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Monday, November 07, 2005

H5 Wild Bird Flu In the United States?

The Recombinomics website reviews the latest info on the Canadian H5 avian influenza detections in wild birds, and speculates that H5N1 may be in the U.S. already. The crippling final line of the status report is:

"Based on the data from Canada, it seems likely that H5 is well represented in the wild bird population in the US. It is unclear why such infections have not been detected and reported."

While it is probably more likely that the H5 influenza found in Canadian birds is H5N2, which is a fairly common LPAI H5 virus in Minnesota.

The answer is, because we're not really looking that hard for avian influenza viruses. If we were taking thousands of samples from birds all across the country, who knows what we'd find. The question really is, how badly do we want to really know how widespread these viruses are in wild birds? Is it enough to just wait for sick or dead birds to start turning up in parks and golf courses?

While we wait for the U.S. national surveillance plan, we can only hope that we will be offered a long-term, widespread system to detect and track all avian influenza viruses in wild birds--not just a short-term H5N1 detection sytem that will only tell us, too late, that the a dangerous virus has already arrived.


Anonymous said...

So does that mean that free range domestic fowl are at risk? Seems likely.

Also, what's the remedy? With fish, they'll go ahead and destroy an entire population in a lake or stream and then repopulate. What can they do with birds?

birdchaser said...

In poultry, the recommended action is to kill all birds in an infected flock. If, and it is still a big if, H5N1 ever gets to the US in a highly pathogenic form, free-range domestic fowl may be at risk...but probably will always be more at risk from other infected domestic birds.

There is still no solid evidence showing that domestic birds have gotten H5N1 from wild birds. Its theoretically possible, but not proven. It may not even be that likely, depending on how common the virus turns out to be in wild birds--another huge unknown.

Flu-Bird said...

So far no big time bird flu case in america despite what the liberal leftists news media has said and despite all the poppycock from those PETA jerks

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