H5N8 avian influenza (AI) continues to strike the Rostock Zoo in Germany just days after a white stork and other birds were culled.

Scarlet ibis Image/Adrian Pingstone
Scarlet ibis
Image/Adrian Pingstone

According to a zoo press release (computer translated), a Red Ibis and several other birds tested positive for the avian flu and were culled. A total of 18 birds were affected.

According to the Ministry of agriculture, the Zoo remains closed until further notice. First, all test results should be evaluated.

Minister Till Backhaus  said they will try to protect birds; however, if the virus is detected, more culling will be required. “How did the H5N8 virus in the Zoo, is still unclear”, Backhaus said.

Wild birds can normally carry avian influenza viruses in their respiratory or intestinal tracts but they do not commonly get sick. They have historically been known as reservoirs and vectors of AI viruses.

All AI viruses can be transmitted among birds through direct contact with secretions from infected birds, especially faeces or through contaminated feed, water, equipment, and human clothing and shoes, according to the OIE.

They are readily transmitted from farm to farm by the movement of domestic live birds, people (especially when shoes and other clothing are contaminated), and contaminated vehicles, equipment, feed, and cages. Highly pathogenic viruses can survive for long periods in the environment, especially when temperatures are low.

Several factors can contribute to the spread of all AI viruses including: the movements of people and goods, marketing practices (live bird markets), farming practices and the presence of the viruses in migratory wild birds.

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