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Massachusetts Bird Testing Project

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  • Massachusetts Bird Testing Project

    June 26 2006 (WHDH TV New England News)

    BROCKTON, Mass. -- While bird flu has yet to hatch here in New England, Massachusetts officials aren't taking any chances.

    The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Wildlife (MassWildlife) from June through December 2006 will be collecting 400 fecal samples from birds for the purpose of testing for avian influenza. The project began Monday at DW Field Park in Brockton, where MassWildlife workers picked up poop from resident geese.

    The excretions will next be transported to the University of Connecticut in Storrs for examination.

    Canada geese, mallard ducks and other migratory birds, branded by biologists as most likely to carry the virus, will be the focus at these fecal gatherings.

    The venture comes as part of a $40,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services.

    Similar tests on bird fecal matter are being performed across the country.

    Avian influenza, more widely known as avian or bird flu, spreads naturally within the bird community. The virus rarely transmits disease to humans, and no cases have been reported as of yet in the United States.

    In helping to identify signs of bird flu in area avian populations, MassWildlife asks the public to please call 508-792-7270 should three or more dead fowl be found together at any single location.


  • #2
    Re: Massachusetts Bird Testing Project

    Dec 20, 2007

    Waterfowl undergo tests for fatal strain of avian flu

    Monitoring is part of national, international efforts

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    More than two dozen waterfowl in town received a surprise lab test on Tuesday, when federal workers netted the birds to take samples to see if any of them have a deadly strain of avian flu.

    Wild birds in all 50 states are being monitored, and information from the samples feeds into an international effort to watch for transmission of the strain, said Monte D. Chandler of the Wildlife Services Program for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    The H5N1 strain of avian flu has not yet been found in the United States, Mr. Chandler said.

    ?Of the few avian influenza viruses that have crossed the species barrier to infect humans, H5N1 has caused the largest number of detected cases of severe disease and death in humans,? according to the Web site for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    To capture the birds, a weighted net is discharged with the use of something similar to a blank charge, Mr. Chandler said.

    Birds are then collected and swabs are taken of samples to be tested later for the H5N1 strain of bird flu, he said. The birds are released afterward, he said.

    In Massachusetts, the agricultural department is working on the sample collection with the state Department of Fisheries & Wildlife. Each of the two agencies is to collect 375 birds over a year, he said.

    On Tuesday, agency workers also tried to capture birds at Lake Whalom in Lunenburg, but came up empty-handed, Mr. Chandler said. Sometimes birds are able to evade the net, he said.

    However, in Westminster, agency workers caught 28 mallards and black ducks, he said.

    This is the second year of the surveillance program, which is done just before and through the fall migration. Non-migratory birds also are looked at later, he said.

    Waterfowl are being sampled because they have a greater amount of movement, and in Asia, the strain of avian flu is associated with these birds, Mr. Chandler said.

    The testing program tries to cover as broad a geographic area and amount of bird species as it can, Mr. Chandler said.

    Hunters that have shot birds also are asked at check stations if those birds can be swabbed, he said.

    ?It?s been working out collaboratively with the hunters,? Mr. Chandler said.

    The effort to try to monitor the strain of avian flu is going on internationally.

    ?There?s a lot of players at the table and a lot of people that have recognized this is a concern,? Mr. Chandler said.

    Last year, more than 100,000 samples from birds were taken across the United States, said Carol Bannerman, a spokeswoman for the Wildlife Services Program.

    This year that goal has been cut in half because, after the previous year?s collection, it was determined that the results would be the same if workers focused on specific kinds of birds and places, even though only half as many birds were collected, Ms. Bannerman said.

    If someone sees a group of dead waterfowl that appear not to have died from natural causes, the sighting can be reported to the federal agency by calling toll-free (866) 4US-DAWS, Ms. Bannerman said.

    "In the beginning of change, the patriot is a scarce man (or woman, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for it then costs nothing to be a patriot."- Mark TwainReason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it. -Thomas Paine