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Scientists Pinpoint Virus That's Killed Seals

This article is more than 7 years old.

Scientists have pinpointed the influenza virus that's killed high numbers of harbor seals.

Researchers say a virus similar to one common in wild birds, H3N8, has been identified as the cause of death in the five seals tested so far. It has never been found in seals before.

While it appears to have low risk of transmission to humans, Dr. Catherine Brown, of the state Public Health Department, warns that when you see a stranded seal, "it's very important that members of the public stay away from these mammals and keep their pets away."

More tests are being done on other seals to see if this flu virus is responsible for the broader death rate of seals this fall.

This program aired on December 20, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Delores Handy Twitter Reporter
Delores Handy was formerly a host and reporter at WBUR.

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