Avian flu’s spread through wild birds concerns researchers

The deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu has killed poultry and wild birds around the world, including barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis) in Norway. Credit: Hobbyfotowiki

Scientists are concerned by how much a highly infectious strain of avian flu has struck birds in the wild. While the deadly H5N1 strain has infected millions of birds in the poultry industry around the world, it is also taking a toll on wild birds. Officials have counted 400,000 non-poultry birds in 2,600 outbreaks—double those reported during the 2016-17 wave. “Researchers say that the virus seems to be spreading in wild birds more easily than ever before, making outbreaks particularly hard to contain,” Nature writes. “Wild birds help to transport the virus around the world, with their migration patterns determining when and where it will spread next. Regions in Asia and Europe will probably continue to see large outbreaks, and infections could creep into currently unaffected continents such as South America and Australia.”

Read more in Nature.