Keep seeing virologist Robert Webster cited as an "expert"; meanwhile an impression that ornithology is somehow of little importance in studying H5N1 and wild birds. Indeed the renowned Dr Webster has done much research, and some years ago - apparently - came up with notion that wild birds are flu reservoirs.
Profile: Robert Webster
But, a major case of Big Fish in Small Pond Syndrome? Much to question from Dr Webster, I think.
- For instance, he seems to treat H5N1 as a chemical with miraculous properties, not subject to natural selection. How else to explain notions re highly pathogenic avian influenza becoming endemic in wild birds?
- we know of it killing wild birds, yet tiny number of apparently healthy birds with H5N1.
Also, seems no other explanation for his being quoted re warning the world that H5N1 could kill up to 50% of human population.
- Doesn't seem to think H5N1's tendency to concentrate in trachea of ducks suggests it will be highly inefficient at transmitting in the wild (wild bird flus having evolved to use far more efficient faeces to water to bills mechanism, which matters less in poultry farms)
- Supposedly an expert on flu and wild birds, yet seems unable to identify birds (why else a paper with "wild ducks"?) Nor to bother with knowledge of migration routes and timings; unfazed by fact no known routes link Poyang and Qinghai in China, say.
"They're going to spread this ... thing further and further across central Asia and Europe and who knows where," said Robert G Webster of the St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, an author of a report released on Wednesday by the journal Nature.
Another report, released by the journal Science, said the finding of the H5N1 infection in migrant birds at Qinghai Lake in western China "indicates that this virus has the potential to be a global threat".
- V odd when a Kuwait flamingo had H5N1, Webster said showed it was migrating towards Africa; yet this was reportedly a captive bird.
- Readily accepted, from tiny evidence, H5N1 was in the wild birds. Yet now seems to have decided that it might in future become endemic in wild birds.
- Quoted as saying something re H5N1 becoming widespread in wild ducks in Russia. Evidence for this being??
Sorry, but to me this does not smack of expertise.