Scientists from US department of Agriculture had found the strains of bird flu disease in the wild migratory birds in Mongolia. This is for the first time the disease of avian influenza had been detected in any strain of wild birds that have no contact with the domestic poultry, or waterfowl.
The team of researchers from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) had collected samples from hundreds of wild birds, both live and dead including, that are all at risk for contracting the virus, and send their samples to USDA for confirmation.
The research team has sent the samples (774 in total) to the USDA for further testing to determine whether this virus is the H5N1 strain that has killed over 50 people in Southeast Asia and more than 5,000 wild birds in western China. As of today, preliminary tests from one dead whooper swan collected in Mongolia have shown the presence of the H5N1 strain of Avian Influenza using RT-PCR, while results from 30 live whooper swans living at the same site and also a nearby lake were negative for the virus. Samples collected from other live birds at the two sites were found to be negative for the virus.
Whereas prior outbreaks in wild birds have happened either in close proximity to infected domestic poultry and waterfowl, or in regions where such contact could not be excluded, Mongolia's paucity of domestic poultry suggests a new vector of avian flu. Finding the H5N1 strain during this expedition suggests that while the highly pathogenic avian influenza can be carried across long distances, the waterfowl species typically identified in recent outbreaks appear to be victims rather than effective carriers of the disease.
WCS experts are warning that to contain this potential epidemic, prevention activities must include better management practices in farms, especially those that are small and open-air, where domestic poultry and waterfowl are allowed to intermingle with wild birds. Officials would also need to monitor wildlife markets-where wild and domesticated species are kept in close proximity, and risk exposure to a wide range of pathogens.
Wildlife and health experts maintain that indiscriminate culling of wild migratory bird populations would be ineffective in preventing the spread of avian flu.