Thursday, April 06, 2006

And Your Bird Can Sing...

UK confirms first deadly bird flu case: report
Thu Apr 6, 2006 8:16 AM ET

By Ian MacKenzie
EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Tests have shown a wild Mute swan found dead in a Scottish coastal town had the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu -- Britain's first case of the disease, Sky television reported on Thursday.

Officials from the Scottish Department of Environment said they had not yet received the test results from the bird, found last week.

The discovery in the swan of the highly pathogenic strain blamed for 108 human deaths elsewhere since 2003 would make Britain the 14th country in the European Union to find the disease on its territory.
Now, one thing I will say for England: they do seem to have an inordinate fondness for birds. The Tower of London keeps ravens under royal decree (one of the Henrys, I think) and of course, the famous pigeons of Trafalgar spring to mind.

So clearly, avian flu is of the highest concern in United Kingdom, and once it's in Scotland, it's literally a hop, skip and jump, across Greenland and Iceland, to Nova Scotia and the Maritimes and Canada, to the US.
However, Bob McCracken, past president of the British Veterinary Association, said contact between wild birds that may be infected and poultry should be kept to a minimum.

"We also have to work on the assumption that there is some spread among wild birds. "There is no doubt we are getting closer to the day when moving birds indoors will be necessary," he said.

Scientists said they were confident that surveillance for possible cases of the disease was good enough.
Translation: we have no clue what we can do, and so you're on your own, Jack...but see, this isn't the news that scared me. The article that scared me...
Nigerian H5N1 bird flu outbreak spreads to Lagos

By Estelle Shirbon
ABUJA (Reuters) - The deadly H5N1 bird flu virus has been found in backyard poultry and at a commercial farm in Lagos, Africa's largest city which is home to about 13 million people, health officials said on Thursday.

The latest discovery of the virus hundreds of miles from Nigeria's first infection indicates the disease is defeating measures to contain it and raises the prospect of much wider human contact with infected birds.
13 million humans and goodness knows how many rats, cats (which have now been included in the list of animals that will need protecting from the avian flu), dogs, livestock (it may be a city, but goodness knows what's there), and other transient critters. A highly contagious (and therefore widespread) virus that has defeated all efforts to contain it (Vietnam reported yesterday that chickens infected with the virus had been imported from China, which had claimed to have their outbreak under control), with very good odds of mutating to an infectious form in mammals, and all these mammals around Lagos as incubators.

All this occuring in the place where humans first evolved, and where some basic DNA mutations have not occured that many in the rest of the world have obtained. Any mutation to mammalian form will strike hard at the basic blueprint of humanity, if it happens in Africa.

Now THAT'S scary...