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So Far, Migration Not Accelerating Bird Flu
posted by admin on 15/05/06
From the Associated Press
May 13, 2006
AMSTERDAM — Fears that the deadly strain of bird flu would move through Africa and Europe in flocks of wild birds have so far proved unfounded, but the danger is not entirely over, a Dutch environmental group said Thursday.
Experts from Wetlands International tested 5,000 wild birds in countries including Tunisia, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Senegal, Malawi and Kenya but didn't find the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus, which is often fatal in humans, said Ward Hagemeijer, who studies the disease for the organization.
Scientists had feared that the virus would spread more quickly as the birds migrated for the winter to Africa and the Middle East, then returned to Europe.
Although the flu has appeared in those regions, the group found no evidence linking it to migration.
Bird flu experts say that they are relieved they have not found the deadly strain in many migrating birds but that information is too limited to declare victory against H5N1 in wild fowl.
The virus is "a needle in the haystack, and in the haystacks we looked, we didn't find any needles," said Juan Lubroth, a senior officer for animal health at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.
In the Netherlands, which is on a major bird migration path, more than 13,000 wild birds have been tested since February. None showed signs of H5N1.
The virus appeared in February in swans and other wild birds across Europe, which went on high alert. The European Union ordered that free-range domestic poultry be kept indoors to avoid contact with potentially infected migrating birds.
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