Thursday, June 01, 2006



Even while the major focus on stopping the spread of bird flu last year, and earlier this year, was centred on how migratory birds carried the infection from country to country, and then infected local birds where they landed, there were a small number of outsider experts who claimed this was all the wrong way round.

They theorised that it was the poultry farms themselves that were infecting the wild birds, and that it was the poultry farms, and the industrialisation of poultry farming, plus the legal and illegal international poultry trade, that was responsible for the spread of the H5N1 virus.

Now the migratory birds theory has been widely degraded, attention is turning towards the international poultry trade in some very serious ways.

From Bloomberg : "The fight to stop the spread of deadly bird flu is leading back to farms, health experts say.

"Officials looking to contain the avian influenza virus that may spark a human pandemic are downplaying the importance of migrating wild birds as the source of infections among domestic poultry.

"Farms and poultry traders are the more likely cause of the spread of the flu, which has killed 48 people so far this year, more than all of 2005.

"The focus on wild birds has led to misguided attempts to control the virus, Richard Thomas, a spokesman for BirdLife International, a Cambridge, U.K.-based conservation society, said in an interview.

"New research suggests the wild animals may be getting the virus from farm-based chickens and ducks.

"...scientists from more than 100 countries will meet today in Rome to try to shift the focus of prevention back to the animals that incubate the disease.

"The H5N1 virus has killed two of every three people infected this year...

"Almost all of the 218 known human H5N1 cases have been linked to close contact with sick or dead birds, according to the World Health Organization in Geneva. Thorough cooking of meat and eggs kills the virus.

"About 200 million fowl have been culled or have died of the disease since late 2003, costing countries as much as $15 billion, according to the FAO.

"Generally, the spread of the disease hasn't taken the course that would be expected if it followed the migratory patterns.

"In Nigeria, which is on so-called migratory flyways, evidence has emerged that the virus was introduced there in February through trade in infected chicks, the FAO said."

"The number of chickens in Indonesia, where the WHO is investigating the largest known cluster of human infections, had risen to an estimated 271 million in 1997 from 61.8 million in 1969, according to the FAO."

Go here for the full story.

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