The New York Times is reporting today that, "Bird Flu Detected in Swans in Italy, Greece and Bulgaria." It seems that only very preliminary testing has been done so far, but enough to identify H5N1 as the cause of death in at least some wild birds found in the past few days. The article notes that the virus was roughly identified via rapid screening:
In Italy, police officers near Messina, in Sicily, found two dead swans on Thursday and performed rapid screening tests on them in the wild, which suggested that the swans had a flu virus, according to ANSA, the official Italian news agency.
I find this surprising and impressive. The cops in Italy are equipped and trained for biosecurity work? And what tests are they using? ELISA? PCR? Something more like a pregnancy test? Does anybody reading this know the details? Were the tests actually performed by beat cops, or were specially trained technicians brought in when the birds were found? Perhaps this is an indication of how well prepared the Italians are to host the Olympics.
No sign of the virus in domestic poultry yet. This would be consistent with the notion that the virus is in fact spread by migrating birds rather than by human travel and trade, a dispute that I addressed when H5N1 showed up in Turkey.