(ORDO NEWS) — Numerous terrestrial and marine mammals have been found infected with avian influenza in the largest outbreak of avian influenza ever recorded in Europe.
A dolphin in Florida and a porpoise in Sweden have been infected with the H5N1 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), the first reported case, local researchers have confirmed in recent weeks, as avian influenza continues to spread in both birds and mammals across Europe and northern Europe. America.
University of Florida researchers have confirmed that a bottlenose dolphin found dead in Florida’s Dixie County was infected with bird flu.
“Obviously, the presence of HPAIV is a concern, but the main takeaway for us is that extra caution is needed for those who work with or encounter wild dolphins during rescue or necropsy procedures,” said Mike Walsh, MD. in Veterinary Medicine, Clinical Associate Professor, UF College of Veterinary Medicine.
Richard Webby, Ph.D., director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for the Ecology of Influenza in Animals and Avians at St. Mammalian Cases,” it does not currently contain the features necessary for transmission between humans and other mammals.
Webby added that the discovery of avian flu in a porpoise in Sweden “almost certainly suggests” that the infected dolphin in Florida was not “an isolated, unique case.”
In late August, the Swedish National Veterinary Institute reported that a porpoise had been found stranded at Kempersvik in southern Sweden, and after repeated attempts to get it to swim back into deep water, it was too malnourished and eventually died within a day. An autopsy revealed that the porpoise had been infected with H5N1 avian influenza.
“Unlike seals, where outbreaks of influenza viruses have been repeatedly demonstrated, there are only a few reports of influenza viruses in cetaceans (a subcategory of aquatic mammals that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises).
It is likely that the harbor porpoise is somehow came into contact with infected birds,” says Elina Thorsson, a play veterinarian at the National Veterinary Institute.
“Unlike seals, where outbreaks of influenza viruses have been repeatedly demonstrated, there are only a few reports of influenza viruses in cetaceans (a subcategory of aquatic mammals that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises). It is likely that the harbor porpoise is somehow been in contact with infected birds.”
Avian influenza increasingly affects mammals
In the past year, avian influenza has increasingly affected mammals, although experts estimate the risk to humans remains low. The current outbreak has only infected one person in the US and one person in the UK. Both had mild symptoms and made a full recovery.
In July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared an “Unusual Mortality Event” after more than 150 seals were found sick or dead in Maine, many of them confirmed to be infected with H5N1.
More than 250 stranded seals have been found in Maine since June, as of Aug. 28, according to NOAA. Last year also saw numerous cases of bird flu in wild foxes, bears, raccoons, skunks and other mammals.
The current avian flu season is the “biggest ever”
The 2021-2022 avian influenza season was “the largest on record in Europe” with more than 5,300 cases of avian influenza reported in domestic, captive and wild birds, according to a June report from the European Food Safety Authority.
The FDA has warned that the persistence of the virus in wild birds may indicate that the flu has become endemic in Europe.
Financial firm CoBank said on Wednesday that the shock to domestic markets in the US during the current outbreak was larger than the last US outbreak in 2014-15, with egg prices nearly tripling and turkey breast prices – by 60%.
CoBank predicts that price cuts will take longer this time compared to the last outbreak due to a number of factors, including high labor and feed costs.
More than 43 million poultry in 39 states have been culled or died due to the virus, according to the latest figures from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Hundreds of cases have also been confirmed among wild birds.
In Canada, more than 2.1 million birds across the country have been affected by the outbreak, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Public health officials fear that the autumn migration of birds will lead to another surge in cases, and officials around the world, including in Israel, are already preparing for a variety of possible options.
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