Bird flu has jumped to baby seals, scientists discover

Posted on August 1, 2012

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(CNN)— A new strain of avian flu that jumped from birds to mammals is responsible for

Harbor seals at La Jolla, CA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

the death of more than 160 seals off the New England coast last year, scientists announced Tuesday.

The virus could theoretically pose a threat to human health, they said.

Harbor seals — most of them babies less than 6 months old — began appearing with severe pneumonia and skin lesions in September of last year, the researchers said.

Over the next few months, at least 162 dead seals were recovered along the coast from Maine to Massachusetts, they said.

Mutant bird flu would be airborne, scientists say

Testing pointed at a new strain of the H3N8 flu virus being called seal H3N8.

“When initial tests revealed an avian influenza virus, we asked the obvious question: How did this virus jump from birds to seals?” lead researcher Simon Anthony of Columbia University said.

CNN

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