ALERT: Dolphin Death in US Raises Concerns About Avian Flu Transmission 

United States: The most recent report unveils a distressing development in mammalian victims of avian influenza, with a bottlenose dolphin succumbing to the virus. 

Further Details on the Discovery 

Researchers from the University of Florida disclosed that the dolphin’s infection with the avian influenza virus was identified when the animal displayed visible signs of distress. Postmortem examination confirmed a high level of infection by the lethal strain of the virus, as reported by Dailymail. 

The investigation into the virus itself revealed that it had affected the dolphin’s brain and lungs, showing resistance to current treatment drugs and potentially becoming even more resistant. 

Dolphin Death in US Raises Concerns About Avian Flu Transmission. Credit | NOAA
Dolphin Death in US Raises Concerns About Avian Flu Transmission. Credit | NOAA

The timeline of events began in late 2021 and has continued into recent days, with wild birds and poultry in the US being primary targets of the rapidly spreading and highly contagious avian influenza viruses. However, the disease has recently expanded its reach to include cows, sheep, and bulls, allowing it to infect their body cells. 

Further Insights from the Dolphin’s Necropsy 

During the necropsy of the dolphin, researchers identified inflammation in a specific area of the brain or spinal cord. 

Subsequent tests on the dolphin, which initially showed no signs of infections or diseases causing this specific inflammation, revealed the presence of the avian influenza antigen with RNA in its brain and lungs. 

To be more precise, dolphin has been infected by a new strain of the avian influenza A (H5N1) which has been previously classified as the 2.3.4.4b H5, as Dailymail reported. 

They found that the strain of the virus was present in the brain and the lungs. But, most of it was in the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord

In recent years, this particular form of bird flu caused by the 2.3.4.4b A(H5N1) group has been found to kill sea lions in Peru and Chile as well as Harbor and gray seals in New England and Canada. 

Moreover, as per the experts, it is not very common for bird flu virus to affect seals or sea lions. 

The 2.3.4.4b A(H5N1) avian virus has been observed to have a pattern of increased cases among the cetaceans, according to the scientists’ surveys. 

Instances have been recorded in common dolphins captured in Peru, Wales, and England, two harbor porpoises in Sweden and England, and an Atlantic white-sided dolphin off the Canadian coast.