Officials: Large number of seal deaths linked to bird flu in Maine

PORTLAND, Maine — A large number of seal deaths in Maine have been linked to bird flu, according to the federal government.

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The Associated Press said that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed that four seals that died in Maine tested positive for the avian influenza, also known as bird flu.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told the AP that all four of the seals either died or required the use of euthanasia. The amount of dead seals this summer has been three times the normal rate. So far this summer, 60 seals have died in Maine, according the AP.

Most of the dead seals have included gray and harbor seals. According to the AP, NOAA said that people and pets should never go near seals, dead or alive, and contact authoirties to let them know they have located a stranded animal.

The USDA contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Maine’s animal and public health officials about the seal deaths, stating that the deaths came after a bird flu outbreak, which started with the deaths of millions of chickens and turkeys on farms, according to the AP.

There has also been a concern with hundreds of birds washing up dead on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, alarming officials about a possible bird flu outbreak, said the AP.

According to the AP, the virus is “capable of jumping to mammals,” but humans rarely are affected by the virus. The source of the bird flu outbreak among the seals in Maine is continuing to be investigated.