Martin W

    just made another post to the Agonist.org forums; without giving all previous posts, followed another by Niman saying it’s perfectly clear re wild birds spreading bird flu in Russia just now

    Surely OIE report for the two outbreaks in n Xinjiang are just repeating info from officials in China. The reports give no evidence wild birds were involved; none amongst the dead or sick – just farmyard geese. Right on the border with Kazakhstan.

    How is the story clear re migratory birds when outbreaks came at a time when Qinghai birds are sedentary (even flightless)? As you yourself say, Doc Niman, migrations are predictable;here, get result contrary to predictions yet you’re unfazed.
    Russian reports to OIE also cite wild birds with no real evidence I can see – and astonishing simultaneous outbreaks at 13 farms up to 600 km apart. So, what happened here? – some infected bird flew a wild flight, against migration direction, pooping in farm ponds here and there as it went? Or several birds, even flocks of birds [can poop from one bird really infect a farm pond sufficiently?] – which gets even more unlikely in late summer/early autumn, especially if propose that all the way from Qinghai.
    Again, looks like rather hasty official conclusions (after H2 initially announced, too). Deja flu all over again, as it were, recalling 2003/04, say.

    Just because virus in Russia looks similar to that in Qinghai doesn’t mean Qinghai was the source. (If I go to bank here in Hong Kong, draw out a US$, and it looks like those you have, does it mean it came from you?) The Russian virus also, like Qinghai, looks a lot like h5n1 in se China. And that virus could and did kill geese, and swans (captive – either farm, or ornamental).
    Qinghai virus reportedly killed 8 of 8 chickens innoculated in 20 hours. In a Russian outbreak, mortality in poultry reported to be just over 3 percent.
    Much is mystery, not helped by official obfuscation and secrecy.

    No whooping cranes died in Mongolia; they were whooper swans. (A tough species that won’t head south till winter’s close – I’ve seen a few fly south on ne China coast, in November, when temps getting towards freezing.) Three birds found with h5n1, all dead; 6500 birds seen, with living birds looking fit and well, and those tested, testing negative.
    This error helps highlight the chasm in your knowledge re wild birds.
    Perhaps you could get out to a migration watchpoint near you – should be some migration getting underway around now, talk to some knowledgeable birders. Migrations in US not identical, but have similarities to those in Eurasia, including massive tendencies to northward components in spring, almost static during summer, then massive southward component during autumn.

    Watch what happens: outbreaks will continue to be haphazard when compared to migratory bird routes/timings; but fit trade. Just as 2003/04. Already signs of this – the outbreaks post Qinghai mostly well to north, with Lhasa popping up; then big outbreak in Japan.
    [You had predicted outbreaks following Qinghai would be to west, south and east; presumably as those migration routes are so predictable. Well, we await significant outbreaks at places to the south – and my guess is, we will keep on waiting, for by now the migrants have little of the h5n1 variant left: they’ve died, become too sick to migrate, killed off the virus with immune responses, the virus has evolved/recombined to more benign forms. A guess, as I say, but fits previous patterns, even Mongolia just recently. Maybe, even, at least some have been culled?]

    Legal and illegal poultry trade transport may be less sexy than migrants flying like intercontinental ballistic missiles (in words of one over-excited journalist – think he needs a lie down, and less beer), but with trade there’s no need to come up with bizarre explanations (partly flightless geese suddenly flying/walking north late in breeding season), nor to suggest what we know about migration routes is wrong. (And we’re not so very ignorant; there are Russian ornithologists, increasing amount of ornithology in China, plenty of birders in India. But Damien’s right: migration routes and timings are complex. That, however, is no excuse for simply being vague and waffly in saying “wild birds” with no notions re vector species.)

    Oh, and Captain Tripps – the cartoon brought big smile to my face! Bightened up a grey, rainy day here in Hong Kong, where I’ve just tried looking for migrants, but few terns only.

    Post edited by: martin, at: 2005/08/20 06:08

    Post edited by: martin, at: 2005/08/20 06:14