The first is the Pro-Med summary, which is generally a more reliable source of news than the general news media. Following are the general news coverage. [results]

Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2006 23:06:34 -0400 (EDT)
From: ProMED-mail
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Avian influenza, mute swan – USA (MI): LPAI, susp.


LPAI commonly occurs in wild birds, where it typically causes only minor signs or no noticeable signs. These strains of the virus are not a human health concern. This includes LPAI H5N1, commonly referred to as the North American H5N1. This strain of low pathogenicity avian influenza is very different from the more severe high pathogenicity HPAI H5N1 circulating overseas, which is commonly referred to as the Asian H5N1.

Evidence of LPAI H5N1 has been found on 2 occasions in wild birds in the United States. In 1975 and 1986, it was detected in wild ducks. These detections occurred as part of routine sampling. LPAI H5N1 has also been detected in Canada, most recently in 2005.

[emphasis added]

White House: Lesser Bird Flu May Be Here
By LAURAN NEERGAARD , 08.14.2006, 03:13 PM Associated Press

Scientists have discovered possible bird flu in two wild swans on the shore of Lake Erie – but it does not appear to be the much-feared Asian strain that has ravaged poultry and killed at least 138 people elsewhere in the world.

It will take up to two weeks to confirm whether the seemingly healthy wild mute swans really harbored the H5N1 virus or not.

That’s the suspicion, making Monday’s announcement almost a practice run for the day the more worrisome Asian strain actually arrives.

Monday’s announcement was the first reported hit from a massive new program to test up to 100,000 wild birds in an effort to catch the deadly Asian H5N1 virus if it does wing its way to North America, something the government thinks could happen this year.

Wild birds, especially waterfowl, are flu’s natural reservoir – they carry a multitude of influenza viruses. Sometimes, those strains jump species, and if it’s a flu virus very different from one people have experienced before, a worldwide epidemic could result.

Last week, the government expanded the bird-testing program to encompass the entire nation, after initial sampling mostly in Alaska. Twenty mute swans from a Monroe County, Mich., game area were among the first new batches of tests – because, coincidentally, they were part of a state program to lower overcrowding of the nonnative species.

So why Monday’s announcement? To be open about all this testing, DeHaven said. And even low-pathogenic H5N1 requires monitoring, because it has the potential to mutate into the more virulent form, he added.

More important, “It was a real good test run of the system,” Dr. Willie Reed, director of the Michigan State University laboratory where the initial testing was done, told The Associated Press….

Over the weekend, more testing at Ames found the N1 protein. That doesn’t necessarily mean the swans harbored the H5N1 strain; they could have carried two different flu strains at once, say an H5N2 and an H6N1.

That’s a lot of science-speak to say stay tuned: It will take up to two weeks to sort out exactly what the swans had, and to make sure it was a low-pathogen version – by injecting baby chicks with the swans’ virus to see if they die.

Tests show lethal form of bird flu hasn’t yet reached North America Two swans appear to have milder form

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

WASHINGTON — Two swans in Michigan found to be infected with bird flu don’t have the much-feared lethal form that has killed at least 138 people elsewhere in the world, U.S. authorities said Monday….

The low-grade North American version of H5N1 has been found in birds here since 1975.

2 Michigan Swans Seem Infected With Nonlethal Avian Flu Strain
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr., Published: August 15, 2006

The mute swans, a wild pair nesting near Lake Erie, appeared healthy, as did the birds seen near them when they were sampled on Aug. 8, Dr. DeHaven said. (But they were killed because they were sampled as part of a government program to wipe out Michigan’s mute swans, the white birds of “Swan Lake” fame. They are a European species introduced in the 1800’s as park decorations but are so aggressive when they become feral that they drive out local trumpeter swans and loons.)…

Almost all the humans who have died of avian flu are believed to have caught it from domestic chickens or their droppings. The exception was an outbreak in Azerbaijan in February, in which village girls who plucked a flock of dead wild swans for their down fell ill.

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