two from Science in the News, an E-mail newsletter from Sigma Xi, mentioned previously as a source especially for science teachers (ΣΧ FYI for Sci TEK teachers, linked in sidebar) Thought experiments — Forum Debate Rights in a Pandemic

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Probing the Mysterious Migration of Swans Suspected in Spread of Avian Flu
From The New York Times (Registration Required)

Tracking avian flu sometimes comes down to moves that have a lot of slapstick potential, like sprinting down a muddy Mongolian beach trying to tackle a scared but temporarily flightless swan.

“They’re pretty fast, even when they can’t fly, and the 100-yard dash is not my specialty,” said John Takekawa, a research wildlife biologist with the United States Geological Survey. Dr. Takekawa was part of an international team that spent part of August on the shores of Lake Khorin Tsagaan in Mongolia catching whooper swans and strapping tiny transmitters to their backs. If all goes well, the transmitters will help unveil an ornithological mystery: which way whoopers migrate.

The issue became more important last year when field veterinarians from the Wildlife Conservation Society who were investigating the deaths of hundreds of migratory birds on remote lakes in China and Mongolia found that whoopers were among those infected with A(H5N1) influenza. Their migration patterns are poorly understood, but they may have played a role in the brief appearance of the disease all across Europe early this year.

The birds’ migratory paths can be followed on

To read more:


Because we don’t do response planning, I guess the following study won’t affect us??

9/11 Air Travel Dip Linked to Flu’s Delay, Study could affect response planning
From The Boston Globe (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON — Scientists have found the first real evidence that restricting air travel can delay flu’s spread. Air travel has long been suspected of playing a role in flu’s gradual spread around the globe each year. But yesterday, Boston researchers said they finally documented it: The drop in air travel after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks seemed to delay that winter’s flu season by about two weeks.

“This is the first time that a study’s been able to show a direct link between the numbers of people traveling and the rate of spread of a virus,” said John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Children’s Hospital, who led the new research.

Other scientists stress that the study doesn’t prove that restricting air travel really helps in the long run — there was no drop in the number of deaths, just a delay. So if a pandemic were to strike, the question is whether a mere two-week delay would outweigh the economic chaos of severe travel restrictions.

To read more: 911_air_travel_dip_linked_to_flus_delay/


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