Breaking News | Bird flu is decimating seal colonies. Scientists do not know methods to cease it – Times of India
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Bird flu is decimating seal colonies. Scientists do not know methods to cease it – Times of India

portland: avian influenza Killing hundreds of seals and sea lions in numerous corners of the world, inflicting disruption ecosystems And nervous scientists, who see no clear option to gradual the devastating virus.
The worldwide chicken flu outbreak that started in 2020 has killed hundreds of thousands of pet birds and unfold the wildlife All over the world. The virus just isn’t thought of a serious menace to people, however its unfold in farming operations and wild ecosystems has precipitated widespread financial upheaval and environmental disruption.
Scientists mentioned seals and sea lions in distant locations comparable to Maine and Chile are notably weak to the illness. The virus has been present in seals on the East and West coasts of the US, inflicting the deaths of greater than 300 seals in New England and a handful in Puget Sound in Washington. The scenario inside is much more critical South AmericaWhere greater than 20,000 sea lions have died in Chile and Peru and hundreds of elephant seals have died in Argentina.
This virus may be managed in pets, however it could actually unfold uncontrolled in wildlife. Marine mammals Seals like these in South America, which already lacked publicity, have suffered devastating penalties, mentioned Marcela Uhart, director of the Latin America Program on the Karen C. Dreier Wildlife Health Center on the University of California, Davis.
“Once the virus is in wildlife, it spreads like wildfire so long as vulnerable animals and species exist,” Uhart mentioned. “The motion of animals permits the virus to unfold to new areas.”
Scientists are nonetheless researching how seals received chicken flu, but it surely’s most definitely by contact with contaminated sea ​​chicken, Uhart mentioned. He mentioned excessive mortality charges have persistently affected South American marine mammals because the virus arrived in late 2022, and hundreds of birds have since died from the virus in Peru and Chile.
The virus continues to be spreading and was first detected in mainland Antarctica in February.
The deaths of seals and sea lions disrupt ecosystems the place marine mammals function dominant predators close to the highest of the meals chain. Seals assist hold the ocean in stability by stopping overpopulation of the fish species they eat.
Populations of lots of the affected species, comparable to South American sea lions and southern elephant seals, are comparatively steady, however scientists are involved about the opportunity of the virus reaching extra endangered animals. Bird flu could have performed a job within the deaths of lots of of endangered Caspian seals in Russia final yr, scientists have mentioned.
“Wildlife loss on the present scale poses an unprecedented danger of declining wildlife populations, resulting in an ecological disaster,” the World Organization for Animal Health, an intergovernmental group, mentioned in an announcement.
In New England, scientists on the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University discovered that an outbreak of chicken flu, which killed greater than 330 harbor and grey seals alongside the North Atlantic coast in 2022, is worse than initially thought. Out. Scientists mentioned it’s potential that the virus could have unfold to seals by contact with the excrement of sick gulls or by searching an contaminated chicken.
The US authorities decided that the seal’s loss of life was an “uncommon mortality occasion” as a result of chicken flu. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has declared this system to be over, however considerations stay a couple of potential recurrence.
“Marine mammals are fairly distinctive within the scale of the outbreaks that also happen,” mentioned Wendy Puryear, writer of the Tufts examine. “One connection is that lots of viruses are unfold in coastal birds. “There are loads of alternatives for these wild birds to host the virus and transmit it to marine mammals.”
Some scientists and environmental advocates say there could also be a hyperlink between the outbreak Climate change and warming of the oceans. Lisbeth van der Meer, director of environmental group Oceana in Chile, mentioned hotter sea temperatures in northern Chile cut back bait fish populations, and that leaves sea lions weaker and extra weak to illness.
Van der Meer mentioned scientists and environmentalists hope vaccinating poultry will assist cut back the unfold of the illness, including that it is usually essential for folks to keep away from doubtlessly contaminated animals within the wild.
“Authorities have launched a marketing campaign concerning the illness, strongly recommending that individuals steer clear of sea birds or marine mammals with signs or discovered lifeless in coastal areas,” van der Meer mentioned.
Even seals in aquariums will not be thought of utterly secure from chicken flu. The New England Aquarium, the place the out of doors harbor seal exhibit delights hundreds of tourists annually, has taken strict sanitary precautions to forestall transmission of the virus amongst its animals, mentioned Melissa Joblon, director of animal well being for the Boston Aquarium.
Employees will not be allowed to deliver yard poultry merchandise into the aquarium, and an awning seals the exhibit to guard it from birds that might carry the virus, he mentioned.
“We know it is a danger to the animals that reside right here,” Joblon mentioned. He mentioned that not one of the seals within the aquarium have been contaminated.
Even extra worrying are the deaths of marine mammals brought on by mutations of the avian virus, in keeping with a paper within the journal Nature Communications final fall. The examine mentioned the mutation “requires additional investigation and highlights the pressing want for lively native surveillance to handle the outbreak and restrict unfold to different species, together with people.”
Another examine printed within the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases in February discovered that chicken flu viruses have tailored to unfold between birds and mammals. Researchers discovered virtually similar samples of the virus in a lifeless sea lion, a lifeless seal and a lifeless sea chicken. He mentioned the invention is essential as a result of it confirms a multi-species outbreak that might have an effect on marine mammals and birds.
More seal deaths It may disrupt very important ecosystems world wide, mentioned Linda Doughty, government director of Marine Mammals of Maine, a marine mammal rescue group that responded to seals with chicken flu through the New England outbreak.
“You want this completely satisfied ecosystem. If we’re eradicating some essential species, what’s the trickle down impact? That’s the million greenback query,” Doughty mentioned.

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