Autumn Waterbird Migration
Spread Of H5N1

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
Hello Jeff - Studying Migratory Birds, Migration Pathways helps us understand the "spread" of bird flu. Thus far, Bird Flu is a veterinary disease and still in animal/bird populations.
I do not understand WHY we haven't seen bird flu follow its "normal" spread which should have, by now, been found in parts of Africa. This Winter it appears that bird flu has not been spreading to new territory in Africa via bird migrations.
Some of the questions may include,
1. Are migratory birds building up immunity to the virus?
2. Are migratory birds still contracting the virus but dying off before they are able to travel beyond the area of infection?
3. Is bird flu reemerging in outbreak areas due to vaccinations or via other vector?
4. Are humans carrying the virus farm-to-farm in outbreak areas as they go around vaccinating fowl?
We saw this happen with FMD during the UK outbreak in 2000/2001. Vets and vaccinating personnel would carrying FMD virus on shoes etc farm to farm as they traveled the community vaccinating animals.
5. Is there a change in the virus itself?
6. Is it poised to mutate back to the pre-1997 form?
7. Is it going to be less 'avian friendly'?
Surveillance and monitoring of migratory birds is still imperative, if not more so than ever.
Patricia Doyle
Autumn Waterbird Migration Ends WITHOUT Spread Of H5N1
Wild Birds "Victims Not Vectors"
BirdLife International
CAMBRIDGE, MA - As the year draws to a close, millions of wild birds have flown to their wintering sites across, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas without the widely predicted outbreaks of H5N1 bird flu associated with their migration routes. [1, 2]
"The most obvious explanation is that migrating wild birds are not spreading the disease," said Dr Michael Rands, Director & Chief Executive of BirdLife International.
"Migratory wild birds were blamed for spreading bird flu west from Asia, yet there,s been no spread back eastwards, nor to South Asia and Africa this Autumn. The limited outbreaks in eastern Europe are on southerly migration routes but are more likely to be caused by other vectors such as the import of poultry or poultry products. The hypothesis that wild birds are to blame is simply far from proven," said Dr Rands. [3, 4] "Wild birds occasionally come into contact with infected poultry and die: they are the victims not vectors of H5N1 bird flu."
BirdLife maintains that better biosecurity is the key to halting the spread of bird flu.
In particular, BirdLife is urging governments and relevant agencies to concentrate their efforts on the poultry and cage bird trades and to impose the following prevention measures:
Banning the movement of poultry and poultry products from infected areas [5]
Banning the use of untreated poultry faeces as fertiliser and feed in fish-farms and in agriculture [6]
Restricting the international movement of captive birds in trade [7]
"Implementing measures like these are proven to work," says Dr Rands. "For example, Malaysia and South Korea both experienced bird flu outbreaks through importing infected poultry products, but stamped the disease out and have remained disease free through improved biosecurity. In the mean time, hundreds of thousands of waterbirds have arrived to winter in, or migrated through South Korea, and many migrant waders have passed through Malaysia."
"Better biosecurity is the key to controlling the disease,s spread," said Dr Rands. "But the virus can rapidly mutate, so it,s important to monitor wild bird populations to look for evidence of new strains arising." [8]
For further information please contact:
Richard Thomas, Communications, BirdLife International, tel: +44 1223 279813, mobile +44 (0)7779 7779018332 email:
Above article from:
Patricia A. Doyle, DVM, PhD-
Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics
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