Wild Birds and H5N1 Avian Influenza

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H5N1 : 

H5N1 An update Wild birds and H5N1 avian influenza

Issues : 

Issues Spread of the virus and the role of wild birds Wild birds and human health Bird conservation: direct impacts Bird conservation: indirect impacts What BirdLife has been doing Next steps

Slide 3: 

Very few wild bird deaths Closely associated with outbreaks in poultry Not migrants: mostly scavengers that feed at farms Died close to source of infection Phase 1 SE Asia 1996–2005

Slide 4: 

Outbreaks mainly in poultry Did not follow migration route or occur at migration time Occurred during moult when birds would move little Followed major transport routes Phase 2 Summer 2005 Spread west-central Asia

Slide 5: 

Major outbreaks in poultry around the Black Sea Some continuation in Russia Wild birds: mainly small numbers of Mute Swans, but hundreds died over short periods near Caspian and Black Seas, suggesting locally-acquired infection Phase 3 Autumn 2005 Eastern Europe

Slide 6: 

Persistent poultry outbreaks in Turkey and Romania; fewer in Ukraine Widely scattered deaths of small numbers wild birds (mainly Mute Swans & few ducks) Bigger outbreaks Rügen Island, Germany; poultry in Ain, France Suggests dispersal from freezing conditions around Black Sea, followed by a few secondary infections Phase 4 Jan-March 2006 Wild birds & poultry in Europe

Slide 7: 

Outbreaks in Africa and India/Pakistan Poultry only Nigerian government believes due to smuggling poultry No evidence of wild bird involvement; not at migration time Phase 5 February 2006 Africa and India

Role of wild birds : 

Role of wild birds Europe incidents: wild birds can carry virus for long distances, can transmit to poultry …but this seems to be exceptional Overall patterns of outbreaks fit poorly with migration timing and direction No spread along migration routes in last Northern fall and (yet) spring Spread to and in W Siberia clearly linked to transport routes Outbreaks in wild birds short-lived, self-contained …but Thai duck study: free-range ducks contracting H5N1 in paddy-fields

Issue: ‘Asymptomatic’ wild birds? : 

Issue: ‘Asymptomatic’ wild birds? Widely assumed, but not confirmed Evidence from lab experiments: captive Mallards can carry some H5N1 strains without getting ill Disputed evidence from Siberia (9 birds) and Poyang lake (6 ducks) BUT Many, many thousands of migrating wild birds tested, tiny rate of H5N1 infection No outbreaks along migratory routes – Japan, Korea, Philippines, Australia, East Africa, etc. H5N1 now endemic in Chinese Tree Sparrows, but different strain

Issue: H5N1 virology : 

Issue: H5N1 virology Numerous genetic strains circulating in SE Asia, apparently maintained by poultry movements Westwards: three lineages of ‘Z’ genotype: Scotland, Rügen, Denmark, Sweden, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Qinghai: almost exclusively wild birds Greece, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria: poultry and wild birds Turkey: poultry only Two different genotypes in Nigeria! Wide variation in wild bird susceptibility: species, age, previous AI exposure. Pigeons infected but not shedding virus Amount of virus bird exposed to also key In water, virus survives longest at low temperature, low salinity and moderate alkalinity Simplistic assumptions about wild bird spread based on genetics have little basis

Information on H5N1 incidents in wild birds still very inadequate : 

Information on H5N1 incidents in wild birds still very inadequate The ‘wild duck’ syndrome Basic data often lacking Methodologies questionable Inadequate involvement of ecologists and ornithologists

Direct risk to people : 

Direct risk to people Approaching 200 human cases, c. 50% mortality, c. 10 countries All from poultry, not wild birds Unconfirmed case in Turkey from contaminated gloves Confirmed case in Azerbaijan from plucking swan H5N1 (still) very inefficient at infecting people With sensible hygiene, direct risks from wild birds are extremely small

H5N1 has affected at least 42 species of wild birds so far : 

H5N1 has affected at least 42 species of wild birds so far Common buzzard Buteo buteo Direct impacts

H5N1 outbreaks in wild birds have generally been self-limiting and affected small numbers of individuals : 

H5N1 outbreaks in wild birds have generally been self-limiting and affected small numbers of individuals

c. 6,000 wild birds died at Qinghai Lake, China in April-July 2005, 90% of which were Bar-Headed Geese… : 

c. 6,000 wild birds died at Qinghai Lake, China in April-July 2005, 90% of which were Bar-Headed Geese… …but the data are far from clear-cut!

At least one globally threatened species affected : 

At least one globally threatened species affected Red-breasted Goose positive for H5N1 on Skyros Island, Greece, in Feb 2006 90% of the world population of 88,000 confined to five roosts in Romania and Bulgaria — both affected countries Red-breasted Goose Branta ruficollis

H5N1 in perspective : 

H5N1 in perspective Skulls and feathers form the beach at North Shore, Salton Sea

Slide 18: 

… but potential threat to colonial species that aggregate at just a few sites in large numbers Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor

Indirect impacts:potentially much more severe : 

Indirect impacts:potentially much more severe

Negative public perceptions : 

Negative public perceptions

Confusion between H5N1 and human pandemic Distorted assessment of risk Fear and panic induced by media

Authorities add to hysteria : 

Authorities add to hysteria ‘Representative plenipotentiary of the President of Russian Federation in Siberian Federal District, A. Kvashnin, proclaimed that nesting of wild birds must not be permitted on wetlands near human settlements “by all means possible”… Federal Chief Inspector A. Zavyalov officially reported that similar plans would be carried out in Altay region, and that “not a single duck must be allowed to land here”.’ ‘Russia's chief doctor called for mass elimination of crows in Russian cities, warning yesterday that these birds are potential carriers of bird ‘flu. “Crows are feathered wolves who feed on carrion, including birds that have died of flu. They should be exterminated mercilessly,” Mr Onishchenko said. ‘Vietnam's commercial hub Ho Chi Minh City has begun poisoning pigeons and other wild birds as it moves to prevent avian flu from spreading, an official said on Friday. “We will make sure that no birds are left in the city…” Huynh Huu Loi, Director of Ho Chi Minh City's Animal Health Department, told Reuters.’

Individual actions : 

Individual actions Persecution of wild birds Nest destruction Access to nest sites closed off Dumping of exotic birds Dumping of cats and other pets Less feeding of wild birds Fewer visits to nature reserves

A few examples… : 

A few examples… Germany: First White Stork nest removed — public ask for permits to remove House Martin nests Greece: Hunters help in surveillance efforts, end up hunting birds in protected area Indonesia: Wild doves shot in village because of bird flu fears Poland: Attempts to kill swans for H5N1 testing Romania: Torture and killing of wild birds stranded by freezing weather: “Around 15 young men, aged between 20 and 25, were catching the birds, throwing them in the air, using birds which were still living as soccer balls, and tearing off their heads” UK: Headmaster applies for permit to shoot gulls around school

Other side effects: hunting : 

Other side effects: hunting Hunting banned in some countries (e.g. Belgium, Kenya, Lebanon, Russia, Slovakia) Promoted in others (e.g. Greece) Concerns over H5N1 surveillance as ‘excuse’ for increased hunting intensity

Other side effects: wild bird trade : 

Other side effects: wild bird trade EU ban continues: pressure to make permanent Conservation implications uncertain Bird market, Kowloon, China

BirdLife’s contribution? : 

BirdLife’s contribution? Relevant wild bird data e.g. migratory movements, key sites (IBAs), key species Science-based advice on biosecurity issues Counter hysteria and unbalanced reporting Provide information on the real (versus imaginary) risks posed by avian influenza Monitoring avian ‘flu in wild birds through the BirdLife network: Track numbers and behaviour Report suspicious deaths Take and submit samples for analysis Build better links between ornithologists and vets/virologists — help to answer many outstanding questions

The Secretariat team : 

The Secretariat team Effort expanded — thanks to RSPB support Communications: Ade Long, Richard Thomas, Nick Langley Science and policy: Leon Bennun, Maï Yasué Independent technical advice: Chris Feare Tracking US developments: Gary Allport Keeping on top of EU issues: Clairie Papazoglou Working closely with other regions and key Partners

What the team is doing… : 

What the team is doing… Weekly avian ‘flu update meeting Weekly update of position statement Tracking and documenting outbreaks (database in development) and scientific findings Guidance for Partners (and others) Birdwatchers and general public Surveillance (methods and data needs) Report on fish-farming issue (Chris Feare) H5N1 virology (for non-virologists) (Chris Feare) Numerous press releases, material for journalists, interviews, institutional advocacy work, etc. New download section on website Support for individual Partners and regional secretariats

…and more : 

…and more Scientific papers (in prep.) on methodological issues Question methods and assertions of some virological work Participation and advocacy at key meetings EU Ornis Committee (Brussels) Sixth International Symposium on Avian Influenza (Cambridge) CBD Avian ‘Flu web-forum and technical meeting (Curitiba) CMS/UNEP Seminar on Avian Influenza, the Environment and Wild Birds (Nairobi – chaired by Peter) Building linkages, especially with WCS and FAO … and maintaining AIWATCH

Some next steps : 

Some next steps Take action on Russia – look into staff support for RBCU Pursue continued funding for co-ordination work and for Partner activities Re-engage with CMS Task Force as cross-institutional forum Contribute to FAO/OIE meeting in May Try to get voice at donors’ pledging conference (Beijing follow-up) in June Work with WCS on Global Avian Influenza Network for Surveillance (GAINS) Follow up WCS USAID funding (central and national) Integration with Global Livestock Early Warning System (GLEWS) Better communication with Wetlands International Work on collaboration with FAO Updates at regional Partnership meetings Review how avian ‘flu work fits in BirdLife programme longer-term (moving from crisis management to strategic response)

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