US scientists have discovered a new type of influenza in harbour seals which they believe could have affect humans.
162 seals died mysteriously in the New England area of the United States last year. The virus is thought to have evolved from birds – the strain is known as H3N8 influenza A.
Dr Anna Moscona of New York’s Weill Cornell Medical College warned in a new American Society for Microbiology report “There is a concern that we have a new mammalian-transmissible virus to which humans haven’t yet been exposed. It’s a combination we haven’t seen in disease before.”
The flu strain has evolved to live in mammals with the ability to affect humans by entering the respiratory tract.
Few scientists have previously considered the possibility that bird flu could transmit over to seals, which has caused some concern in the scientific community.