News

Usutu virus in songbirds increasingly common - also risk of infection for humans?


Dangerous pathogen: Usutu virus found again in songbirds

In Bavaria, the dangerous Usutu virus was found in several songbirds. The pathogen originated in Africa, but has also appeared in Europe for several years. Humans can also become infected with it. However, the risk of infection is low.

Dangerous virus detected in the Nuremberg area

In 2010, 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. The virus has now been detected in four wild birds from the Nuremberg area found dead.

Usutu virus-related deaths in birds

According to the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI), which received the samples from the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL) for virological examination, there are two blackbirds, a nuthatch and a great gray owl.

As the LGL writes in a communication, studies of further samples are still ongoing at the FLI.

According to the experts, the pathogen is transmitted by mosquitoes. Usutu virus-related deaths in birds occurred in Germany for the first time in 2011.

Infection risk for people is very low

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. Especially in immunocompromised people, an infection can be accompanied by flu-like symptoms and skin rashes, ”says the LGL.

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 office.

Pathogen can cause mass bird death

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.

The main hosts for the pathogen are wild birds, which usually do not fall ill. However, very susceptible bird species are also known, for example black birds, which get infected very easily.

Infected birds often show apathies and central nervous system disorders such as wobbling or twisting of the head. There can be massive bird deaths.

According to the experts, infections mainly occur during the mosquito season from May to September. (ad)

Author and source information



Video: Route of infection: Researchers say eyes could be important entry point for virus (October 2021).