Bahrain Bird Report

Visiting Bahrain
Sign Guest Book
Old News
General Photos Albums

Bahrain Bird Report

Problems with ID
Tern ID
Gull ID
Red stained Birds
Grey Headed Gull ?

Quick links
Large Gulls
Socotra Cormorants
Bahrain Check list
Bahrain Occurrence Tables
General Photos Albums
A bit of History
Indicator species Hawar
Ecology of Hawar
Dugong Article
Egyptian Goose
Hypocolius 2005


Reality takes wing over bird flu
Leon Bennun
Dr Leon Bennun is director of science, policy and information for BirdLife International

Outbreaks among poultry in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa appear directly attributable to trade, and continue to spread

The arrival of H5N1-infected wild birds across Western Europe between January and April this year led to no major outbreaks. As elsewhere, nearly all these incidents quickly burned themselves out. By contrast, outbreaks among poultry in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa appear directly attributable to trade, and continue to spread. Since these outbreaks began, many migrating birds have travelled from Africa to their northern breeding grounds. They have not spread the H5N1 virus along their routes.

Many responses to my original article indicate a broad disquiet at modern farming practices, and a desire for a change to less intensive methods that present a lower risk. Unfortunately, the supposed "high level of biosecurity"
practised on intensive farms has been frequently breached. These farms, not wild birds, are the "main evolutionary engine" for H5N1.

Intensive farming: the biggest factor behind H5N1 spread?
Indeed, recent virological studies show how poultry production and movements have fostered the differentiation and spread of the virus across Southeast Asia.
H5N1 is a very complex issue, with dimensions involving human and animal health, agriculture, trade and the environment. A balanced response should take in all these dimensions - not focus only on wild birds.

BirdLife International continues to call for better collaboration among all involved, including veterinarians, virologists and ecologists.
Only by acting on sound, unbiased information can we minimise the impacts of H5N1 on people, their livelihoods, and the environment.

Dr Leon Bennun is director of science, policy and information for BirdLife International

Click on the link above for latest information from Animal Aid
Although I do not support all of the opinions expressed on the Animal Aid site - I will never become a veggie for one -
I do concur with the opinions that the poultry industry and bird trade are to blame for the spread of Bird Flu.
Test on Hawars' resident Bird populations by the the Bahrain Ministry of Agriculture February 2006 have all so far proved to be negative which is great news but not a surprise for I personally do not believe Wild Birds are to blame they are
just another victim they are not the cause.

H5N1 has spread west from its original hot spot of south-east Asia, 
quote from BBC  - The virus has spread westwards and on to Britain's nearest continental neighbour thanks to migrating birds.
On the same BBC web site one can find a map showing Bird flyways - NONE go east to west
If contamination were via the flyways then it would take several seasons to jump between areas of overlap
and we would be finding thousands of dead wild birds along these routes - but this has not been the case yet we know that
wild birds do die when contaminated.

Can the FAO answer these simple questions
 How did it get from SE Asia or even Siberia to Nigeria along flyways in just one winter without leaving a single trace in between
to pop up in the deserts of Central Nigeria and Niger on poultry and Ostrich farms, How did we get outbreaks in Europe in Winter Or even How did wild molting geese in Siberia get contaminated

The truth was lost ages ago now the whole thing is about money  or how to continue selling poultry, bird products, selling drugs, selling newspapers, keeping the fat cats at the FAO employed Wild birds do not have lobbyists at the UN - the poultry industry and drug companies do!!!

The best available evidence points to avian flu being caused - and
spread by - the intensive poultry industry. In fact, H5N1 is reported
to have developed as a result of Chinese poultry farmers putting an
anti viral drug - meant for humans - into the drinking water of
millions of chickens in an ultimately failed attempt to cure avian
flu. The consequence, it is claimed, was that the virus evolved into
the drug resistant H5N1 strain.

And yet the global poultry industry has succeeded in diverting blame
for avian flu onto wild birds.

According to Dr Leon Bennun, Director of Science for BirdLife
International, 'If wild birds had been spreading the disease across
continents there would have been trails of outbreaks following
migration routes; but this hasn't happened. The "wild bird" theory for
the spread of H5N1 also provides no explanation as to why certain
countries on flight paths of birds from Asia remain flu-free, whilst
their neighbours suffer repeated infections. Countries which have not
yet developed a large-scale intensive poultry industry have been
largely spared.

Dr Bennun believes that the swans now dying in Western Europe picked
up the virus from farms in the Black Sea region - either from infected
poultry or their faeces. Mute swans often graze agricultural fields,
and they are likely to have come into contact with poultry manure
spread as a fertiliser.

The Holmfirth discovery illustrates that poultry waste - swept from
sheds that hold scores of thousands of broiler birds - is spread onto
fields in Britain too, after the inhabitants are removed and taken for
slaughter. As well as faeces, the waste will contain the decomposing
carcasses of some of the hundreds of birds who died from disease or
emaciation during the six week production period. Salmonella,
campylobacter and listeria are among the pathogens found inside the

Diseased material can also be taken into poultry sheds, despite them
being nominally sealed to the outside world. An expert in the field
has indicated that H5N1 can enter the units - by way of faecal traces
or moisture in the air - through the medium of feed, water, supplies,
cages, clothes, delivery vehicles, mammals and even insects.

Says Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler:
'The government has been conned or bullied into shifting the blame for
avian flu from where it belongs - with the intensive poultry industry
- onto wild birds. Broiler sheds are perfect breeding grounds for new
and deadly viruses and there are any number of ways that they can
spread across countries and continents. Cooked chicken might be purged
of viruses but how safe are the bodies of dead birds - fresh from
supermarket chillers - that reside in millions of fridges around the
country? Animal Aid calls for a boycott of all chicken products as a
means of waking up the government, the industry and the consumer to
the vile and deadly nature of intensive poultry production.'

Notes to Editors

Recent history shows that neither DEFRA nor the livestock industry can
be trusted on matters of disease prevention. The post-foot and mouth
'biosecurity' measures were shown to be a sham by an Animal Aid
investigation, published May 2004, which revealed that livestock
markets were uniformly disregarding the most basic hygiene rules. See
Dirty Business. Animal Aid MarketWatchers visited 13 sales between
June 2003 and March 2004 to monitor adherence to biosecurity measures
that had been introduced to prevent another outbreak of foot and mouth
(f&m) disease, or similar catastrophe. Markets were shown to have
played a central role in the wide and rapid dissemination of f&m, due
to the large number of animals who pass through them - often to
far-flung locations. As a consequence, they were shut down during the
2001 outbreak and its immediate aftermath. At all 13 sales, we saw the
most basic biosecurity rule being disregarded. This requires that
everyone disinfects his or her footwear on leaving the animal area.
Non-observance of this key rule was even found at Longtown market,
which a report by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs (DEFRA) identified as the epicentre of the 2001 f&m outbreak.
According to a Washington Post report last June 18, Chinese farmers,
with the knowledge and support of government officials, used
amantadine on chickens as long ago as the late 1990s. The report
called the drug use a violation of international livestock guidelines.
The consequence, it is reported, was that the virus evolved into the
drug resistant H5N1 strain.

See this BBC article. Dr Bennun points out that intensive poultry
sheds provide perfect breeding grounds for diseases such as avian flu:
'... the high density of birds and constant exposure to faeces, saliva
and other secretions provide ideal conditions for the replication,
mutation, recombination and selection through which highly lethal
forms can evolve.'

Avian influenza Outbreak hits the industry again, Dr Mohammad Yousaf,
University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan, World Poultry, Vol 20
No 3 2004.
We have an ISDN line for broadcast-quality interviews. Contact: Andrew
Tyler on 01732 364 546
Animal Aid campaigns peacefully against all animal abuse, and
promotes a cruelty-free lifestyle. You can support our work by
joining, making a donation, or using our online shop. Contact Animal
Aid at The Old Chapel, Bradford Street, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1AW, UK,
tel +44 (0)1732 364546, fax +44 (0)1732 366533, email
T. V. Padma
22 February 2006
Source: SciDev.Net

[NEW DELHI] India is investigating media reports that a major poultry producer suppressed evidence of the nation's first bird flu outbreak by paying local people to bury dead chickens.

In February 2004, India banned poultry imports from countries that had had H5N1 outbreaks.
No dead migratory birds — another possible source of the virus — have been found in Navapur.

Upma Chawdhry, a senior agriculture ministry official, told reporters in Delhi yesterday (21 February) that chicken deaths were first observed in Navapur in Marahashtra state as early as 27 January, but the government only found out on 8 February through a local newspaper report.

With commercial poultry farms in the area under scrutiny, the Maharashtra state government yesterday charged Pune-based poultry producer Venkateshwara Hatcheries with concealing chicken deaths.

The claims, if true, would mean that India lost 12 days that could have been used to contain the outbreak and raise awareness of the threat. In addition, anyone burying dead birds risked being infected with the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus.

Tests are underway on samples from 95 people with respiratory tract infections in Navapur. Twelve people who were in contact with the infected poultry have been quarantined. 

Venkateshwara Hatcheries had attributed the deaths to the more common Newcastle disease, known in India as ranikhet. Even so, given that tens of thousands of birds died, the company was obliged to notify the ministry's animal husbandry department, but did not.

Its managing director Anuradha Desai, says it is not the only poultry supplier in Navapur, and is being unfairly singled out.

Parts of India's poultry industry continued to deny there was a bird flu outbreak, even after the presence of the H5N1 virus was confirmed on 18 February.

On 20 February, The Hindustan Times printed a statement from the National Egg Coordination Committee, a 25,000-strong association of poultry farmers, saying that the chickens died from Newcastle disease.

But Shantanu Kumar Bandyopadhyay, commissioner of animal husbandry in the agriculture ministry, says there is "no ambiguity" in test results from the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal that detected H5N1.

In a separate development, India yesterday set up a scientific committee to investigate the source of the infection (see Egypt and India race to control bird flu outbreaks).

"The source of the infection is still not known," Bandyopadhyay told SciDev.Net.

In February 2004, India banned poultry imports from countries that had had H5N1 outbreaks.
No dead migratory birds — another possible source of the virus — have been found in Navapur.

India has extended the radius around the outbreak within which birds will be culled from three to ten kilometres. However, the culling operations did not meet their initial target of killing 500,000 birds in the three-kilometre radius by Tuesday evening.

Read more about bird flu in SciDev.Net's news focus, Bird flu: the facts

                                    email: or  ---  tel mobile Bahrain (+973) 39642739