Poor bird flu records hamper tracking efforts
Critical information about the incidence of bird flu in
wild birds is being poorly and vaguely reported, hampering scientists'
understanding of how the virus spreads, according to the American Institute of
Authors of an article in the November 2006 issue of BioScience
by the AIBS
say that deficiencies in avian
data collection â€œcan lead to unwarranted assumptions and
conclusions that in turn affect public perceptions, practical control and
management measures, and the disposition of resources.â€
The authors said that basic information, such as the species of the
infected bird, is often recorded inaccurately or not at all.
The article's authors, MaÃ¯ Yasué, Chris Feare, Leon Bennun, and Wolfgang
Fiedler, made use of the Aiwatch (avian influenza watch) e-mail forum to gather
information for their article from sources worldwide.
They describe several instances of incorrect and inadequate information
being reported, often in relation to details that a crucial for understanding
the way the virus spreads, including the birds' sex, age, location, time of
discovery, and methods of capture and sampling.
The highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been detected in at least 55
countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa. The latest World Health Organisation statistics
there have been 256 human cases of the disease, 151 of which have been
Bird flu is typically studied by veterinarians and virologists. The authors
have pleaded for greater involvement by ornithologists and ecologists in H5N1
research and monitoring.
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