One of the stork cams in Germany has a single chick, named Hugo. He is being raised by adoptive stork parents.
There have been a few deaths of stork chicks in Vetschau, and recently information has been released as to the cause: a fungal infection called Aspergillosis. From the website:
What caused Lenka's Death?
The Institute for Fowl Diseases of the University of Berlin forward a preliminary finding of the cause of death of Lenka.
Diagnosis: Aspergillosis (a rare ailment of animals in the wild, most often a lung disease triggered caused by the mould fungus aspergillus fumigatus)...
As far as Hugo is concerned, we can only hope that he will survive. He came to the eyrie later and is already much larger, so that he not become profoundly infected. A treatment is out of the question. We keep our fingers crossed. Continuing searches for causes were already decided upon by NABU, Regional Association Calau. The nest material which the storks bring to the eyrie has to be the main focus.
After the last brood period, eight inches of nest material was removed from the eyrie which was treated twice in autumn and once in spring for mould fungi. Were these measures insufficient or was the fungus reintroduced with the new material? Many questions which need to be cleared up.
Winfried BoehmerNABU-Project Leader"
Aspergillosis is something I see on very rare occasions in my own wild bird rehabilitation group here in the Valley of the Sun. While technically not transmissable between animals and humans, people DO get aspergillosis, by inhaling the fungal spores from the environment -- not directly from the infected animal.
Aspergillosis is NOT "Valley Fever" -- this condition is actually called Coccidioidomycosis, and is caused by Coccidioides immitis which is present in the dirt. A person coming down with Valley Fever is much more likely than a person falling ill with aspergillosis.
It is always heartbreaking to see new life succumb to disease. The article above mentioned the removal of several inches of material from the nest, as well as treatment of the nest to try to rid the area of the offending organism. Unfortunately, we cannot control all aspects of an environment, and try as we might, babies will still die as a result of naturally occuring microscopic organisms.
Today, Hugo seems stronger than the last few days, and is even standing up a little bit, stretching those long legs. His breathing does not seem to be as labored, and he is much more alert. I hope this means he is going to survive. He sure is cute!