Monday, November 28, 2005

News - - Fighting bird flu the Canadian way

Next spring, the U.S. government will equip a small army of bird catchers with nets and cotton swabs and send them by air and sea out into the Alaskan wilderness to monitor the area for the first migratory birds carrying the dreaded avian flu to North America's shores.

The Alaska project is a public health version of the 1950s DEW line; instead of early warning for incoming Soviet missiles, the sentries are watching for an incoming pandemic.

Canada has no such elaborate (and expensive) plans. But before you start worrying that we're all going to fall ill next spring from the bird flu, you should understand why we're taking a different approach: Canada's experts maintain that our low-key surveillance plan is by design.

"The concern about wild birds bringing the virus in is probably quite exaggerated," says Dr. Ted Leighton of the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre in Saskatoon.

"Overwhelmingly, it's poultry and poultry products and people carrying things ? human transportation of agricultural products, particularly wild birds, that is the main way the virus gets around." - Fighting bird flu the Canadian way


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