Researchers track birds with GPS to understand spread of avian flu
A team of international scientists led by Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are tracking wild birds in an attempt to better understand the spread of avian flu.
The FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) held The International Scientific Conference on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds in May 2006 in Rome, and recommended improving our understanding of wild bird behaviour, precise migratory strategies, locations of aggregation and convergence, and interactions between wildlife and domestic species.
“We are working to understand the role wild birds may
play in the spread of H5N1,” said Dr Scott Newman, International
Wildlife Coordinator for Avian Influenza for FAO, and based
in Rome, Italy. “Although poultry and bird trade are probably
the primary routes of movement, migratory birds are likely involved
in some areas.”
In late 2005 and early 2006, large numbers of the whooper swan
died in eastern Mongolia and western China, drawing the attention
of experts. Many of the dead birds were found to be infected
with the virus in areas where few domesticated birds existed.
Scientists suspected that avian flu was spreading through the
area and perhaps beyond, and decided to look deeper into the
swan's migratory behaviour.