October 25, 2023
British researchers discovered for the first time bird flu virus on the coast Antarcticabringing new worries to local species such as penguins.
Epidemiology and cases
HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza) virus is the major avian influenza virus that has subantarctic skua, Seabird family. The discovery was made during the worst bird flu epidemic in global history. British researchers sampled subantarctic skuas found on the South Georgia Islands east of the southern tip of South America, even though they are not part of the Antarctic continent.
The virus is believed to be carried by birds from South America, a region that has experienced severe bird flu outbreaks over the past two years that resulted in the culling of tens of millions of poultry.
Experts consider the emergence of the virus in Antarctica “big news.” There are fears that the virus could eventually reach the southern continent and threaten various species of penguins that do not live elsewhere and therefore have not yet developed immunity to the pathogen.
This discovery highlights the importance of zoonotic disease surveillance and control in remote areas and emphasizes the need for action to protect the biodiversity of Antarctic ecosystems.