Quebec Standard

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Avian flu may be slaying Quebec harbor seals, scientists say

Quebec

Key takeaways: 

  • Diseases would be 1st known case of transmission from wild birds to aquatic mammals in Canada.
  • So far, 12 harbor seals in Quebec have tested positive for H5N1, also understood as the avian flu.
  • It would be the first known case in Canada of bird-to-marine-mammal transfer.

Months after avian flu was first seen in Quebec’s birds, it’s now impacting a new population: seals.

Quebec scientists state they’ve seen traces of avian flu in dead harbor seals washing ashore in the St. Lawrence estuary, a 250-kilometer-long ecosystem that varies from just north of Quebec City to the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Stéphane Lair, the Quebec provincial director with the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre and a wildlife health expert at the Université de Montréal, said they had seen a hike in harbor seal mortalities this season to last years.

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Months after avian flu was first seen in Quebec’s birds, it’s now impacting a new population: seals

“This week, we got some initial results that indicate that this virus is likely the reason,” he explained.

So far, he stated that 12 seals have tested positive for H5N1. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is now validating the results.

According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, it would be the first known case in Canada of H5N1 being given from North American wild birds to aquatic mammals.

Source – CBC News

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