Most publicized bird flu pandemic targets seabirds

In case he climate changethis pollutethis accidentally caught with gear and intake Microplastics not enough, this seabird Facing Another Deadly Danger: Bird Flu. The virus is called H5N1, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, Killed thousands in the northern hemisphere in the past two years. And it’s spreading southward so fast that it’s been finding areas it hasn’t reached before. Latest outbreak mostly affects seabirdswhich is somewhat unusual so far.

Spain No stranger to this serious problem: they have been observed Since October 1 last year, there have been 128 cases of bird flu in wild birds, 15 of which occurred in the last two months. To date, the disease has been documented in species such as black-headed gulls, common terns, gull-billed terns, peregrine falcons, lesser terns, heathens and yellow-legged gulls.

yes Of particular concern is the incidence of avian influenza in susceptible speciessuch as the sandwich tern and black-billed tern, have been reported dying from the disease in the Albufeira Natural Park of Valencia.

Faced with this situation, SEO/BirdLife insists that it is necessary Improving the conservation status of seabirds Increase their resilience to such events and encourage popular participation Citizen Science Program Examples include the International Civil Aviation Organization (, which can provide valuable information on the impact of the disease.

Avian influenza (or influenza), which originally affected domestic poultry, began to be detected in wild species in Europe in the early 2000s and spread along migratory routes.

They have been observed since Sporadic mass die-offs of birds (mainly aquatic). In 2021, the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus jumped to seabirds, creating an unprecedented situation that continues to this day.

devastating effect

Disease knows no borders. Avian influenza viruses have been detected in approximately 400 different bird species worldwide.. “The group behavior of species such as gannets and terns during breeding creates the perfect scenario for the rapid spread of the virus,” the NGO said.

“These colonies house a significant portion of the world’s population for some species, which is why The impact on the global population is devastating“, Add to.

Some of the data collected so far show that Emergency moment:

—Atlantic Gannet. At least 75% of existing colonies are affected, with an overall mortality rate of 60%. Scotland is their main nesting ground and more than 11,000 casualties are estimated. In Bas Rock, the largest gannet colony in the world, occupied territory decreased by 71 percent and reproductive success dropped by 66 percent.

– pay big money. At least 2,700 dead bodies were counted, a 70% reduction in the occupied territory of the British Isles, the world’s major colony (approximately 8,900 couples), and an estimated 7% of the world’s population dead. In 2021 and 2022, the reproductive success of affected populations will be close to zero. Several of the dead birds were over 20 years old.

—Snowflake Tern. During the 2022 outbreak, a total of 20,531 adults died in just two months in the northwestern European colony, calculating a nesting population mortality rate of 74%.

– Grown up pelican. In 2022, influenza killed 60% of the world’s largest population in Lake Prespa (Greece), and also affected other populations in Eastern Europe. It is estimated that the European population will decrease by 40% and the global population by 10%.

——Laughing Gull. An estimated 10,000 black-headed gulls have died in the UK, accounting for 4% of its population, with hundreds more cases in several continental European countries.

Spain is not free from the virus

“These figures are likely to be grossly underestimated because it is difficult to find the carcasses of dead animals and not all colonies have population estimate Over the long term, year-over-year comparisons can be made,” noted SEO/BirdLife.

“If successful, it will take decades for these populations to recover,” said Lucia Solinho, a technician with the NGO Oceans Programme. “Seabirds are long-lived animals with long periods of maturity and low numbers of chicks. This makes Survival of adults critical to continuation of species“, Add to.

Spain has a national bird flu surveillance program in place to detect the disease early. During the current outbreak, Between July 1, 2022, and June 7, 2023, seven outbreaks were detected in poultry, one in captive birds, and 117 in wild birds. Andalusia, Catalonia, Galicia, Basque Country, Aragon, Castilla-Leon, Castilla-La Mancha, Cantabria , Extremadura, Madrid, La Rioja, Asturias, Murcia and Valencia.

“They are particularly concerned spotlight natural park of Valencian Lagoon and Ebro Delta, both places are extremely important for marine and aquatic birds.First, over 1,000 sandwich tern and black-billed squirrel carcassesbut it is unclear how many are due to influenza,” the NGO said.

The Ministry of Climate Action of the Autonomous Region of Catalonia has confirmed an outbreak of bird flu in the Ebro delta. Specifically, the Algate National Reference Laboratory in Madrid announced three positive results for highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza last July. Specimen Sandwich Tern on the Van Gaal Peninsula in the northern Ebro Delta.

What to do with a sick or dead bird?

Facing this circumstances, monitor and biosecurity measures Poultry farms, especially those designed to avoid contact with wild birds. Surveillance of seabird populations has also been intensified to quantify the incidence of the disease.

“However, in the face of a pandemic of this magnitude, it is necessary take extreme precautions And take appropriate management measures to avoid transmission to the most sensitive species,” SEO/BirdLife said.

Although cases of transmission to humans have so far been rare and of low severity, to avoid the risk of zoonotic disease, handling and eradication of birds must be carried out by specialized personnel and personal protective equipment.

What to do if you find a sick or dead bird:

– Do not pick up or touch birds dead or sick in the wild

-Pet animal Keep away from dead or sick birds.

– do not feed the birds wild aquatic animals.

– don’t touch the feathers From wild birds or surfaces contaminated with wild bird droppings.

– if you have poultry or other birds, wash your hands and clean and sanitize shoes before caring for your bird.

– Dial 112 or Animal Recovery Center Respond accordingly and follow the instructions directed to you. Conservation staff will go to designated locations to collect the animals or their carcasses.

– send observation data If you would like to contribute to SEO/BirdLife to improve understanding of causes of seabird mortality, please do so through the ICAO app for Android and IOS (Apple).

The latest FAO report on avian influenza:

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