Avian Influenza Found in NYC Birds

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Avian Influenza Presence Confirmed in New York City Wild Birds

A recent study published in the Journal of Virology has unveiled the startling discovery of highly pathogenic H5N1 virus in a select group of New York City’s wild bird population. While the connection between this finding and the ongoing H5N1 outbreaks in U.S. dairy cattle remains unclear, it underscores the escalating encroachment of these viruses into the proximity of humans.

New Collaborative Research Effort

The groundbreaking research was the outcome of a unique partnership involving the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the Wild Bird Fund, and Biobus, an initiative engaging high school and college students in scientific investigations. Christine Marizzi, the study author and director of community science at Biobus, emphasized the significance of community engagement in this study as a pioneering effort in urban avian influenza research in the United States.

The study analyzed close to 2,000 fecal samples collected between January 2022 and November 2023 across various parks and green spaces of New York City. Intriguingly, traces of H5N1 were detected in six birds from four distinct species, including the Canada goose, peregrine falcon, domestic chicken, and red-tailed hawk. Genetic scrutiny revealed the existence of at least two subtly different strains of H5N1 belonging to the 2.3.4.4.b clade, encompassing a fusion of local North American and Eurasian lineages of the virus.

Implications and Precautionary Measures

Despite the absence of reported H5N1 outbreaks on dairy farms within New York state and limited human cases, the researchers caution against complacency. While the findings do not directly point to an imminent threat to residents, the presence of H5N1 in New York City birds is a cause for vigilance.

It is imperative to recognize that the detection of H5N1 in urban avifauna does not signify an immediate pandemic risk to humans. However, the prolonged presence of these viruses in close proximity to human habitats heightens the possibility of zoonotic transmission. Continued monitoring and surveillance are essential to prevent the potential emergence of a virulent pandemic strain.

Despite successful containment measures in current cattle outbreaks, the persistent threat posed by H5N1 and other highly pathogenic avian influenza strains necessitates ongoing scientific vigilance. Maintaining caution against exposure to wildlife and preventing pets from interacting closely with wild animals are prudent measures advised by experts in the field.

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About Post Author

Chris Jones

Hey there! 👋 I'm Chris, 34 yo from Toronto (CA), I'm a journalist with a PhD in journalism and mass communication. For 5 years, I worked for some local publications as an envoy and reporter. Today, I work as 'content publisher' for InformOverload. 📰🌐 Passionate about global news, I cover a wide range of topics including technology, business, healthcare, sports, finance, and more. If you want to know more or interact with me, visit my social channels, or send me a message.
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