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Migrating birds linked to avian flu spread

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    Migrating birds linked to avian flu spread
    Published: March. 24, 2011 at 8:48 PM

    LAUREL, Md., March 24 (UPI) -- International and U.S. researchers say wild migratory birds may have a role in the spread of bird flu, also known as highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1.

    Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the Chinese Academy of Sciences used satellites, outbreak data and genetics to discover a link in Tibet among wild birds, domestic poultry and the movement of the often deadly virus, a USGS release reported Thursday.

    Researchers attached GPS transmitters to bar-headed geese, a wild species that migrates across most of Asia and that died in the thousands in an outbreak of bird flu in Qinghai Lake, China, in 2005.

    GPS tracking data showed wild geese tagged at Qinghai Lake spend their winters in a region outside Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, near farms where H5N1 outbreaks have occurred in domestic geese and chickens.

    "Our research suggests initial outbreaks in poultry in winter, followed by outbreaks in wild birds in spring and in the breeding season," Diann Prosser, a USGS biologist, said...

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