Bird flu may have killed up to 3,500 sea lions in Peru
Peruvian authorities examine a dead otter on Chepeconde Beach, Lima, amid rising cases of avian flu.
An epidemic of bird flu, responsible for the death of tens of thousands of birds, could have decimated up to 3,500 sea lions in Peru, according to the environmental authority which lists the decimated specimens.
Wearing face masks and biosafety suits, biologists took nasal and oral swabs on Friday from corpses of sea lions stranded on the beach in the Paracas Nature Reserve, some 270 km north south of Lima.
These members of the National Service of Natural Areas Protected by the State (SERNANP) inserted long swabs into the nostril of the still recent corpse of this maned sea lion – Otaria flavescens, also called lion of South American Sea –, to confirm death from H5N1 flu.
SERNANP identifies sea lions affected by avian flu and continues its monitoring and control plan for protected natural areas , the agency said in a statement, which counted 3,487 dead maned sea lions in seven natural areas on the Pacific coast.
According to statistics from the authority that depends on the Ministry of the Environment, these deaths represent just over 3% of the 105,000 sea lions recorded on Peruvian territory.
Some 63,000 seabirds were reported dead from bird flu in Peru between November 2022 and March this year.
SERNANP urged people to avoid any type of contact with sea lions and seabirds.
Bird flu is a disease that has no cure or treatment and causes high mortality in wild and domestic birds , such as ducks, hens, chickens and turkeys.
In December, health authorities culled some 37,000 poultry at a breeding farm.
According to SERNANP, in addition to Peru, the bird flu virus has been detected in Bolivia, Uruguay and Argentina.
Probable case come t to be reported in northern Chile.