Canadian Poultry Magazine

HPAI believed to be killing seals in Quebec

By The Canadian Press   

News Disease watch H5N1

Disease detected in at least two seal species.

Quebec researchers say avian flu has been detected in at least two seal species and the virus could be to blame for an unusually high number of dead seals being found on the province’s shores.

A marine mammal research group reports that about 100 harbour seal carcasses have been found since January along the St. Lawrence River in eastern Quebec, almost six time more than in an average year.

Stephane Lair, a professor of veterinary medicine at Universite de Montreal, said today about 15 of the dead harbour seals have tested positive for the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu, and a first case was detected last week in a grey seal.


Lair says the seals most likely came in contact with carcasses of infected eider ducks when they came ashore to give birth at the beginning of the summer.

Jean-Francois Gosselin, a biologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, says these are the first reported cases of the virus being passed from wild birds to marine mammals in Quebec.

He says that while the department is monitoring the situation, there is no threat of transmission to humans or of endangering the seal population.

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