Avian flu kills almost 9,000 marine animals in Chile – 05/25/2023 – Science
Nearly 9,000 fur seals, Humboldt penguins, sea otters, smaller cetaceans and a huillín have died so far this year from the avian flu that is severely affecting Chile’s northern coast.
Data from the National Fisheries Service (Sernapesca), released this Thursday (25), show that the disease —which managed to be transmitted to marine mammals— is present in 12 of the 16 regions of the country.
The last species affected is the huillín, a type of otter that is also a marine mammal, which ran aground in the Magallanes region, the southernmost region of the country.
“Once a new species and region is confirmed, active surveillance protocols on the coast are activated, coordinating the burial of stranded animals with the responsible authorities, thus seeking to prevent the spread of the virus”, said Sernapesca’s acting national director, Esteban Donoso.
So far, in total, “7,654 specimens of fur seals, 1,186 Humboldt penguins, 25 sea otters, 19 porpoises, 12 Chilean dolphins and 1 huillín stranded dead on the country’s coasts have been recorded,” reported Sernageomin ( National Service of Geology and Mining) in a statement.
The northern coasts of the country are the most affected. Last weekend, on the beaches of the Chañaral region, more than 227 fur seals and 45 Humboldt penguins were found dead.
At the end of March, Chile reported the first case of avian influenza in humans: a 53-year-old man who had “severe” influenza.
According to Chilean health authorities, there is no person-to-person transmission. Humans only get avian flu from contact with sick animals.
The country also detected the virus in wild birds.