Migratory Birds Could Bring H5N1 to U.S.

An MSNBC.com news story says bird flu could arrive in the U.S. by being carried by migratory birds that travel across Siberia and into Alaska.
While most Siberian flocks don�t try to cross the Pacific to North America, some do cross the narrow Bering Strait to Alaska.

If those birds mingle with birds from Alaska, "there is the possibility the virus could be transmitted to waterfowl or shorebirds that make their way here next fall," Brand said.

While many severely infected birds usually die within a few days and are unable to fly very far, other hardier varieties could carry the disease.

Among the Arctic species under suspicion are hardier, long-distance fliers like eiders, gulls and geese. "It probably will be spread by one that isn�t killed very easily by it," Brand said.
Having H5N1 arrive by migratory birds into the U.S. may be unavoidable. This is a serious health risk to poultry and the bird population but the major threat to humans won't happen unless the disease mutates and acquires the ability to spread rapidly from person to person. If that happens it will be infected people that need to be quarantined to try and stop the spread of the disease.

Posted on October 26, 2005

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