In the field

Are we always sticking swabs up animals’ asses? Why, yes we are.

(More below the fold)

My colleagues teach a summer course on zoonotic diseases. Since influenza is something we study, today we watched (and a few participated in) some wildfowl swabbing and banding. Above is the former: taking a cloacal swab from a duck. Though these were just for demonstration, this is one way to collect circulating avian influenza viruses.

We also headed out to some marshes to round up and band geese.

This one had 4 adults and I think there were 8 juveniles. We surrounded the pond; the goal was to drive the birds into the little pen set up at the left side of the marsh.

They were then banded…

…and then released back into the marsh.

You may have read that they’re doing this heavily up in Alaska, where the goal is to swab 15,000 birds–expanding to up to 100,000 birds nationwide. It’s really quite incredible what you can learn from studying an animal’s ass.

Comments

  1. #1 Dave S.
    May 24, 2006

    Oh just great…I know what my nightmare tonight’s gonna be about….giant ass-swabbing Q-Tips. Thanks Tara. :)

  2. #2 Tara C. Smith
    May 24, 2006

    :D I do work with group B strep, y’know, which are carried rectally in humans (and vaginally, but obviously that wouldn’t be a concern for you).

  3. #3 Algerine
    May 24, 2006

    And it ain’t just for research either. I’ve violated the posteriors of snakes, lizards, birds, dogs, and cats during salmonella case investigations.

    Looks great on a resume.

  4. #4 Neil Johnson
    May 24, 2006

    Is it just me, or does “Swabbing For Zoonoses” sound like a great band name?
    NJ

  5. #5 McKiernan
    May 24, 2006

    It’s really quite incredible what you can learn from studying an animal’s ass.

    And as well, there are a lot of the latter out there to study.

  6. #6 idlemind
    May 24, 2006

    And thus were UFO abduction stories born…

  7. #7 Guitar Eddie
    May 25, 2006

    “Is it just me, or does “Swabbing For Zoonoses” sound like a great band name?”

    What genre of music did you have in mind, Neil?

    GE

  8. #8 wheatdogg
    May 25, 2006

    Lt’s really quite incredible what you can learn from studying an animal’s ass.

    Dogs had this down pat eons ago.

Current ye@r *