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Wild Birds and Emerging Diseases: Investigating the role of swans and geese from Eastern Mongolia in the potential spread of avian influenza virus.

Swan geese
Evaluating the potential involvement of wild birds in the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 (hereafter H5N1) requires analyses of temporal and spatial relationships between wild bird movements and disease emergence. The death of wild swans (Cygnus spp.) has been the first indicator of the presence of H5N1 in various Asian and European countries; however their role in the geographic spread of the disease remains poorly understood. The whooper swan and swan goose have been implicated as possible hosts for the virus within the East Asian Flyway – a migration corridor extending from Australasia to the Russian tundra at the northern extent.

Project Details

An international team from the US Geological Survey (Western Ecological Research Center, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, and Alaska Science Center), the United Nations-FAO, the University of Oklahoma (Center for Spatial Analysis) and the Wildlife Science and Conservation Center of Mongolia and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences have been studying the migration and disease ecology of whooper swans and  swan geese in eastern Mongolia. The study took place at several wetlands such as Chukh Nuur, Khorin Tsagaan Nuur and Delger Tsagaan Nuur during the post-breeding season of 2006, 2008, and 2014. Data from this study will provide insights into the movements of these two long distance migrants in relation to HPAI (high pathogenic avian influenza including H5N1) outbreaks.


1) capture and mark swan geese and whooper swans in eastern Mongolia to examine their migration routes

2) sample their populations for the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza.

3) quantify avian influenza transmission dynamics between wild waterbirds and poultry.

FAO Contact For This Project 
    Scott Newman
    +84-(0)4-394 24856 
    ECTAD Programme - Vietnam
    Food & Agriculture Organization, United Nations
    No. 3, Nguyen Gia Thieu Street, Hanoi, Vietnam

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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