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For the First Time, Penguins Are Found with Bird Flu Virus

The penguins don’t appear to be sickened.

Adelie penguins

Adelie penguins. Adelie penguins at Cape Adare in Ross Sea, Antarctica.Image credit: Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia Commons.

The assumption that Adélie penguins could be infected with the flu has been confirmed by the latest research. It demonstrates that three percent of the birds living in Antarctica can harbor previously unknown influenza viruses. However, people need not to be worried too much about it, because no Adelie penguins have been found to suffer any bad impacts from such virus.

In order to identify the pathogens, the scientists were engaged in swabbing the throats and other cavities of these penguins. Actually they found the first avian influenza viruses in the penguins of Antarctica. They also found that influenza can take place even in the most remote parts of the planet. In fact, penguins might be infected with such viruses, which was contrary to the previously thought.

Up to now, the reason why the viruses exist in the continent is still clearly unknown. One possibility is that Arctic terns or South Polar skuaihave, which migrates long distances, might bring it to the continent between 50 and 80 years ago.

According to new finding, the way in which it passed between the birds could be largely related to the large amount of penguin feces in colonies during summer, which is presumably thought to assist the viral transmission by the fecal-oral route. In some cases the amount of penguin feces is so large that it could be seen on satellite images.

Source: NPR.

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