I don’t believe wild birds are spreading h5n1

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      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, suggesting that highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses causing minimal signs of disease 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


      Martin W

        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)

          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

          Thanks, yes, I’ve seen this [full paper], )

          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

          Martin W

            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.

            Martin W

              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.

              The migratory birds are not the “rats of the sky”

              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

              Martin W
                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.)

                Don't blame the wild birds

                Martin W

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

                  via babelfish.altavista.com, includes:

                  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.

                  Le H5N1, virus sauvage ou domestique ?

                  Martin W
                    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.”

                    ‘Migratory Birds Not Spreading Bird Flu’

                    Martin W

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

                      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 lethality of this subtype appeared to initially limit migrant effectiveness as introductory hosts. 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.

                      Birds and Influenza H5N1 Virus Movement to and within North America

                      Martin W

                        In the littoral the measures for the preventive maintenance of the bird influenza strengthened

                        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

                        Martin W

                          Azerbaijani bird flu monitoring results announced

                          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/

                          Martin W
                            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.

                            Cats can carry bird flu, study says [link no longer works; see next post]

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


                            Martin wrote:

                            Cats can carry bird flu, study says

                            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


                            Martin W

                              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.

                              Martin W
                                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.

                                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.

                                Martin W

                                  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:

                                  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.

                                  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.

                                  Martin W
                                    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.

                                    Migrating flocks declared H5N1-free – Jakarta Post

                                    Martin W
                                      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.

                                      Regular Monitoring Did Not Detect Bird Flue in Azerbaijan


                                      Migrating birds free from flu, ministry says 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.

                                      Martin W

                                        Just seen a paper published in Waterbirds 29(3): 243-257, 2006:
                                        Avian Influenza: An Ecological and Evolutionary Perspective for Waterbird Scientists
                                        by SABIR BIN MUZAFFAR,RONALD C. Y DENBERG AND IAN L. JONES

                                        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.

                                        Martin W

                                          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.

                                          Martin W

                                            Recent Promed post included:

                                            “Movements of birds and avian influenza from Asia into Alaska.” Kevin
                                            Winkler et. al.

                                            Asian-origin avian influenza (AI) viruses are spread in part by
                                            migratory birds. In Alaska, diverse avian hosts from Asia and the
                                            Americas overlap in a region of intercontinental avifaunal mixing.
                                            This region is hypothesized to be a zone of Asia-to-America virus
                                            transfer because birds there can mingle in waters contaminated by
                                            wild-bird-origin AI viruses. Our 7 years of AI virus surveillance
                                            among waterfowl and shorebirds in this region (1998-2004; 8254
                                            samples) showed remarkably low infection rates (0.06 percent) [There
                                            were only 5 positive samples, and none were H5. – Mod.MHJ]. Our
                                            findings suggest an Arctic effect on viral ecology caused perhaps by
                                            low ecosystem productivity and low host densities relative to
                                            available water. Combined with a synthesis of avian diversity and
                                            abundance, intercontinental host movements, and genetic analyses, our
                                            results suggest that the risk and probably the frequency of
                                            intercontinental virus transfer in this region are relatively low.

                                            full article at:

                                            Martin W

                                              Review appearing in ornithological journal Ibis, now online. Includes:

                                              The phenology and geographical pattern of expansion of the HPAI H5N1 does not correspond to the pattern of bird migration. First, it took several months for the virus to spread from China to the Balkans. Migratory birds such as ducks and waders travel several hundred kilometres in a single day. If migrating birds mainly dispersed the virus, the virus should also spread by large jumps of thousands of kilometres, throughout the migratory stopping places of Asia and Africa. The observed expansion has rather been by a progressive expansion from isolated outbreaks, the geographical pattern of which corresponds well with major routes and patterns of human commerce.

                                              Secondly, from July 2005 onwards, if migratory birds were a main agent of dispersal, one would have expected massive mortalities of wild birds, both in the breeding areas and along all migratory routes, as bird populations would have been encountering this virus for the first time. However, only sporadic cases were observed. The cases in Western Europe after the cold spell on the Black Sea showed that the virus can spread through infected wild birds travelling short distances (Feare 2007), but no evidence for long-distance transmission during seasonal migration has yet been found (Feare 2007). Analysing 52 introduction events into countries, Kilpatrick et al. (2006) concluded that both poultry and the trade in wild birds represent a larger risk than migratory birds for the introduction of HPAI H5N1 to the Americas. In summary, although it remains possible that a migratory bird can spread the virus HPAI H5N1 and contaminate poultry, the evidence overwhelmingly supports the hypothesis that human movements of domestic poultry have been the main agent of global dispersal of the virus to date.

                                              The occurrence of an outbreak at a commercial turkey farm in Suffolk, England, in February 2007 fits this wider pattern. In spite of the absence of evidence that migratory birds play a major role in the dispersal of the virus, many statements to this effect were made by international institutions, non-governmental organizations and media, and a debate between epidemiologists and ecologists followed (e.g. Normile 2005, 2006a, 2006b, Fergus et al. 2006). However, from autumn 2005 it was largely presented as fact that migratory birds were the main potential agent of global dispersal (e.g. Derenne & Bricaire 2005, FAO 2005), even as evidence emerged in Asia that spread was mainly mediated by human activities (Melville & Shortridge 2004). OIE reports (e.g. OIE 2005, 2006a, 2006c) indicated that the source of outbreaks was contact with migratory birds, but offered no evidence to support this assertion and contributed to the inappropriate emphasis on migratory birds, thus reducing the probability that alternative mechanisms such as poultry movements were fully considered in individual cases. In spite of the declarations of the Nigerian Minister of Agriculture on the probability of the introduction of the virus via the poultry trade (Euro Surveillance 2006), the FAO continued to implicate migratory birds, thus denying problems associated with commercial exchanges. The natural globalization of the exchanges of migratory birds seemed to hide the globalization – without strict health control – of the exchanges of poultry as the accepted mechanism for disease spread. By May 2006, an international conference in Rome had recognized that the virus was mainly spread through the poultry trade, both legal and illegal, but OIE and FAO media releases (FAO 2006b, OIE 2006b) continued to focus on the possible contribution of spread by wild birds.

                                              Given that a key part of the remit of the FAO is to develop international agricultural trade, reticence to accept that this trade is the main agent of global dispersal of HPAI H5N1 is perhaps unsurprising.

                                              Recent expansion of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1: a critical review[/url] also in Ibis, a Viewpoint article by Professor Chris Feare, includes:

                                              The most recent outbreak in western Europe, at a turkey farm in Suffolk, UK, is alluded to by Gauthier-Clerc et al. but evidence that has become available since their review was written illustrates many of the problems of H5N1 reporting. The outbreak was first blamed on wild birds, which veterinary investigators reported at the site and this received high press prominence. …

                                              The 10 February 2007 issue of New Scientist magazine included a map of Suffolk showing the outbreak location and highlighting the proximity of the RSPB's Minsmere ‘wildfowl’ reserve. …

                                              The preliminary Defra report on the outbreak commented on site biosecurity including workers changing footwear on entering the turkey sheds. Biosecurity in parts of southeast Asia involves removing all clothing, walking through a hot shower, and then putting on a complete set of clean clothing inside the premises.

                                              Martin W

                                                New paper out from China, mentions:

                                                EWHC [H5N1 type] was isolated from a Eurasian widgeon in a large lake [in central China] where many widgeons were found dead.

                                                – maybe first report re these dead “widgeons” (maybe other species too, I’d guess). At time when wild birds being readily blamed for spreading H5N1. Yet here’s further evidence that wild birds not asymptomatic carriers, for as we all know, Dead Ducks Don’t Fly.

                                                Avian Influenza (H5N1) Virus in Waterfowl and Chickens, Central China

                                                Martin W

                                                  Back in February 2004, I received email from poultry flu expert Carol Cardona, inc

                                                  The reason I speculated that humans moving birds should
                                                  not be eliminated as suspects in the spread of this disease is that in my
                                                  experience sick and dead ducks don’t fly far. But, people can very easily
                                                  move sick birds over many miles. The movements may be legal or illegal but
                                                  in an outbreak of disease, they usually happen. I don’t think migratory
                                                  birds can be eliminated as major spreaders but you can never underestimate
                                                  the ability of humans to move disease.

                                                  I’ve since simplified this to argue “Dead Ducks Don’t Fly” – but also added far more, looked at much info.

                                                  Yet, many wild pronouncements re migratory birds carrying H5N1 around, and/or set to transport it to all corners of the globe (ever see any of the crassest idiocy from Henry Niman? – Aaarghh!!0

                                                  Paper just on CDC site looks at the issue, conclusion much as in Cardona’s email.


                                                  The claim that migratory birds are responsible for the long-distance spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses of subtype H5N1 rests on the assumption that infected wild birds can remain asymptomatic and migrate long distances unhampered. We critically assess this claim from the perspective of ecologic immunology, a research field that analyzes immune function in an ecologic, physiologic, and evolutionary context. Long-distance migration is one of the most demanding activities in the animal world. We show that several studies demonstrate that such prolonged, intense exercise leads to immunosuppression and that migratory performance is negatively affected by infections. These findings make it unlikely that wild birds can spread the virus along established long-distance migration pathways. However, infected, symptomatic wild birds may act as vectors over shorter distances, as appears to have occurred in Europe in early 2006.

                                                  final sentence:

                                                  Migratory birds are already affected by habitat destruction and climate change; alarmist statements blaming migrants for the spread of an emerging disease with pandemic potential and ignoring or underplaying the role of the poultry industry do not do justice to the complexity of the issues involved

                                                  Ecologic Immunology of Avian Influenza (H5N1) in Migratory Birds

                                                  further comment I sent to aiwatch (group re bird flu and wild birds):

                                                  o why then the widespread blame of wild birds, inc by many people who
                                                  should know better – of course the FAO’s Domenech (how much have FAO to
                                                  hide, hope is not widely seen?); and even some purported
                                                  “conservationists”? [money helping latter avoid telling it like it is?]

                                                  How many birds killed, scared; how many people unnecessarily scared of
                                                  wild birds during this modern-day witchhunt?
                                                  How many small holders had livelihoods seriously disrupted, as wild
                                                  birds supposedly about to bring in bird flu; while Big Chicken
                                                  companies like Bernard Matthews have been merrily transporting
                                                  eggs/chicks/poultry back and forth, and misplacing paperwork or

                                                  Anyone standing up to express shame over their roles in all this?
                                                  Not that I can see, tho some are quieter nowadays.

                                                  Anyone seen, yet, the FAO report on S Korea situation: was this shoved
                                                  away from limelight once it appeared wild birds weren’t the vectors
                                                  there? [curious Nial Moores told to remove his account from website:
                                                  was it factually wrong, or just telling the “wrong” story?, not
                                                  convenient for fans of Big Chicken.]

                                                  How many places are still feeding chicken manure and carcasses to fish?
                                                  – anyone done research into whether this isn’t such a good idea after
                                                  all? Or, too busy being witch-hunters.

                                                  Martin W

                                                    Another paper out in continuing hunt for the Tooth Fairy Bird (which can survive and sustain and spread H5N1 poultry flu). Experiments showed that Mallard may be a candidate species; but other ducks, such as Tufted Duck, liable to die when infected, so maybe sentinels. I’ve just posted to aiwatch group:

                                                    I’m not so up to speed re wild ducks etc n h5n1 – after all, seems to me the story is so often the same old same old; here we have more of the search for the Tooth Fairy BIrd, with suggestion it might exist (as a mallard) but not actually found. I recalled work by Webster n co – leading Tooth Fairy Bird chasers! – which involved H5N1 that was virulent to mallard. I’ve the paper someplace, but easier to google for quick info; and find: "In laboratory experiments in mallard ducks, it rapidly shifted from being potentially fatal to causing only asymptomatic infections. Nevertheless, it remained highly virulent to domestic chickens and, presumably, to people. A resilient wild waterfowl, such as the mallard, could therefore become a permanent biological reservoir for a strain of avian flu with pandemic-causing potential."

                                                    I wonder, then, re the strain used in the newer TF Bird experiments: not quite the same as some strains, inc used by Webster. Once again, we have evolution to the rescue. I know virologists – many of them – don’t believe in it, instead looking to mutations and mixing, but not evolving; don’t really know why this is: too busy peering into microscopes to see wider pictures? Again: a virus getting from poultry farms to wild will evolve to low pathogenicity in wild birds (as Webster’s rather simple experiments showed – simple compared to the wild that is). I’d like to again ask: has there been anything like the effort expended in blaming wild birds used to assess the situation re official and unofficial poultry trade? – or is the situation that, with poultry trade and friends having the main money for H5N1 research, the funding tends to go into areas that can point finger of blame away from poultry industry? So far, silence re this.

                                                    You can find the paper re Mallard etc at: http://www.cdc.gov/eid/content/14/4/600.htm


                                                    Tooth Fairy Bird visits Switzerland The Swiss federal veterinary department reported an asymptomatic Pochard (Anythya ferina), found on Lake Sempach (near Lucern). The duck shows no signs of infection, the office sayd. Most interesting point: According to the Swiss federal veterinary department, they cought the duck during a regular detection programme, tested it H5N1 hpai positive – and then let it fly. Unbelieveable – but true.

                                                    (Sorry, related article only availeable in german language, please use "babelfish", "google translations" or another tool if needed) [.. Vogelgrippe: Nach zwei Jahren wieder ein Fall Das hochansteckende Vogelgrippevirus H5N1 ist in der Schweiz bei einer Tafelente auf dem Sempachersee gefunden worden. Zusätzliche Massnahmen zu den bereits getroffenen sind aber keine vorgesehen. Der im Rahmen des Überwachungsprogramms kontrollierte Wasservogel, eine Tafelente, zeigte aber keinerlei Krankheitssymptome. Es ist das erste Mal in der Schweiz, dass der Vogelgrippe-Erreger bei einem lebenden Vogel gefunden wurde.Die Tafelente sei zwar Trägerin des Virus, die Krankheit sei aber nicht ausgebrochen, sagte der Sprecher des Bundesamt für Veterinärwesen (BVET). Nach der Untersuchung wurde das Tier wieder fliegen gelassen. Bisher wurden in der Schweiz 33 Fälle von Vogelgrippe gezählt – alle bei tot gefundenen Wasservögeln. Die Kadaver stammten alle entweder vom Genfer– oder vom Bodensee und waren zwischen Ende Februar und Ende März 2006 gefunden worden. ..] See also: http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=31&art_id=nw20080327144054153C696658 and the website of the Swiss federal veterinary department

                                                    Nearby three hundred millions of healthy birds were worldwide killed 'n culled to prevent the "next great pandemic".. and the swissmen says "No much dangereous virus in all, less risk for humans and poultry.. no need to take action.." Wat's going on? First signs that some officials changing their paradigm? All the best, Werner

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