Large bird flu epidemic in Israel kills 2,000 wild cranes
A bird flu outbreak has killed more than 2,000 wild cranes in a reserve in northern Israel, an unusually high toll for seasonal flu, the parks authority said on Sunday.
In addition to the 2,000 dead, 10,000 others are believed to be infected, Ohad Hatsofe, a specialist for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, told AFP.
The virus affects Israel every year, but this year’s outbreak is much larger than in previous years, said Uri Naveh, senior scientist at the authority.
Naveh called the number of dead cranes “exceptional”.
As every year, around 100,000 wild cranes have reached Israel since October, most of them stopping over in the Hula Valley, an important point on their migratory path to Africa.
It is estimated that over 40,000 cranes remained in the area.
The popular bird flu, H5N1, has been detected in some chicken populations in northern Israel, Israel’s agriculture ministry said.
The ministry suspended egg sales from affected farms.
It is rare for H5N1 to spread among humans, but there have been outbreaks in the past.
According to the World Health Organization, H5N1 has killed more than 450 people, mainly in Indonesia, Egypt and Vietnam, since 2003.