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Sweden: H5N1 in a porpoise

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  • Sweden: H5N1 in a porpoise


    August 31, 2022
    World's first case of bird flu in porpoise: Sweden

    A porpoise found stranded on a Swedish beach in June died of bird flu, the first time the virus has been detected in a porpoise, Sweden's National Veterinary Institute said Wednesday.

    "As far as we know this is the first confirmed case in the world of bird flu in a porpoise," veterinarian Elina Thorsson said in a statement.

    "It is likely that the porpoise somehow came into contact with infected birds," she said.

    The young male was found stranded, alive, on a beach in western Sweden in late June. Despite efforts from the public to get it to swim out to deeper waters, it was suffering from exhaustion and died the same evening.

    The bird flu virus, H5N1, was found in several of its organs...

  • #2
    Translation Google

    News First case of bird flu confirmed in porpoises

    The first finding of bird flu in a porpoise has been confirmed at SVA. The image depicts a different porpoise at a different autopsy time than the one described in the press release. Photo: Rodrigo Ferrada Stoehrel/SVA.
    First case of bird flu confirmed in porpoises

    Last updated: 2022-08-31

    The Norwegian Veterinary Institute (SVA) has confirmed the first finding of avian influenza virus in a porpoise. The analysis shows that the porpoise died as a result of the same virus that was behind this summer's extensive bird flu outbreak among wild birds.

    The young male porpoise stranded alive in Kämpersvik, in Tanum municipality, Västra Götaland 28 June 2022. Despite repeated attempts by private individuals to get it to swim out to deeper water again, it was too exhausted, got tangled in seaweed and died later in the evening. The porpoise was transported to SVA for an autopsy. The analysis now shows that bird flu virus was found in several organs and that the virus had caused brain and meningitis. The findings confirm that the bird flu virus was the cause of death.

    - As far as we know, this is the first confirmed case in the world of bird flu in a porpoise. Unlike seals, where disease outbreaks caused by influenza viruses have been repeatedly demonstrated, there are only isolated reports of influenza viruses in cetaceans. It is likely that the porpoise somehow came into contact with infected birds, says Elina Thorsson, game veterinarian at SVA.

    The same virus that is behind the big outbreak

    The virus, H5N1, is the same virus that was also behind the extensive bird flu outbreak that is still ongoing among wild birds in Sweden, other parts of Europe and in North America. How the porpoise from Kämpersvik was infected is still unknown, but it was found at the same time as bird flu was causing high mortality among seabirds, especially gannets, on the west coast.

    - It is an unusual find, and interesting because we get the opportunity to learn more about the virus. At the same time, this is about an individual case, and we have not seen any increased mortality among porpoises. We know that there is a risk that marine mammals can become infected, and have therefore included sampling for influenza in our surveillance program, says Elina Thorsson.

    Monitoring of marine mammals

    SVA examines stranded porpoises, other cetaceans and seals, in collaboration with the National Museum of Natural History. The aim is to find out how the animals are doing and what diseases and other threats they suffer from. In the long run, changes within populations, species and ecosystems can be detected. The work is carried out with support from Swedish environmental monitoring on behalf of the Swedish Maritime and Water Authority. Porpoises belong to the state's game and must be reported to the police if they are found dead.

    Low risk of infection to humans

    The risk of humans being infected with the variant of bird flu that is now circulating among wild birds is considered to be small.

    Occasional cases of infection in other mammals

    During the ongoing bird flu outbreak in Europe and North America, in addition to large numbers of dead wild birds, a smaller number of mammals have also been infected and died. The route of infection is suspected to be through close contact with infected birds. Single cases have been detected in red foxes, otters, lynxes and skunks. An increased mortality in both harbor seals and gray seals has been seen in connection with the outbreak in North America, but in Sweden there have been no increased reports of dead seals during the summer.


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    • #3
      bump this


      • #4

        Volume 29, Number 4—April 2023
        Research Letter
        Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A(H5N1) Virus in a Harbor Porpoise, Sweden
        Elina Thorsson, Siamak Zohari, Anna Roos, Fereshteh Banihashem, Caroline Bröjer, and Aleksija NeimanisComments to Author
        Author affiliations: National Veterinary Institute (SVA), Uppsala, Sweden (E. Thorsson, S. Zohari, F. Banihashem, C. Bröjer, A. Neimanis); Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, Sweden (A. Roos)


        We found highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N1) virus clade associated with meningoencephalitis in a stranded harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). The virus was closely related to strains responsible for a concurrent avian influenza outbreak in wild birds. This case highlights the potential risk for virus spillover to mammalian hosts...