Bird flu kills nearly 1000 seals and sea lions in Brazil

Animal News : Bird flu kills nearly 1000 seals and sea lions in Brazil
A dead sea lion lies on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, Sao Jose do Norte, State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, credit: Reuters/Diego Vara

Nearly a thousand seals and sea lions have died from bird flu in Brazil. The Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture has reported 148 outbreaks of the virus, primarily along the coast.

The southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul has confirmed a record 942 sea mammal deaths following infection by the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

“The dead animals started to appear at the end of September. It was an atypical thing because we found more dead animals than we’d usually find,” Silvina Botta, an oceanography professor at the Rio Grande Federal University (FURG), said.

Botta added that the carcasses had to be buried or burned as soon as possible to reduce the risk of contaminating other animals or humans.Scientists have also seen sea mammals convulsing along beaches as the virus attacks their nervous system.

The Agriculture Ministry said preventive measures had so far avoided an outbreak of bird flu in commercial chicken farms in Brazil, the world’s top chicken meat exporter. However, the virus did spread in wild animal populations.

In addition to the outbreaks among seabirds, seals and sea lions, authorities have collected samples of dead penguins and porpoises found on beaches, with no confirmed bird flu virus results yet.

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