Cases of bird flu decrease in Galapagos

Bird flu has devastated marine bird species all over the world this past year or two.  The virus is transported in large part by migratory birds who travel great distances.  The first cases appeared in Galapagos only in September and officials were braced for the worst.  But apparently, the latest evidence seems to indicate that Galapagos will have been spared big mortality figures.   The following is a translation from a recent Galapagos National Park Directorate press release.

Starting on September 19, since the announcement of the presence of avian influenza in at least two colonies of native and endemic birds of the archipelago, the Galapagos National Park Directorate implemented a monitoring plan in sites with an abundant presence of birds, in order to evaluate the levels of contagion in the different bird populations.

The monitoring consists of observing the environment and taking samples from live and dead birds in 29 sites such as Punta Pitt and Isla Lobos in San Cristóbal; Punta Cevallos, Punta Suárez and Colonia Central in Española; Genoese; Seymour Norte, Isabela, Fernandina, among others, to then carry out the analysis at the Galapagos laboratory (LABGAL). So far, 20 monitoring trips have been made, visiting each site at least once a week.

During the first three weeks the results of the samples taken in Punta Pitt and Genovesa - the only colonies in which the presence of avian flu was confirmed - were positive, especially in red-footed boobies, the species most affected by the disease.

The last two weeks of monitoring represent good news for the Environmental Authority. The positive results of the samples taken have decreased significantly, even for two weeks only negative cases were evident. “We believe that the wave of avian influence on the islands has passed and although it generated a small number of dead birds in some species, the populations are healthy and able to recover,” said Danny Rueda Córdova, director of the Galapagos National Park.

Despite this encouraging news, the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park with the support of the Agency for the Regulation and Control of Biosafety and Quarantine for Galapagos, the Charles Darwin Foundation and the San Francisco de Quito University, will maintain monitoring of the sites, take of samples and application of biosafety protocols implemented to reduce the risk of new infections.

The Galapagos National Park Directorate confirmed that, if negative results continue during the following weeks, the relevance of opening the visiting sites that remain closed will be analyzed.

Booby (guess which kind...)

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