Azara Blog: Bird flu allegedly poses risk to biodiversity

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Date published: 2006/04/19

The BBC says:

The spread of bird flu poses serious risks to biodiversity, say scientists who have detailed an outbreak of the virus in Owston's civets.

The mammal is a small, endangered carnivore that lives in the forests of Vietnam, Laos and southern China.

Three animals died at a conservation centre in northern Vietnam last summer. It is not known how they contracted the virus, as they do not eat poultry.

The scientists report the cases in a journal of the UK's Royal Society.

The team - from the UK, Vietnam and China - call for better monitoring of the H5N1 virus in wild animals.

"H5N1 could pose a risk to a variety of wild birds and mammals," lead author Diana Bell, of the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, told the BBC News website.

"We need to be screening wild birds and mammals in those countries where the virus has been present for some time.

"We mustn't be totally anthropocentric in our focus on H5N1. It doesn't only kill humans and poultry; it also kills a wide variety of wild birds and carnivorous mammals."

Well, you have to wonder if most people of the world would rather spend money to save the odd million people, or to spend money saving a few non-human species (most of which are on the brink for reasons related to humans, not bird flu). Of course understanding the wider environmental impact of H5N1 might help on the human front.

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