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Usutu virus: Bird death spreads: Tropical viral disease kills more blackbirds in Germany than ever before



Deadly Mosquito Bites: More and more birds in Germany die of the tropical Usutu virus. The mosquito-borne infection has spread further this year in Germany, as the conservation organization NABU reported. 1,500 Usutu suspected cases have been reported since the beginning of 2018. Black birds in particular suffer from this fatal disease, but there is no treatment or cure.

Dead black birds on the upper Rhine began: Since 2011, the Usutu virus, a tropical pathogen transmitted by mosquitoes, is one of the most common in Germany causing fatal disease. Infected birds are sick, apathetic, no longer fly and usually die within a few days. Almost always there are blackbirds who discover this disease, why the Usutu epidemic also became known as "blackbird dying". Other species of birds are also affected by this virus.

In recent years, the Usutu virus has spread more and more across Germany. In the early years only the most favored regions were affected along the Rhine valley and Lower Main, since 201

6 researchers have pointed to North and Westphalia via North Rhine Westphalia. In addition, a separate outbreak was noted in Leipzig and Berlin.

New areas and more cases

In 2018 new regions have been added, NABU reports bird protection expert Lars Lachmann. The area around Nuremberg and between Bremen and Hamburg is also affected for the first time. The number of infected birds is also increasing. "We have already received 1,500 reports of suspected Usutu cases this year, almost two thirds of them alone in August," says Lachmann. "The cases reported to date 2018 clearly exceed the figures from previous years, which indicate a particularly strong appearance and spread of the virus."

  Blackbird suffering from the Usutu virus

Blackbird suffering from the Usutu virus

Since 2011, ornithologists and tropical doctors have found that many birds die when the virus first appears in a region like Nuremberg, Bremen and Hamburg. In the following years, the number of deaths drops to a lower level. Lachmann: "The hot summer this year may have benefited from the spread of the original tropical virus," says Lachmann.

Reporting and sending in sick birds

There is usually no rescue for the affected birds: "Unfortunately, you can not prevent or treat Usutu infections," says Lachmann. "All that remains is a unique opportunity to document the effects of a bird attack that is new to Germany on wild birds and to appreciate their consequences. "NABU and tropical medicine researchers therefore ask the population to report sick or dead animals to the Internet and, if possible, submit them for investigation.

Bernhard Nocht Institute For tropical medicine in Hamburg (BNI) as well as some veterinary offices, such investigations. Dead birds may only be seized with protective gloves or a plastic bag that is turned upside down. According to the current level of knowledge, there is no health hazard for Usutu virus transmitted by mosquito bites.

The purpose of the analyzes is to be able to compare and evaluate new sources of danger to bird species with other threats such as climate change and food loss. In order to document the actual spread of the virus, it is important to be able to confirm so many suspected cases in the laboratory.


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