Bird flu

Wigeon. Photo: Tim Melling


The good news – no further outbreaks of bird flu in commercial poultry farms (just this one so far).

The bad news – three cases of H5N8 confirmed in wild Wigeon (Somerset, Leicestershire and South Wales) and in a Peregrine Falcon in Scotland.

This map is informative – it’s from the EU (remember them? We voted to leave). In passing, it shows that the EU know a captive bird when they see one, unlike our own dear Defra (that asterisk in the Pas de Calais – see here, last paragraph).  It is, of course, difficult to make much of this map without a lot more information eg how many poultry farms are there in different parts of Europe?, what are the numbers of birds of which species which have been tested (and do we believe the results)?, and a host of other questions.

I see that ‘Very few cases of infected dabbling ducks were recorded so far although large numbers of European wigeons in the Netherlands tested positive recently.‘ EFSA scientific opinion 14 December.

There also seems to be evidence that this winter the H5N8 is more virulent to wild birds (which has implications for the possibility of transmission).

Of course, the most interesting thing about Wigeon is that they are grazing ducks that, therefore, inhabit pastures amongst other habitats.

There’s not much to go on in the published data. One hopes that more effort is being put into understanding the role of wild birds in the transmission of this disease than is apparent from the published information.


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