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Friday, May 24, 2024
Friday May 24, 2024
Friday May 24, 2024

“Polar Bear falls victim to Bird flu in unprecedented outbreak spread”

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In a startling turn of events in Utqiagvik, Alaska, a polar bear has fallen prey to the bird flu, marking the first recorded case within this magnificent species.

Amidst the global outbreak, this northern region grapples with an alarming surge in cases among various wildlife. Surprisingly, the H5N1 flu strain has not only affected birds but also struck dolphins, porpoises, seals, foxes, and otters across the UK and beyond.

Alaska’s veterinarian, speaking about the rarity of the incident, noted, “This is the first reported polar bear case, anywhere.” The tragic loss of this bear, listed under the US Endangered Species Act and deemed vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, sparks concern.

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Polar bears face threats from climate change-induced habitat loss, impacting their hunting grounds due to diminishing sea ice. As apex predators, they regulate the Arctic food chain by preying on seals, crucial for maintaining fish numbers and ecosystem balance.

But the changing landscape has pushed polar bears to seek alternative food sources, possibly leading to the infected bear consuming a bird carrying the disease, explained by the veterinarian: “If a bird dies of this, especially in a cold environment, the virus can linger.”

This outbreak’s severity, affecting diverse animals, signifies unprecedented challenges. Dr. Andy Ramey, a wildlife geneticist, highlighted the uncharted territory: “We’re dealing with a scenario we haven’t faced before.” Unlike previous outbreaks primarily affecting domestic poultry, this strain has devastatingly impacted global wildlife.

The impact extends beyond birds; even squirrels in Arizona have succumbed to this aggressive avian influenza spread. Dr. Ramey stressed the widespread effects, stating, “Thousands of wild birds, tens of thousands in some cases, are dying due to these highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses.”

As worries mount over the virus’s impact on polar bears, uncertainty looms regarding its potential repercussions within this species. The reach and impact of the bird flu remain unpredictable, echoing concerns in the scientific community.

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