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The potential role of migratory birds in the transmission of zoonoses

Author(s): Ioanna Georgopoulou | Vasilios Tsiouris

Journal: Veterinaria Italiana
ISSN 0505-401X

Volume: 44;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 671;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: Birds | Disease | Influenza | Micro-organisms | Migration | Prevention | Public health | Trans-mission | Zoonosis.

The instinct for survival leads migratory birds to exploit seasonal opportunities for breeding habitats and food supplies. Consequently, they travel across national and international borders. These birds are distinguished in local migrants, short-distance, long-distance and vagrant and nomadic migrants. They can transfer micro-organisms across the globe and play a significant role in the ecology and circulation of pathogenic organisms. They are implicated in the transmission of zoonoses as biological and mechanical carriers and as hosts and carriers of infected ectoparasites. They can cause water-borne, tick-borne and insect-borne diseases. Favourable agents, such as seasonality and stress due to migration, influence the transmission of pathogens. The migration of birds is a natural phenomenon that is followed by the unavoidable repercussions of the participation of these birds as carriers or hosts in the transmission of pathogens. It is not possible to interrupt this sequence but risks can be minimised by controlling and preventing perilous situations. Surveillance of wetlands, ‘stopovers’, places of destination and wintering regions can be done. Furthermore, the implementation strict biosecurity measures that reduce contact with migratory birds will limit the transmission of pathogens.
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