Bird flu: Should we be worried about the virus infecting mammals?

Bird flu infections have been recorded in various mammals, including foxes and mink, but it is unclear whether the virus can be transmitted from one mammal to another


2 February 2023

Rangers in protective clothing collect dead birds on a beach

National Trust rangers collecting dead birds in the Farne Islands, UK

PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

The world is currently in the midst of its largest-ever outbreak of bird flu, and there is emerging evidence that mammals are being infected.

What is the current bird flu situation?

Since October 2021, when the latest outbreak began, the H5N1 subtype of the virus has spread through seabird colonies, farmed poultry and wild flocks across the US, Europe and beyond. Globally around 15 million domestic birds have died from bird flu over the past 15 months, and more …

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