- Fossin scattering or VAT virus was once observed only in waters outside Europe and eastern North America.
- The disease appeared in Pacific otters in 2004.
- The researchers wanted to understand how the pathogen reaches the North Pacific.
Arctic Sea melting ice can help a deadly virus spread to marine mammals.
Fossin plague virus, or PDV, is responsible for the killing of thousands of seals in European ports in the North Atlantic Ocean in 2002. In 2004, a pathogen that was only found in Europe and the eastern coast of North America appeared in the Northern Alaska Sea Islands according to a newspaper report from the University of California, Davis.
The question of how PDV rolled up in the North Pacific led to a 1
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As sea ice melts due to climate change, new avenues are opened allowing contact between Arctic and Subarctic seals who have never met each other, according to a UC Davis release.
"The loss of sea ice is leading marine wildlife to seek and feed on new habitats and remove this physical barrier, allowing them to move new paths," says Tracy Goldstein, author of study and associate director of the Institute of Health at Davis University School of Medicine, UC Medicine. "As animals move in and come into contact with other species, they carry opportunities to introduce and transmit a new infectious disease with potentially devastating effects."
Goldstein and her team analyzed 15 years of studies and records of biological samples taken from 2500 marine mammals and the bodies of 165 dead. Species included bearded seals, ribbons, speckled seals, ringed seals, northern leather seals, Steller's sea lions and northern sea otters.
In one case, the record iceberg in August 2002 was followed by the widespread distribution of VAT in the North Pacific Ocean Steller sea lions in 2003 and 2004. reported CBS News. During these years, more than 30% of the animals tested positive for the virus.
With extinct ice, animals can more easily cross the Atlantic into the Pacific via the Arctic Circle . Goldstein told National Geographic that the added stress of having to feed farther on food can weaken the animal's immune system, making them easier targets for disease.
"They travel further in search of food. This will affect overall health and make them more susceptible to disease, "she said.
Symptoms of VAT include difficulty in breathing, expulsion from the nose and eyes, fever in marine mammals, chaotic swimming. These symptoms are similar to those caused by canine disturbance in dogs.
"As sea ice continues its melting tendency, opportunities for this virus and other pathogens to pass between mammals from the North Atlantic and North Pacific may become more common," said Elizabeth Van Wormer, the first author of the study.