USGS Western Ecological Research Center

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Wild Birds and Emerging Diseases: Bangladesh: A source of Highly Pathogenic H5N1 infection in wild birds?

Ruddy Shelduck with GPS transmitter attached.
Bangladesh attracts huge numbers of wild birds that overwinter in wetland habitat offered by the Ganges River and its tributaries. The country is situated on the cross roads of two major flyways, at the southeastern end of the Central Asian Flyway, and southwestern end of the East Asian - Australasian Flyway, migratory corridors for birds extending to Russia at its northern limit. Outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) of the subtype H5N1 have been reported in wild birds in the Central Asian and East Asian - Australasian flyways with steady frequency since 2005, raising concern about where and how birds become infected. The virus persists in the extensive poultry industry of Bangladesh, creating conditions conducive for spillover to wild birds.

Project Details

The U.S. Geological Survey (Western Ecological Research Center) in collaboration with the EcoHealth Alliance, ICDDR,BWildlife Trust of Bangladesh, Wetlands International, Bombay Natural History Society, and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) are working to better understand the movement of wild birds in Bangladesh by marking waterfowl with satellite transmitters. Birds will also be tested for avian influenza to assess the prevalence of the virus in wild populations. This will help to identify habitat where wild and domestic birds interact and the potential for transmission of HPAI H5N1 prior to their northward migration through Central Asia and Russia.


This project will aim to:

1) diagnose waterfowl using rapid techniques at capture, allowing AI-infected birds to be marked with satellite transmitters and assess their flight performance;

2) identify opportunities for the interaction between wild birds and poultry and

3) characterize the movement of birds in the Central Asian and East Asian - Australasian Flyways and risk of transnational spread of HPAI H5N1.

FAO Contact For This Project 
    Scott Newman
    EMPRES Wildlife Unit
    Food & Agriculture Organization, United Nations
    Rome, Italy 00153

USGS Contact For This Project
John Takekawa - Emeritus
(707) 562-2000
San Francisco Bay Estuary Field Station
505 Azuar Drive
Vallejo, CA 94592
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