Bird Flu Information

Posted: June 21, 2024Category: Advice

Bird Flu Information

A highly contagious and deadly strain of avian influenza, commonly known as “bird flu,” is feared to land in New Zealand for the first time.

“Bird flu,” is caused by the H5N1 virus, which has been wreaking havoc across Asia and Europe, and has recently been detected on Subantarctic islands and the Antarctic mainland. The worry is that the avian flu could potentially enter the country through migratory birds such as bar-tailed godwits and red knots, which travel from the north or from Antarctica, where the virus was detected earlier this year.  The virus has a particular mutation, which appears to broaden its host species and geographic range. Further, internationally, ducks have proven to be a carrier for the disease, spreading it across different habitats and species.

The virus has shown devastating effects on wild bird populations globally and has even jumped to mammals, including cats, bears, and recently dairy cattle in Texas. Avian influenza primarily spreads among birds but can infect humans. While these viruses do not easily transmit from person to person, their presence in poultry poses concerns due to their potential to cause severe illness and mortality. More from the World Health Organization HERE.

If you see 3 or more sick or dead wild birds in a group, report it immediately to Biosecurity New Zealand’s Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline on 0800 80 99 66. Do not handle the birds.

Provide as much detail to Biosecurity New Zealand as you can, including:

  • a GPS reading or other precise location information
  • photographs and videos of sick and dead birds
  • species identity and estimate of the numbers affected
  • how many are sick or freshly dead, and the total number present.

Biosecurity New Zealand will take details and an investigator will contact you.