Not the only virus that has had a significant impact on the world over the past few years is COVID-19. More than just domesticated species have been affected by avian flu (H5N1), which has devastated the poultry industry and prompted a 70% increase in egg prices over the past year.
What’s going on?
New examination shows that this season’s virus, which has killed off a huge number of wild birds, is one of the most crushing illness flare-ups ever. Vox reported that the disease has spread to hundreds of species across five continents, including endangered species like the California condor, making it a “panzootic,” or animal pandemic.
During an outbreak, avian flu typically kills only domesticated birds like ducks and chickens, killing up to 90% of the flock. In any case, this time, it’s unique.
According to wildlife geneticist Andrew Ramey of the USGS, “what we’re seeing right now is uncharted territory.” The virus has attacked wild animals and even mammals due to its biology.
According to Tufts University molecular virologist Wendy Puryear, “it’s causing a high amount of mortality in a huge breadth of wild birds, which is not something that has been seen before.” This is on the grounds that the ebb and flow avian seasonal infection has adjusted to spread illness outside poultry cultivates and contaminate considerably more species afterward.
Why is avian influenza of concern?
Over half a billion birds have been killed or forced to be killed by farmers around the world as a result of the current avian flu outbreak, which began in North America in the winter of 2021. Since governments lack the resources to test each dead bird, it is more difficult to track the number of wild birds affected by the outbreak. According to Puryear, who spoke with Vox, “We have never before seen these kinds of numbers with an influenza outbreak in wild birds.”
Biologists studying endangered and small bird populations, such as Michigan’s threatened Caspian terns and the California condor, face a particular challenge from the avian flu. Predation, habitat loss or change, and invasive species are all contributing to the decline of nearly half of all bird species worldwide. The avian flu is yet another obstacle in the way of regaining their population.