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Poultry Flu a man made disaster
H5N1 INFECTED SEA LEAVES TRAIL OF DEAD SEABIRDS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE ATLANTIC
It began in the Solway Firth, Scotland (1)in 2021 where Barnacle Geese belonging to the wintering Svalbard population got infected with Poultry Flu H5N1. From there an infected current to the north developed in 2022 along the Outer Hebrides (2) killing large numbers of Bonxies which were most likely infected by eating from sick or dying Gannets. Even healthy Gannets are no match to Bonxies, I have seen them fly along side Gannets at Sumburgh Head grabbing a wingtip causing both birds tumbling into the sea and then killing the Gannet. The infected current went on to Shetland (2) while killing more seabirds, then when entering the North Sea turned to the south along the east coast of Scotland (4) towards the Bass Rock (5) where a Dutch Herring survey ship sailed through floating dead Gannets, alas, it seems , no samples of seawater and birds were taken.
The current then approached Coquet Island (6) close enough to infect foraging terns, ca 2000 Sandwich and Common Terns died and no less than 50 rare Roseate Terns as well (per Glyn Sellors).
The Sandwich Terns of the Farne Islands (7) were fortunate as the current passes to far out too harm them however the Guillemots were not so lucky as many perished (Marcel Klootwijk in lit.).
No reports were received of Poultry Flu casualties between Bempton Cliffs and The Channel (8) where the infected current joins the southerly current which runs north along the Dutch and German coasts.
In British Birds vol.116 May 2023 Alan Bayes reports on Gannets of Bempton Cliffs 49.58’N 0.18’50.18”, Yorkshire, ca 30,000 pairs, with several interesting observations f.i. the fishing grounds are to the south of the colony and infected Gannets develope all black eyes.
In June larvae from the Channel Herring population drift northwards being fed upon by Sandwich and Common Terns from the Westerscheldt colonies (8).
All Sandwich Tern colonies along the Dutch and German North Sea coast were badly hit by Poultry Flu, thousands terns died. The exception is the colony in the Easterscheldt near Yerseke (9) where no terns died (Marcel Klootwijk in lit.) the infected current simply couldn’t get into the estuary!
11. Hondsbossche Zeewering, 2000 Sandwich Tern nests in 2020 and 2021 down to 220 in 2022 due to H5N1..
On Helgoland (15), the only Gannet colony on the eastside of the North Sea the situation was as dramatic as in the British Gannet colonies, see Pohllmann et al. with dead and sick Gannets in and around the colony incl. the Dutch islands and the Friesian coast.
From Hirsholm, Danmark (16 ) it was reported that Sandwich Terns left already some years ago but that in 2022 some large gulls died from Poultry Flu.
In August 2022 came reports that the large Gannet colony on Grassholm,in the Irish Sea off the coast of Wales (17)
RSPB Grassholm is home to 36,000 pairs of northern gannet, making it the third largest colony in the world for this sea bird. It is one of only two gannet colonies in Wales and of international importance. As you may have seen in the press this year, gannets, along with a host of other seabird species have been hit by an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). The highly pathogenic H5N1 strain originated in the intensive poultry industry in Asia and has since spread into wild bird populations around the world.
Up until now the disease had not reached Grassholm and we were living in hope that would remain so this season. Sadly, this is no longer the case. Following a spate of suspicious deaths during one of our recent surveillance visits the disease has been confirmed following testing by DEFRA.
At present the outbreak is small but has the potential to escalate.It is early days and we are keeping the site under close surveillance and will update the public as and when there is more to tell. Grassholm is not open for public landings due to the disturbance levels this would cause so there is no change in this regard.
In the meantime you may come across dead or dying gannets (or other seabirds) washed in on beaches around Pembrokeshire. The advice is not to touch these birds, keep dogs away from them and report to DEFRA on 03459 33 55 77.
was finally hit by Poultry Flu as well, not long after that dead birds were reported from the Scilly Islands (18).
Isles of Scilly bird deaths caused by avian flu, tests confirm
Sea birds found dead on the Isles of Scilly died after contracting avian flu, it has been confirmed.
“We don’t know exactly what it is about it, but it does seem just to be able to grow and transmit better in wild birds,” Richard Webby, director of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center for Studies on the Ecology of Influenza in Animals and Birds, tells NPR’s Bill Chappell. “Wild birds are the perfect mechanism to spread a virus because they, of course, fly everywhere.”
The Great Lakes region is blessed with an abundance of water. But water quality, affordability, and aging water infrastructure are vulnerabilities that have been ignored for far too long. In this series, members of the Great Lakes News Collaborative, Michigan Radio, Bridge Michigan, Great Lakes Now, and Circle of Blue, explore what it might take to preserve and protect this precious resource.
Bird flu has killed nearly 1,500 threatened Caspian terns on Lake Michigan islands
Wildlife biologists are finding whole colonies of birds dead or dying on islands in Lake Michigan. They’s Caspian terns, which are listed as threatened in Michigan and endangered in Wisconsin.
“Caspian terns are magnificent birds. They’ve got that striking black cap and they fly along, looking down at the water while they fly and then suddenly plunge into the water to catch fish. They’re exciting to watch,” said Lisa Williams, a contaminants specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In recent years, the bird’s population has been growing. In 2018 it peaked at about 10,000 Caspian terns in the Great Lakes region. Then high water levels made nesting difficult for the birds.
Now it appears that Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza — bird flu — is killing hundreds and hundreds of the birds.
“Caspian terns nest very close together. And for a disease that’s transmitted through the air, they’re in close enough proximity that that can happen fairly readily on their colonies,” Williams explained.
The result is at least 1,476 adult terns dead on Lake Michigan islands.
Sumner Matteson is an avian ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. He said what he found on an island off of Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula was horrific.
“Seeing hundreds of dead birds scattered in a line before you with others dying among those. And it’s a — it’s a feeling of helplessness, knowing that there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, you can do for those birds.”
Sumner said he’s never seen anything so traumatic in his 42 years on the job.
On other islands near the Door Peninsula, more birds were found dead. Sadie O’Dell is a wildlife biologist at the Gravel Island National Wildlife Refuge. She said those birds that were still alive could barely hold their heads up. They were experiencing tremors from the neurological damage caused by the bird flu virus. Some of the birds were on their nests, still trying to incubate eggs when they died.
Matteson said at this point, as estimated 64% of the adult Caspian terns in Wisconsin are dead.
“Absolutely devastating. Catastrophic. It’s going to take years for the Wisconsin population to recover,” he said — and after thinking about it, he decided it would more likely take decades.
In Michigan, on Bellow Island in the Grand Traverse Bay, another scientist discovered colonies that were wiped out. Jim Ludwig is an environmental consultant who’s studied birds in the Great Lakes for decades. He monitors birds such as the Caspian tern.
“Last count, prior to the time we were out there, was 201 nests, and we found 255 dead adults,” he said.
Likely more than that died elsewhere. Some might have died somewhere out in Lake Michigan. Scavengers might have carried off some of the others.
Francie Cuthbert is a professor with the University of Minnesota’s Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology. She said these massive die-offs also mean the loss of a new generation of Caspian terns.
“No young are being produced. And then the loss of all of these adults is serious.”
These large terns can live about 30 years. They don’t start breeding until they’re at least three years old.
“Losing all these older, experienced breeders is also very important because they tend to increase in terms of their productivity and just their knowledge of how to raise young,” Cuthbert explained.
Why Caspian terns are being hit so hard by avian influenza, but other close-nesting seabirds have not experienced the same kind of devastation, is baffling to the scientists. There have been deaths among ring-billed gulls, pelicans, and others, but not at the rate of Caspian tern deaths with one exception, double-crested cormorants.
Cuthbert said it’s hard to say how critical this will be to the future of the bird.
“Until we really have a full tally on how many birds have died, we’re not going to be able to model the impact on the population, but it’s definitely going to have a deep drop.”
Lisa Williams with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the numbers definitely could go higher.
“The researchers that discovered this are visiting other colonies this week and will definitely be on the lookout, particularly at places where Caspian terns have nested in the past.”
It might be a while before wildlife officials can determine just how badly the avian flu has hit the Caspian tern population. It’s unclear what, if anything, can be done to help the birds.
Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
English Channel swimmer Peter Green protests against the dumping of raw sewage into the sea, in Glasgow on November 12, 2021, during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference. – Copyright Ben STANSALL / AFP
The three MEPs accuse the UK of not adhering to its obligations under multiple treaties including the main Brexit agreement and a UN charter.
Three French MEPs are calling on Brussels to take action against the UK after it allowed a significant amount of raw sewage to be dumped in the English Channel and the North Sea.
“We fear negative consequences on the quality of the marine waters we share with this country and incidentally on marine biodiversity but also on the activities of fishermen and shellfish farmers,” the three MEPs wrote in their letter to Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius on Wednesday.
Pierre Karleskind, Nathalie Loiseau and Stéphanie Yon-Courtin, all three from the centrist Renew group in the European Parliament, accused the UK of “exempting itself from environmental requirements” set out in EU legislation.
Why is raw sewage pumped into rivers and the sea?
Water companies could face unlimited fines for releasing raw sewage into rivers and seas in England, under the government’s new plan.
Why is sewage pumped into the sea and rivers?
Most of the UK has a combined sewerage system, meaning that both rainwater and wastewater – from toilets, bathrooms and kitchens – are carried in the same pipes.
Usually, all the waste is carried to a sewage treatment works.
But the Environment Agency (EA), which covers England, says capacity can sometimes be exceeded during heavy rainfall, especially when dry ground is unable to quickly absorb water.
This could lead to inundation of sewage works and potential flooding of homes, roads and open spaces.
This is down 19% on the 2021 figures, because of drier weather rather than water companies’ action, according to the EA.
In 2022, Ofwat, the water regulator for England and Wales, launched cases against six water companies over discharging sewage at times when this should not have happened.
How can I know if the sea is clean?
The Environment Agency monitors pollution across England. It says that between May and September, “weekly assessments measure current water quality, and at a number of sites daily pollution risk forecasts are issued”. You can search its website by location.
There are similar websites where you can find out about beaches and bathing water in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Campaign group Surfers Against Sewage has created an interactive map showing pollution risk warnings along the coast and rivers.
What are the health risks?
Swimmers are warned to stay away when untreated sewage is discharged into the sea.
The contaminated water could lead to serious illnesses.
While announcing potential unlimited fines for water companies dumping sewage, the environment secretary Therese Coffey also said there was “no way we can stop pollution overnight”.
She said that building more infrastructure such as super sewers could add “hundreds to people’s bills”.
Matt Browne of the Wildlife and Countryside Link, a coalition of environment and wildlife organisations in England, welcomed the government’s announcement, but said: “We are still waiting to see a comprehensive plan built around delivering on a long-term target for the health of our waters”.
There were previous attempts to limit sewage dumps too.
They argued safeguards already existed and that new measures would cost billions.
Last year the government published its Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan. It compels water companies, by 2035, “to improve all storm overflows discharging into or near every designated bathing water” and “75% of overflows discharging to high priority nature sites”.
Dr Imogen Napper, a researcher in marine pollution at the University of Plymouth, previously said that for government goals to be met, more “investment and accountability is required from water companies”.
Last year three French members of the European Parliament said they had written to the European Commission, asking it to take action to stop the UK from polluting the Channel and the North Sea.
Since Brexit, they said, the UK “has chosen to lower its water quality standards”.
The UK is no longer bound by EU environmental laws. But those laws were not directly regulating the frequency or number of sewage discharges.
According to Friends of the Earth, the UK’s Environment Act 2021 – which replaced the EU laws – brought “some useful changes” which included “efforts to stop companies filling our waterways with sewage”.
1 March 2010H5N1 High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza Virus Survival in Different Types of Water
Katarzyna Domanska-Blicharz, Zenon Minta, Krzysztof Smietanka, Sylvie Marché, Thierry van den Berg
Persistence of H5N1 high pathogenicity avian influenza virus (HPAIV), isolated during the epidemic in wild birds in Poland in 2006, was evaluated in three water samples derived from the sources known to host wild water birds (city pond, Vistula river mouth, and Baltic Sea). The virus was tested at two concentrations (104 and 106 median tissue culture infective dose per milliliter) and at three temperatures (4 C, 10 C, and 20 C), representing average seasonal temperatures in Poland. All tested water samples were filtered before virus inoculation, and one unfiltered sample (Baltic seawater) was also tested. Infectivity was determined twice a week over a 60-day trial period by microtiter endpoint titration. The persistence of the virus varied considerably depending on its concentration and also on physico-chemical parameters of the water, such as temperature and salinity. Avian influenza virus survival was the highest at 4 C and the lowest at 20 C. Prolonged infectivity of the virus in Baltic seawater (brackish, 7.8 ppt) was also seen. In distilled water, the virus retained its infectivity beyond the 60-day study period. Interestingly, a devastating effect of the unfiltered fraction of seawater was seen as the virus disappeared in this fraction the quickest in all studied combinations; thus, biologic factors may also affect infectivity of HPAIV.
Katarzyna Domanska-Blicharz, Zenon Minta, Krzysztof Smietanka, Sylvie Marché, and Thierry van den Berg “H5N1 High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza Virus Survival in Different Types of Water,” Avian Diseases 54(s1), 734-737, (1 March 2010). https://doi.org/10.1637/8786-040109-ResNote.1
Received: 16 April 2009; Accepted: 1 October 2009; Published: 1 March 2010
In The Netherlands outbreaks in 3 inland Black-headed gull colonies.
Response to the outbreak of avian flu in Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea‑Bissau
BirdLife Africa is very concerned about the avian flu that is decimating thousands of birds along the coast of Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea‑Bissau.
By Cheikh Bamba Ndao
Around the world, High Pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) is causing mass mortality in wild birds. The outbreak which began in 2021 is the worst avian influenza epidemic in history. The disease caused by a virus that has evolved in poultry farming, spreads via bird droppings, water, and direct contact. The current virus appears to have adapted to wild birds. As a result, waterbirds and seabirds have been particularly badly hit, in addition to birds of prey and scavengers.
Since March 2023, thousands of birds have been reported dead off the coasts of Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau. According to local authorities, these deaths have been attributed to the outbreak of avian influenza in the region.
In Senegal, the outbreak has killed more than 600 Royal & Caspian terns (Thalasseus maxima) and Grey-headed Gulls (Larus cirrocephalus) in the Langue de Barbarie (northern region of Senegal), 200 in Lac Rose and about 100 in Yoff Island (Dakar region) and in the south region of the country (in Casamance specially in Kalissaye) the situation is alarming with 92 dead birds, most of which are Royal and Caspian terns according to analyses by the laboratory of the Regional Research Centre for Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety (CERES LOCUSTOX).
Two years ago, this paradise for migratory birds made the headlines in Senegal as a result of an outbreak of the avian flu. “This January 23, 2021, following a patrol by the agents of the Djoudj National Bird Park, it was found that 750 white pelicans died, including 740 young and 10 adults” announced a statement received from the Communication Department of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development at the time.
Aliou Ba, Executive Director of the Nature Communauté et Développement (NCD), and BirdLife Partner said, “It is deplorable to witness such a disaster happening again. NCD, emphasizes the importance of implementing the monitoring plan of the avian flu in Senegal.”
In Gambia’s Bijol Islands, part of the Tanji River Karinti Bird Sanctuary, several birds have been affected in two offshore islands, home to many migratory bird species. According to an April 15th national situation report since the confirmation of H5N1 outbreak, 6945 had died in the country. Since the outbreak West African Bird Study Association (WABSA) has been working with Department of Parks & Wildlife Management (DPWM) to monitor Importance Bird Areas in coastal areas supported by Conservation without Borders and DPWM. The team conducted a monitoring and filming for awareness creation in the island. 107 birds were found dead in the island and the team buried all the death birds, with two royal terns found (with ring number 7177574 museum SC NAT 1000 Brussels) and (ring number 1380142 Vogeltrek stations ARN HEM Holland).
“BirdLife reaffirms its commitment to its strategic partners, namely NCD in Senegal, ODZH in Guinea-Bissau and WABSA in The Gambia, to find together the necessary ways and means to monitor and raise awareness of the population on this high pathogenic avian influenza and what to do in face of wild birds’ death. The bird protection efforts we have been making for years in West Africa are already paying a heavy price for this outbreak”, noted Geoffroy Citegeste East Atlantic Flyway Initiative (EAFI) Manager for BirdLife International in Africa.
BirdLife partners along the East Atlantic Flyway have been activated their local community network to monitor and alert the authority on the deaths of wilds birds in and out of the Important Birds and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs).
BirdLife in partnership with Wetlands International, le Partenariat Régional pour la Conservation de la zone côtière et Marine (PRCM) and Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative, we are supporting the country to monitor the breeding colonial birds in Mauritania, Senegal and Guinea Bissau through the Coastal Waterbirds and Wetlands Action Plan (PAZHOC). This project covers these three countries which are home to vital coastal wetlands for migratory birds as well as local breeding colonies of birds in mangroves and islands. A coordinated colonial breeding birds is planned for mid-May 2023 in the three countries.
BirdLife Africa is also calling on the Senegalese, Mauritanian, Gambian and Guinean Bissau governments to strengthen control measures including the avian flu emergency plan, monitoring protected areas, and taking measures to stop spread of the virus to poultry farms located near wetlands.
BirdLife and partners are monitoring the virus in birds and the environment, as there is need to understand which species are affected and the conservation impacts on them. Testing birds that are found dead is essential, not only to understand the effects on their population and reproduction, but also to rule out other causes of mass mortality such as botulism and storms at sea. Further, there is also need to better understand how the virus spreads and evolves as current monitoring is largely focussed on detection of the virus to assess the risk of it spreading to poultry farms, with this type of monitoring not suited for protection of wild birds populations.
“BirdLife reaffirms its commitment to its strategic partners, namely NCD in Senegal, ODZH in Guinea-Bissau and WABSA in The Gambia, to find together the necessary ways and means to monitor and raise awareness of the population on this high pathogenic avian influenza and what to do in face of wild birds’ deaths.”
Geoffroy Citegeste – East Atlantic Flyway Initiative (EAFI) Manager for BirdLife International in Africa.
“It is deplorable to witness such a disaster happening again. NCD, emphasizes the importance of implementing the monitoring plan of the avian flu in Senegal.”
Aliou Ba, Executive Director of the Nature Communauté et Développement (NCD), and BirdLife Partner