Monday, February 18, 2008

Wild Birds NOT The Cause Of Bird Flu

On the off chance anyone is still worried about Avian Infuenza, the World Wildlife Fund Chapter in Pakistan is going on record that wild birds are not the main cause:

Wild migratory birds may suffer from Avian Influenza (commonly known as bird flu), but they are not the main source of the disease’s outbreak in Pakistan, according to a study statement issued by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Lahore chapter on Friday.

The statement said that the statements about migratory birds being the main reason for the latest outbreak of bird flu in Pakistani poultry farms might have serious repercussions against the birds and their habitats. It said since the recent outbreak of bird flu in Sindh, WWF Pakistan had been in contact with BirdLife International, which carried out research on the role of wild birds, including migratory species, in the spread of HPAI H5N1.

The WWF said there were no sound grounds to support the allegations that migratory birds were solely responsible for the spread of H5N1. It said the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) collected samples from between 300,000 to 350,000 wild-birds across the world. None of these were found H5N1 positive. Likewise, sampling of 5000 water birds after the outbreak in Nigeria during 2006 found no traces of the virus (according to the Wildlife and the Environment Web). Despite increased sampling around the world, no fully documented migratory wild birds have tested positive for H5N1.

The WWF said the mapping of bird flu outbreaks across the world had shown that they followed poultry trade routes rather than the migratory birds’ flyways. Therefore, after a comprehensive critical review of recent scientific literature, it was concluded that poultry trade, rather than bird migration, was the main mechanism of the global dispersal of the H5N1 virus.

The organisation said the illegal trade of caged birds had transported the H5N1 virus the world over. It said, “Bird flu virus is transmitted farm to farm by the movement of live birds, people (especially with contaminated clothes), and contaminated vehicles, equipment, feed, and cages. Highly pathogenic viruses can survive for long periods in the environment, especially when temperatures are low. For example, the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus can survive in bird faeces for at least 35 days at a low temperature (4 degree Celsius). At a much higher temperature (37 degree Celsius), H5N1 viruses have been shown to survive, in faecal samples, for six days (WHO).”

Read the rest of the story here.

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