Re-emergence of Usutu virus in wild birds in the Netherlands

In the autumn of 2016 the Usutu virus was responsible for the death of large numbers of blackbirds as well as captive Snowy owls and Lapland owls. The last Usutu virus activity was recorded that November.

Live-bird monitoring carried out by Erasmus Medical Center and NIOO-KNAW (the Netherlands Institute of Ecology) at the beginning of April 2017, found the virus in several blackbirds. In addition, a dead blackbird that underwent post-mortem exam at the DWHC also tested positive for Usutu virus demonstrating that the virus is re-circulating in 2017.

Keepers of Snowy owls and Lapland owls are advised to be alert to the risk of infection. As temperatures and midge numbers increase over the coming months it is expected that the virus will spread. It is therefore advisable to protect birdcages with mosquito nets or to keep birds indoors.