Re: 'Bird flu' checks stepped up

To: <>
Subject: Re: 'Bird flu' checks stepped up
From: "Colin Driscoll" <>
Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2005 08:59:59 +1000
My understanding is that the flyways for most of the waders bypass the areas where they are likely to collect the virus and that the more likely suspects are the likes of Magpie Geese and other waterfowl.
Colin Driscoll

From: [ On Behalf Of
Sent: Wednesday, 28 September 2005 8:50 AM
Subject: [BIRDING-AUS] Re: 'Bird flu' checks stepped up

Finally!  I knew if I read all of the postings to date before responding I would find at least one voice of reason.  Andrew  wrote
"The newspaper article at question is here:
It does not mention shooting hundreds of thousands of birds.

There are a number of ways where epidemiology information regarding H5N1 in wild birds could be useful.

For example, if H5N1 is prevalent in Sharp-tailed Sandpipers we could close(the few) poultry farms where Sharp-tailed Sandpipers might come in contact with poultry.  This would be prudent not only for the poultry industry, but to reduce any contact with humans and hence the chance of reassortment producing a strain where human-human transmission is a problem.

Commercial poultry farms in Australia are very aware of the implications of bird flu and engage strict bio-security on farm.  It's very unlikely that Andrew's hypothetical example would occur.  Having said that I'm sure some poultry farmers are not entirely aware of the actual likelihood of transmission from migratory birds to flocks in Australia.  For example, at one stage there was information being disseminated through the exhibition poultry fraternity that the poultry should have no access to areas where any wild birds also have access, thus reducing transmission risk.  I'm glad to say that common sense is now taking hold and there is a better, but far from perfect, understanding of how this disease may spread among hobbyists.  If bird flu were to get into poultry flocks in this country it is far more likely to be through backyard flocks or smaller free-range commercial flocks where bio-security is harder to implement.

What did they say on that old ad? - "oils ain't oils".  We must also be aware that bird flu is endemic in many birds.  It is the H5N1 strain that is causing concern.  The authorities are well aware of this and I doubt you will find the mass slaughter of migratory birds being advocated as a control measure just because they may be carrying a benign strain of bird flu.  The problem arises when you get mass hysteria, generally, fuelled by a media only interested in sensationalistic news stories.  A story of a few hundred words leaves little room for well researched facts!

Personally, I think the most likely way bird flu will get into Australia is via an aircraft.  Remember SARS?  Well, at least with SARS the symptoms were obvious during the infectious stage.  With flus you are infectious before the symptoms are obvious.  Again, those trying to control the disease are aware of this, thus the importance of developing vaccines.

There's my two bobs worth.

David Geering
Regent Honeyeater Recovery Coordinator
Department of Environment & Conservation
P.O. Box 2111
Dubbo  NSW  2830
Ph: 02 6883 5335 or Freecall 1800 621 056
Fax: 02 6884 9382

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