Acute spread of the Usutu virus in Germany



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Usutu virus kills numerous blackbirds - First people in Germany infected

The Usutu virus has killed many blackbirds in the past year. This summer, the tropical pathogens continue to spread in Germany. The researchers' hope for the development of resistance has apparently not been confirmed. In the meantime, the first infection has also been detected in humans.

The Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg warns of another blackbird death due to the Usutut virus during the summer months. In southwestern Germany, blackbirds have died on the tropical pathogens en masse. "Unfortunately, the fears have now been confirmed that the Usutu virus has been active again in the known outbreak region since June and that many birds die from the infection," said Dr. Norbert Becker, scientific director of the “Municipal Working Group to Combat Mosquitoes” (KABS) and lecturer at Heidelberg University. For example, up to ten dead blackbirds were discovered every day in the area around Ludwigshafen in Rhineland-Palatinate.

Transmission of the Usutu virus by mosquitoes The Usutu virus, originally from Africa, is transmitted by mosquitoes and as a result occurs in this country, especially during the summer months. In general, the pathogens can affect humans, mammals and birds. With the latter, infection often ends in death. According to Dr. Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, head of virological diagnostics at the Bernhard Nocht Institute, offers the "current outbreak a unique opportunity to investigate the complex biotic interactions between viruses, mosquitoes and birds in Germany, taking ecological framework conditions into account." The researchers were definitely there surprised that "the pathogens in the blackbird population claim as many victims this year as they did the year before". The BNI and KABS experts had actually hoped that "the birds would develop resistance to the Usutu virus, thereby stopping the advance of the pathogens".

Weather conditions favor the spread of the tropical virus Instead, there is much to indicate that the Usutu viruses will spread further in Germany, explained the scientific director of the KABS. In North Rhine-Westphalia, too, the pathogens have now been detected in a dead blackbird and two finds have been reported from the region around Freiburg in Baden-Württemberg. The spread of the Usutu virus will continue this year due to the favorable weather conditions for mosquitoes. "The rain and the bad weather promote the multiplication of mosquitoes, which in turn accelerates the spread of the Usutu viruses," said the experts.

Millions of birds killed by Usutu viruses? The spread of the Usutu virus cannot be stopped or only with very expensive measures, says Dr. Schmidt chanasite. He believes that it can take years or decades for the Usutu virus to spread, during which time the blackbird population will drop dramatically. According to Dr. the potential to take millions of birds across Germany in the coming years. Even chicks in their nest are currently perishing on the pathogens. How the spread of the Usutu virus will actually develop remains unclear, however.

Infection risk for humans In addition to the fatal consequences for blackbirds, the Usutu virus also poses a certain infection risk for humans. When analyzing the blood of 4,200 blood donors from the Rhine-Neckar region, the BNI experts used a blood sample to detect the antibodies against the pathogens. The patient from Groß-Gerau in Hesse must have been infected with the Usutu virus (Usutu fever) a few months earlier, explained Dr. Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit .. The typical symptoms of Usutu fever such as headache, fever and itchy rash can easily be confused with other diseases and are therefore often not recognized as an infection with the tropical virus, according to the experts, but diagnosed, for example, as summer flu . The actual number of Usutu virus infections could therefore be far higher than previously thought. In severe cases, those affected may develop an inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), which can have life-threatening consequences for the patient. There is no reason for panic, as Schmidt-Chanasit emphasized. "Yes, there was an infection, but it is not dramatic now, after all, it is only one of 4200 - just do not panic," said Schmidt-Chanasit. (fp)

Read on:
Dead blackbird with Usutu virus discovered in NRW
Again blackbird death by Usutu viruses
Tropical virus causes blackbird deaths
Dangerous tropical fever from bush mosquitoes

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