Seal Flu Virus Concerns Scientists
Scientists have identified a new strain of influenza in harbor seals that could potentially impact human and animal health. The H3N8 flu has been associated with the deaths of harbor seals in New England last year. Researchers say the virus may have evolved from a type that had been circulating in North American birds since 2002. They say the discovery highlights the potential for pandemic flu to emerge from unexpected sources.
One of authors of the research paper published in mBio, the open access online journal of the American Society for Microbiology, is Columbia University professor Ian Lipkin, a celebrated virus hunter who in the past has helped identify West Nile virus and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). He told the BBC that finding this flu virus in seals was an interesting “new jump”.