With bird flu raging, Ecuadorian authorities are investigating reports of sick birds in the Galápagos Islands. A ship with experts was sent to the island of Genovesa to take samples from the obviously sick animals and evaluate them in the laboratory, the South American country’s environment ministry announced on Sunday evening (local time). According to the authority, 78 endemic bird species live on the Galápagos Islands, some of which fly to the South American mainland in search of food.

The largest wave of avian influenza ever documented is currently raging among birds, stretching across several continents. The pathogen primarily affects birds, but has recently been found sporadically in several mammal species such as raccoons, foxes and martens. According to experts, direct transmission between mammals can no longer be ruled out. This would therefore be an indication that the H5N1 virus is adapting to mammals and could therefore also become more dangerous to humans.

The Galápagos Islands belong to Ecuador and are located around 1000 kilometers west of the South American coast in the Pacific. The archipelago has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978 because of its special flora and fauna. The species found only there include marine iguanas, land iguanas and Galápagos finches. In 1835 Charles Darwin visited the islands. His theory of the origin of species received a lot of food for thought there.