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The north of the country in particular is affected: the Usutu virus will increasingly occur in 2018
The Usutu virus, which originated in Africa, is particularly widespread in some areas of Germany this year. Especially in the north of the country, the pathogen is increasingly found in birds. Humans can also become infected with the virus. However, the risk of infection is low.
Pathogens are transmitted to birds by mosquitoes
In 2011, the tropical Usutu virus, which is transmitted to birds by mosquitoes, was first detected in Germany. In the following years, the pathogen repeatedly caused regional bird death. As the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI) now reports, the pathogen is particularly widespread this year.
Increased blackbird death
According to the experts, there is an increased number of blackbird deaths in this region in Germany, which was caused by infections with the Usutu virus (USUV).
According to the information, other birds (primarily gray owl) have died from USUV infections.
"Hamburg and the region between the Hanseatic city and Bremen as well as Nuremberg are mainly affected by this year's epidemic," writes the FLI.
Around 300 infections detected in birds
As stated in the communication, the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg (BNITM) and the FLI have so far detected around 300 USUV cases in birds nationwide.
In addition, an infection with the West Nile Virus (WNV) was found for the first time in a bearded owl in aviary in the course of the tests for USUV in late August.
This virus has caused more than 70 human deaths in Europe this year.
As the FLI explains, USUV and WNV are closely related.
The gray owl was kept together with a second one, which was found to be infected with USUV.
“An end to the USUV epidemic in birds is currently not in sight. Especially if several dead wild birds are found in one place, the local veterinary authorities or the NABU should be informed, ”said the FLI.
Infection risk for people is very low
As the FLI explains on its website, the Usutu virus, which originated in Africa, was first diagnosed in Europe at the beginning of the millennium
In 2011, the pathogen, which is transmitted to birds by mosquitoes, especially in late summer, was first detected in Germany.
In principle, the virus can also be transmitted to humans, but the risk of infection is very low.
"So far, very few cases of illness in humans are known," reports the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL) on its website.
"Especially in immunocompromised people, an infection can be accompanied by flu-like symptoms and skin rashes," the office said.
If more dead birds are found, they should not be touched and the responsible veterinary office should be contacted.
"In principle, animals that have died in nature should not be touched because there can be a general risk of infection here," writes the LGL. (ad)