Released from CDC today:
Bird Migration Routes and Risk for Pathogen Dispersion into Western Mediterranean Wetlands Elsa Jourdain,*† Comments to Author Michel Gauthier-Clerc,* Dominique J. Bicout,† and Philippe Sabatier† *Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat, Arles, France; and †Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire de Lyon – Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Marcy l'Etoile, France
Wild birds share with humans the capacity for moving fast over large distances. During migratory movements, birds carry pathogens that can be transmitted between species at breeding, wintering, and stopover places where numerous birds of various species are concentrated. We consider the area of the Camargue (southern France) as an example to highlight how ad hoc information already available on birds' movements, abundance, and diversity can help assess the introduction and transmission risk for birdborne diseases in the western Mediterranean wetlands. Avian influenza and West Nile viruses are used as examples because birds are central to the epidemiology of these viruses.
Already the introduction lets known which core message suspect the authors intended to transport (independent of quite still contained scientific realizations. But these were not also differently to expect..) :
Birds are the only terrestrial vertebrates that share with humans the peculiarity of traveling in a few hours across national and intercontinental borders. The record for distance covered in a single year belongs to the arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea), which travels ≈50,000 km between Antarctica and northern Scandinavia. As a whole, billions of birds travel between continents twice a year in only a few weeks (1). During these yearly migrations, birds have the potential of dispersing microorganisms that can be dangerous for public as well as animal health (2,3). For instance, birds are believed to be responsible for the wide geographic distribution of various pathogens, including viruses (e.g., West Nile, Sindbis, influenza A, Newcastle), bacteria (e.g., borrelia, mycobacteria, salmonellae), and protozoa (e.g., cryptosporidia). Insight into the ecology of bird populations is necessary to understand the epidemiology of bird-associated diseases. Furthermore, data about avian movements might be used to improve disease surveillance schemes or to adapt preventive measures. However, solid bridges between ecology and human medicine are still lacking
In order to take my personal evaluation of this study in front (and remind of the novel Erich Maria Remarques): All Quiet on the Western Front
This study ignores on the one hand already the facts of the past outbreaks (in particular concerning the circumstances, which wild and migratory birds are suitable actually as vectors to exclude) and on the other hand (although suggested by the authors themselves in the Abstract and in the introduction..) the probability of the "vector humans" is substantially larger, compared with wild and migratory birds.
Btw: The maximum speed of migratory birds is compared with the normal speed of Boeing or Airbus, also in compare with an intercontinental missile (even if this death and spoiling do not transport usually in the form of viruses), pretty low.. ;)