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Last updated: 28 February, 2006 - Published 22:11 GMT
 
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Bahamas probes bird deaths
 
Ducks
Migrating ducks and geese may pass on viruses to local bird populations.
As the fear of the spread of bird flu continues across the globe, health experts have rushed to the Bahamas island of Inagua to investigate a spate of bird deaths.

Over the past two days, a number of the island's famed flamingos, roseate spoonbills and cormorants have been found dead with no external injuries.

Experts fear that the cause of death may be the deadly bird flu virus, H5N1, that is spreading around the globe and scientists are scouring the island to find out more about the mysterious bird deaths.

"Anything is possible in nature. You have birds that fly around the world. But let's hope to God that that is not the case here in the Bahamas" Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Leslie Miller was reported as saying by the news agency, Reuters.

Not Migratory

Unusually, the three species affected on the island are not migratory.

The birds may, however, have been infected by geese and ducks migrating to Inagua during the winter.

The H5N1 virus is endemic in birds across parts of Asia but has since spread to Europe and Africa. The spread of the virus has fuelled public concern and resulted in the culling of poultry stocks in some countries.

Alarm over the spread of the H5N1 virus was fuelled further by a report in Europe claiming that it had been found in a dead German cat.

Fear of mutation

Experts fear the H5N1 virus could mutate into a form more easily passed between humans.

Bahamas National Trust president Glenn Bannister said he had never known such a large number of bird deaths in the Bahamas at one time.

It is hoped that the investigation will unearth whether or not bird-flu is the true culprit in the deaths.

 
 
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