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Wild Birds and Emerging Diseases: Migratory birds and transmission of Highly Pathogenic H5N1 in Turkey

A common teal fitted with a GPS satellite transmitter takes flight.
In Turkey, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus of the H5N1 subtype first emerged during 2005 and is believed to have been introduced by migratory birds during unusually freezing weather conditions. This event was followed by outbreaks in backyard poultry from 58 provinces, and numerous human fatalities. The virus has since become a recurrent disease, appearing in wild birds overwintering in the Black Sea almost annually. Unraveling the role of wild birds in the spread of HPAI H5N1 in Turkey relies on a better understanding of their migratory movements in the Black Sea-Mediterranean Flyway. Surveillance of migratory populations is especially critical, in view of the common practice of feeding viscera from hunted birds to backyard poultry, facilitating alternative routes of HPAI H5N1 transmission.

Project Details

The U.S. Geological Survey (Western Ecological Research Center) in collaboration with the Ondokuz Mayvis University Ornithological Research Centre, Wetlands International and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) are working to better understand the migration of wild birds in the Black Sea-Mediterranean Flyway by marking host species with satellite transmitters. This will contribute valuable information about the connectivity of Turkey with other regions of HPAI H5N1 outbreak and risk of transnational spread of the virus.


The overall aims of the project are;

1) mapping the migration of waterfowl including Mallard, Eurasian wigeon and Common teal marked at wintering sites near the Black Sea;

2) assessing the risk of contact with poultry using satellite telemetry data; and 3) collection of samples to assess the AIV infection status of overwintering waterfowl in Turkey.

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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