Beware of Bird Flu!

The highly contagious avian influenza virus (HPAI, bird flu) is currently widespread throughout Europe, and it was thought that the virus could reach Switzerland with the winter bird migration of 2022/23. Dead wild birds due to infection with the virus are not uncommon at this time, and there have been positive cases in wild birds in other regions of Switzerland this winter, including seagulls in several cantons, swans in canton Ticino, and a bird of prey in canton Zürich. In the past month, several wild birds were found dead in the Basel region and were examined for bird flu as part of ongoing monitoring by the Basel-Stadt Veterinary Office. While most birds tested negative, some wild birds tested positive for HPAI, including a grey heron and a black-headed gull.

The Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) have put in place nationwide measures to contain bird flu, which have now been extended to March 15, 2023. The focus of the measures is to prevent contact between wild birds and domestic poultry. All registered poultry farmers in the cantons were directly informed about the special regulations to protect their domestic poultry.

Although transmission of the bird flu virus to humans is extremely rare, it is prudent to keep children away from geese, ducks, and swans. Also, anyone who finds dead wild birds is asked to report them to the Basel-Stadt Veterinary Office (061-267-5858) or the cantonal police (117), with details of where they were found. And remember—never touch wild bird carcasses!