For a week, Israel has counted more than 2,000 wild cranes who died of bird flu. Several other outbreaks of the H5N1 virus have been detected in the north of the country.
In addition to these 2,000 deaths, Ohad Hatsofe, avian ecologist in the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, estimates that “10,000 are infected”.
In addition, according to Uri Naveh, deputy director of the organization, “a fifth of the crane population in Israel has been affected by bird flu.”
Every year, Israel has many cases of wild cranes that die from bird flu. However, this year the figure of 2,000 deaths is “exceptional”, according to Uri Naveh.
An epidemic that disrupts the migratory cycle
Since October, and like every year, more than 100,000 wild cranes have arrived in Israel, in the Hula Valley, to rest before leaving. Of these 100,000 cranes, around 40,000 stop for a long time and do not leave until March for the breeding areas.
While other outbreaks of avian flu have been detected in the north of the country, the Minister of Agriculture said on Sunday to suspend the marketing of eggs from these farms. In addition, measures to import new eggs will be put in place to deal with a possible shortage.
Ohad Hatsofe reminds that the risk of transmission of avian influenza to humans is very low. However, the H5N1-like viral strain can be dangerous if contracted from humans. “It is fatal for 36 to 50% of infected cases”.