Baby seal die off caused by bird flu, possible threat to humans

Kaye Beach

August 4, 2012

Here is some interesting and slightly concerning news for fellow flu-watchers.

Date: Tue 31 Jul 2012
Source: CIDRAP News [abbreviated & edited]

A research team that analyzed the strain of H3N8 influenza virus
linked to a baby seal die-off in New England last year [2011, see
ProMED-mail archived reports below] found that it originated in birds
and has adapted to mammals, signalling a possible threat to humans and
animals alike. The study, which appeared today [31 Jul 2012] in the
mBio, the online journal of the American Society for Microbiology
(ASM), also revealed mutations that are known to make flu viruses more
transmissible and able to cause severe disease. [Anthony SJ, St Leger
JA, Pugliares K, et al. Emergence of fatal avian influenza in New
England harbor seals. mBio 31 Jul 2012,

. . .Scientists gave the new virus the provisional name influenza A/harbor
seal/Massachusetts/1/2011. The group found mutations previously
detected in H5N1 viruses that infected humans and wrote that the H3N8
virus in seals had acquired the ability to bind sialic acid receptors
that are commonly found in mammal respiratory tracts.

. . .The researchers concluded that natural emergence of a pathogenic virus
that can transmit between mammals, and in a species that can be
infected with multiple flu subtypes, is considered a significant
threat to wildlife and human health

Read the entire article here


One response to “Baby seal die off caused by bird flu, possible threat to humans

  1. Here’s something else that kinda bothers me.
    US health officials on Friday warned the public to be careful around pigs after an outbreak of flu among visitors to county fairs.
    Kinda like here it comes but we didn’t have anything to do with it, we tried to warn you.

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