Bird flu outbreak continues to spread in UK, North America

Thousands of birds have died in recent weeks in the US, Canada and the UK, sparking international concern.

  Chickens await vaccination against bird flu at the settlement Peredovoi 100 km (62 miles) from the Russia's southern city of Stavropol, March 11, 2006. (photo credit: EDUARD KORNIYENKO/REUTERS)
Chickens await vaccination against bird flu at the settlement Peredovoi 100 km (62 miles) from the Russia's southern city of Stavropol, March 11, 2006.
(photo credit: EDUARD KORNIYENKO/REUTERS)

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is continuing to spread among birds in Europe and North America, with thousands of birds killed by both the virus and preventative measures.

Ducklings at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington were found to be infected with the bird flu, the National Park Service announced on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources announced that two foxes have been confirmed as having been infected with the bird flu. Both foxes were tested after being found dead in two cities in Utah.

Arizona reported its first cases of avian influenza on Wednesday after three nestling neotropical cormorants were found to be infected with the H5N1 strain of the virus.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 1,400 wild birds and nearly 40 million domesticated birds have been confirmed as infected with HPAI.

 A sign warns about the avian influenza in an area of Randers, Denmark November 17, 2020 (credit: VIA REUTERS) A sign warns about the avian influenza in an area of Randers, Denmark November 17, 2020 (credit: VIA REUTERS)

Other outbreaks

"[A] highly mutable and deadly new form of avian influenza, which originated in poultry, is killing our wild seabirds in large numbers."

Dr. Paul Walton, head of species and habitats, RSPB Scotland

Thousands of birds have been dying on Quebec's Magdalen Islands due to the virus, according to The Canadian Press. "Nobody had to tell me that this was happening. It's obvious — we're talking about thousands of dead birds,'' said Magdalen Islands Mayor Jonathan Lapierre.

Over two million birds have been affected by the bird flu outbreak in Canada, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

In the United Kingdom, large numbers of seabirds have been dying due to the virus in Scotland in recent weeks.

Dr. Paul Walton, head of species and habitats for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland, told the BBC that "a highly mutable and deadly new form of avian influenza, which originated in poultry, is killing our wild seabirds in large numbers."

The RSPB called on the Scottish government to develop a response plan to the outbreak.

Two humans have been infected with the H5N1 virus amid the outbreak — one in the United Kingdom and another in the US. Both suffered only mild symptoms and fully recovered.