Dead geese and swans in Bonn Bird flu outbreak in the Rheinaue
Bonn · Bird flu has been detected in the Rheinaue in Bonn. Official veterinarian Uda Erbe is currently having two dead geese examined.
Bonn's official veterinarian Uda Erbe has observed a major bird death in the Rheinaue over the past few days, especially among geese. "Two animals were examined," she said on site. "The avian influenza virus could be detected." More precisely, it is wild bird flu, she said. The city refers to this as an official suspicion, which still has to be confirmed by a reference centre, the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI).
"We will now have to establish a one-kilometre exclusion zone," Erbe said of an initial measure. In addition, there will be a three-kilometre observation zone where, for example, domestic poultry will be monitored.
Dead swans on Facebook
In the Facebook group Swans Bonn, there is also talk of five dead swans, chicks and adult birds. Even though she has not heard of this yet, Erbe can imagine that bird flu has broken out there as well. "But not everyone in Bonn has to report birds now," says the official veterinarian.
As far as the restricted area is concerned, the Rheinaue cannot be closed. Erbe can, however, imagine a leash requirement. "The details still need to be discussed," she says. First of all, the disease is suspected. Bonnorange is involved and prepared as far as dead animals are concerned.
"Bird flu (avian influenza) is primarily understood as a disease caused by influenza A viruses in birds," the Robert Koch Institute, known for its scientific monitoring of corona disease, says. "Under certain circumstances, these viruses can also cause illness in humans, which is also referred to as avian influenza," it says. "Avian influenza viruses cannot be transmitted so easily from animals to humans. However, when such an infection does occur, the disease can sometimes be very severe," the institute says. The good news is that so far there have been no human cases of avian influenza in Germany.
Avian influenza spreads quickly and is often fatal
Chickens, turkeys, pheasants, guinea fowl and wild birds are particularly affected by the disease. Waterfowl and pigeons are less common, but in the case of the Rhine floodplain this seems to be exactly the case. Infected animals get fever, respiratory problems and diarrhoea and infect others quite quickly. "After a few days, almost all the animals in a population suddenly fall ill," says the German Lung Foundation. "They no longer lay eggs and can die within hours to days." The highest virus concentrations are found in the faeces of the animals.
Friedrich Loeffler Institute warns of "severe avian influenza wave"
The Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI), the Federal Research Institute for Animal Health on the island of Riems, warns of a "severe avian influenza wave" in its current risk assessment. "Since mid-October 2021, hundreds of infected wild birds and more than 50 outbreaks in poultry and kept birds have been reported in Germany from numerous federal states," the FLI said. "It doesn't look good at all," FLI press officer Elke Reinking told the GA. She felt that the measures taken by the city of Bonn were correct. Especially the leash requirement for dogs was important, she said. "This can prevent dogs from carrying away dead birds," the spokeswoman said. She estimates the risk of the virus spreading to city birds such as sparrows or the collared parakeet, which has become native to the city, to be low - although it cannot be ruled out. It is mainly waterfowl that are susceptible to the virus. If avian influenza breaks out on a farm, all animals there must be culled - eggs and meat may no longer be sold.
Private owners must protect their poultry
In Bonn, wild animals do not have to be culled or captured because of avian influenza, according to the FLI. What can be done, however, is targeted hunting of ducks to determine how far the virus has already spread. However, there must also be a correspondingly large number of dead animals. Reinking is not able to estimate whether the cleaning of the Rheinauen Lake will have a positive effect on the spread of the virus in Bonn. "Of course, if there is no more water in the lake, it is also uninteresting for wild birds and they no longer come," says the FLI spokeswoman. It is now important that all private keepers of poultry in the observation area protect their animals accordingly and do not let them come into contact with wild animals. This is also important because the number of people keeping chickens privately, whether in the garden or on the balcony, has risen sharply in the past. In the past, the flare-up of avian influenza had been pushed into the background mainly by the Corona pandemic, the FLI said.
Avian influenza was first observed in Italy in 1878. Then it went quiet for a long time. In the 1980s, avian influenza reappeared in the USA and Ireland. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is monitoring avian influenza very closely.
Original text: Richard Bongartz and Maximilian Mühlens
Translation: Mareike Graepel