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Friday, October 28, 2005

Monitoring for H5N1 in Israel

A USA Today story from yesterday has Yossi Leshem, an ornithologist and director of the International Center for the Study of Bird Migration at Latrun, claiming that their six banding stations are not enough to effectively carry out surveillance for avian influenza H5N1 virus in Israel. According to the article, Leshem stated that "at least a dozen additional banding stations are necessary."

If at least 18 banding stations are needed to keep an eye out for H5N1 in the small state of Israel (20,840 square miles), how many stations would be needed to find and track the virus in the United States (3,537,441 square miles)?

The pressing need for widespread and extensive monitoring of avian influenza (and other zoonotic viruses) is a challenge and opportunity. Will we build a one-time wind-gauge to find and identify H5N1 when it comes to North America, or will we create a system of continual, long-term monitoring that will help us track emerging viral storms for years to come?

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