Cookie use on MRCVSonline
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies.
If you would like to forward this story on to a friend, simply fill in the form below and click send.

Your friend's email:
Your email:
Your name:
 
 
Send Cancel

Study reveals impact of COVID-19 litter on wildlife
The study found the some birds have been using face masks as nest material.

Biologists call for help to better identify the consequences.

A fish entrapped in a medical glove and a robin entangled in a face mask. These are just two of the hundreds of observations reported in a new study exploring the effect of COVID-19 litter on animal life. 

Led by biologists Auke-Florian Hiemstra from Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Liselotte Rambonnet from Leiden University, the study also reports the first cases of birds using medical face masks as nesting material. 

The study began in August 2020, when volunteers found a dead perch in the thumb of a latex glove while cleaning up the Leiden Canal. The fish is understood to be the first Dutch victim of COVID-19 litter.

To better understand the impact of PPE on animals, Hiemstra and Rambonnet set out to establish how often and where interactions between COVID-19 waste and animals occur.

The pair used a mix of social media, local newspapers and international newspapers to identify hundreds of reports across the globe of animals ingesting corona waste or getting entangled in it. The reports include apes chewing on face masks and a penguin found with a face mask in its stomach. Pets were also affected, with several dogs found to have swallowed face masks. 

Describing their findings in the journal Animal Biology, Hiemstra and Rambonnet note that some animals use the waste as nest material. Coots in Dutch canals, for example, use face masks and gloves as nest material.

“The packaging from paper handkerchiefs is found in nests too,” says Hiemstra. “As such, we even see the symptoms of COVID-19 in animal structures.”

Hiemstra and Rambonnet are now calling on people to keep sharing their observations so they can build up an even bigger picture of the impact of PPE disposal on wildlife. To enable this, they have set up the website covidlitter.com

They hope this overview will raise awareness of the danger of face masks and gloves for wildlife. The researchers are also calling everybody to use reusable face masks. 

Become a member or log in to add this story to your CPD history

Webinar to focus on equine worm control

News Story 1
 Vets, veterinary nurses and RAMAs are being invited to join a free CPD webinar on late winter and early spring equine worm control.

Hosted by Zoetis vet Dr Wendy Talbot, the webinar aims to help prescribers understand which parasites are of most concern at this time of year. It will also cover how to assess parasite risk, selecting a suitable wormer and spring wormer plans, concluding with a Q&A session.

The webinar takes place on Thursday, 18 March at 10 am and will be repeated at 7 pm for those unable to listen during the day. To book the 10 am webinar, click here, and to register for the 7 pm webinar, click here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
Avian influenza confirmed in Lancashire

A case of highly pathogenic (HPAI H5N8) avian influenza has been confirmed in two captive peregrine falcons on a non-commercial, non-poultry premises near Skelmersdale, West Lancashire.

Following a risk assessment, APHA has declared that no disease control zones have been put in place surrounding this non-commercial, non-poultry premises.

Eighteen cases of HPAI H5N8 have now been identified in poultry and other captive birds in England. A housing order for poultry and captive birds introduced by Defra to control the spread of the disease expired on 31 March, although bird keepers in England are still required by law to comply with biosecurity measures.

For more information, please click here.