H5N1 Bird Flu Virus Threatens Aquatic Animals Population Worldwide

The ongoing spread of avian influenza virus has killed tens of thousands of seals and sea lions in various parts of the world such as the US northeastern state of Maine and the South American nation of Chile.

Researchers found that the virus has affected seals in the eastern and western coasts of the US, causing the death of several seals in New England and Washington state’s Puget Sound.

In South America, the virus has killed more than 20,000 sea lions in Chile and Peru, in addition to thousands of elephant seals in Argentina.

“Once the virus is in wildlife, it spreads like wildfire, as long as there are susceptible animals and species,” said Marcela Uhart, director of the Latin America program at the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center at the University of California, Davis .

Uhart said that the movement of animals is the main cause of virus spread, pointing out that the virus outbreak in domesticated animals could be controlled, but it is difficult to control the same among wildlife and aquatic animals.

Scientists are still researching about the origin of avian flu in sea mammals, but Uhart claims that contact with infected birds is the most likely reason. She also noted that the death rates have been high in South America since the bird flu outbreak in 2022.

In February, scientists identified the traces of H5N1 virus in mainland Antarctica for the first time, raising doubts that the same flu might have caused the deaths of hundreds of endangered Caspian seals in Russia last year.

The bird flu outbreak, which started in 2020, had killed millions of domesticated birds and caused economic losses at poultry farms.

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By hadem