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Will Wallace’s Line save Australia from avian influenza?

McCallum, HI, Roshier, DA, Tracey, JP, Joseph, L and Heinsohn, R 2008 , 'Will Wallace’s Line save Australia from avian influenza?' , Ecology and Society, vol. 13, no. 2 .

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ABSTRACT. Australia is separated from the Asian faunal realm by Wallace’s Line, across which there is
relatively little avian migration. Although this does diminish the risk of high pathogenicity avian influenza
of Asian origin arriving with migratory birds, the barrier is not complete. Migratory shorebirds, as well as
a few landbirds, move through the region on annual migrations to and from Southeast Asia and destinations
further north, although the frequency of infection of avian influenza in these groups is low. Nonetheless,
high pathogenicity H5N1 has recently been recorded on the island of New Guinea in West Papua in domestic
poultry. This event increases interest in the movements of birds between Wallacea in eastern Indonesia,
New Guinea, and Australia, particularly by waterbirds. There are frequent but irregular movements of
ducks, geese, and other waterbirds across Torres Strait between New Guinea and Australia, including
movements to regions in which H5N1 has occurred in the recent past. Although the likelihood of avian
influenza entering Australia via an avian vector is presumed to be low, the nature and extent of bird
movements in this region is poorly known. There have been five recorded outbreaks of high pathogenicity
avian influenza in Australian poultry flocks, all of the H7 subtype. To date, Australia is the only inhabited
continent not to have recorded high pathogenicity avian influenza since 1997, and H5N1 has never been
recorded. The ability to map risk from high pathogenicity avian influenza to Australia is hampered by the
lack of quantitative data on the extent of bird movements between Australia and its northern neighbors.
Recently developed techniques offer the promise to fill this knowledge gap.
Key Words: avian influenza; Australia; bird migration; risk mapping.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:McCallum, HI and Roshier, DA and Tracey, JP and Joseph, L and Heinsohn, R
Journal or Publication Title: Ecology and Society
ISSN: 1708-3087
Additional Information:

© 2008 The Authors

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