First US case of bird flu in a Florida dolphin rings ‘catastrophe’ bells

“Highly pathogenic” avian (bird) flu was found in a Florida dolphin for the first time, as per a study.

The highly pathogenic avian influenza virus, or HPAIV, was first detected in a cetacean in North America in this dolphin, according to Newsweek.

Researchers from the University of Florida published a report about this finding in the online journal Communications Biology.

The study looked at the initial detection of HPAIV in a cetacean by marine rescue teams, the diagnosis of the virus, and the samples discovered after a postmortem examination.

According to the report, scientists worry that a bird flu outbreak “could be catastrophic” for cetaceans.

This dolphin became stranded in a Dixie County canal and was initially seen “in distress” in March 2022.

The animal was attempted to be rescued, but it passed away soon after a rescue crew arrived. It was shipped to the University of Florida, packaged in ice.

Scientists did not yet suspect avian flu, but the postmortem revealed a number of serious health issues, including leptomeninges disease and brain inflammation.

“Upon further analysis, they discovered symptoms similar to those in other Florida wildlife that had been infected with the virus. Birds found with the flu also had brain inflammation,” the study said.

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