confirm the presence of avian influenza virus

CSIC scientists confirm the presence of avian influenza virus in Antarctica for the first timeLift-EMV

Scientists from the Severo Ochoa Center for Molecular Biology of the Supreme Council of Scientific Research (CSIC), under the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, have confirmed for the first time the presence of a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus in Antarctica. This is stated in the department’s message. A group of scientists under the leadership of CSIC researcher from Valencia Antonio Alcamí, who works at the Spanish Antarctic base “Gabriel de Castilla” on Deception Island, confirmed the presence of the virus on February 24 this year.

In particular, the virus was discovered in two samples of dead skuas, which were found by Argentine scientists in the vicinity of the Argentine Antarctic base “Primavera”. The samples, according to the statement, “were obtained using maximum protective measures to avoid transmission of the virus to humans. Once the samples were collected, the viruses present were immediately inactivated so they could be safely studied.” The samples were subsequently transported under security by an Argentine Joint Antarctic Patrol ship to the Spanish Antarctic base Gabriel de Castilla on Deception Island, where they were analyzed by CSIC researchers. Angela Vazquez and Antonio Alcamy.


Analyzes have convincingly shown that birds were infected with avian influenza subtype H5 and at least one of the dead birds contained highly pathogenic avian influenza virus. These tests consisted of influenza virus and H5 subtype-specific PCR followed by protease cut region sequencing, which identifies the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus with 100% certainty.

Bird in Antarctica

Avoid human infection

This discovery “will allow national polar programs to be prepared to avoid human transmission and, above all, to avoid human infection.” This discovery demonstrates for the first time that highly pathogenic avian influenza virus reached Antarctica, despite the distance and natural barriers separating it from other continents. This discovery may also explain bird deaths recorded during the Antarctic summer.

This variant has been found in many places in the northern hemisphere and, since last summer also in the southern hemisphere. The virus has recently been described from sub-Antarctic islands, but to date, although significant mortality of some birds has been reported in Antarctica, no country has demonstrated the presence of the virus in Antarctica.

Spain launches protocol against bird flu pathogenic in Antarctica in Novemberbefore the start of the action, which was scrupulously followed by all program participants.

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