The Arctic seals struck by a mysterious disease

A mysterious illness affecting and killing of seals in the Arctic in July along the coast of Alaska, Canada and Russia, said the Office of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries (NMFS).

Ringed seals, ringed seals and are most affected by the disease, said NMFS, working with an international team of scientists to try to determine the cause of this disease.

At least one hundred seven cases of ringed seals suffering from this condition were counted in July on the coast of Alaska. One hundred of these animals had apparently lesions on the skin, and nearly half were found dead or died shortly after being found.
Bacteria, virus, fungus ... ?

Similar cases in seals have been reported in Russia and Canada, as well as in walruses in Alaska. Earlier in October, European scientists have found similar symptoms in seals from Greenland.

It is not yet known whether several species of pinnipeds (family grouping seals, sea lions and walruses) are affected by the same infectious agent or chemical or not.

Although abnormal loss of hair in ringed seals are the subject of research for many years, hunters and scientists began to observe more disturbing symptoms of the disease in these animals as well as a growing number of dead since the beginning the summer.

The dead seals all showed significant losses of hair, failure to moult and skin ulcers and lesions in their major lymphatic system, lungs, liver and heart. Some of the seals found before they die were lethargic and could barely breathe.

Laboratory tests have not been conclusive in determining the cause of the disease. An international group of researchers continues to test a wide range of possible factors, including bacteria, viruses, fungi or toxins. •