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The Spread of H5N1 (Bird Flu) and the Bird Trade

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posted on Dec, 30 2005 @ 07:37 AM
Anyone who has read The Tao of Politics regularly knows that I have been particularly concerned about how bird flu is spread. There has been considerable disagreement on this point. One side claims that migratory birds spread H5N1. Another side claims that the disease is spread by exporting live birds from Asia – the bird, or poultry, trade. The latter point of view seems compelling in many ways, but I have wondered just how many birds are traded between Asia and Europe? Is it really enough so that the practice is now threatening the world with a possible pandemic? In order to answer some of these questions I did some research. Here are some of the results that I found:

The bird trade is vast. One way to stop the spread of bird flu is to close down wild bird markets in Asia.

Europe imports about a million wild birds per year.

One million wild birds are traded each year, and about two million are smuggled.

There is a vigorous poultry trade throughout Asia. Illegal trade may be taking place between China and Russia via Kazakhstan.

Spread of bird flu through Russia seems to follow trans-Siberian rail routes rather than migratory bird patterns.

One reason why migratory birds don’t seem to be the culprits is that infected ducks die within two days, so something else, the bird trade for example, seems a more likely candidate for the spread. Also, India, which sees as many as 20 million migratory birds per year, is relatively free of H5N1.

Finally, here is a great discussion on illegal bird trade and the spread of H5N1 generally.

So, have I answered my question? Is the bird trade vast enough to account for the spread of bird flu from Asia to Eastern Europe? Maybe. Of course no one knows for sure. But there is a lot of evidence supporting that contention. There is not much we can do about migrating birds, but there is much that we can do about Asian farms, bird markets, and smuggling. It seems to me that we should concentrate most of our efforts in areas where we know we can do some good.

This is not the last word on this subject. If anyone reading this has anything to add, please do. I really do want to know how this disease is spreading. Maybe we can spread some knowledge and resources around and get to the bottom of this.

posted on Jan, 1 2006 @ 04:43 PM
See, now this article about a child in Turkey dying of possible bird flu says that Turkey is on the migratory bird route. So the big question for me: is this true? Was the kid infected as a result of spread by migratory birds, or was it the illegal bird trade? There is a lot of conflicting reports, and of course no one seems to know the truth for sure, but it is an important piece of information, and could help officials combat the bird flu.

posted on Jan, 1 2006 @ 11:50 PM
alright this dam kid only one dieing around there what do we know about the flu it spreads o god does it spread so if only one person had it it was just a isolated incadent of a SEMI mutated strain. and where aer the other anamals the way i understand it is not FROM birds but from birds to pigs or some other anamal to humans so i doubt it ,but hell michael jackson is realy black so well anything is posable lol

posted on Jan, 2 2006 @ 08:13 AM
Ok, the news today is that the kid in Turkey didn't have bird flu after all. That still doesn't clear up the question of how the disease is spread -- migrating birds or the bird trade.

posted on Jan, 2 2006 @ 05:53 PM
i have a question why are we asking how and where this flu will b sperad THAT HASNT EVEN BEEN SPREAD YET. its insane i cant imagen predicting how when and where a desese will mutate let alone figureing out how its transmitted. who knows maby its spred by bees yes thats what im guessing so evry one huddle all the bees together so it wont hapen...i just dont get it the billions spent combating this non exsistant desease

posted on Jan, 4 2006 @ 07:56 PM
How can you say that bird flu has not spread? What about the boy in Turkey?

posted on Jan, 4 2006 @ 09:36 PM
i can say that is b/c they cant even find where 1 person got it from anoter person. the best is that these killer casses are just normal viral process that ends up not being able to spread.

posted on Jan, 24 2006 @ 08:38 AM
Readers of my blog, The Tao of Politics, may remember the ongoing discussion of how bird flu is spread, through migrating birds, or through the poultry trade. I had pretty much decided that migrating birds were the culprit. Now these articles come along, one from Reuters, one from BBC, both authoritative sources, and they bring the whole notion of migrating birds into question again, at least as the major carrier of H5N1. And the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says that the poultry trade is the most likely vector for bird flu. I guess I must reconsider all this from scratch, as must the world, if we are to be effective in fighting the spread of bird flu.

posted on Feb, 6 2006 @ 06:06 PM
This article from New Scientist discusses further developments in the argument over how bird flu is spread, migratory birds or the poultry trade. Scientists have genetically analyzed strains of the disease from many different places, and are able to say, with some certainty, from where the disease originated, and how it was most likely spread. Interesting article.

posted on Feb, 13 2006 @ 08:35 PM
Here is an article from the Times of London which states the bird flu is spread by fleeing swans.

gary "the Spaceman" Bell on 640mojo, conspiracy theory radio programs.

posted on Feb, 16 2006 @ 08:36 PM
Thanks for the heads up on this story. Very interesting. Check The Tao of Politics for our ongoing coverage of bird flu issues.

posted on Feb, 20 2006 @ 09:51 PM
but tao there is a problem the reports from local police and health oficals in turky said that it was probably from contact of demostic poltry. the recent documents i have read say that the migratory paters dont link china and turky directly. so eather it just evolved in 2 seporate posisions or there are a flock of infected birds spreading betwene china and turky and last i checked there has been no such infection how is this unless the birds jsut infected that one chicken that spread from there

posted on Feb, 20 2006 @ 10:49 PM

Originally posted by Tao of Politics
This article from New Scientist discusses further developments in the argument over how bird flu is spread, migratory birds or the poultry trade.


Scientists discover deadly bird flu began in Scotland in 1959

"Scientists tracing the history of the H5N1 virus have traced its first recorded episode to an Aberdeen farm. ...A scientist identified only as Dr JE Wilson, of the Veterinary Laboratory in Lasswade, outside Edinburgh, is recorded as having worked on the case - sending the chicken to Addlestone, where the strain was medically isolated so it could be used in experiments. The Scottish H5N1 has been used in experiments, named "chicken/Scotland/1959".

No medical agency in Scotland or England was able to give many details - except to say that the disease has become heartier and deadlier since it was found in Scotland. There is also no sign of Dr Wilson. The Moredun Research Institute at Penicuik said that it had no record of him and that he was likely to have passed away."

H5N1 bird flu is a Type A virus, which can infect whales. As stated in theFebruary 2004 WHO Report on H5N1: "Several studies have shown that a small number of mammalian species, including pigs, seals, whales, mink, and ferrets, are susceptible to natural infection with influenza viruses that are purely avian in their genetic make-up." The Mayo Clinic reports, "type A influenza infects both people and animals, including birds, pigs, horses, whales and seals."

As you may know, whales migrate, just like birds. The question is NOT "Is H5N1 spread by migrating birds or the bird trade?" No responsible scientist whould ever ask such a question. The real question is "How do all these many factors work together?"

Also FYI - the World Health Organization has thoroughly debunked the idea that H5N1 bird flu started in China - but the claim keeps resurfacing as part of a "Get China" campaign.

Also see: "Bird Flu: Why Worry Now?"


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