The dead barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis) that were found in the Oost-vaardersplassen last week were infected with bird flu (avian influenza). The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) had commissioned Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) to study three of the barnacle geese. The analysis showed that the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus was present in the dead geese.
This is not the first time that large groups of dead wild birds with avian influenza have been found. At the end of April 2021, hundreds of wild geese, mostly barnacle geese, were found dead on the Frisian and Groningen coast. On 17 and 18 December 2021, several hundred knots (Calidris canutus) were found dead on Schiermonnikoog and in East Groningen.
Can avian influenza affect humans?
Some variants of avian influenza are transmissible to humans (zoonosis). Some variants of bird flu are transmissible to humans (zoonosis). The chance of a human to be infected with bird flu is small, and if it does happen the symptoms are usually very mild. However, it is important to avoid infecting people as much as possible because the virus could adapt (by mutating), after which it could also spread among people. It is therefore important to avoid direct contact with sick and dead wild birds and poultry.