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Bird flu epidemic threatens Europe’s wild birds

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Status: 07/25/2022 3:38 p.m.

An outbreak of bird flu is threatening thousands of wild birds in the North East of England. In this country too, the authorities are fighting the virus: in the Wadden Sea, breeding birds are affected by an epidemic.

Bird flu has broken out on the uninhabited Farne Islands to the northeast. Thousands of wild birds have already died and many other animals are at risk, according to the British nature conservation organization National Trust. For 100 years there has not been a comparable situation so “threatening to our already threatened seabird populations”, says conservationist Simon Lee, the islands’ manager.

Specialists have already collected more than 3000 dead birds on the islands. They must be burned to prevent the spread of the virus. The conservation organization fears the outbreak could still kill tens of thousands of birds.

Eruption in the Wadden Sea of ​​Lower Saxony

Breeding birds are also affected by an outbreak of bird flu in the Wadden Sea in Lower Saxony. The disease is particularly prevalent in sandwich terns, which currently breed on the islands of Baltrum, Langeoog and Minsener Oog. This was announced by the administration of the Wilhelmshaven National Park.

The highly contagious bird flu virus is spreading rapidly and has already claimed more than 900 lives in Minsener Oog alone, he said. However, experts believe that the number of unreported cases is several times higher. And the end of tern death is currently not in sight. They are currently sick throughout the south of the North Sea and Baltic region, in northern France and in the Netherlands. Common terns, black-headed gulls and northern gannets are also affected by avian flu.

Nature Conservancy rangers search for dead animals every day to track the course of the infection process. It is feared that many chicks can no longer be fed by their parents. “That means their certain death because they are starving,” explained bird protection expert Dietrich Frank.

Humans could become virus carriers

According to experts, the effects of bird death on the ecological structure cannot yet be estimated, said Peter Südbeck, head of the administration of the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park. He strongly warned against touching dead or suspected sick birds.

The Farne Islands in England are also concerned about the outbreak – they are even currently closed to tourists. Although the risk of infection for people is low, they could become carriers of the virus and spread the pathogen to other regions. The National Trust has called on the UK government to intervene in the crisis. There needs to be coordinated surveillance and wider research into the impact the outbreak could have on UK wildlife.

Source www.tagesschau.de

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