COVID-19 isn’t the only virus that has significantly impacted the planet in the past few years.
Photo Insert: The State Office in Washington D.C., United States (placed in the photo)
Avian flu (H5N1), which has devastated the poultry industry and caused a 70% increase in egg prices in the past year, has impacted more than just domesticated species, Sara Klimek reported for The Cool Down.
New research indicates that the flu, which has killed off hundreds of thousands of wild birds, is one of the most devastating disease outbreaks in history.
Vox reported that the disease has spread across five continents and hundreds of species, including endangered ones like the California condor, which classifies it as a “panzootic” — a pandemic among animals.
Avian flu typically causes death only among domesticated birds, like ducks and chickens, killing up to 90% of the flock within an outbreak. But this time, it’s different.
“What we’re seeing right now is uncharted territory,” Andrew Ramey, a wildlife geneticist at the US Geological Survey (USGS), told Vox. The biology of the virus has caused it to attack wild species and even mammals.
“It’s causing a high amount of mortality in a huge breadth of wild birds, which is not something that has been seen before,” commented Wendy Puryear, a molecular virologist at Tufts University.
This is because the current avian flu virus has adapted to spread disease outside poultry farms and infect even more species in its wake.