Animal diseases: Mercury facilitates infection of a group of birds

A highly contagious form of avian influenza continues to make its way through colonies of seabirds in the North Sea and the Northeast Atlantic. Meanwhile, it has also reached breeding grounds on the southwest coast of Ireland, Where observers find hundreds of dead or dying gannets and other species. Since the early summer of 2022, scientists and bird conservationists have been concerned about terns, gannets and other seabirds, tens of thousands of which have already perished – including on the German coast. Claire Teitelbaum of the US Geological Survey and her team have now identified a factor in mercury that can weaken the animals’ immune systems and make them more susceptible to the virus responsible. As mentioned in the Proceedings of the Royal Society b.

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