PRO/AH/EDR> Avian influenza (140): Europe (Denmark) seal


A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Tue 12 Sep 2023 00:08 CST
Source: Xinhua [edited]

The highly pathogenic bird flu virus H5N1 has recently been detected
at the autopsy of several seals found dead in Danish waters, the
Danish Statens Serum Institut (SSI) said in a press release on Monday
[11 Sep 2023].

The mammals, presumed to have died over a short period, were
discovered in late August [2023] on the water’s edge at Avnoe, a
coastal nature reserve 102 kilometers [63 mi] southwest of the capital
Copenhagen. The University of Copenhagen and the SSI are actively
investigating the discovery.

Tests have been conducted on both the seals and a deceased mute swan
found nearby. Both tested positive for the H5N1 virus, according to
the press release.

Collaborative studies between the University of Copenhagen and the SSI
are underway to closely identify the virus. “Bird flu has caused great
mortality among wild birds since the end of 2020,” senior researcher
Charlotte Hjulsager from the SSI said.

Professor of Virology Lars E. Larsen from the University of Copenhagen
has warned that mutations could make the virus more dangerous. “When
bird flu viruses jump from birds to mammals, we have indications that
viruses mutate so that they become better at infecting mammals,” he
said. Nevertheless, the risk to humans is assessed as low to moderate
by the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC).

Avian influenza has previously been found in mammals in Denmark,
including in 2 harbor seals in 2021 and in 4 foxes in 2022.
Authorities are urging the public to exercise caution and report
findings of dead wild birds via the “Avian Influenza Tip” app.

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