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Journal Articles Current Biology - CB Year : 2023

Highly pathogenic avian influenza affects vultures’ movements and breeding output


An exceptional highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak due to H5N1 virus genotypes belonging to clade has been affecting birds worldwide since autumn 2021.1,2,3 Mortality caused by viral infection has been well documented in poultry and more recently in wild birds, especially in seabird-breeding colonies.4,5,6 However, there is a critical lack of knowledge about how terrestrial birds deal with HPAI virus infections in terms of behavior and space use, especially during the breeding season.7,8,9 Understanding how birds move when they are infected could help evaluate the risk of spreading the virus at a distance among other populations of wild or domestic birds, this latter risk being especially important for commensal bird species. Through long-term GPS tracking, we described the changes in daily movement patterns of 31 adult griffon vultures Gyps fulvus in two French sites in 2022 compared with 3 previous years. In spring 2022, 21 vultures at both sites showed periods of immobility at the nest, during 5.6 days on average. Positive serological status of 2 individuals confirmed that they had been infected by HPAI viruses. Death was recorded for 3 of the 31 tracked individuals, whereas all others recovered and returned quickly to their foraging routine, although at least 9 birds failed breeding. Such immobility patterns and death rates were never observed in previous years and were not related to weather conditions. The high immobility behavior of infected birds could reduce the risks of transmission. The observed vulnerability to HPAI viruses questions the resistance of endangered vulture species worldwide if infected.
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Dates and versions

hal-04189620 , version 1 (28-08-2023)



Olivier Duriez, Yohan Sassi, Chloé Le Gall-Ladevèze, Léa Giraud, Robert Straughan, et al.. Highly pathogenic avian influenza affects vultures’ movements and breeding output. Current Biology - CB, inPress, ⟨10.1016/j.cub.2023.07.061⟩. ⟨hal-04189620⟩
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