"Scientists Investigate a Bird Flu Outbreak in Seals"

"Wild birds passed the virus to seals in New England at least twice last summer, a new study suggests."

"Last summer, the highly contagious strain of avian influenza that had been spreading through North American birds made its way into marine mammals, causing a spike in seal strandings along the coast of Maine. In June and July, more than 150 dead or ailing seals washed ashore.

Now, a study provides new insight into the outbreak. Of the 41 stranded seals tested for the virus, nearly half were infected with it, scientists reported on Wednesday in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. It is likely that wild birds introduced the virus to seals at least twice, the researchers concluded. In several seals, the virus had mutations that are associated with adaptation to mammals.

The risk to humans remains low, and the seal outbreak waned quickly, the scientists said."

Emily Anthes reports for the New York Times March 15, 2023.


Source: NYTimes, 03/16/2023