First known case of bird flu in a porpoise

A porpoise who died on a Swedish beach in June succumbed to avian flu, in the first case identified in this type of cetacean in the world, announced the Veterinary Institute of Sweden on Wednesday August 30.

To our knowledge, this is the first confirmed case in the world of avian influenza in a porpoise.said veterinary officer Elina Thorsson in a statement. “It is likely that the porpoise somehow came into contact with infected birds“, she explained.

At the end of June, the young male was found stranded, still alive, on the west coast of Sweden. Despite attempts by onlookers to bring him back to deeper waters, he suffered from exhaustion and died the same evening. The bird flu virus, H5N1, was found in several of his organs, according to the veterinary institute.

Unlike seals, where illnesses linked to avian viruses have been detected on numerous occasions, there are only a handful of reported cases of influenza viruses in cetaceans.“, underlined Elina Thorsson.

Bird flu has already been detected in other mammals, including red foxes, otters, lynxes and polecats, according to the Swedish institute. Europe and North America are currently facing a vast epidemic of bird flu among wild birds, also contaminating many farms.

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