race route, timings and how these correlate with the outbreaks, I'd wonder about this.

As for smuggling - seems possible to me. I've read that bird flu virus can survive up to 100 days in poultry excrement. Not sure, though, just what this in turn could be carried on.


I know. I don't explain myself very well. I meant that after the race, in that exact area where the die-off occurred - 750,000 to 1 million people left the area. Competitors from every single "new" area of H5N1 discovered in the next weeks was there at the race. Bike teams have huge support groups with many vehicles. It rained the last day of the race, and it was called off because of the cold. Mud, cold temps, travel to far away places, H5N1 found in those far away places - out of sync with normal migration cycles for those areas. Here's some reference material trying to make my theory stick around from Canada on their report of avian flu:
Feb 15, 2005 The movement of buyers from farm to farm in conducting egg pickup can lead to biosecurity breaches and inadvertent disease transmission to a flock. Transmission of contaminated manure from an infected premises to a separate susceptible flock can an occur through the movement of people, equipment and vehicles. Barn to barn movement constitutes the highest risk activity for transfer, while deposition of contaminated manure in the vicinity of asusceptible flock is categorized as of somewhat lesser risk. It is thought that a small amount of contaminated dust adhering to boots, clothing or equipment is sufficient to transmit the virusfrom an infected barn to a susceptible flock. Lewis Mc

Thanks again, Lewis.

Hadn't realised the bike race was such a huge event.
So, competitors from Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia I presume. But, from the locales with outbreaks - like Chany Lake, Erkhel (or nearby)?

I still wonder; would these people really come into contact with poultry flocks in Qinghai area (seems wild bird outbreak restricted to reserve), or contact with infected material?
(Or might there have been poultry/eggs at good prices?)

Thanks for link to the Canada report - shows bird flu spread can be complex issue.
Too bad that there's so little info from the recent outbreaks.

Happily, though, outbreaks ebbing - to me, further indicating wild birds aren't key vectors.


Les -

For my view, I try to just ignore what emotion I read and pick out the facts and then come back to take the messages I read in context. People are surprised about the race because China is supposed to be straw hats and shanty villages. Qinghai is far from that. It is a large city with highrises and part of the 6 or 8 lane freeway going in that crosses over the borders there. I think it's called the millineum highway. It's going in because so many people go that way already - hence my belief in travel and not wild birds spreading H5N1.

"Chaney Lake" is like saying Michigan lake. Oceanliners can cross there. It's huge. Chaney lake is actually hundreds of lakes, several of which include the name Chaney. I'm not sure about ocean liners on Chaney :), but the point is that it's a country sized lake surrounded by "smaller lakes" that you can't see across because of the size.

I am really trying to find out where these poeple lived, but it's hundreds of people, and Mongolia isn't known for it's white pages online. I am not going to contact the race teams individually. They keep online diaries that should help.

H5N1 at Qinghai was absolutely lethal to birds. Qinghai does not have 750,000 hotel rooms. You can see from the race pictures that people sat on the lake shore and probably camped there. Birds get fed here in the states by people, so that may have happend, its normal to assume that. Macroviewing scenarios is a bad thing to do though. I prefer to just point out the facts of the race crowd numbers, lack of hotel rooms, location of the race route, and where everyone went after the race. The weather was my best clue for H5N1 to survive leaving the area.

Lewis Mc

PS - It's been 100 months since the first human H5N1 confirmed death. I was wondering when H5N1 was first discovered in birds?

From all I've seen, the variants of H5N1 causing all concern now traced to sample from a Guangdong farm goose, 1996 - not long before the first human cases/deaths. (so, had it been circulating a while, undetected or unreported?)


A Reuters Alertnet item headedPoor Asian farmers are weak link in bird flu fight includes: [quote]"We need to realise that there is very little incentive for farmers to report suspected outbreaks," said Dr Shigeru Omi, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, which covers 37 Asian and Pacific nations. "In fact, fear that their flocks might be culled without compensation is a pretty strong disincentive to report an outbreak," said Omi at the opening of the WHO Western Pacific annual conference in Noumea, capital of New Caledonia in the South Pacific.[/quote] - which will help cloud the real situation with h5n1. (Add secrecy by at least some officials, and picture indeed pretty muddled. But, it seems wild birds always ready as scapegoats!)

After WHO director (I think - Lee) seemed to casually blame wild birds for spreading potential pandemic all around - and making headlines for doing so - here's a more considered, far less headline making view. Buried in a Reuters Alertnet story, World has slim chance to stop bird flu pandemic [quote]Dr Hitoshi Oshitani, the man who was on the frontline in the battle against SARS and now leads the fight against avian flu in Asia. "SARS in retrospect was an easy virus to contain," said Oshitani, the World Health Organisation's Asian communicable diseases expert. ... Avian flu has moved west from Asia and into Russia, with many fearing migratory wild birds will spread the virus to Europe and possibly the United States via Alaska. But Oshitani casts doubt on the impact migratory birds are having on the spread of avian flu, saying different sub-types of the H5N1 virus are in Asia and Russia. "There are so many uncertainties about the pandemic. We don't know how it will start. We don't know exactly how it is spreading," he said.[/quote]

Just come across article in French (in which I get a mention), re arguments against notion wild birds spreading h5n1.

Grippe aviaire: interrogation sur le rôle des oiseaux migrateurs

Now the Silk Road has generated H5N1 in Turkey. You have to cross that part over the mountains before winter arrives.

How do Birds get onto an island? It must be by flying? http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2005/oct/20/health.birdflu

Taiwan today became the latest country to announce the discovery of bird flu. Authorities said the H5N1 virus was found among birds on a Panama-registered freighter that was stopped by the Taiwanese coast guard on October 14. Spokesman Sung Hua-tsung said the freighter was carrying 1,037 smuggled birds - consisting of 19 species - all of which originated in China.

Thanks for this, Lewis; helps show that trade, inc illegal, can move this flu.

S China Morning Post reports today include:
8 of 46 birds tested in shipment of 1037 being smuggled to Taiwan from mainland China positive for H5N1. 19 species in all, for pet shop; inc hill mynahs, black-naped orioles and Pekin robins (red-billed leiothrix). [With the mynah rather restricted range in China, I wonder if some from se Asia originally?]

Another one, like I really need to do this over and over.

TONGZHOU, China (AP) - Two men in masks and protective suits guarded the border between Beijing and Hebei province, [b]watching for vehicles transporting live poultry[/b] under anti-bird flu measures announced Monday to protect the capital. [b]Only shipments of live chickens, ducks and geese from three certified Hebei farms are allowed in[/b], said Tian Zhigang, an animal quarantine officer at the Baimiao Inspection Station. So I'm thinking, if its all wild birds, why are the authorities watching the roads? Could it be both. 2% to 3% wild birds at a short distance, getting infected by the 100% of H5N1 positive chickens, ducks and geese as they migrate along the farms. Wild birds are going to really take a beating over this, for real. You should see what we did to Canadian Geese up here in one year. I use to see hundreds at a time, now I don't see them at all.

Oh, doesn't seem to matter how much repeat re trade etc; wild birds have been pronounced guilty in the Salem Bird Trials.

Today's S China Morning Post has item on conclusion of H5N1 meeting called by World Bank and three UN food and health agencies (but no UN conservation agency).

Says action plan includes "study of migratory bird patterns to predict which countries will have H5N1 cases next".
Never mind that still lack proof wild birds actually carrying H5N1 around - why no study, say, into why H5N1 so widespread in Asia in 2003/04, there were some outbreaks in Asia this spring and summer, yet no outbreaks in wiid waterbirds reported in Asia (or anywhere outside Russia, Romania and Croatia) this autumn?
Indeed, why do some "experts" (hmm) expect H5N1 to arrive in Africa around now, when migratory birds can't even spread it around Asia?

Action plan apparently does not include a study into legal and illegal poultry trade, and wild bird trade - even though there is indeed proof this can transport avian flu over long distances. Odd, that.
(Where is IUCN in all this? FAO doing its best to absolve agriculture and blame birds - surely could use some balance?)

Oh, doesn't seem to matter how much repeat re trade etc; wild birds have been pronounced guilty in the Salem Bird Trials.

Today's S China Morning Post has item on conclusion of H5N1 meeting called by World Bank and three UN food and health agencies (but no UN conservation agency).

Says action plan includes "study of migratory bird patterns to predict which countries will have H5N1 cases next".
Never mind that still lack proof wild birds actually carrying H5N1 around - why no study, say, into why H5N1 so widespread in Asia in 2003/04, there were some outbreaks in Asia this spring and summer, yet no outbreaks in wiid waterbirds reported in Asia (or anywhere outside Russia, Romania and Croatia) this autumn?
Indeed, why do some "experts" (hmm) expect H5N1 to arrive in Africa around now, when migratory birds can't even spread it around Asia?

Action plan apparently does not include a study into legal and illegal poultry trade, and wild bird trade - even though there is indeed proof this can transport avian flu over long distances. Odd, that.
(Where is IUCN in all this? FAO doing its best to absolve agriculture and blame birds - surely could use some balance?)

I've now read what feels like hundreds of threads with conflicting information. I think it's best to just keep on top of the news and take precauions.

Just read about 2 new cases in China

no spam thanks


Post edited by: martin, at: 2005/11/12 14:28

Link to news item - Sun Nov 27, 2005

Experts say flu fears over wild birds over-stated



Post edited by: jodd, at: 2005/11/27 21:50

Post edited by: jodd, at: 2005/11/27 21:51

Hi Jo:

Many thanks for posting this; refreshing to see some sense in media (occasionally happens). Guess reporters/editors will be wondering, now bird flu hasn't spread to Africa, western Europe etc etc with autumn migration.

For anyone not visiting link, item starts:

[quote]TAINAN, Taiwan (Reuters) - Fears that migratory wild birds will spread a deadly strain of avian flu across the world have little, if any, scientific proof and chances of them infecting humans are even more remote, experts said.

The experts, who attended this week a meeting of the International Waterbird Society in Taiwan, said the biggest threat of the H5N1 strain of highly pathogenic bird flu comes from domestic poultry, not wild birds.[/quote]


Just had email from someone at same meeting mentioned in Reuters report, who said there were reports on testing for H5N1 in wild birds, from Australia and New Zealand north to Mongolia, and west to France. Over 73,000 samples, and only one positive for HPAI - H5N1 from a faecal sample in Mongolia.

Related news item re wild birds wrongly accused, in China Daily:
[url=http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2005-11/24/content_497449.htm]M... birds wrongly accused[/url]


[quote]"Migratory birds can be vectors, but evidence indicates this is very rare and they are more often victims of HP H5N1," Colin Poole, Asia programme director of the international Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), based in the US, told China Daily last week at a Beijing symposium.


British scientist Poole, a former chairman of the Oriental Bird Club, a non-governmental organization based in Britain, says data collected by many people shows that the majority of H5N1 infected birds have been resident, not migratory.

In most cases, infected wild birds lived near poultry farms.

And migration routes of wild birds didn't match patterns of bird flu occurrence.[/url]

Gov't Worried About Underground Routes That Could Spread Bird Flu
created: 11/30/2005 6:14:54 PM
updated: 11/30/2005 6:22:57 PM

By Investigative Reporter Leisa Zigman
KSDK-Fears of a global killer flu, whether likely or not, have forced local, state, and federal officials to create pandemic emergency plans.

The I-Team recently obtained internal government documents that detail what officials aren't telling us. The documents detail the underground routes the virus is predicted to take to spread into North America.

One route poses a chilling threat to Missouri and Illinois. It involves animal swap meets where birds and other animals are bought and sold like items at a flea market.

Sunday, we took hidden cameras into what Illinois agriculture officials call an illegal animal swap meet. Experts tell the I-Team the majority of people who buy and sell at swap meets are legitimate.

But they also say swap meets provide the perfect venue for smugglers.

Please read the rest at the link. I didn't want to push the limit here for page length.


thanks; interesting.

"We now have more smuggled birds coming into the United States than we do legal birds. I call them the bird Mafia."

Here is a report - based on microbiologic findings- suggesting H5N1 like configurated strains could become the dominant serotype in wild birds:

Recombination And Reassortment In H5N1 In China
By Dr. Henry L. Niman, PhD

Four complete sequences from tree sparrows in Henan, China (A/Tree sparrow/Henan/1/2004(H5N1), A/Tree sparrow/Henan/2/2004(H5N1), A/Tree sparrow/Henan/3/2004(H5N1), A/Tree sparrow/Henan/4/2004(H5N1)) have been deposited at GenBank. These 2004 isolates are reassortants with H5and N1 on the outside and sequences related to H9N2 on the inside, similar to the 1997 isolates linked to the Hong Kong outbreak. Thus, although 1.5 million birds were culled in Hong Kong in 1997, related sequences were circulating in wild birds in China. The four sequences share polymorphisms with the 1997 isolates as well as 2000-2001 H5N1 isolates from Hong Kong. These "older" sequences however are present in 2004 tree sparrow isolates. One of the 2004 isolates also has the 20 amino acids in NA that are deleted in the Z genotype. These isolates also still have PB2 E627 and although they are pathogenic to chickens, [b]they are not pathogenic in ducks or mice[/b]. However, these sequences may be endemic in China, offering genetic variations used in the evolution of H5. Indeed there are also polymorphisms found in LPAI H's recently deposited. These H5N3 and H5N2 serotypes are from ducks and swans in Mongolia and Japan. They also share polymorphisms with H5 isolates from Primorie and northern Europe, which identify an additional northern migratory pathway stretching from Sweden to Japan. [b]The presence of HPAI H5N1 in tree sparrows also raises the possibility that the dominant wild bird serotype in Asia, LPAI H9N2, is being replace by HPAI H5N1. [/b]Moreover, this indigenous HPAI H5N1 is assuming several configurations via reassortment, and acquiring novel polymorphisms via recombination. These genetic changes may be contributing to the lack of effectiveness of vaccines in China and the mismatches may be driving genetic diversity. These new sequences from China also highlight the need for wider surveys of wild bird populations, including water fowl and well as local terrestial birds. Screening and publishing of these sequences will aid in the development of effective vaccines to better control the accelerating evolution of H5 in Asia and throughout the world.


Oh dear oh dear, more Nonsense from Niman; though yes, not his worst by a long stretch: see [url=http://www.drmartinwilliams.com/h5n1-poultry-flu-and-migratory-birds/hen... Niman - prophet of doom for the Internet[/url] thread on this forum for some examples (This forum isn't the place for purported sense by Niman, not until appears in peer-reviewed journal and/or Niman actually does some research instead of just sitting at computer posting so much codswallop on Internet. Though it's bizarre he still bothers with wild birds, since on Planet Niman the human H5N1 pandemic began by 6 April 2005; soon after which, concerns re Ebola and H5N1 mixing. Not to mention bioterrorists using pigs to transport a flu to kill America's mice. Oh, I said not to mention that; sorry). Good grief, look at this post by N. Fragments of information, and he paints a picture (what's this about "an additional northern migratory pathway stretching from Sweden to Japan." Can he actually believe this, or does Niman laugh as he posts his drivel, thinking of the people who'll be taken in by it?) So, H5N1 is becoming harmless to wild birds is it? Aargh, gotta stop shortly; Nimanism makes me feel bilious just reading it (haven't added to prophet of doom thread lately, as been avoiding Nimanism mostly of late; but if anyone has good new additions, would be welcome). See also thread [url=http://www.drmartinwilliams.com/h5n1-poultry-flu-and-migratory-birds/exp... on wild birds not major h5n1 carriers[/url]

I have to apologize, I have not been aware of existing allergies and unwritten guidelines in this forum

What you state may be right, but this does not necessarily mean everything Niman writes is fundamentaly wrong. Nor is it with the article. There can be doubt on the existence of LPAI H5N1 strains*), and on the basis of the present knowledge nobody can rule out the possibility of evolution towards increasing prevalence of H5N1 LPAI strains in wild birds

As everybody in thi sforum knows recent studies show that minimal variation of aminacids in the HA cleavage site or other structures like PB 2 is an important determinant to host specifity and virulence. [quote]Nimanism makes me feel bilious just reading it[/quote] There is no need to get choleric about anything in this issue *) 

Ah, too bad you hadn't seen the Henry Niman - Prophet of Doom thread. So much of what Niman writes is wrong that best ignored if possible. So much blame from him for wild birds spreading H5N1 with no real evidence (and main evidence to contrary); it's not as tho Niman's a polite fellow; way too much clutter of flu threads elsewhere with Nimanism. Bah! Two findings of LPAI H5N1 strains in wild birds that I know of (another in mallard, US, 1986; tho seems to me there's more evidence of such strains since HPAI H5N1 has developed in poultry before). Both ducks, not "wild birds" in general. For H5N1 to become non virulent in wild birds, need considerable evolution; not seeing this in wild (and there is considerable testing; also lack of wild bird deaths from H5N1 pretty near everywhere). Lower path H5N1 in domestic/experimental ducks in low titres cloaca; ducks don't French kiss and I've never seen wild ducks sneeze, so spreading it tough. Swans in Croatia also low titres cloaca; other birds on ponds with them not infected [source of the swans infection a mystery: why swans here, Volga, predominating among the - rather few - wild birds affected in Romania?] With H5N1 of Guangdong goose 96 lineage in poultry so virulent, I'll say it is not going to happen. Once into wild, natural selection stops it pretty near dead in its tracks. (Those tree sparrows odd; but many questions raised, inc re poultry in vicinity.) [May be shift if get much longer time with H5N1, and perhaps find things happen as China carries out massive poultry vaccinations. But I doubt it.]

I roughly agree.

The problem is we are struggling over here on a local basis for bird protection and are constantly confronted with this kind of stuff. There seems to be no way to get through the firewall of ignorance and indolence.

There is nothing but waiting for better data. Is there really something under way?.

I was just reading the last OIE romania report: mode of transmission: wild birds. The story started in october, lots of dead or sick birds should lay around all over. Biomonitoring should show ample data.
To me there is no other rational

Why are people who’s livelihood is paid by the public allowed to maintain such stuff?

I think the pathogenicity of HPAI strains will decrease rather sooner than later for the simple reason the HPAI configuration does not represent the best chance of (long terme) survival for the AIV. There may occur interference on multiple levels. The second reason is also the most virulent strain will not be able to keep its profile and be subject to genetic alteration

The thrill is we don’t know the scenario

Thanks for this interesting and encouraging thread

Hi Gänseerpel:

"Mode of transmission: wild birds" seems typical; yet when try looking into reasons for this, eividence can seem weak, or non-existent (seen wild birds blamed for, say, outbreak in poultry in Xinjiang - and no wild birds in report to OIE).

Guan Yi perhaps has best handle on data; see comments by experts thread, where he says wild birds not responsible for spread.
Les Sims comments to this forum (thread on farming) also of interest: he too has massive experience with H5N1, inc working for FAO.

Indeed, you would figure dead wild birds should be all over Romania esp Danube Delta; trail of bodies from Russia (yet not sure if birds here were from affected parts of Russia; Croatia's swans, say, from Europe - at least one being well during stopover in Hungary).

Have you also seen my piece on dead ducks not flying, via links at left (bird flu n wild birds) - on 2003/04 outbreaks in Asia, and wild birds victims, not vectors.
H5N1 isn't novelty here in Asia (I'm in Hong Kong). Yet, this autumn/winter, no reports in wild waterbirds in Asia ex-Russia - which is surely hugely significant.
In Hong Kong, had occasional wild birds die, found to have H5N1 - first in 2002, but no spread, no excess deaths, no H5N1 found in healthy wild bird despite testing (over 16,000 birds in past two years). Potent evidence I think that H5N1 is not and cannot become established in wild birds.

Indeed frustrating people like Joseph Domenech of FAO can blame wild birds so readily with such scant evidence.

H5N1 pathogenicity can be sustained only in poultry, I believe; maybe poor vaccines are helping with this. (Thread on evolutionary biology of relevance here. Helps explain why true wild birds flus are mild.)
[Tho I'm less clued up than you re configurations.]

Glad you find this thread of use.


Hello together, Thie is one of the few articles I could find concerning HPAI and lack of major clinical signs.

I have no access to the full article Are ducks contributing to the endemicity of highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza virus in Asia? Sturm-Ramirez KM, Hulse-Post DJ, Govorkova EA, Humberd J, Seiler P, Puthavathana P, Buranathai C, Nguyen TD, Chaisingh A, Long HT, Naipospos TS, Chen H, Ellis TM, Guan Y, Peiris JS, Webster RG. Division of Virology, Department of Infectious Diseases, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN 38105-2794, USA.

Wild waterfowl are the natural reservoir of all influenza A viruses, and these viruses are usually nonpathogenic in these birds. However, since late 2002, H5N1 outbreaks in Asia have resulted in mortality among waterfowl in recreational parks, domestic flocks, and wild migratory birds. The evolutionary stasis between influenza virus and its natural host may have been disrupted, prompting us to ask whether waterfowl are resistant to H5N1 influenza virus disease and whether they can still act as a reservoir for these viruses. To better understand the biology of H5N1 viruses in ducks and attempt to answer this question, we inoculated juvenile mallards with 23 different H5N1 influenza viruses isolated in Asia between 2003 and 2004.

All virus isolates replicated efficiently in inoculated ducks, and 22 were transmitted to susceptible contacts. Viruses replicated to higher levels in the trachea than in the cloaca of both inoculated and contact birds, suggesting that the digestive tract is not the main site of H5N1 influenza virus replication in ducks and that the fecal-oral route may no longer be the main transmission path.

The virus isolates' pathogenicities varied from completely nonpathogenic to highly lethal and were positively correlated with tracheal virus titers. Nevertheless, the eight virus isolates that were nonpathogenic in ducks replicated and transmitted efficiently to naive contacts, [color=#FF0000][u]suggesting that highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses causing minimal signs of disease [/u][/color]in ducks can propagate silently and efficiently among domestic and wild ducks in Asia and that they represent a serious threat to human and veterinary public health. PMID: 16103179 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16103179?dopt=Abstract


Thanks, yes, I've seen this [full paper], and a related paper (on whether ducks are trojan horses)
An important straw for some to clutch at in blaming wild birds. Key part of blame-the-wild-birds, no matter the evidence.

Notions H5N1 is in wild birds simply aren't borne out by facts. (One thing - even if mild in ducks, it would kill other birds. Otherwise, arguing for H5N1 becoming benign in wild ibrds.)

Guan Yi, among experts I quote in another thread, is among authors of paper. He's independent minded bloke, though.

As I noted in a post above, inc re such experiments with/results from captive birds (see also thread here re Trojan ducks):

For H5N1 to become non virulent in wild birds, need considerable evolution; not seeing this in wild (and there is considerable testing; also lack of wild bird deaths from H5N1 pretty near everywhere).
Lower path H5N1 in domestic/experimental ducks in low titres cloaca; ducks don't French kiss and I've never seen wild ducks sneeze, so spreading it tough. Swans in Croatia also low titres cloaca; other birds on ponds with them not infected [source of the swans infection a mystery: why swans here, Volga, predominating among the - rather few - wild birds affected in Romania?]

The real blame is elsewhere; not at all hard for poultry industry to move bird flus around - been proven before.
Big question, then - why so much focus on wild birds, when even FAO noting that H5N1 not found in healthy wild birds? (Are minor almost exceptions, mentioned on this forum.)
Why not put at least an equivalent spotlight on farming? (see thread here)

These are sad times for "science".


Post edited by: martin, at: 2005/12/23 00:17

Hello together

The real blame is elsewhere; not at all hard for poultry industry to move bird flus around - been proven before.
why so much focus on wild birds, when even FAO noting that H5N1 not found in healthy wild birds?
Why not put at least an equivalent spotlight on farming? (see thread here)[/quote] I think we all (or I hope so) on this forum agree. This said we should not cease to bring new data into the forum and try to come to conclsions and evaluate new aspects(see also : http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/aflu/Pathology.htm

Vaccination technology seems to progress, focus is on recombinant fowlpox (alive) Vaccine and reverse genetics produced vaccines (see China vaccination program) and new DIVA strategies. There is reason to believe that the strict culling ideology in many countries is about to weaken

[quote]Thanks, yes, I've seen this [full paper], )[/quote] Could you give me a link? I’d be particularly interested in the discussion and the methods.


Post edited by: Gänseerpel, at: 2005/12/23 13:04

Post edited by: Gänseerpel, at: 2005/12/23 13:06

Had a bit of correspondence lately with Canadian medical reporter Helen Branswell - some time ago she interviewed me for story on wild birds and H5N1; more recently written of "avian equivalent of the stealth bomber" spreading H5N1 west from China. (A belief, then, in the Tooth Fairy Bird.)

Followed my sending her short email re Grain report on farming and H5N1; she replied saying thought it odd some conservationists still denying some role in the spread.

Here's email I sent:

some birds playing some role, that they are one possible route of introduction of the virus to a new area" - I have not seen any ornithologists/conservationists dispute this. So far, remains only possible route, and all the attention on wild birds is excessive, and leading to problems - latest is region in Russia, about to shoot birds (near poultry farms?) said a news item a couple of days ago.

Major conservation implications. Wild birds themselves have no voice, so people like me get active on their account - extremely unfair wild birds getting so much wrong blame for the poultry industry's wrongs. see Grain report. Instead of wild birds, should be major questioning of FAO, and industrial farming.

But, FAO v loud - especially Domenech. And somehow media seems to love idea of wild birds carrying a disease that could kill us all. Beats Hitchcock, so to editors and some sensationalist writers (step forward Laurie Garrett), what's not to like about that? A good story, so who cares about the details. Not sure if you do: I wrote such shorthand in previous email so as not to bombard you.

It is not scientific to just say "it must be stealth bomber birds". Not scientific at all.

We see vast exaggeration of wild birds as carriers, based on little more than supposition - and overlooking or ignoring the problems inherent in poultry industry: after all, without poultry industry, we would not have this virulent H5N1, nor a slew of other HPAIs in recent years.

"The AI scientists" - not all AI scientists. Karesh, assuming you mean Williams Karesh, not an AI scientist that I know of; tho done important work in field when need arose last summer. Work by him and his team among strong evidence "the disease is self-limiting in wild birds".

Curious your list appears to be all US people. Has Swayne, say, even worked in Asia? cf vet Les Sims, extensive experience in Asia, believes wild birds play only minor role in spread What of Guan Yi: no "expert" on AI, inc with his team's pioneering research on virus in HK/China? Quoted saying wild birds scapegoats. Ken Shortridge, worked with Guan and co before, co-authored paper in Lancet, showing wild birds not key vectors for 2003/04.

Why do you not think when discussing H5N1 and wild birds that it's not important to consider views views of ornithologists with some or detailed knowledge of migratory species, timings, routes etc? - when examine various cases n some detail, the story re wild birds as spreaders becomes weak or highly improbable. Niman manages this ignorance; but hardly science. "it doesn't kill some duck specie" - not true. Situation is more complex than this.

All I've seen: some strains highly lethal to ducks (check out species list on USGS website), some strains may kill small percentages. Less lethal strains were excreted in low amounts - so how are ducks going to transmit them? Sneezing and French kissing? Does seem domestic ducks in Thai rice fields play important role in sustaining H5N1 there. But in the wild?

One case with science: swans in Romania excreted little; birds sharing ponds with them not infected. Six apparently healthy wild ducks at a lake in e China had H5N1. But virus did not move in direction birds migrate from Poyang. Same paper: H5N1 has evolved distinct regional strains in China, Vietnam: major scientific evidence against wild birds being major carriers, yet overlooked. As yet, no cases of wild bird transmission to H5N1 known. Doesn't mean that hasn't happened - it's hard to say for sure just what caused several outbreaks - but none certain, yet wild birds readily blamed. French turkeys had no contact with wild birds, yet they got it.

Again, wild birds a red herring for the most part: and by watching the skies for virus, when it arrives in other ways, could be just helping spread. I do believe wild birds - esp swans - flying around with H5N1; and dying of it in too many cases. Yes, sentinels; H5N1 is around. But where did they get infected? Looking like e Europe/Black Sea area for the most part. Might they even have been fed (dumped?) chicken feed? Contaminated feed thought to be behind at least one poultry outbreak in Russia. Mute swans tend to be tame, often residents. Looks like virus has been moved - by transport links - across Russia to Europe. Now infected wild birds, especially swans for some reason. Isn't first time wild birds fingered.

With H5N1 2003/04, "wild birds" so often blamed - which is when I got interested and active, seeing that evidence was to contrary. Earlier blamed for HPAIs in US, 83/84; Netherlands for H7N7; Australia also. In all cases, wild birds said to be or thought maybe vectors, yet evidence showed they weren't. I write from Hong Kong, which is surely at the epicentre of H5N1 in poultry and even humans, just down the road from first location for H5N1 of Guangdong goose 96 lineage.

Hong Kong lies on migration flyways; birds here from breeding grounds including northeast Asia, and Japan; some travel as far south as Australia, while many overwinter, including around 50,000 waterbirds in a relatively small wetland on northwest border w Shenzhen. Have been occasional cases of H5N1 in dead wild birds here. Extensive testing - 16,000 or more healthy birds tested at wetland, not one positive.

So, H5N1 has indeed proved self-limiting in wild birds here; no evidence wild waterbirds migrating through Hong Kong are carrying it.

Suppose you could visit this wetland, see all these birds in the heart of H5N1 territory, might you then have a slightly different viewpoint than from Canada?

Alas, Helen Branswell not to be swayed, and maybe a tad grouchy on day my email arrived:

Sadly, I believe my moment of epiphany is not near. The fine organization I work for has a limited travel budget, and somehow I think covering Canadian troops in Afghanistan is going to trump any proposal that I should trek through the marshes of Hong Kong so that I can fully appreciate how woefully I have maligned the birds of the world. In the interim, you may perhaps wish to read other writers. Good luck with your crusade.

Too bad re sense of humour failure, repeated in a further email from Helen Branswell, with further dig re "crusades"; though at least her notion does suggest one possible Latin name for the Tooth Fairy Bird - Anas stealthbomberensis.

Whilst the Tooth Fairy Bird - the wild bird(s) that can survive and sustain and spread H5N1 - remains a theoretical creature, which has taken hold in the popular imagination and the brains of various journalists, the "experts" who believe in it are still virus people rather than ornithologists.
Instead, people who actually know about wild birds still doubt its existence.

French League for the Protection of Birds article here - machine translation.

[b]The migratory birds are not the "rats of the sky"[/b]

Regarded too often as principal vectors of the H5N1, the wild birds
are transformed little by little into "rats of the sky". The LPO
condemns this detrimental process with regard to an extremely
fragile. It biodiversity makes a point of pointing out the major
role played by the illegal transport of wild or domestic birds in
this file.

Some mesestimees realities

The wintering of the birds in Africa

During the summer 2005, whereas migratory birds of contaminated zones
(Siberia, Asia), were on the point of leaving their surfaces of
nesting for their districts of wintering, in Africa, with the
Middle-East, but also towards Australia, one predicted the emergence
of new hearths aviaires on these various destinations, and the
hecatomb of many wild birds to us. Actually, it does not have of it
anything be, in Africa but also in Australia and Nouvelle Zealand.


The confirmation, February 08, 2006, of the flu virus aviaire H5N1 in
Nigeria concerned, initially and exclusively, of the industrial
breedings of birds. To date, in Nigeria, no contaminated wild bird
was found. It cannot be excluded that the original tank of these
hearths is the poultry trade coming from China and Turkey. According
to the laboratory of reference of the animal World Health
Organization (OMSA) and Funds' of the United Nations for the food and
agriculture (FAO), the stock isolated from the virus in Nigeria shows
the same genetic characteristics as that discovered in Turkey, which
itself are connected with the stock of the Chinese lake of the
province of Qinqhai, hearth of origin of the disease. *


February 15, 2006 in Benidorm, in the province of Alicante in Spain,
2 tons of poultries were seized. Imported illegally of China, they
were conveyed in Spain by truck. It seems that their final
destination was to be Chinese restaurants.

These poultry movements can take part seriously in the diffusion of
the virus through the countries and even the continents. They show
the importance of the frontier checks to dismantle illegal networks
of trade. This while at the same time "universalization processed
chicken in cash migrating and the movements of chickens around the
world occur 365 days per annum, unlike the seasonal migrations of the
wild birds" to take again the assertion of Leon Bennun, director of
international Birdlife.

Traffic of the birds of ornament

The illegal trade of the birds of ornament bound for France is
currently estimated at more than 4 million individuals each year.
This figure also corresponds to the number of legally marketed birds,
which represents nearly 8 million birds in all.

Among the sought birds, one notes that many sparrows are originating
in South Asia east and China, while the parrots come mainly from West
Africa and Tanzania. In the same way, other species come from South

Consequently, without denying the possible role of the migratory
birds, the LPO stresses that, in spite of the put regulation opens
some to manage the crisis, it appears obvious that the involuntary
non-observance of measurements of precaution must also be taken into
account in the analysis of the situation.

Allain Bougrain Dubourg President of the LPO

Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/03/12 08:03

[quote]Those of us who have been studying avian influenza and other bird diseases for decades, when few people beside pet owners and the poultry industry cared, are dismayed that voices of reason are being drowned out with regard to the role played by wild birds in the spread of the H5N1 virus. This past week alone, both the United Nations and the Office of Homeland Security implicated migratory birds as the most likely carriers of H5N1 to American shores, while cable news scrambled to get bird migration maps. Migratory fowl could, of course, bring H5N1 here on the wing. But there is an equal, if not greater, chance that H5N1 will fly to North America on an airplane transporting poultry legally or otherwise.

Recently a shipment of chicken feet was smuggled into the United States from Thailand, arriving in Connecticut marked "jellyfish." Luckily, our trade surveillance system worked and the chicken parts were confiscated. Over the last 30 years we have learned a tremendous amount about how avian influenza spreads. In nature, avian influenza viruses live innocuously in many types of wild birds and cause only mild effects, sometimes none at all, similar to many bacteria and viruses that live in humans.

This is not to say that the virus can't be carried by, and kill, wild birds, because it can. Yet the spread of H5N1 did not result from the activities of wild birds, but from a very human activity - trade. We know that international trade in wild or exotic birds, both legal and illegal, has helped moved H5N1 around the world. However, the virus has likely gotten its biggest boost through the trade, both legal and illegal, in poultry. As part of a multi-billion dollar industry, poultry markets and farms span the globe. The conditions of these facilities vary greatly; some are plagued by highly unsanitary conditions and close bird-to-bird contact. This environment provides the ideal setting for deadly strains of the avian flu virus to develop.

Moving these infected poultry and poultry products as well as contaminated fecal matter on trucks, boots or in cages results in the further spread of avian flu. The current focus on the role of migratory birds in the spread of H5N1 has shifted discussion away from this trade. ... (Robert Cook is chief veterinarian and vice president and William B. Karesh is director of the Field Veterinary Program at the Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx Zoo, New York.)[/quote]

Don't blame the wild birds

Recent article in [i]Le Monde[/i] looks at whether H5N1 is an artificially created and spread virus.

via babelfish.altavista.com, includes:
[quote]Beyond the case Nigerian, the ornithologists point certain inconsistencies in the scenarios implying the wild birds. "There is no important migratory road of the east towards the west, and the exit of the virus of China towards Europe cannot be explained by migrating", known as thus the Richard Thomas, one of the persons in charge for Birdlife, an association of ornithologists based in London. "On the charts, adds Olivier Dehorter, specialist in the biology of the populations of birds to the national Natural history museum of natural history (MNHN), one distinguishes besides rather clearly that the infectious hearths follow the layout of the Trans-Siberian one."

In the same way, the researcher adds, who does not exclude a minor contribution from wild fauna to the propagation of the virus, "the second wave of contaminations which touched Turkey seems related to human activities - trade, displacements, etc. - that with movements of wild birds." In addition, known as Pascal Orabi, ornithologist with the League of protection of birds (LPO), "Australia and New Zealand, places of wintering of certain species which fly over Asia, remained unscathed".

A strong argument in favour of the implication of migrating remains the discovery in China, on the Lake Poyang (the World of February 8), of healthy wild ducks carrying the viruses, i.e. able to transfer it onto long distances. But wild fauna cannot be held for only culprit, according to Ward Hagemeijer, one of the persons in charge for Wetlands, the organization of study of the water birds based in the Netherlands, which undertook a study with the FAO and the international Center of research for agronomy and the development (Cirad). "We took nearly 7 000 wild birds in Africa, and no operational carrier of the virus was detected, specifies Mr. Hagemeijer. Even thing in the European Union, where 10 000 apparently healthy birds were tested, without positive result." The official results of these taking away, which continue, should be known in the next weeks.[/quote]

[url=http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-685875,36-755670@51-746222,0.html]Le H5N1, virus sauvage ou domestique ?[/url]

[quote]Marwaan Macan-Markar

BANGKOK, Aug 25 (IPS) - When new strains of the deadly bird flu virus were recently detected in poultry in Thailand and Laos, wildlife enthusiasts had reason to feel vindicated. The prevailing hot weather was off season for migratory birds, often blamed for spreading avian influenza.

By the time ducks in Cambodia showed signs of being infected, the theory that wild birds carry the H5N1 strain of the virus across international boarders was further discredited. This view had first gained hold in this region in 2004 when the current outbreak of the lethal virus began and rapidly spread across a broad sweep of countries.

''There has never been any conclusive, properly documented evidence that wild birds are carriers of the virus,'' Richard Thomas, editor of 'World Birdwatch,' said in an e-mail interview.

This summer reprieve for the wild birds is consequently throwing more weight behind the view of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that the unchecked trade and movement of infected poultry is the main trigger behind the spread of the lethal virus.

''FAO recognises that poultry trade across borders is continuing in South-east Asia and East Asia despite well-known risks to the governments and people in the region,'' the U.N. agency adds.

The new H5N1 strains in Thailand and Laos have distinct genetic make up that betray their origin. ''There are three broad clusters of the virus and sub-clusters,'' says Gleeson. ''The new virus strain in Nakhon Phanom was different to the strain that has been circulating in Thailand since 2004.''

Gleeson attributes human activity, rather than migratory birds, to the spread of bird flu in Indonesia, which has suffered the highest number of human fatalities due to avian influenza. ''It is pretty clear the virus spread in Indonesia is because of poultry products being moved and not because of wild birds.''
[url=http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=34457]'Migratory Birds Not Spreading Bird Flu'[/url]

Here's summary of paper on Centers for Disease Control site:

[quote]Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 expanded considerably during 2005 and early 2006 in both avian host species and geographic distribution.

Domestic waterfowl and migratory birds are reservoirs, but [b]lethality of this subtype appeared to initially limit migrant effectiveness as introductory hosts[/b]. This situation may have changed, as HPAI H5N1 has recently expanded across Eurasia and into Europe and Africa.

Birds could introduce HPAI H5N1 to the Western Hemisphere through migration, vagrancy, and importation by people. Vagrants and migratory birds are not likely interhemispheric introductory hosts; import of infected domestic or pet birds is more probable.

If reassortment or mutation were to produce a virus adapted for rapid transmission among humans, birds would be unlikely introductory hosts because of differences in viral transmission mechanisms among major host groups (i.e., gastrointestinal for birds, respiratory for humans). Another possible result of reassortment would be a less lethal form of avian influenza, more readily spread by birds.[/quote]
[url=http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol12no10/05-1577.htm]Birds and Influenza H5N1 Virus Movement to and within North America[/url]

[url=http://www.regnum.ru/news/710786.html]In the littoral the measures for the preventive maintenance of the bird influenza strengthened[/url]

In connection with the autumnal migration of birds in the territory
of Primorskiy Kray the measures for the preventive maintenance of
bird influenza are intensified. From July through September the
specialists of boundary veterinary service took more than 1 100 tests
of the blood in wild, migratory and poultry from the different
regions of littoral. Not one case of the disease of feathered by bird
influenza it is revealed.

Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/09/28 03:36

[url=http://en.apa.az/news.php?id=14940]Azerbaijani bird flu monitoring results announced[/url]

Azerbaijan's Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry in conjunction
with Agriculture and Health Ministry has announced the results of the
next bird flu monitoring in the country, the Ministry told the APA.

The symptoms of bid flu have not been detected in any of the blood
samples taken from different wild birds during this monitoring. The
monitoring covered Absheron, Aggol, Shirvan National Parks,
Gizilagach State Reserve, Sarvan in Devechi region. /APA/

[quote]The discussion, which was held by National Geographic Indonesia, concluded that migratory birds were not to blame for the movement of bird flu.

A vet from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture, I Wayan Teguh Wibawa, said separate studies had shown there was no proof anywhere in the world that migratory birds carried the virus.

Studies of migratory birds in Malaysia, China and Australia that have been carried out over the past six years have shown no migrant birds in the three regions had the H5N1 virus, he said.

Wayan, who is also a member of the National Commission for Bird Flu, said that the poultry trade was the most likely cause of the spread of the virus to 29 of Indonesia's 33 provinces.[/quote]
[b]Cats can carry bird flu, study says[/b] [link no longer works; see next post]

Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/10/12 01:19

[b]Martin wrote:[/b] [quote][b]Cats can carry bird flu, study says[/b][/quote] Maybe a wrong redirecting link?? This one works. [not any longer! - Martin]

Thanks, Coleman - link to Jakarta Post item was working when I posted message, but not now. Martin

HUNTING AND AVIAN FLU PROBLEM IN VOLOGDA REGION In fall 2006 hunting season for monitoring of the avian flu purpose 70 samples of the wild ducks and geese was taken. All give negative results. According “Russian Hunting Newspaper” cancellation of the hunting on ducks, implemented in spring 2006, give limited positive results for amount of this birds in fall. Reason – wide scale “avian flu” preventive measures, when hundreds of wild birds was shoot without any place and time limits. Journalist hope, this officially supported wide scale poaching will not happen again.

[quote]Now, with the disease still centered in Asia and the failure of migratory birds to spread the illness to Europe and North America, the H5N1 virus has dropped out of the media spotlight. The dearth of coverage has prompted some to think that the threat of a pandemic has passed. Health officials were surprised when flocks of migratory birds that had flown south to Africa and then back to Europe last spring didn't carry the H5N1 virus as expected. Neither did birds that wintered in Asia and flew to Alaska last summer to breed. International bird monitors also found no widespread deaths from the virus among migratory birds. Many experts now think that wild migratory birds are only bit players in the spread of the disease.

More likely culprits are humans who clean, feed and house infected domestic birds and those who prepare infected birds and transport them to commercial markets, said Rick Kearney, wildlife program coordinator with the U.S. Geological Survey. "Migratory birds may contract the disease and continue in their migration, but they clearly don't play a major or single role in spreading the disease," Kearney said. [/quote]

Deadly bird flu not forgotten by U.S health officials
prompted me to send email to some folks interested in h5n1 and wild birds:

Just helps show the prevalence of stupidity regarding the H5N1 and wild birds issue. (And the effectiveness of smokescreen from poultry industry, obscuring real issues; rather as some in energy industry befuddling people re global warming; and before them, cigarette makers obfuscated re dangers of smoking.) I could of course say I told you so, but what the heck. (Not much from Robert Webster, say, lately. No repeat, for instance, of his notion that bird flu will kill half the world population. Bah!) Natural selection still works. But, ideas it doesn't have helped some people pocket money and keep quiet about actual science. Should be ashamed, but I doubt it, not when there are "debates" about evolution, global warming; Bush's war on science has proven sadly effective.

No sooner have I posted re health officials and stupidity re H5N1, than see David Nabarro, senior UN coordinator for anti-influenza activities, spouting forth:

[quote]He said in a note of optimism that North America had escaped the bird flu epidemic because of the 'very intense monitoring' system in the US and Canada of birds migrating from Siberia to Alaska and beyond in the Western Hemisphere.[/quote]

UN says worldwide cooperation may have thwarted bird flu spread

:ohmy: What a ridiculous comment re monitoring stopping bird flu (part of a desperate attempt to save face; for this wasn't human pandemic, and indeed wild birds not carrying for long-cited reasons). If it worked, he could solve global warming by giving out lots of thermometers, and having people note temperatures over time. Heck, with this monitoring stopping disasters notion, he could be on to something; Nobel prizes galore. But really, he and other fools don't even deserve Ig Nobels.

[quote]A surveillance study conducted over the past year by the Forestry
Ministry has found that migrating flocks of birds are not carrying
strains of avian influenza.

The H5N1 virus has so far only been found in either domesticated or
farming poultry, says the Forestry Ministry's conservation for
biological resources director, Adi Susmiyanto.

The ministry has been studying migratory and wild birds in locations
and clusters prone to bird flu in the hopes of identifying the
prevalence of the virus in the wild fowls. [/quote]
[b]Migrating flocks declared H5N1-free [/b] - Jakarta Post

[quote]A regular monitoring on prevention of bird flue in the territory of
Azerbaijan has been completed. The monitoring was held on the
territories of the Absheron Peninsula, Davachi, Salyan, Aghdjabado,
and Lankaran, as well as in the national parks, reserves, and coastal
zone, Trend reports referring to a message spread by the State
Veterinary Service of the Azerbaijan Agriculture Minister.

Pathologic material was taken from 41 wild birds; blood was taken
from 10 wild birds and 2,250 poultry. No signs of bird flue were
detected as a result of laboratory examinations.

During the monitoring, as before held by a commission of specialists
of the State Service, Health Ministry, Ecology and Natural Resources
Ministry, no facts on bird deaths was observed.

The preceding monitoring had been held at the end of September, and
its results did not show any appearances of the disease on the
territory of the country. [/quote]
[url=http://www.trend.az/?mod=shownews&news=31141&lang=en]Regular Monitoring Did Not Detect Bird Flue in Azerbaijan[/url]

[b]Migrating birds free from flu, ministry says [/b] Theresia Sufa, The Jakarta Post, Bogor None of a sample of migratory birds flying to Indonesia have tested positive for the deadly bird flu virus, a Forestry Ministry official says. Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Committee meeting here Monday, Arman Mallolongan said the ministry had tested 695 migratory birds this year. All were found to be free from the virus, he said.

Just seen a paper published in [i]Waterbirds [/i]29(3): 243-257, 2006:
Avian Influenza: An Ecological and Evolutionary Perspective for Waterbird Scientists

An excellent review; much of the info will be familiar to anyone who's read several of the H5N1 and wild birds threads in this forum.

Says that wild birds widely blamed for being major reservoirs and vectors of HPAI - by both media and some scientists - yet with little actual evidence.

Good to see inclusion of evolutionary biology, citing Paul Ewald (see thread here on evolutionary biol). As the paper notes, this would predict evolution to low or non virulence in the wild - as wild birds have to fly long distances ("Dead Ducks Don't Fly") - and tendency for evolution to high virulence in poultry, especially in densely kept poultry.
These predictions borne out by observations.

Includes suggestion that wild birds may face threats from HPAI circulating in poultry, especially where - say - captive waterfowl mingle with wild birds, as at some wetlands in China.

Just posted this to birdforum (thread on current UK outbreak - in industrial turkey farm): (quoting a poster)":are you saying that ... H5N1 has travelled to EC from it's source in China/Hong Kong in 1996/1997 solely via the movement of domestic birds?" Simple answer: Yes. And Hong Kong wasn't necessarily source. More re that yes: solely by the poultry industry. Including smuggling, dead birds, perhaps "silently" in vaccinated live birds, in poultry manure (within feed and as fertiliser), on dirty crates, on boots etc. FAO promoted practice of using chicken manure, bits of dead chickens as feed in fish farms helping sustain H5N1. (I've seen this happening in Indonesia; got [url=http://www.drmartinwilliams.com/conservation/catfish-farm.html]photos and short article[/url] on my DocMartin site - don't view if it's dinnertime). So, also saying FAO has inadvertently helped in spread of H5N1. Re HK: known as place where H5N1 of concern identified (really, Guangong farm goose 1997). But I've seen re avian flu people reckoning there's connection (traced in DNA) with a bird flu in UK - Scotland in 1959: The price of cheap chicken is bird flu (well worth a read; includes

"The truly great ruse is that industrial poultry farms are the best way to produce chickens "). In a sense then, it's come home again. H5N1 into wild - it dies out pretty fast, largely as it kills most birds it infects. Typically, see a few individuals, even scavengers such as crows (and, as Mike mentioned, can be birds of prey) and that's it. Indeed saw waterbirds move west with H5N1 when eastern Europe became v cold late last winter, but then no evidence of further spread (you know of real evidence for this: tell us). Indeed, at one site, infected swans found on pond [Romania?], where other wild birds tested didn't have H5N1. - regular wild bird flus abound in infected waterbird faeces; H5N1 in lower amounts faeces, mainly in trachea. H5N1 suits those crowded poultry farms; it's evolved and continues to evolve in them. Also interesting it has better survival in warm water than regular wild bird flu: again, shift away from best suiting migratory northern breeding waterfowl; maybe better fit with ponds inc fishponds in southeast Asia? H5N1 (variants of concern, that is - H5N1 can be found rarely in wild waterbirds as low pathogenic flu) has evolved in poultry farms; in the kinds of farms where birds crammed in together. Whilst not shilly-shallying here: [b]no wild bird species known to be able to survive and sustain and spread H5N1[/b].