Bird conservationists and nature managers are on high alert: Just like last year, bird flu is spreading among wild birds. The situation in the Netherlands is certainly not so serious yet, say organizations such as Staatsb Glosbeheer. “The numbers aren’t too bad for us,” a spokesperson said. However, “probably several thousand” birds in the Netherlands have succumbed to a highly pathogenic variant of bird flu, reports knowledge organization Sovon Vogelundzok Nederland.
This mainly concerns barnacle geese, greylag geese, mute swans, gull species, and knot sandfowl. Scavengers such as peregrine falcons, hawks and sea eagles are also endangered. On Friday, a euthanized fox from Brabant was also diagnosed with bird flu. “The fox was found in early December and exhibited neurological symptoms such as walking in circles, falling and may have been blind,” according to Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR). Avian influenza was also detected in two young foxes last spring. This also happened elsewhere in Europe with foxes, seals, and otters.
Read also: Really uncontrollable virus
fever and headache
The likelihood of people catching bird flu is small, and the disease is usually milder in humans, RIVM reports. “People who get bird flu have the same symptoms as regular winter flu: fever, headache, muscle aches, cough, and eye inflammation.” It is recommended to avoid contact with dead and sick animals to reduce the risk of infection.
The current outbreak has spread throughout Europe. Bird flu is also common in Israel, where more than 5,000 cranes have died recently. “It looks very dangerous again this year,” says Nancy Berens, a virologist at Wageningen Bioveterinary Research. “There are 400 outbreaks in poultry farms in Europe and the number of wild birds that are now dying is also huge.” Berens scans dead birds for the H5N1 virus that has been circulating this year. Last year it was a virus associated with it, H5N8.
Dead waterfowl have also been found in Dutch nature reserves such as Oostvaardersplassen in Flevoland. They are now under investigation. The birds were found in an area not open to the public. Visitors are advised to stay away from birds that display deviant behaviour. “Birds can make uncontrolled movements or appear very sleepy,” he said. a permit. The advice also applies to keeping dogs up front, as they can also catch bird flu, according to the Staatsb Glosbeheer website. In general, the advice is to keep peace and not disturb waterfowl. This “reduces the chance of spread,” according to the Staatsb Glosbeheer website. Sofon Birding also urges everyone to stay away from waterfowl and alert for dead animals. “They reported it,” a spokesperson said. Will the bird population be wiped out soon? “We’ll see the consequences, without a doubt,” says virologist Berens.
Avian influenza causes the greatest harm to poultry farming; Since the end of October, animals have been culled in thirteen companies in the Netherlands due to infection, and preventive culling has also been carried out in five companies. The Netherlands has a national obligation to remain in cages, as well as a ban on visitors. Over eight million birds have been culled in Europe so far. The Dutch Food and Consumer Safety Authority (NVWA) not only regulates these cullings, but also identifies detections of infected wild animals. “So that businesses in the region can take more into account,” a company spokesperson said. Despite all hygiene measures, infected companies are still being added. Berens: “This shows how contagious such a virus is. It is enough for a mouse to walk in the stool and go to the stable. The virus can enter in several ways.”
A version of this article also appeared in NRC Handelsblad on January 8, 2022
A version of this article also appeared on NRC on the morning of January 8, 2022
“Coffee fanatic. Friendly zombie aficionado. Devoted pop culture practitioner. Evil travel advocate. Typical organizer.”