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Peruvian sea lions are suffering from bird flu, also known as H5N1. The disease has spread across multiple species in Peru, including birds and sea lions. An initial outbreak among birds was first reported late last year, and since then, thousands of birds and aquatic mammals have died of the disease in protected areas across Peru. Read on for more information about why Peruvian sea lions are contracting bird flu.
What is bird flu?
Bird flu, which is also known as avian influenza, is an infection that spreads among birds and can also affect humans and other animals. The symptoms of bird flu are similar to normal flu such as runny nose, sore throat and fever.
Bird flu viruses can infect the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract of birds and have been identified from more than 100 different species of wild birds around the world. This H5N1 strain of bird flu has been responsible for many outbreaks in recent years, including the current one in Peru. This strain is highly contagious and can be transmitted from birds to mammals, aquatic animals, and humans.
Why are Peruvian sea lions getting bird flu?
It is unclear why Peruvian sea lions are getting bird flu, as cases of sea lions being infected with the disease have been almost unheard of in Peru until now. The initial outbreak was first reported in November of last year among birds, and researchers have kept tabs on it as it has moved from species to species.
Sea lions and other aquatic animals in Peru often congregate in large groups, which makes it easier for transmissible diseases like this to spread rapidly. Potential recovery efforts by researchers in the country could include separating a colony of healthy sea lions from the rest of the population.
How many sea lions have been affected?
So far this month, Peru has recorded nearly 3,500 cases of sea lions dying from bird flu, which is extremely concerning considering that the estimated population of the species is only around 110,000. That means that over 3% of the estimated population of the species has died from the flu this month.
Is bird flu affecting other marine life?
Bird flu has decimated marine creatures on Peru’s Pacific coastline, including primarily sea lions but also dolphins and fur seals. Scientists worry that the avian flu may be spreading from mammal to mammal, as a dolphin and five fur seals have also been reported dead from the illness. The bird flu obviously primarily affects birds, and over 60,000 dead sea birds have been counted in Peru over the last few months.
Scientists are currently worried that, if this strain of the bird flu was tenacious enough to move from birds to sea lions and other aquatic mammals, it could potentially move to other land mammals and people. In February of this year, the World Health Organization warned that there could potentially be an outbreak of the bird flu among humans this year.