First there was swine flu. Now, while everyone’s attention is on another Ebola outbreak there may be seal flu.
In the wake of a pneumonia outbreak that killed 162 harbor seals in New England last year, researchers are blaming the deaths on an avian flu virus.
The virus is similar to one circulating in North American birds since 2002 but shows signs of having recently adapted to mammals, according to according to Ian Lipkin, MD, of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City and colleagues.
The outbreak is “particularly significant,” they wrote, because the virus has naturally acquired mutations that may make it a candidate to cause disease in humans.