Since 2021, a highly pathogenicity strain of avian influenza known as HPAI H5N1 clade 184.108.40.206b has been decimating wild birds in the UK, Europe, South Africa and the Americas, and pinnipeds in South America.
Since this outbreak began, millions of seabirds and tens of thousands of pinnipeds have died globally due to the disease.
Oceania (Australia, New Zealand) and Antarctica were the only continents free of the disease until the 23 October 2023, when the first case was confirmed via PCR test on Bird Island, in the sub-Antarctic.
British Antarctic Surveu (BAS) reported on the case here: First confirmed cases of Avian Influenza in the Antarctic region.
Given the dense breeding colonies of wildlife in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions, HPAI is expected to have devastating impacts on the wildlife in the region.
To assist with monitoring the movement of HPAI throughout the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic regions and increase our understanding of its impacts on wildlife populations, the Antarctic Wildlife Health Network (AWHN) have established a central repository to record and monitor all suspected and confirmed HPAI outbreaks in the region.
SCAR Antarctic Wildlife Health Network HPAI Database
The Antarctic Wildlife Health Network has established a HPAI database to monitor and record information submitted to the AWHN on the spread of HPAI outbreaks in the sub-Antarctic and Antarctica throughout the 2023/24 Austral Summer.