October 4, 2007

Wild Birds and Emerging Diseases:
Avian Influenza Transmission Risk and Movements of Wild Birds from Kazakhstan

Dear all,

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has been working in partnership with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the Wildlife Conservation Society Global Avian Influenza Network for Surveillance (WCS-GAINS) and Wetlands International (WI) to study the role of wild birds in the geographic spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1.

In September 2007, we partnered with the Institute of Zoology of the National Academy of Sciences of Kazakhstan for a study at Kyzykol ("Red Lake") in southern Kazakhstan. Our aim was to capture and test wild waterbirds for the presence of avian influenza virus and fit 10 ducks with satellite transmitters in order to track their movements during the southward migration period.

During our mission to Kazakhstan we deployed satellite transmitters on 7 Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, 2 Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea, and 1 Gadwall Anas strepera. The birds were captured using mist nets, catching individuals during dawn and dusk flights. USGS scientists from the Western Ecological Research Center and Alaska Science Center will monitor the satellite movement data to better understand migration chronology, routes, and potential risk factors associated with the spread of HPAI H5N1.

Check out http://www.werc.usgs.gov/sattrack/kazakhstan/index.html and download the latest files to view on Google Earth.

With best wishes, Taej

Taej Mundkur, PhD
Assistant Wildlife Coordinator for Avian Influenza
Infectious Disease Group / EMPRES
Animal Health Service
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
email: taej.mundkur at fao.org

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