«After monkeypox, they put a blanket ban on rodents from some

Seek Early Signs Of an Avian Flu

DAVIS, Calif. Bang! Inside an improvised duck blind her parked car Grace Y. Lee presses a switch, moncler womens jackets and her gun blasts a moncler outlet sale square of light volleyball net over the dirt road she is watching.

One of the two magpies she has baited into range with cornbread, cheese flavored rice snacks and dog food is snagged, flopping furiously around.

With the country waiting nervously for avian flu to arrive, catching wild birds is no hobby. It has become part of a national early detection effort, and Ms. Lee, a researcher at the University of California here, is a sentry on cheapmoncler the country’s epidemiological ramparts.

The plan also calls for sampling bodies of moncler outlet store water for the influenza virus, which is shed in bird feces. And it is designating some ducks and geese like those in backyard flocks or living year round in park ponds as «sentinels» to be captured, tested, released and periodically retested.

Surveillance of poultry is already in place. Long standing federal and state laws require moncler uk outlet farmers to report deaths of birds from any flu strain. The surveillance system was worked out this summer by the Agriculture Department, which oversees poultry, and the wildlife health center in Madison, Wis., part of the Interior Department, which oversees wildlife including migratory birds, which are thought to be the most likely entry route for the flu virus.

Dr. Christopher J. Brand, the center’s research chief, estimated the cost at $10 million. [On Nov. 1, President Bush announced a $7.1 billion plan to guard against a flu pandemic; Dr. Brand said he hoped money for the surveillance system would come from that.] The sampling plan had a small test run this fall in Alaska, which Dr. moncler usa Brand said was the obvious choice because of the flu’s surprise appearance in Siberia in July. Birds from there mingle in the summer Arctic nesting grounds with birds that migrate down the North American coast.

Now the flu’s recent crossing of cheap moncler coats mens Europe «has opened up more eyes,» Dr. Brand said. It is unlikely that infected birds will cross the Atlantic, because most migrate north south and the birds detected in Eastern Europe were from species that migrate to Africa. Still, Dr. Brand said, there is now talk of setting up a surveillance network for Greenland, eastern Canada and the East Coast.

The threat of avian flu has also sped a transformation that was begun by the fear of bioterrorism and fueled by the fight against West Nile virus: veterinarians and doctors, as well as the agencies overseeing them, are joining forces.

Previously, said Dr. William B. Karesh, head of the field veterinary program at the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the Bronx Zoo, the two fields almost never worked in tandem.

«Human medicine moncler outlet woodbury and veterinary medicine have advanced beautifully in the last 30 years, but they were not moncler outlet online linked,» Dr. Karesh uk moncler sale said. That has always frustrated him, he said, because «diseases don’t care which way they flow there is a whole world of bacteria, viruses and fungi that move between wild animals, domestic animals and humans.»

Dr. Karesh described once trying to get a research grant for surveillance of animal diseases that infect humans, known as zoonoses. The National Institutes of Health told him to apply to the Department of Agriculture, he said, and officials there sent him to the Fish and Wildlife Service, which told him it had no mandate to study disease.

«Then we went to moncler sale outlet Homeland Security, and they moncler outlet prices understood what we were talking about,» Dr. Karesh said. «But they said: ‘You’re an orphan. No one does this.’ And in their rankings, we’re lower than people trying to blow up the subway in New York.»

Now, instead of sharing information haphazardly and getting into jurisdictional disputes problems that cropped up during the 2003 monkeypox outbreak and moncler sale in surveillance discount moncler jackets for mad cow disease health officials are writing plans that emphasize teamwork.

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The United States still does far better at animal surveillance than most other countries because its medical and veterinary systems are each excellent and because outbreaks cannot be hushed up as, for example, the SARS outbreak was in China.

But zoonoses fall into a gray area, and the 2003 monkeypox outbreak in the Midwest is a perfect example of what can go wrong, said Peter Daszak, director of the Consortium for Conservation Medicine at the Wildlife Trust, a group specializing in human animal diseases.

The disease, related to smallpox but less deadly, arrived in a shipment of 18 Gambian giant pouched rats imported for a Chicago pet store, where they infected prairie dogs. By summer’s end, there were 37 confirmed human cases none fatal, but some scary mostly among prairie dog owners.

«Millions of live animals come into the country each year, and very few have really good surveillance,» Dr. Daszak said. does a great job with outbreak investigation, but that’s after the fact,» he said of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. «After monkeypox, they put a blanket ban on rodents from some West African countries. moncler outlet But who’s looking at rodents from other places? Nobody. And that’s a gap.»

Surveillance for diseases in wild animals is particularly difficult, since they do not come to hospitals, are cheap moncler jackets mens not watched cheap moncler jackets by veterinarians and do not like moncler sale online to be caught.

In the case of the magpie in Davis, it took Ms. Lee and her boss, cheap moncler cheap moncler sale Dr. Walter M. Boyce, director of the university’s Wildlife Health Center, more than 30 minutes to disentangle the bird, set up a lab table, zip themselves into disposable coveralls and get a beak swab, a feces swab and a blood sample before releasing the miffed looking bird, which high tailed it for the nearest tree.

Dr. Boyce also gets swabs from hunters’ ducks, and his colleagues at the state run agriculture laboratory on campus get uk moncler outlet them from poultry farms and from dead crows, jays and robins collected by city health departments on the watch for West Nile virus, which arrived in California earlier this moncler online store year.

During the test run in Alaska, Dr. Jonathan Runstadler, a biology professor at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, said he had collected nearly 5,000 fecal samples from ducks, geese, gulls and other shorebirds, owls and other raptors, and even songbirds.

With limited money, Dr. Runstadler could not mount his own bird catching efforts, but university ornithologists and dedicated amateurs who study migratory patterns run what he called «ring and fling» leg banding operations. «Our technicians and grad students go out with them, pull out a Q Tip and say, ‘Excuse me, can I take a sample here?’ » he said.

Another difficulty is deciding which species to pursue. Dr. Karesh expressed frustration that no country with birds dead of flu, from China to Romania, had noted which healthy species were nearby, because survivors were the more likely carriers, he said.

Which explains why Ms. Lee was netting birds that live year round in Davis.

It’s «a bit of a maverick approach,» Dr. Boyce admitted, but his theory is that scavengers like magpies, crows and cattle egrets best moncler jackets are the most likely vectors for moving the virus from the millions of ducks flying down California’s Central Valley each fall to cheap moncler jackets womens domestic chicken farms.

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