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Saturday, February 11, 2006

H5N1 Bird Flu Spreads to EU

This week Greece, Italy, and Azerbaijan join the list of nations with incidents of H5N1 avian influenza in wild birds. Mute Swans continue to be the wild birds most impacted in Europe so far. We still don't know where these birds are coming from, or how they are contracting the virus. In many areas, Mute Swans associate with feral or free-ranging domestic waterfowl--perhaps picking up the virus from these birds, which have been shown to be able to carry and spread H5N1 without showing signs of infection. We need more testing of both wild waterfowl, and especially of otherwise healthy-looking domestic ducks. If we just wait until we see dead swans or poultry, we may well miss the spread of this virus in shipments or movements of the main bird shown to carry the virus without showing signs of infection--domestic ducks.

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