Albatross and penguins continue to die in Malvinas

Thousands of albatrosses chicks have died due to an outbreak of bird flu on Wild North Island (Jason’s Spire) in the northwest of the archipelago.

Falkland Islands. – Authorities confirmed this information after visiting the site in January.

In December last year, highly pathogenic avian influenza was diagnosed for the first time on the island. Since then, the island has been declared an epidemic area and no one is allowed to travel there. There will be a further review of the situation on March 28, at which time the situation will be assessed.

As published by the Uruguayan portal Mercorpess, veterinarian Dr. Zoe Fowler, who is monitoring this outbreak and those in other parts of the island, confirms that we must learn to live with avian influenza, “without knowing how long it will last , but with reality and an appropriate attitude.” Biosecurity measures must be put in place to allow seabird populations to recover without disturbing or stressing them. Therefore, “we also don’t know in advance when access to these areas will open and when we will close.”

Other outbreaks have been detected on Sea Lion Island, which has been declared an infected area and is now closed to humans without authorization. On the island, there is a severe mortality of gentoo penguin chicks (hundreds of them).

As for sea lions and elephant seals, unlike South Georgia, the Malvinas Islands have so far recorded no cases of avian influenza symptoms among these mammal populations.

Dr Fowler also explained that there was sometimes confusion between the number of swab tests carried out and the published animal mortality rates. He explained that this is because six to seven batches of swab tests are carried out in a suspected area and when one of them comes back positive, it is counted as a batch as it indicates the presence of influenza without the need to swab the birds. detection. bird.

The chief veterinarian said some 43 batches of swab tests had been carried out since October, of which seven had come back positive and two were still pending.

Finally, he said people must report cases of dead or sick birds, never touch them and notify the veterinary team. “At the moment we are lucky that the outbreak is on a remote island, but we cannot rule out that other more accessible areas will eventually be affected by avian influenza.”

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