From the Far East, a lesson in how to beat bird flu
As avian flu advances across Europe towards the UK, public health experts in the Far East claimed the first significant victory against the H5N1 virus since the current outbreak began two years ago. Vietnam, the worst affected country in the world with 93 human cases and 42 deaths, has become the first to successfully contain the disease that threatens to become a global human pandemic, according to the World Health Organisation. Ref. http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article346511.ece
Bird Flu has arrived in France! Now it is just a matter of time before it crosses the seas and is in the Americas (if it is not already). Locally, Trinidad has banned all chicken products from France as a safety measure.
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Page 3 Bird Flu
Did you ever wonder what was the impact the West Nile Virus had since it reached the US in 1999?
West Nile virus has prompted a long-term crash in the population of bluebirds, crows and other bird species that once dominated the suburban landscape, according to a new study that dashes hopes that the disease might cause only a temporary drop.
The study is the first national look at how West Nile has affected a wide range of species since the disease reached the U.S. in 1999. As expected, crows suffered the most, declining by up to 45 percent in some regions. Other studies have shown that the virus kills virtually all crows that contract it.
The virus hurt seven species in all, and of those, only two-the blue jay and house wren-had bounced back nationally by 2005. For some species such as the American robin, the number of birds nationwide did not decrease by much, but West Nile seemed to halt what had been an upward trend.
Of perhaps the most concern, the study confirms that West Nile is a problem likely to afflict birds and humans for years to come, said Michael Ward, a conservation biologist at the University of Illinois who was not involved in the new study.
"Everyone thought West Nile would be here a couple of years and then be gone," Ward said. "But that's not what we're seeing. It keeps popping up year after year."
Some species fared better in Illinois than in other parts of the country, the study's authors said. The paper, published online by the journal Nature on Wednesday, found little effect in Illinois on eastern bluebirds, which remain below expected levels nationwide.
Like birds, humans contract West Nile through mosquito bites. Birds serve as a disease go-between, intensifying the virus before mosquitoes spread it more easily to humans. More than 23,000 Americans have contracted the disease since 1999, and 962 have died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Suburban America appears to offer a ready home for the virus. The explanation has remained elusive, though experts believe suburbia offers a convergence of what the virus needs: stagnant water where mosquitoes thrive, bird-rich yards and nature preserves, and a surplus of human hosts.
"It's a landscape where we do our best to attract backyard birds, and then it's very difficult to imagine anyone keeping an entire yard free from stagnant water," said lead study author Shannon LaDeau, a researcher at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center at Washington's National Zoo...