Avian influenza detected on Svalbard

A glaucous gull (Larus hyperboreus) was found dead in Longyearbyen on the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard in June. The Norwegian Veterinary Institute received samples from the dead gull, and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus of the subtype H5N5 was confirmed. This was the first detection of avian influenza on Svalbard, and the first case detected in the Arctic as far as we know.

“The detection of HPAI on Svalbard is worrying, since a number of vulnerable wild bird populations nest on the archipelago in the summer. The species that gather in large bird cliffs will be particularly vulnerable if avian influenza is introduced in the bird colonies”, says Knut Madslien, head of wildlife health at the Norwegian Veterinary Institute.

The public is encouraged to contact the Governor of Svalbard in the event of the discovery of a dead wild bird on Svalbard.

In recent weeks, an abnormally high number of sick and dead birds has been observed in several places along the Norwegian coast. In May and June, HPAI of subtypes H5N1 and H5N5 has been detected in several different bird species including white-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) and various types of gulls in Norway. In Western Norway, HPAI H5N1 has been confirmed in a high number of northern gannets (Morus bassanus) found dead in the North Sea or being washed ashore along the coast of Rogaland. In Northern Norway, especially in Troms and Finnmark county, the virus subtype H5N5 dominates among the HPAI detections.

More information can be found here (in Norwegian). 

Del artikkel