Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza / bird flu

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Michael Szabo
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New wave of H5N1 avian flu virus heads for Britain - The Observer

Postby Michael Szabo » Mon Feb 06, 2023 8:43 am

Bird flu outlook is ‘grim’ as new wave of the H5N1 virus heads for Britain - The Observer

Warning comes as ornithologists call for the UK Government to step up testing to monitor the impact of the deadly H5N1 strain.

A devastating new outbreak of avian flu – which has already wiped out wild bird population across the UK – is likely to hit Britain in the spring. That is the stark warning made last week by ornithologists who said the disease has now established itself across many parts of the country.

“Wild birds arriving in Britain in a couple of months are very likely to trigger new outbreaks of the disease,” said Claire Smith, senior conservation officer for the RSPB. “A few months ago, I was relatively optimistic about its likely impact this year but outbreaks have continued throughout winter and the outlook for 2023 now looks much grimmer.”

The current bird flu epidemic is caused by the H5N1 strain of virus, which originated in intensive poultry farms in Asia and has since spread round the globe, with infected migrating birds playing a pivotal roll in its spread.

In Britain, the disease has had a growing impact on wild birds over the past two years with 65 species being infected. About 16,000 barnacle geese died on the Solway Firth last winter, for example, while more than a quarter of the UK’s only roseate tern colony, off the Northumberland coast, died in the summer. ...

Full article here https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/ ... 1675588560
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Re: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza / bird flu

Postby Jan » Sat Feb 25, 2023 12:13 pm

An 11yr old girl died in Cambodia, it said on the news today. [RNZ] Her father and 11 others have been tested and the father is also positive. This is becoming far worse than earlier outbreaks of H5N1 and we need to be mindful of dead birds anywhere.
The vast damage it has done around UK should be a real wakeup call.
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Re: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza / bird flu

Postby Michael Szabo » Wed Mar 22, 2023 8:16 pm

First birds, now mammals: how H5N1 is killing thousands of sea lions in Peru - The Guardian

"Avian flu has decimated the marine creatures on the country’s Pacific coastline and scientists fear it could be jumping from mammal to mammal."

Link to news report: https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... h-aoe-h5n1
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Re: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza / bird flu

Postby Splish » Fri May 05, 2023 5:33 pm

Another Guardian article, this time on Gannet iris colour post flu.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... tudy-finds
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Re: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza / bird flu

Postby Michael Szabo » Thu May 18, 2023 8:52 am

Avian flu vaccine for California condors approved amid fears of extinction - The Guardian

A new vaccine has been granted emergency approval to protect California condors from a deadly strain of avian influenza, federal officials said this week, amid attempts to pull the endangered species back from the brink of extinction.

The emergency action underscores an outbreak that has alarmed the conservation community, who fear that condors, a vulnerable species that has spent decades in recovery, could be dealt a devastating blow. After first being detected in a deceased condor in late March, the illness has swept through the small flock of wild birds, which are closely monitored by agencies in the south-west. So far 21 condors have died, impacting eight breeding pairs, according to a statement issued by the US Fish and Wildlife service.

Link to story: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/202 ... extinction
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After Peru, concerns Australia could be next - The Guardian

Postby Michael Szabo » Sun Jul 23, 2023 9:45 am

The H5N1 virus has spread around the world, with 200,000 wild birds dead in Peru alone and concerns Australia could be next

Link to report: https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... merica-aoe

Avian flu may have killed millions of birds globally as outbreak ravages South America

Millions of wild birds may have died from bird flu globally in the latest outbreak, researchers have said, as the viral disease ravages South America, with 200,000 deaths recorded in Peru alone.

The highly infectious variant of H5N1, which gained momentum in the winter of 2021, caused Europe’s worst bird flu outbreak before spreading globally. The disease reached South America in November 2022, and has now been reported on every continent except Oceania and Antarctica.

Working out how many wild birds have died is difficult because so many carcasses are never found or counted. Michelle Wille, from the University of Sydney, co-authored research that is believed to be the first attempt to assess numbers on a global scale. It documents deaths since October 2021. “We estimate the scale of mortality among wild birds is in the millions rather than tens of thousands reported,” the paper says.

“The outbreaks among wild birds are causing population and species level concerns which may drive extinctions and jeopardise decades of conservation efforts,” it adds.

More than 40% of all Peruvian pelicans dying over a period of a few weeks in early 2023. More than 100,000 boobies have died and 85,000 cormorants, according to Peruvian government data. Wille said: “South America has been incredibly hard hit and the numbers are staggering … Outbreaks are having very real species and population-level effects, such that there is concern that some populations may never recover. The situation is extremely distressing.

“We are extremely concerned for what will happen in spring [in the southern hemisphere] as the virus has now been detected in Tierra del Fuego, which implies an increased risk for the virus to emerge in Antarctica.”

Peru has been very active in recording deaths from bird flu, but other countries have been less open about what is happening, said Ian Brown, director of scientific services at the UK’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha). For example, Brazil – the world’s biggest chicken meat exporter – was one of the last countries to confirm it had cases in wild birds, six months after reports from Peru. There is also an issue with countries not having enough resources to report on the impact of the virus, Brown said. “I would be cautious about saying Peru is a particular hotspot … it’s probably not alone.”

He added: “What’s happened is that this virus has found its way into South America for the very first time. In Europe, and to some extent North America, we’ve had cases like this in the last few years … so they will build up some immunity. But birds in South America have not seen this virus before.” This may explain why mortality rates are so high.

Elsewhere, significant population impacts around the world include 17% of sandwich terns dying in Europe in 2022; 40% of south-east European Dalmatian pelicans dying in 2021, and 62% of Caspian terns breeding on Lake Michigan dying in 2022.

Data shows the disease has also been detected in Indonesia, with concerns its next stop could be Australia. “That’s the first time in the history of this virus, or group of viruses, that we’ve seen that global spread on such a scale. It’s a gamechanger,” said Brown.

Europe is now on its second breeding season with H5N1. The virus hasn’t changed, but it has affected different birds in Europe this year compared with last year.

Black-headed gulls across the continent and in the UK have been hit badly, as well as terns. Nationally, 10% of black-headed gulls have died since the end of March, which means at least 30,000 dead individuals, not including the many thousands of dead chicks, according to James Pearce-Higgins, director of science at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). “There have been tragic tales of people seeing dead black-headed gulls with chicks trying to nestle up to them.”

The two species, terns and black-headed gulls, nest in similar places and close together, making for easy disease transmission between them. “The picture I’ve given you is a microcosm of what is happening across Europe,” said Pearce-Higgins.

Other birds have been less badly affected. Northern gannets and great skuas – which were severely hit in 2022 – appear to have had very few deaths this year. Early research suggests some have immunity but others simply may not have been exposed.

Researchers still don’t know what proportion of individuals are able to recover from bird flu, how long that immunity lasts and how much protection it gives. In gannets, it appears darker eyes indicate the bird might have some immunity.

Although UK seabird breeding colonies have not been as badly hit as last year, a number of outbreaks have occurred in recent weeks. Earlier this month rangers described their “heartbreak” at discovering more than 600 dead chicks at Britain’s largest mainland Arctic tern colony in Long Nanny on the Northumberland coast. There has also been an increase in cases in north Wales, with reports of dead terns, herring gulls and puffins. Hundreds of birds have washed up on the east coast of Scotland.

Last year, there were widespread impacts on a number of species, with data collected by the Guardian showing H5N1 had killed at least 50,000 wild birds – double previous estimates. The effects of last year’s outbreak are now being felt on the number of birds returning this year.

Early signs from Scotland suggest great skuas in Shetland have been hit particularly hard, according to Nature Scot. At one reserve, Hermaness in Shetland, 90% may have been lost, suggesting “significant breeding population declines” compared with last year, the agency said. Scotland has 60% of the world’s population of great skuas.

Looking at UN surveillance data it appears Europe still has more cases than anywhere else but that will be down to reporting. Brown said: “Gaps on the map do not mean the virus is not there. Look at central Asia [where] there are big holes, in parts of Africa there are big holes, and that is simply because there isn’t surveillance being done.

“It would be premature to say this current strain of H5N1 is going to die out any time soon … We are facing an international crisis.”
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Re: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza / bird flu

Postby boneywhitefoot » Sun Jul 23, 2023 11:01 pm

I honestly can't see you guys down south are going to escape this.
This year in the UK the flu has hit the tern's badly.
Rosie and I visit a small colony of Little terns and the team that works hard to look after them at Baltray in county Louth, Ireland.
Little terns are Ireland's rarest breeding bird.
Up until a few weeks ago they have pretty much been isolated from other tern colonies but lately Terns from further down south have arrived at the Little terns breeding area.
There have been no deaths from the flu to date but it's heartbreaking watching the concerns of the team for the birds they are giving so much of their time to protect.
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Re: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza / bird flu

Postby Michael Szabo » Tue Aug 01, 2023 1:54 pm

Update from David Melville:
High pathogenicity H5N1 avian influenza has spread rapidly across much of the world in recent years. This has resulted in the deaths of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of wild birds, in particular seabirds including gulls, terns, shags and penguins. Birders and beach patrollers have an important role in surveillance. If you find any unusual mortality events or see sick birds, especially those exhibiting neurological symptoms (for examples see: https://photos.app.goo.gl/u9f3jpuy4SKQr1Lw9) please contact the MPI hotline 0800-809966 immediately. As there is a potential risk that bird flu may be transmitted to humans, please make sure you wait for instructions before handling any sick or dead birds.

For further information see:

Bird Flu advisory for wildlife managers and bird banders: https://prod-birdbanding-spa-client-inf ... 109612.pdf

High pathogenicity avian influenza and the risk to NZ: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/biosecurity/pes ... isk-to-nz/
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Avian flu in Antarctic region

Postby Michael Szabo » Wed Oct 25, 2023 7:30 am

Avian flu has been detected on Bird Island, South Georgia, marking the first time the disease has ever been found in the Antarctic region, according to the British Antarctic Survey:

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... 1698165613

New Scientist: https://www.newscientist.com/article/23 ... 1698172684
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Re: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza / bird flu

Postby Michael Szabo » Fri Feb 16, 2024 2:46 pm

Catastrophic Mortality of Elephant Seals in Argentina Identified as Outbreak of Avian Influenza
January 22, 2024, UC Davis Veterinary Medicine

UC Davis Veterinary Medicine is a nationally top-ranked academic medical center based in Davis, California with a school, hospital, specialty clinics, research centers and institutes, and other operations throughout the state and the world.

The outbreak in a new species raises concerns for elephant seal conservation and cross-species transmission, including potentially to humans

The first reported outbreak of high pathogenicity H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI) in elephant seals has been identified by researchers in Argentina. The outbreak caused extreme mortality, with a 70% mortality rate in pups born in the 2023 breeding season, according to research co-led by the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center at the School of Veterinary Medicine and published in Marine Mammal Science. The mortality rate reached at least 96% by early November 2023, in the surveyed areas at Península Valdés (PV) in Argentina.

Adult seals were also affected, with a significant decrease in numbers. The demographic consequences of the epidemic will be better understood in October 2024 when a colony count will take place. But the impacts could be significant, since adult females may have left the breeding grounds without becoming pregnant after losing their pups. Moreover, the loss of an entire cohort of young females, will also show population level effects a few years from now, when they would have been expected to become of reproductive age. PV is the only continental colony of the species, and the Patagonian population of elephant seals has been monitored since the 1980s. Currently at a steady increasing rate, HPAI may have shown just how devastating a single infectious disease outbreak can be for a marine mammal population. Concerns are higher, species-wise, now that the outbreak has spread to other colonies in South Georgias/Islas Georgias del Sur in the Sub-Antarctic region.

The outbreak has also caused the death of thousands of South American sea lions and fewer fur seals along the Argentine Patagonia coastline, and now extends into Uruguay and southern Brazil. The virus has also been found in seabirds, particularly affecting several species of terns.

“This outbreak is the greatest calamity to affect wildlife, particularly marine mammals, in South America in recent history,” said Marcela Uhart, a veterinarian who co-led the study.

Possible transmission between mammals raises concerns for public health and reinforces the need for urgent characterization and monitoring of virus evolution, which is being led by the veterinary team of Uhart and Ralph Vanstreels of the UC Davis Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center Latin America program, in collaboration with virologist Dr. Agustina Rimondi of the Instituto de Virología, Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria in Argentina. In the meantime, preventive measures for humans are of paramount importance, as many moribund and dead seals strand on beaches near cities and are approached by people and dogs. The virus has infected and killed individuals of many species of terrestrial carnivores in other parts of the world, including the United States.

“There is not much we can do once HPAI reaches wildlife populations,” said Uhart. “We need to acknowledge and work to minimize these impacts, including controlling what we can, such as poultry farm biosecurity, to reduce the chance of a continuing cycle of disease spread.”

This investigation was done in collaboration with scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society Valeria Falabella, Julieta Campagna, Victoria Zavattieri and Claudio Campagna. Funding was provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Link: https://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/news/cat ... 2TX07bXI1M
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