Polar Bear dies from bird flu in Alaska
A Polar Bear in Alaska has become the first of its species to reportedly die from Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI; bird flu).
It's believed that the animal had been feasting on carcasses of dead birds that had contracted the disease, State Veterinarian Dr Bob Gerlach told the Alaska Beacon that its body was discovered in Alaska's North Slope Borough, near Utqiagvik, in October. The death marks the first of its kind worldwide.
The Polar Bear contracted bird flu after consuming the carcass of a dead bird (A Weith).
Speaking to the newspaper, the official said: "This is the first Polar Bear case reported, for anywhere." He subsequently reported the death to the World Organisation for Animal Health. He added that the case has received attention in other Arctic nations with Polar Bear populations.
Officials tested the animal's remains on 6 December 2023 and confirmed it had contracted the virus the same day. Other species in the state have also died from the disease, including Red Fox and Brown Bear, according to data from the state veterinarian's office.
The disease was first detected in the US in January 2022.