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WCS says avian flu prevention should focus on farms, markets

Wildlife health experts from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) warn that efforts to control the spread of avian flu across Asia and beyond must focus on better management practices on farms and in markets.

WCS is currently working with Mongolian agencies on the ground in Mongolia's Kovsgol province, collecting samples from wild birds that have recently contracted the virus.

"We're working with our Mongolian and international partners to confirm and track the movements of Avian flu in the region," said Dr. Billy Karesh, head of the WCS team currently in Mongolia. "The best hope for successfully containing the spread of avian flu is focusing our limited resources on the hubs where humans, livestock and wildlife come into close contact."

According to WCS, avian influenza prevention activities should include better management practices in farms, especially small open-air farms where domestic poultry and waterfowl are allowed to intermingle with wild birds. Wildlife markets--where wild and domesticated species are kept in close proximity--are also hubs of transmission for avian flu and other pathogens that need to be better regulated. Wildlife and health experts also maintain that indiscriminate culling of wild migratory bird populations would be ineffective in preventing the spread of the disease.

The outbreak of avian influenza in Mongolia has coincided with confirmations of cases in Russia and Kazakhstan. The initial reports of avian influenza came from the Mongolian Ministry of Food and Agriculture, which conducted preliminary testing of birds that died at Erkhel Lake in the Kovsgol province near the Russian border.

A joint WCS-Mongolia team that was working in western Mongolia immediately went to the site to collect more samples that will be sent to the United States Department of Agriculture for further testing to determine the strain. These tests will determine if the virus is the H5N1 strain that has ki
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Source:Wildlife Conservation Society


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