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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Global Bird Flu Tracking?

A new system was announced by the UN Convention on Migratory Species this week, but details so far seem to indicate that it is really just tracking migratory birds, not the viruses that they carry. We still need a solid plan for global monitoring of avian influenza viruses. The announcement this week that some of the ducks in Canada do have a low pathogenic variant of the H5N1 virus is more evidence that we have a lot to learn about the distribution and potential for spread of all of these avian influenza strains.

Meanwhile, there are also reports that live birds are regularly smuggled out of China into the United States. Smuggled domestic birds are probably a greater risk for spreading the highly pathogenic form of H5N1 than wild birds, both here in the United States as well as in Asia and Europe.

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