Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Avian flu aka bird flu

You've likely seen or heard about avian flu in the newspaper or on television. It has killed humans in Asia and spread to Eastern Europe.

North American ornithologists, however, said the H5N1 strain of the flu doesn't pose a threat to backyard birds or backyard birders. "There has not been a documented case of the H5N1 strain in wild birds in North America," said Dr. David Bonter of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "There is no need to be concerned about feeding birds."

The species associated with the flu are ducks and other waterfowl. Rob Fergus of the National Audubon Society's science office said there's a difference between wild waterfowl and the species that visit backyard feeders. "At this point, thre is no evidence humans are at serious risk of contracting avian flu from backyard birds or birdfeeding."

Humans infected with the flu were "closely associated with infected poultry," said Susan Hays, executive director of Wild Bird Feeding Industry.

To keep up on information, WBFI suggested monitoring these websites:
American Birding Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Izaak Walton League of America
National Audubon Society
National Wildlife Health Center
National Wildlife Refuge Association
World Health Organization

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