BOGOTA-An outbreak of bird flu is causing significant losses in several species of wildlife in Peru.
The H5N1 strain has killed thousands of sea lions and pelicans in protected areas across the country, authorities said.
On Jan. 27, a hundred dead sea lions were found floating in the waters of Isla Asia, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) south of the capital Lima. Some 716 sea lions have been found dead on various beaches around the country. Since November, the virus has killed 63,000 birds, according to government data.
Peru’s agricultural health agency has reported that the disease may be transmitted by migratory birds from North America. Authorities are worried as some of the species that are becoming infected are already considered endangered in the country.
In Peru, there are indications that the disease is spreading among mammals of different species.
Scientists fear that close contact between sea lions and humans increases the chances of the virus being transmitted to people.
Peru’s National Forest and Wildlife Service has urged people to avoid approaching sea lions and sea birds on the beach and to prevent their pets from doing so.
In South America, bird flu cases have been detected in Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and recently in Argentina and Uruguay, where a sanitary emergency has been declared.
The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the virus has been spreading among poultry and wild birds for 25 years, but recently infections have been detected in minks, otters and sea lions, so “they should be closely monitored.” Europe has experienced its worst-ever outbreak of bird flu since 2021, while North and South America have recently been experiencing severe outbreaks.
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