FAO suggests ducks and rice are cause of bird flu
Chickens are not solely accountable for the outbreak of bird flu but it could be ducks, rice paddies, and people as the most significant cause in the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Thailand and Vietnam, according to a new UN study.
In a recent survey conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), an UN organisation, with the help of satellite mapping, the researchers considered over a number of factors comprising figures of ducks, geese and chickens, human populations, rice cultivation and geography and reached at the conclusion that there was a strong connection among the virus avian influenza, duck grazing patterns and the amount of rice harvesting.
The study published in the latest issue of a science journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States” (PNAS) under the title of “Mapping H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza risk in Southeast Asia: ducks, rice and people.” The researchers and experts studied a number of factors for the spreading of pathogenic H5N1 in the area of Thailand and Vietnam during 2004 and late 2005 and came on the conclusion that ducks and rice paddy were the possible cause of spreading deadly disease.
It found that congregations of ducks coincides with the month in which rice in husk collected and kept in field and often act as a temporary habitat for wild bird species and moreover it were the periods when the chances of virus release and its exposure gets maximum.
The duck grazing patterns and rice harvesting intensity are complementary to each other. Ducks mainly feed the rice grains left over in harvested paddy fields and freely migrate to the neighbouring countries.
Stating the case of Thailand, the study says that ducks in flock were seen rapidly increasing during the month of September-October getting benefit from the peak of rice harvest in the month of November-December. These are the month when there is a much possible chance of releasing and spreading of deadly virus causing bird flu.
As per the estimation of FAO, about 90 per cent of the world's more than 1 billion domestic ducks are in Asia, with about 75 per cent in China and Vietnam.
The eastern and south-eastern Asia, the virus is confined to areas with intensive rice-duck agriculture. Now the evolution of the H5N1 virus may become easier to predict.
In the wake of new study, as per the release the findings can help better target control efforts and replace indiscriminate mass vaccination.
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