Catastrophic Mortality of Elephant Seals in Argentina Identified as Outbreak of Avian Influenza
The outbreak in a new species raises concerns for elephant seal conservation and cross-species transmission, including potentially to humans
The first reported outbreak of high pathogenicity H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI) in elephant seals has been identified by researchers in Argentina. The outbreak caused extreme mortality, with a 70% mortality rate in pups born in the 2023 breeding season, according to research co-led by the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center at the School of Veterinary Medicine and published in Marine Mammal Science. The mortality rate reached at least 96% by early November 2023, in the surveyed areas at Península Valdés (PV) in Argentina.