Thursday, September 07, 2006

Avian Flu Fighters use GPS for Wild Swan Chase

This is tangential to our normal topics, but it's cool to see how man evolves and adapts to evolving threats from nature--namely H5N1. If you think the first image looks like people putting a backpack on a bird, you are correct. Researchers are carefully attaching tiny solar powered GPS sending units to 10 Whooping Swans.
The swans are migrating now from their homes in Mongolia, to their wintering grounds in Europe. The swans' journeys will be mapped by the researchers who are tracking the GPS information transmitted by the tiny GPS units. The hope is that this information will help is better understand the role that migratory birds play in the spread of bird flu.
These swans were chosen for two reasons:
  1. Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza has alreadybeen found in this bird, so it could be an infection spreader
  2. Thousands of the swans mysteriously died in Mongolia and China in 2005 and 2006 in areas where few chickens are present.
Check out complete information from the scientists involved in the study by clicking here.
The second image shows a swan heading back into the wild with its tiny GPS backpack. The units are designed to eventually fall off the birds after the migration season.
Let's hope that our knowledge continues evolving just as pandemic threats evovle in the world.

No comments: