Chicken Dinner – the Consequences

| 7 November 2022
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It’s a major driver of wild bird losses

Catastrophic declines in wild birds are likely if we don’t change the way animals are farmed, scientists have warned.

Wild birds are being killed by highly pathogenic strains of bird flu emerging from large-scale poultry farms. Typically, these more dangerous strains develop in commercial poultry, evolving from low pathogenic viruses found in the wild.

The H5N1 virus currently circulating the globe originated in a commercial goose farm in China in 1996, spread rapidly in poultry in Asia and spilled over into wild birds in 2005. For many wild birds, already threatened by loss of habitat and climate change, the additional threat of bird flu will have a devastating impact.

Over the past 50 years, the global population of poultry has grown from six to 35 billion. “These large livestock populations, which are connected through trade, form reservoirs where infectious diseases can evolve and spill over into wildlife” says Thijs Kuiken, professor in the department of viroscience at Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam.

Kuiken T and Cromie R. 2022. Protect wildlife from livestock diseases. Science. 378, 6615.

About the author
Dr. Justine Butler
Justine joined Viva! in 2005 after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. After working as a campaigner, then researcher and writer, she is now Viva!’s head of research and her work focuses on animals, the environment and health. Justine’s scientific training helps her research and write both in-depth scientific reports, such as White Lies and the Meat Report, as well as easy-to-read factsheets and myth-busting articles for consumer magazines and updates on the latest research. Justine also recently wrote the Vegan for the Planet guide for Viva!’s Vegan Now campaign.

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