A group of scientists and wildlife health experts from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) say that closing Asias wild bird markets would reduce the spread of Avian flu. The markets place tens of thousands of wild and domestic birds in close quarters, allowing diseases to make the jump between wild animals, livestock, and ultimately humans, WCS says. The group also expressed concern that policies calling for widespread killing of birds living in the wild to prevent disease would do more harm than good.
According to WCS, which operates conservation programs in more than 15 Asian countries, wild birds are caught, usually by rural hunters, then brought together in large numbers often outside their natural range, and put in contact with other animals and people that have little immunity to diseases they might be carrying.
"The birds are caged in stressful, unnatural and often unhygienic conditions during transport and in the markets themselves where they are forced to stand beak to beak with both wild and domestic birds, and handled by humans - all providing the ideal conditions for transmission of disease," said Dr William Karesh, Director of the WCS Field Veterinary Program.
Stephen Sautner | EurekAlert!
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