Mysterious “bird flu” wiped out 7,000 seabirds in northeastern Crimea

A mysterious “bird flu” has killed thousands of seabirds. Scientists are urgently investigating the cause of the deaths of up to 7,000 black-necked grebes, guinea pigeons and gulls.

Alarming video footage shows dead birds along the Arabatskaya Spit and Sivash Bay in the Sea of Azov. The horrifying footage shows one bird still alive, but with obvious damage to the nervous system and lost its orientation.

“We recorded the death of birds in large numbers, several thousand,” said academician Grigory Prokopov of the Crimean Federal University, an ecologist.

Experts suspect a viral infection, but locals have also raised the possibility of environmental contamination: there is reportedly an excess of mercury in the area.

The black-necked grebe, a migratory bird, was the most affected.

Experts from the Federal Center for Animal Health are working at the scene to analyze the dead birds.

The Crimean authorities have not yet commented in any way on the suspicion of bird flu in the southern flank of Europe.

The report said that dead birds were “scattered all over the Sivash Bay.”

The report said the most likely cause is an infectious disease, but it could also be “both poisoning and an environmental situation.”

It added: “There has been an excess of mercury in the area.”

But Mr. Prokopov believes the most likely cause is a new bird flu.

“It’s probably not poisoning,” he said.

“From the behavior of the bird that I was able to observe, it was obvious that it was sick and died.”

“It looks very much like central nervous system damage. It’s most likely some kind of virus.”

“But it’s up to the veterinarians to draw the final conclusion.”

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