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An uncommon variety of seals have gotten stranded and dying off Maine this summerand avian influenza is responsible, the federal authorities stated Tuesday.
The US Division of Agriculture has confirmed that samples from 4 Maine seals examined constructive for the virus. The animals all died or required euthanasia, the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated.
Marine mammal rescuers began to note an unusually excessive variety of seal strandings in June, after which the USDA carried out the checks, NOAA stated in a press release. The speed of useless seal strandings in Maine is about 3 times the traditional fee for the summer time and is near 60, the company stated.
The USDA is notifying the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention and state animal and public well being officers in regards to the deaths, which got here after a fowl flu outbreak that led to the deaths of tens of hundreds of thousands of chickens and turkeys on farms. The virus is capable of jumping to mammals, although it hardly ever impacts people.
It isn’t the primary occasion of fowl flu leaping to marine mammals reminiscent of seals, however the federal authorities is monitoring the deaths carefully nonetheless, stated Allison Ferreira, a NOAA spokesperson.
“There’s a nationwide outbreak of avian flu taking place, in order that was the reason for concern for these animals,” Ferreira stated.
Many of the seals which were based stranded in Maine this summer time have been useless, NOAA stated. The useless seals have included grey seals and harbor seals.
The well being threat “posed by avian flu to most of the people is low; nonetheless, precautions are beneficial,” NOAA’s assertion stated. The company stated individuals and pets ought to by no means strategy seals, and will contact authorities in the event that they discover an animal they consider is stranded.
Elsewhere in New England, tons of of birds have washed up useless on Martha’s Winery, and native officers have sounded the alarm a few potential fowl flu outbreak.
The supply of the outbreak amongst seals remains to be being investigated.
Marine Mammals of Maine, a rescue group, that it has responded to 40 stranded seals since June 1. Katy Inexperienced, a spokesperson for the group, stated it’s “conscious of this evolving scenario” and dealing with NOAA on it.
Grey seals and harbor seals are plentiful off New England, the place they’re beloved by wildlife watchers and typically bemoaned by fishermen. Nonetheless, the fowl flu deaths do not characterize the primary time they’ve died off at an alarming fee.
NOAA declared an “uncommon mortality occasion” for the seals after greater than 2,700 of them stranded off Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts from July 2018 to March 2020. Feds attributed these deaths to phocine distemper virus. That virus doesn’t affect people.