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Alaska Beat

Atlantic seals may have Bird Flu, but Alaska mystery illness still unnamed

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published August 1, 2012

The increase of Alaska walruses and seals suffering from a mysterious, lesion-causing illness has not yet been understood, but there is some potentially helpful news from East Coast researchers.

Scientists in New England recently found the cause of the Atlantic Ocean's version of the mystery illness. On Wednesday, KNOM reported the published results. Atlantic harbor seals, it turns out, are suffering from a strain of the infamous Bird Flu.

KNOM reports, H3N8 has been fingered as the responsible party for more than 160 East Coast harbor seal deaths between September and December of last year. The seals in New England, like the ones in Alaska, displayed strange skin lesions and symptoms of severe pneumonia. However, H3N8 is not the virus causing Alaska's pinnipeds and their cousins to become sick, according to state biologists. The jury is still out on what exactly is.

To read more about New England's seals visit KNOM here. For more on the history of the mystery illness in the Alaskan mammals click here.

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