Bird Flu Continues Decimating Mammals
The U.K. National History Museum recently reported sea lions in Peru are among the latest victims of a version of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) known as bird flu.
The HAPI virus has killed about 3,500 South American sea lions in Peru as of March 9, 2023.
The Peruvian government has reported that since November 2022, around 3% of the country's sea lions have died due to HPAI infections.
Peru, like many South American countries, believes HAPI was brought south by pelicans before jumping into the marine mammals.
In the Northern Hemisphere, Canada and the United States have reported multiple mammalian fatalities related to bird flu infections.
The United States Department of Agriculture and the World Animal Health Information System reported during March 2023, over 131 HAPI H5N1 detections of wild striped skunks, black bears, raccoons, and red foxes.
- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife received confirmation on February 15, 2023, that an adult bobcat died from the Eurasian strain of HPAI H5N1.
- The Colorado Parks and Wildlife confirmed on February 9, 2023, several cases of HPAI in free-ranging wildlife (black bear, skunk, mountain lion).
- The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks confirmed on January 17, 2023, three juvenile grizzly bears tested positive for HAPI.
While there are no vaccines that protect birds or mammals from H5N1 infections, there are bird flu vaccines for humans.
In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration authorized CSL Seqirus' Audenz™ vaccine on January 31, 2020, and RAPIVAB® in 2022.
And the U.S. government has financially supported the development of newer bird flu vaccines for people.
Furthermore, the government reminds everyone that annual flu shots are effective against certain types of influenza, but they are not effective against bord flu viruses.