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Bird Flu Is Infecting More Mammals. What Does That Mean for Us?

·1 min

In her three decades of working with elephant seals, a wildlife health expert witnessed a devastating scene on the beaches of Argentina’s Valdés Peninsula. During peak breeding season, the beach should have been filled with seals, but instead, there were carcasses strewn across the shore. The cause was the H5N1 bird flu virus, which had already claimed the lives of thousands of South American sea lions. The virus went on to kill over 95% of the seal pups, leaving a devastating toll on the colony. The virus later spread to North America, including the United States, Mexico, and Colombia. It eventually reached Peru, causing widespread deaths among pelicans and sea lions, before spreading further into Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and even the Antarctic region.