Avian influenza also kills wild mammals

As a new version of bird flu spread across North America several weeks ago, researchers began isolating the virus from red foxes, bobcats and other mammals. At the moment, the reports are only intended, but the situation needs to be monitored.

The Dane County Humane Society of Wisconsin began taking calls as early as last April. At the end of the line, residents of the area reported the strange behavior of foxes, some adults and some younger. According to reports, the animals were shivering and struggling to stand up. The foxes, often lethargic and roaming alone, also seemed unusually easy to approach.

After that, the foxes quickly began to get to the center, most of them having convulsions before giving up. Preliminary analyzes excluded rabies and other potential causes. In the end, lab tests revealed an even more surprising comet: A A highly virulent strain of avian influenza.

Several types were affected

The virus, a type of bird flu known as Eurasian H5N1, spread to Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia last year. The pathogen then made its way to North America on migratory birds, forcing the culling of hundreds of poultry flocks farmed in thirty-six states.

It also appears that this version of the virus is wreaking more havoc Wild birds From the previous lines. Ducks, geese, gulls, and other terns, affected many species. Then, the virus may infect the mammals that feed on these birds, including wild red foxes.

At least seven US states have detected the virus in foxes. Two lynxes in Wisconsin, a young wolf in Michigan and several skunks in Canada have also tested positive, as have foxes, otters, lynxes, cottontails and badgers in Europe.

Note that two human cases It has also been reported (one in the US and one in Great Britain), both in people who have been in close contact with birds.

Savior fox. Credits: The Humane Society of Dane County

Mammals, always a dead end

So far, the virus appears to be causing more harm more youthful Foxes, perhaps because they do not have a fully developed immune system. However, the overall incidence and mortality rate is still unknown as reported anecdotal.

While it is possible that the virus may have evolved to better infect mammals, experts suggest that the most likely explanation for this sudden increase in the number of infected mammals is that this strain infects large numbers of wild birds, making it more likely that scavengers will stumble upon it. . He. She.

So far, the virus does not appear to cause enough disease or death in wild mammals to endanger those species. And we don’t have it now There is no evidence of continuous transmission from mammals to mammals. ” Still a flying virusObservations of Richard Webby, an influenza virologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. and mammals in general like a dead end for these viruses.

However, the power of evolution should not be underestimated. The more the virus infects mammals, the greater the chances of discovering new mutations that could help it spread among foxes, bobcats, or even humans.

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