A polar bear dies from bird flu in Alaska, and this has never happened before

A polar bear dies from bird flu in Alaska, and this has never happened before

The animal was found dead last October in the northern US state. This is the first time this species has been fatally affected.

Avian influenza virus has been affecting wild animals in North America for two years. for the first time, Polar bear dies from infection in Alaskastated to divide Alaska Environmental Conservation. Death on the North Slope of America, The animal was affected by the H5N1 strainbased on analysis of tissue collected on October 1, 2023.

His case was reported to the World Organization for Animal Health, and has drawn the attention of other Arctic countries where polar bears live. Alaska bacon Dr. Bob. Gerlach, Alaska state veterinarian.

This death is important. This species is already threatened with extinction : It is listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, mainly due to the loss of sea ice, reports the daily. Watchman.

His food was going to kill him

Thousands of cases of highly contagious bird flu The ministry said that it was recorded in 2022 in the United States in wild birds and domestic poultry. US stocks are the same as in Europe.

Waterfowl immigrant They are the main transmitters of the virus. While most of them move south during the winter, others Stay in Alaska They still carry the virus.

It is likely that The bear ate one of these infected birds, even if the species feeds more on seals, according to the expert's estimates. Another possibility: The mammals could have been infected with the virus directly, without touching the bird. “If a bird dies, especially if it has been kept in a cold environment, The virus can remain for a period of time in the environment”Indicates.

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From bird flu to animal flu

Until now, Wild bird infection Don't worry. This is the case now. Some species live only in these cold regionsAnd you don't have it Never been exposed For the virus. What makes them special exhibition.

It's also a domino effect. Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2021, Other wildlife species have been affected across the Atlantic as well fox seal, Brown bearBlack bear and puma. recent months, Hundreds of elephant seals died. Mortality has also been recorded in populations of fur seals, kelp gulls and brown hawksbills.

Asked before WatchmanDiana Bell, emeritus professor of conservation biology at the University of East Anglia, was not surprised by the news of the polar bear's death. “(…) In the last years, The list of mammals killed has become enormous. “It has killed a lot of predatory mammals and scavengers, and is no longer just a problem for poultry.”

“When it comes to a large, charismatic species like the polar bear, people suddenly sit up and listen — or at least I hope they do. We have Biodiversity pandemic It was called H5N1 because it killed many birds and mammals.

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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