Birds

Effect Measure

Category archives for Birds

Highly pathogenic variant of avian influenza A of the subtype H5N1 is here to stay, at least in the world’s poultry population. While it’s around it continues to cause sporadic but deadly human infections, some 369 of them of whom 234 have died (official WHO figures as of 28 February 2008). So this virus can…

Why can’t the chicken cross the road?

Because he’s too fat. Broiler chickens (the ones raised for meat) are essentially a cash crop, grown much like wheat or corn. When the chicken is ripe it’s harvested. The Grim Reaper. We admit to not knowing much about poultry science and the business it supports, but because of our interest in bird flu we…

Bird flu and arsenic

Bird flu is all over the Indian state of West Bengal and the country that borders it on the east, Bangladesh. The Ganges River flows through West Bengal, dividing in two, with one branch headed into Bangladesh. The Gangetic alluvium and delta region also has another unhappy claim to fame: it is the site of…

Everyone seems to have an opinion about whether bird flu will be the next terrible global pandemic. In current parlance “bird flu” means human infection with the highly pathogenic avian influenza/A subtype H5N1. There is no doubt that this is the 800 pound gorilla in the global health room at the moment, but not because…

WHO’s pep talk and fighting bird flu

With everyone on tenterhooks over the confusing outbreak of human bird flu cases in Pakistan and the first reported case in Burma (aka Myanmar), WHO is taking the opportunity to give its member nations a pep talk about swift reporting. Since there is evidence the reporting might not have been so terribly swift in that…

The debate about how much wild migratory birds contribute to the spread of highly pathogenic influenza/A H5N1 goes on. According to a sensible Commentary in Nature (Dec. 6) it needn’t. We should have taken steps some time ago to answer an answerable question. But we didn’t and still haven’t initiated those steps:

The wild bird conundrum

What seemed pretty obvious at first, that wild birds could be and were long distance carriers of H5N1 is, like the birds themselves, still up in the air. The problem is that existing data on migrating wild birds has failed to show convincing evidence they are infected:

We write so much here about influenza A virus that you might get the idea it is an especially clever virus, always changing genetically in ways that allow it to perform new and nastier tricks. But other viruses are capable of doing the same thing, and one of them West Nile Virus (WNV), is currently…

The killing fields, poultry style

Two Associated Press articles over the weekend suggest to me the US poultry industry is getting ready for avian flu, in earnest. One story reports how news of bird flu in US poultry would affect consumer habits. One reports on the practical problem of having to kill hundreds of thousands of birds quickly and efficiently…

China shares its bird flu questions

We’ve written here about China’s failure to share viral isolates, but we hope we’ve also made clear that many Chinese scientists have been forthcoming in sharing much other scientific information with colleagues in other countries about their experience with bird flu. A good example of interesting and valuable information has just appeared (published Ahead of…