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Friday, February 10, 2006

Garganeys and Nigerian Bird Flu

While I've highlighted the possibility of Garganey potentially carrying H5N1 bird flu to Africa, both here and in this National Geographic News article, this possibility remains mostly hypothetical. A recent article in the New Scientist seeks to tie the recent bird flu outbreak in Nigeria to wintering Garganey and Northern Pintail. However, no wild ducks with H5N1 have yet been found anywhere in Africa, so linking the current Nigerian outbreak to migratory waterfowl is premature. We also don't know exactly where the waterfowl wintering in West Africa spend the breeding season, so it is premature to claim that they have brought HPAI H5N1 to Africa from Russia. African countries also import poultry from many countries in Asia, so it is even more likely that the Nigerian outbreak can be linked to either legal or illicit trade in poultry or other birds. Nigerian Agriculture Minister Adamu Bello has suggested illegal poultry imports may be behind the outbreak.

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