Bird flue in seals near Antarctica
Bird flu has been detected in fur seals and elephant seals on the subantarctic island of South Georgia in the South Atlantic, scientists confirm. It is a cloud of worry because the infectious disease has already killed millions of birds worldwide.
Suspicions arose in October when birds of the Antarctic Lab type died on Bird Island, off South Georgia. Then southern elephant seals started dying and British scientists traveled to the area to take samples. They showed highly pathogenic avian influenza, HPAI H5N1, in dead elephant seals and fur seals, the researchers now announce.
Elephant seals appear to have been hit harder than fur seals in South Georgia, according to Marco Falchieri of the British agency Apha.
– My biggest fear is directed mutation to mammals. We don’t see it in the new samples, but we have to keep monitoring, he tells The Guardian.