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Business News/ News / World/  Antarctica sees first bird flu case, confirms scientists
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Antarctica sees first bird flu case, confirms scientists

Scientists confirm lethal strain of avian influenza on Antarctica mainland, posing threat to penguin colonies. Virus found in dead skua seabirds near Antarctic base Primavera, highlighting the danger to bird populations globally.

TOPSHOT - View of a Barbijo penguin (Pygoscelis antartica) swimming at the Gerlache Strait -which separates the Palmer Archipelago from the Antarctic Peninsula, on January 15, 2024. (Photo by JUAN BARRETO / AFP) (AFP)Premium
TOPSHOT - View of a Barbijo penguin (Pygoscelis antartica) swimming at the Gerlache Strait -which separates the Palmer Archipelago from the Antarctic Peninsula, on January 15, 2024. (Photo by JUAN BARRETO / AFP) (AFP)

Scientists have said the first confirmation of a lethal strain of avian influenza on Antarctica's mainland, posing a potential threat to the extensive penguin colonies in the southern region.

As reported by Reuters, citing Spain's Higher Council for Scientific Investigation (CSIC) said on Sunday, “This discovery demonstrates for the first time that the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza virus has reached Antarctica despite the distance and natural barriers that separate it from other continents."

CSIC further added that the presence of the virus was confirmed on Saturday in samples of dead skua seabirds that were found by Argentine scientists near the Antarctic base Primavera.

Also Read: Bird Flu Outbreak: WHO issues warning after H1N1 strain infects cats in countries. All you need to know

The recent confirmation of a case on the Antarctic peninsula, following instances on nearby islands, including among gentoo penguins, underscores the danger posed to colonies in the area by the H5N1 avian flu.

Moreover, this strain has caused significant declines in bird populations globally in recent months.

“Analysis has conclusively shown that the birds were infected with the H5 subtype of avian influenza and at least one of the dead birds contained the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus," CSIC said in a statement.

Reuters reported that Argentina's Antarctic Institute on Monday said that the South American country had worked with Spanish researchers to test samples from dead birds found earlier in the year near the Argentine base, which confirmed the presence of the virus.

Also Read: Polar bear dies from bird flu in Alaska as H5N1 virus spreads across globe

Hundreds of thousands of penguins gather in tightly packed colonies on the Antarctic continent and nearby islands, which could enable the deadly virus to easily spread.

Data from the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research also showed a now-confirmed case at the research base.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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Published: 27 Feb 2024, 11:17 AM IST
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