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 photos and short article 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: no wild bird species known to be able to survive and sustain and spread H5N1.