Migratory Birds Not Main Source of Bird Flu: WWF.

Staff Report

LAHORE: Wild migratory birds may suffer from Avian Influenza (commonly known as bird flu), but they are not the main source of the disease’s outbreak in Pakistan, according to a study statement issued by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Lahore chapter on Friday.

The statement said that the statements about migratory birds being the main reason for the latest outbreak of bird flu in Pakistani poultry farms might have serious repercussions against the birds and their habitats. It said since the recent outbreak of bird flu in Sindh, WWF Pakistan had been in contact with BirdLife International, which carried out research on the role of wild birds, including migratory species, in the spread of HPAI H5N1.

The WWF said there were no sound grounds to support the allegations that migratory birds were solely responsible for the spread of H5N1. It said the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) collected samples from between 300,000 to 350,000 wild-birds across the world. None of these were found H5N1 positive. Likewise, sampling of 5000 water birds after the outbreak in Nigeria during 2006 found no traces of the virus (according to the Wildlife and the Environment Web). Despite increased sampling around the world, no fully documented migratory wild birds have tested positive for H5N1.

The WWF said the mapping of bird flu outbreaks across the world had shown that they followed poultry trade routes rather than the migratory birds’ flyways. Therefore, after a comprehensive critical review of recent scientific literature, it was concluded that poultry trade, rather than bird migration, was the main mechanism of the global dispersal of the H5N1 virus.

The organisation said the illegal trade of caged birds had transported the H5N1 virus the world over. It said, “Bird flu virus is transmitted farm to farm by the movement of live birds, people (especially with contaminated clothes), and contaminated vehicles, equipment, feed, and cages. Highly pathogenic viruses can survive for long periods in the environment, especially when temperatures are low. For example, the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus can survive in bird faeces for at least 35 days at a low temperature (4 degree Celsius). At a much higher temperature (37 degree Celsius), H5N1 viruses have been shown to survive, in faecal samples, for six days (WHO).”

The WWF called for the media to educate the people about the bird flu virus and how it was being spread. It also called for the authorities to monitor any suspicious mortality of birds in the wild. It asked the zoos to vaccinate all birds against the virus. The organisation said poultry farms should have tracking numbers because once their birds got out in the market they could not be tracked back to the farms. The WWF said strict hygiene and bio-security measures should be taken at poultry farms and zoos – People and vehicles going to the farms should be disinfected, the birds’ caretakers should meticulously clean utensils, their hands and feet.

The statement said the organisation did not support mass culling of wild birds or the destruction of their habitats. It said the birds’ habitats should be left undisturbed so that they do not seek refuge near human settlements.

Source: Daily Times

I’ve read other accounts that come to the same conclusion.

2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Robert D said,

    That’s kind of a relief to me. But these third world countries are gonna get us, one way or another.

  2. 2

    swampie said,

    You got that right.

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