Australia kills 1.5 million birds to combat bird flu outbreaks

Australia kills 1.5 million birds to combat bird flu outbreaks

Authorities have killed around 1.5 million birds to control the spread of bird flu in Australia. A highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza has reached a chicken farm near Melbourne, the government of Australia’s Victoria state said on Tuesday.

The total number of infected farms in Australia is ten, with the virus mainly affecting egg farms. Three different strains of bird flu are currently active in the country. So far, the highly contagious H5N1 strain, which has been killing various animals worldwide, has not been detected in Australia.

Bird flu and climate change

The H5N1 avian influenza virus has spread globally, with the UN labeling it a “global zoonotic animal pandemic.” This alarming development has led to the infection of over 350 bird species and nearly 60 mammal species, underscoring the widespread impact of these outbreaks.

Climate change worsens the situation by changing bird migration patterns, leading to the virus’s emergence in new areas and genetic configurations.

Temperature changes and extreme weather have resulted in population shifts among climate-sensitive animals. As a result, diseases have emerged in previously unaffected and entirely new areas.

The evolution of H5N1 has been significant since its first detection in China in 1997. Since then, the virus has reached polar regions, killing animals like polar bears and seals. It has also been detected in dairy farms in the United States.

The warmer winters caused by global warming could allow some moisture-reliant pathogens to survive and spread more easily. At the same time, cooler and wetter conditions can enhance the survival of influenza viruses in bird droppings and contaminated water.

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