Bird flu on the coast peaks: “2000 dead seagulls in one day”
Since a few weeks they have a special intervention line at Vogelopvangcentrum Oostende. And it’s red hot. “It’s quite busy. The last two weeks we see the number of calls rising. There are of course tourists on the coast, but there are also many more sick animals, many youngsters are starting to fly out and spread the disease,” says Kevin De Cock of the avian flu intervention line.
The avian flu already wreaked havoc on the seabird population last year. Now it is mainly terns, such as the common tern and sandwich tern, and the black-headed gull and black-headed gull.
On the tern island in Zeebrugge, where the terns breed, they have already recovered 5,000 birds this year. “A week ago, colleagues collected 2,000 dead animals in one day.”
Risk to humans?
It cannot be ruled out that the avian flu will one day be transmitted to humans. “It is therefore important that you do not touch sick animals when you see them,” says the Bird Sanctuary in Ostend. So just call the bird flu interval line, they will pick up the animals.
But not all coastal municipalities are participating. You can only call the prevention line in Knokke-Heist, Blankenberge, De Haan, Bredene, Ostend and soon Middelkerke. “It would be useful if everyone participated. Then we can collect and follow up more easily everywhere. And it is also useful for the Nature and Forest Agency and the Federal Food Agency to know where animals are infected.”
In Zeebrugge, Nieuwpoort, Koksijde and De Panne you can call the free influenza line of the Federal Agency for Food Safety: 080099777. “It was a practical choice. They have to come from Ostend and also asked for a fee. We didn’t think it was feasible to do that. pay for something that we can do ourselves,” says Wim Janssens, Alderman for Animal Welfare De Panne.