That would seem to be good news for wild birds, but maybe there is a catch. How good is our monitoring of bird flu in wild birds? Check out this latest New Scientist article (here). According to the article, improper procedures have been used for testing for H5N1 in wild birds in the UK,
Now the question is...how good is the testing of wild birds in other areas of the world? Are we missing the virus in wild bird populations elsewhere due to faulty testing techniques?
The problem may have been DEFRA's method of collecting samples. Crommie says DEFRA told WWT samplers to moisten a sterile swab on a stick with saline, take a faecal sample from the bird, then put the swab back in its dry plastic tube. The tubes were then kept at refrigerator temperature and taken to the testing laboratories the next day.
Both Nolting and Olsen are adamant that swabs must be immediately immersed in a saline or preservative solution, and also frozen quickly. "If you left a swab in the refrigerator in its sheath like that, it would dry out and you'd lose all your virus," says Olsen. He says whoever planned the tests "should have talked to us". DEFRA has not done large-scale flu surveys before.
"If you just want to identify the viruses present you could put it in a nutrient solution or in ethanol, but you need a transport medium," says Nolting. "We never take dry swabs." Both groups also quickly freeze samples.