When two bears were stricken with avian flu late last year, there weren’t a lot of reports of other animals detected with the virus. But now there are more cases being reported. Here’s more on the new data from the Alaska Beacon:
In Alaska, the documented case count is 232 wild birds, three foxes and two bears as of early this week, Ramey said. Those are cases of animals that were found dead or dying, with confirmation in laboratories of highly pathogenic avian influenza infections.
That means the cases represent only a small fraction of the effects in the wild, Ramey said, as most cases likely go unnoticed and unreported by people.
It is common for wild birds to carry numerous influenza viruses, usually of the low-pathogenic variety, according to the USGS. Less common are highly pathogenic viruses, so categorized because they are transmitted easily within domestic poultry flocks; they are of concern because they can kill large amounts of poultry and therefore have significant economic consequences. Until now, highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses have not been much of an issue for the health of wild birds, even though they are carriers and can transmit viruses between continents.