Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sea otters can get the flu, too: Human H1N1 pandemic virus infected Washington State sea otters

Date:
April 8, 2014
Source:
United States Geological Survey
Summary:
Northern sea otters living off the coast of Washington state were infected with the same H1N1 flu virus that caused the world-wide pandemic in 2009, according to a new study. The researchers discovered antibodies for the 2009 H1N1 flu virus in blood samples from 70 percent of the sea otters studied. None of the otters were visibly sick, but the presence of antibodies means that the otters were previously exposed to influenza.

Sea otter. Northern sea otters living off the coast of Washington state were infected with the same H1N1 flu virus that caused the world-wide pandemic in 2009.
Credit: Copyright Michele Hogan

Northern sea otters living off the coast of Washington state were infected with the same H1N1 flu virus that caused the world-wide pandemic in 2009, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.

Related Articles


During an August 2011 health monitoring project, USGS and CDC scientists found evidence that the Washington sea otters were infected with the pandemic 2009 H1N1 virus, although the exact date and source of exposure could not be determined. The findings suggest that human flu can infect sea otters.

"Our study shows that sea otters may be a newly identified animal host of influenza viruses," said Hon Ip, a USGS scientist and co-author of the study.

The researchers discovered antibodies for the 2009 H1N1 flu virus in blood samples from 70 percent of the sea otters studied. None of the otters were visibly sick, but the presence of antibodies means that the otters were previously exposed to influenza. Further tests concluded that the antibodies were specific to the pandemic 2009 H1N1 flu virus, and not from exposure to other human or avian H1N1 viruses.

"We are unsure how these animals became infected," said Zhunan Li, CDC scientist and lead author on the paper. "This population of sea otters lives in a relatively remote environment and rarely comes into contact with humans."

An unrelated 2010 study showed that northern elephant seals sampled off the central California coast had also been infected with the 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus. This elephant seal exposure is the only other known pandemic H1N1 influenza infection in marine mammals, and similar to sea otters, it is unclear how the seals were exposed.

"Our new study identifies sea otters as another marine mammal species that is susceptible to influenza viruses and highlights the complex interspecies transmission of flu viruses in the marine environment," said USGS scientist LeAnn White.

The 2009 H1N1 virus has spread globally among people since 2009 and was the predominant flu virus in circulation during the 2013-2014 flu season. This study is the first time that evidence of influenza infection has been detected in sea otters, although these viruses have previously been found in many different animals, including ducks, chickens, pigs, whales, horses and the elephant seals.

The study is published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases and is available online.

Sea otter sampling was performed by a collaboration of the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, USGS Alaska Science Center, USGS Western Ecological Research Center, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Seattle Aquarium.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by United States Geological Survey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Li Z-N, Ip HS, Trost JF, White CL, Murray MJ, Carney PJ, et al. S. erologic evidence of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus in northern sea otters. Emerg Infect Dis, 2014 May DOI: 10.3201/eid2005.131890

Cite This Page:

United States Geological Survey. "Sea otters can get the flu, too: Human H1N1 pandemic virus infected Washington State sea otters." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140408213619.htm>.
United States Geological Survey. (2014, April 8). Sea otters can get the flu, too: Human H1N1 pandemic virus infected Washington State sea otters. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140408213619.htm
United States Geological Survey. "Sea otters can get the flu, too: Human H1N1 pandemic virus infected Washington State sea otters." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140408213619.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins