As Israel attempts to curb a catastrophic avian flu outbreak, tens of thousands of turkeys are slaughtered. Over 5,000 migratory cranes have died at the Hula Nature Reserve, which Environment Minister Tamar Zandberg has described as “the biggest blow to nature” in Israel’s history.
Farmers in the area were also compelled to kill half a million hens, raising fears of egg scarcity. There has been no human transmission of the A(H5N1) virus so far.
On Monday, however, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with his national security adviser and other experts to explore steps to prevent this.
Preventative medication is being offered to people who have had close contact with diseased birds.
Despite the fact that transmission from birds to humans is extremely rare, the World Health Organization reports that 456 individuals have died from the virus since 2003.
Rangers in protective clothing were seen retrieving the dead cranes from Hula Lake using a dinghy to avoid infecting other species, according to images released by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
The authority also stated that 250 cranes’ carcasses had been discovered in the Hula Valley and that 30 sick birds had been found elsewhere in the country.
For bird-watchers, the sight of thousands of swans from Europe holidaying at the Hula Nature Reserve is generally a treat. However, due to the deadly avian flu outbreak, the site was declared off-limits to visitors last week.
Avian flu viruses are found naturally in migrating waterfowl, but they rarely show symptoms.
Domestic birds are significantly more sensitive to the virus, and if the infection is discovered in commercial or residential flocks, all affected birds should be destroyed as soon as possible.
More than half a million egg-laying chickens at Moshav Margaliot, a communal farm approximately 12 kilometres (7 miles) to the north, were slaughtered in an effort to control the outbreak and reduce the risk to humans, according to Israeli media. The moshav produces 7% of Israel’s total egg consumption.
The first epidemic of avian flu in Israel this autumn was detected on October 18 near Moshav Nahalal in the Jezreel Valley, roughly 60 kilometres south-west of the Hula Nature Reserve, according to the Times of Israel.
Cases were detected at a kibbutz and two poultry farms in November, according to the study.A