Wednesday, May 31, 2006

No answers from bird flu conference

The conference in Rome concluded today, and the scientists did not leave with clear conclusions about the role of wild birds in the spread of bird flu.

The main problem, according to the FAO's chief veterinary officer Joseph Domenech,
is that no one knows for sure whether wild birds can act as long-term reservoirs for the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) viruses such as H5N1.

Migratory birds are known to carry the virus long distances, and in early spring, large-scale outbreaks of H5N1 were feared across Africa due to migrating bird flocks.

However scientists hit a wall when bird flu outbreaks were much fewer than expected but, worryingly, found nothing to link the outbreaks with wild birds.

"Before saying there is no role for wild birds in Africa we should be careful, however. We have to wait a little bit," said Domenech, particularly given that evidence of sick or dead birds can quickly disappear.

"A dead bird doesn't stay on the ground for very long in countries where there are hyenas and vultures ready to eat them up."


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May 12, 2007 3:06 PM  

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