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Friday, January 20, 2006

Fish Farming and Bird Flu

BirdLife International has come out with a new statement and info about farming practices and the spread of H5N1 avian influenza. This photo, from the BirdLife website, shows how duck farms are established in conjunction with fish farming, so that bird manure can be washed into the water to provide nutrients to feed the fish. If infected duck manure is used, this can spread the infection to wild birds and other poultry, as the virus remains viable for a long time in water--especially at lower winter temperatures. There is concern that shipments of infected bird manure for use in distant fish farms may be spreading the virus outward from centers of infection. It is possible that public health officials continue to blame the spread of bird flu on migratory wild birds (when there isn't much evidence to support that claim) in order to avoid dealing with these popular agricultural practices.

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