Cornell bird experts monitor for early detection of avian flu

08-05-2006 | |

Bird experts from Cornell University plan to test thousands of samples from different species in an early detection program for the avian flu virus.

Cornell ornithologists are undertaking the research to understand and track the disease and to relay accurate information about avian influenza strains, the Ithaca, New York- based university said.

“Nobody knows which species of birds are capable of flying thousands of miles across the ocean after contracting the disease,” a Cornell press release said.

“A government task force has its eye on Alaska, where about 30 species of migratory birds, including Arctic warblers and yellow wagtails, will breed this spring after wintering in Asia.”

For the lethal H5N1 strain of avian flu to establish itself on US soil via wild birds, several events must come together, none of which can be predicted, the university said.

While the researchers are less concerned about avian flu affecting humans or domestic poultry, they point out that the virulence of the H5N1 virus creates a real danger to threatened or endangered bird species