Small birds must be kept out of poultry farms
Small birds such as sparrows, starlings and pigeons
which are capable of passing the H5N1 bird flu virus to chickens, must be
properly prevented from entering poultry farms.
These small birds are resident in many countries and small numbers of them
have been found infected in recent years with the H5N1 virus. Leading
virologist, Robert Webster, said his laboratory infected sparrows, starlings and
pigeons with strains of the H5N1 virus isolated in Vietnam, Thailand and Hong
Kong recently. His team confirmed the birds shed the virus in their stools and
can therefore infect poultry. The virus replicated very well in the starling and
less well in the pigeon, he added.
infected and shedding the virus in their faeces and from their respiratory
tracts. The sparrows died, so they are not as big a threat," Webster said on the
sidelines of a conference on avian flu and other infectious diseases in
Singapore. "The bigger threats are the starling and the pigeon. The starling
didn't die, but shed plenty of virus," said Webster of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
in the United States.
Although all three species did not transmit the virus to their own kind,
the fact that the infected starlings and pigeons did not succumb to the virus
meant they could be dangerous to poultry.
"This means that you've got to keep these small birds out of chicken
houses, too, because they can be infected and they can carry the virus from this
chicken house to that chicken house," Webster said.
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