Avian flu

To: Brian Everingham <>
Subject: Avian flu
From: Peter Woodall <>
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2004 12:10:04 +1000
At 07:38 AM 21/01/2004 +1100, you wrote:

I was minding my own business, listening to ABC News Radio this morning, when a story arose on avian flu and its potential to inflict more harm than SARS. The story then reached the realms of the idiotic. A veterinary officer in Qld claimed we could have this passed on to Australians and therefore humans by migratory birds. Furthermore, the poultry spokesperson interviewed seemed to concur. I swallowed hard, fearing those dangerous Red Necked Stints coming out of Asia& the new Yellow Peril! Is our paranoia with no limits?

Brian Everingham

Hi Brian and others

While I'm sure there is no need for paranoia, there are interesting links between wild birds, poultry and humans which shouldn't be totally

I had slight connection with this some years ago when I helped a post-doctoral researcher investigate the links between outbreaks in poultry and wild birds (It was funded by the poultry industry). Looking at the range of possible bird links to poultry we thought that waterfowl and pigeons and doves might be the best focus for such links. Both pigeons and doves and some waterfowl (Plumed Whistle Ducks, for example) will feed on spilt grain near poultry sheds.

We started a program of capture, banding, bleeding and release of these birds at UQ's Pinjarra Hills (near Brisbane).

The early results were promising, in that some of the wild birds showed identical antibodies to those involved in poultry outbreaks. (I know v. little about the virology, this was Christine's field, but I understand that avian flu,
like human flu, has a great variety of different "types").

The next stage would have been to look at waders but unfortunately our funding was cut and Christine moved on to
human epidemiology where the funding is better and more secure.

As you correctly point out any direct links between Red-necked Stints and the vast majority of humans would be very tenuous
but there are possible links between waders, waterfowl, poultry and humans.



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