The mass death of seals in the Bering Strait, according to scientists, is caused by a virus, such a "bird flu," according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the USA (NOAA).
Pathogen group A influenza virus was found in five of the 162 who died in the New England pinnipeds, the report said. The strain identified as H3N8, scientists believe that it belongs to the same group of pathogens that the virus of "bird flu". Moreover, as the report says, the probability of transmission of "seal" of the virus to humans or domestic animals is low.
"The virus H3N8 usually sick birds, some of its strains are dangerous for horses and dogs … This is the first time that such a virus is associated with high mortality in marine mammals," — are words in the message representative of the National Health Service for wildlife USCG Dr. Hon Ipa (Hon Ip).
On the American coast of the Bering and Chukchi Seas from July to November, according to the Veterinary Services of Alaska (USA), found more than 150 dead seals (mostly ringed seals) with symptoms of an unknown skin disease. On the Russian coast at this time period came unusually large animals — at least 100 seals, but skin damage they have occurred less frequently and were less pronounced. Worried about the high mortality rate, U.S. researchers from June to test for all known viruses, but until recently did not give any official comment on the causes of the disease.
"The work done NOAA to detect and confirm the presence of H3N8 virus in seals, the first step to understanding the causes of this high mortality rate … Now we are testing for the rest of the dead animals to learn more about the role of this virus in the mass death of seals and about the Virus "- are reported words of the veterinarian and the program coordinator for the health of marine mammals Roulesa Teri (Teri Rowles).
The main symptoms of the disease — hair loss, sores around the eyes, nose and rear fins, axial bleeding scars on the body, apathetic behavior. Seals are sick for a long time on the beach, near the usual fend for themselves human and terrestrial predators. According to a specialist in pathology in animals Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory British Columbia Raverti Stephen (Stephen Raverty), found in dead seals internal organ could be caused by concomitant bacterial infections that penetrate into the body through a break in the animal skin.
In the event that the patient seal experts recommend that people in Alaska to behave as follows:
1. Do not approach closer than 45 meters.
2. Keep dogs on a leash and are not allowed to seals.
3. Report the discovery by telephone "hot line" to NOAA.