A deadly virus is spreading in marine mammals. Scientists say climate change is to blame.

  
Via:  perrie-halpern  •  6 days ago  •  37 comments

By:   Denise Chow

A deadly virus is spreading in marine mammals. Scientists say climate change is to blame.
The study adds to growing research that global warming is having some unexpected impacts on animal and human health.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


When a deadly virus that killed tens of thousands of European harbor seals in the northern Atlantic Ocean in 2002 began threatening sea lions, seals and otters in the northern Pacific Ocean, scientists were initially puzzled.

The highly contagious phocine distemper virus — which is not believed to affect humans — attacks the respiratory and nervous systems of some marine mammals. But there was no indication it had infected animals that could have taken it to different parts of the world.

“How did a virus that had previously been seen in the Atlantic Ocean end up in the Pacific Ocean?” said Tracey Goldstein, associate director of the One Health Institute at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine.

Goldstein and some of her colleagues examined 15 years of data that included measurements of Arctic sea ice and data from animals that had been tagged by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other institutions to study their migration patterns.

Their conclusion: Melting Arctic sea ice brought on by the Earth’s warming climate created a way for the virus to move into a new region and infect a new population of sea life.

191107-ribbon-seal-al-0926_a5e5fa470f061 Ribbon seal. NOAA Fisheries, Polar Ecosystems Program

“It was a perfect storm in 2002,” she said. “It was the lowest ice year on record at the time, and at the same time, in August and September, there was a really large outbreak.”

The work of Goldstein and her colleagues, published Wednesday in the journal Scientific Reports, also used blood and nasal swab samples from seals, sea lions and otters from southeast Alaska to Russia to assess which populations had been infected with the virus, and which specific strain they had been exposed to.

The researchers noticed a link between sea ice losses in the Arctic and spikes in outbreaks of the disease. In particular, the scientists found that drastic reductions in sea ice on the Russian side of the North Atlantic coincided with increases in exposure rates in both ocean basins. The melted ice, Goldstein said, was likely opening up new waterways for infected animals to come into contact with other species.

The study adds to growing research that global warming is having some unexpected impacts on animal and human health, such as increasing outbreaks of toxic algal blooms that can sicken marine animals and widening the range of ticks that carry potentially devastating diseases.

There’s no evidence to suggest that phocine distemper virus can be transmitted to humans, but the virus belongs to the same family as the measles. And like the measles, it’s highly virulent.

The virus is likely being spread among the animals when they gather to nest and breed, or when they feed in close proximity, according to the study’s lead author Elizabeth VanWormer, who conducted the research as a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis but is now an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Enabling transmission of the distemper virus is not the only way that climate change is impacting animal health. Along the west coast of the United States, warming ocean temperatures have intensified outbreaks of harmful algal blooms that can sicken marine mammals, said Shawn Johnson, the director of veterinary science at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, who was not involved with the new research.

“We’re seeing more and more of these toxic blooms affecting our animals,” Johnson said. “This is not unique. It’s just another important piece of evidence showing that climate change is impacting the marine mammals all up and down the West Coast.”

The study’s findings have implications not only for marine mammal populations but also the delicate balances that exist within ecosystems.

“When we see these changes happening in animals, we can’t ignore them, because the impacts on people and the planet are not far behind,” VanWormer said. ”This shows how interconnected these things are — the health of people, animals and the planet.”

The research should also act as a warning sign for the potential impacts that climate change can have on the ability to fight diseases and prevent their spread, according to Johnson.

“The climate is changing so rapidly,” he said. “Understanding how diseases and the ecology of diseases are changing in wildlife and marine mammals will give us insight into the future, and how we need to be prepared for a new paradigm of disease transmissions in animals and in humans.”

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FLYNAVY1
1  FLYNAVY1    6 days ago

If the sea dies.... we die.  

Science better:

  1. Figure out how to get us off this rock if human beings are going to survive at all....
  2. Figure out how to make us all realize how deep we are in shit with regards to the environment.....
 
 
 
 
MrFrost
1.1.1  MrFrost  replied to  WallyW @1.1    5 days ago

It gets cold in the Winter. Thanks for pointing that out Wally. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
1.1.2  Texan1211  replied to  MrFrost @1.1.1    5 days ago

Very good.

It also gets hot in the summer.

 
 
 
WallyW
1.1.3  WallyW  replied to  MrFrost @1.1.1    5 days ago

But this is 'extreme' weather, and must be attributed to climate change

 
 
 
Greg Jones
1.1.4  Greg Jones  replied to  WallyW @1.1.3    5 days ago

Yeah colder winters, hotter summers, more intense and frequent hurricanes and tornadoes.

More droughts and wildfires. More heavy rainstorms and floods.

But that's not what is happening. And the scare mongering has not and will not work.  

 
 
 
cjcold
1.1.5  cjcold  replied to  WallyW @1.1    5 days ago

We scientists tend to talk about 30 year trends.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
1.1.6  Greg Jones  replied to  cjcold @1.1.5    4 days ago

Got the facts and figures to support those trends? 

 
 
 
FLYNAVY1
1.1.7  FLYNAVY1  replied to  Greg Jones @1.1.6    3 days ago

Why should he bother with facts and figures?  [deleted]

 
 
 
Dismayed Patriot
1.1.8  Dismayed Patriot  replied to  Greg Jones @1.1.4    2 days ago
Yeah colder winters, hotter summers, more intense and frequent hurricanes and tornadoes. More droughts and wildfires. More heavy rainstorms and floods. But that's not what is happening. And the scare mongering has not and will not work.

Really?

"According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in 2015 there were 10 weather and climate disaster events in the United States—including severe storms, floods, drought, and wildfires—that caused at least $1 billion in losses. For context, each year from 1980 to 2015 averaged $5.2 billion in disasters (adjusted for inflation). If you zero in on the years between 2011 and 2015, you see an annual average cost of $10.8 billion.

The increasing number of droughts, intense storms, and floods we're seeing as our warming atmosphere holds—and then dumps—more moisture poses risks to public health and safety, too. Prolonged dry spells mean more than just scorched lawns. Drought conditions jeopardize access to clean drinking water, fuel out-of-control wildfires, and result in dust storms, extreme heat events, and flash flooding in the States."

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/are-effects-global-warming-really-bad

https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/12/16295000/extreme-weather-climate-change-wildfires-heat-waves-hurricanes

https://www.edf.org/climate/climate-change-and-extreme-weather

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
2  Buzz of the Orient    6 days ago

I guess it's a race to see who/what can wipe out the whales first, the virus or the Japanese.

 
 
 
MUVA
3  MUVA    5 days ago

I wonder if there are any benefits from climate change or is everything that transpires will be bad kind of hard to believe some areas will not benefit.

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
3.1  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  MUVA @3    5 days ago
I wonder if there are any benefits from climate change or is everything that transpires will be bad kind of hard to believe some areas will not benefit.

Yes, the hole in the ozone is shrinking..................

https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/21/world/antarctic-ozone-hole-shrinks-scn-trnd/index.html

 
 
 
MrFrost
3.1.1  MrFrost  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @3.1    5 days ago

That's because we are using less ozone damaging products. 

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
3.1.2  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  MrFrost @3.1.1    5 days ago

"This is only the third time in 40 years when warm temperatures caused by weather systems have actually helped limit the ozone hole, NASA said in a statement. This also occurred in 1988 and 2002."

 
 
 
XDm9mm
3.1.3  XDm9mm  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @3.1.2    5 days ago
"This is only the third time in 40 years when warm temperatures caused by weather systems have actually helped limit the ozone hole, NASA said in a statement. This also occurred in 1988 and 2002."

Ruh roh...

Those pesky facts always get in the way of the belief of some.

 
 
 
Split Personality
3.1.4  Split Personality  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @3.1.2    2 days ago

If you are going to quote something from a different article or resource please cite the url

so everyone has access to the other article completely. [ph]

A quick search revealed that most TV networks basically used the same NOAA release as a source as did these:

https://www.abc15.com/news/national/ozone-hole-over-antarctic-is-the-smallest-since-its-discovery

https://fox43.com/2019/10/22/the-antarctic-ozone-hole-is-the-smallest-since-it-was-discovered/

The ABC article says;

"It's great news for ozone in the Southern Hemisphere," said Paul Newman, chief scientist for earth sciences at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "But it's important to recognize that what we're seeing this year is due to warmer stratospheric temperatures. It's not a sign that atmospheric ozone is suddenly on a fast track to recovery. "

The Fox article says;

The ozone layer over the Antarctic is expected to recover by 2070 as compounds used as coolants, called chlorofluorocarbons, decline. They were regulated 32 years ago by the Montreal Protocol. The ozone hole should disappear and close over the next six weeks, according to NOAA.

 
 
 
KDMichigan
3.1.5  KDMichigan  replied to  Split Personality @3.1.4    2 days ago
If you are going to quote something from a different article or resource please cite the url

He quoted from the article he posted that Frosty questioned.

his is only the third time in 40 years when warm temperatures caused by weather systems have actually helped limit the ozone hole, NASA said in a statement. This also occurred in 1988 and 2002. But the scientists say there is no connection they've identified to link the patterns with climate change.

It wasn't hard for me to figure out. 

And thanks for proving his point the shrinkage of the hole in the ozone is due to weather patterns.

 
 
 
Split Personality
3.1.6  Split Personality  replied to  KDMichigan @3.1.5    2 days ago
He quoted from the article he posted that Frosty questioned.

My point is still the same, each and every quote from a copyrighted source, needs to be cited, every time.

 
 
 
KDMichigan
3.1.7  KDMichigan  replied to  Split Personality @3.1.6    2 days ago
needs to be cited, every time.

Okay remember that. because that isn't was said before when I reported plagiarism...

 
 
 
It Is ME
4  It Is ME    5 days ago

"A deadly virus is spreading in marine mammals. Scientists say climate change is to blame."

I like putting the "blame", where "blame" is REALLY due. jrSmiley_15_smiley_image.gif

I BLAME THE VIRUS ! jrSmiley_32_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
MUVA
4.1  MUVA  replied to  It Is ME @4    5 days ago

How dare you.

 
 
 
It Is ME
4.1.1  It Is ME  replied to  MUVA @4.1    5 days ago

I shoulda known better. jrSmiley_27_smiley_image.gif

SORRY ! jrSmiley_55_smiley_image.gif

I do wonder though. Again...sorry for doing that too jrSmiley_19_smiley_image.gif …. Are the "Scientists" fighting the "Virus", or just the "Change" ? jrSmiley_87_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
cjcold
5  cjcold    5 days ago

Spent a fortune earning a few degrees in environmental and medical science. Sad that so many know so little about how our planet works and care so little about protecting it from ourselves. 

 
 
 
WallyW
5.1  WallyW  replied to  cjcold @5    5 days ago

But the scientists still haven't come up with any practical solutions

 
 
 
MrFrost
5.1.1  MrFrost  replied to  WallyW @5.1    5 days ago

But the scientists still haven't come up with any practical solutions

Yes, they have. Reduce Co2 emissions. The problem is that many on the right won't support anything that doesn't destroy the environment. 

 
 
 
cjcold
5.1.2  cjcold  replied to  MrFrost @5.1.1    5 days ago

So much oil and coal to sell.

(16 tons and what do you get)

 
 
 
WallyW
5.1.3  WallyW  replied to  cjcold @5.1.2    5 days ago

So much oil and coal for all  those foreign countries to buy.

 
 
 
cjcold
5.1.4  cjcold  replied to  WallyW @5.1.3    5 days ago

More profits for billionaires while children keep getting sicker.

 
 
 
XDm9mm
5.1.5  XDm9mm  replied to  MrFrost @5.1.1    5 days ago
Reduce Co2 emissions.

Then stop breathing.  See how simple that is?  Failing that, kill everyone else and have the whole planet to yourself.

But, what are you going to do when it doesn't stop the glacial, interglacial changes this planet has experienced and will continue to experience.  Oh and while I'm on the topic, where were we all those other times the planet heated and cooled?

 
 
 
cjcold
5.1.6  cjcold  replied to  XDm9mm @5.1.5    5 days ago

You should develop a sense of time. 

 
 
 
Nerm_L
5.2  Nerm_L  replied to  cjcold @5    5 days ago
Spent a fortune earning a few degrees in environmental and medical science. Sad that so many know so little about how our planet works and care so little about protecting it from ourselves. 

Then you should understand that anthropogenic climate change is a self-correcting problem.  Unfortunately scientists keep interfering with the natural processes that will allow the problem to resolve itself.  Nature will reduce the size of the human population (and reduce anthropogenic impacts on nature).  The natural processes will eventually overwhelm the ability of science to interfere.

Look, fossil fuel companies aren't just burning coal, oil, and gas to pollute the atmosphere.  Science created a technological future that promised the human population a lifestyle of convenience, comfort, and leisure requiring less effort.  Technology is the root cause of anthropogenic climate change.  The real history of technology suggests more technology is not a viable solution.  

Scientists claim that eliminating technology will force humans to live like cavemen.  But cavemen did not cause climate change; climate change has been caused by the creation of a technological society.  And cavemen apparently survived and thrived without technology; otherwise we wouldn't be here.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
6  Greg Jones    5 days ago

The climate change cultists are worse than the creationists, and have become very dangerous to our democracy and freedoms.

 
 
 
Goodtime Charlie
7  Goodtime Charlie    5 days ago

There has been a 76% increase in the arrest of johns since 2010, scientists blame this on climate change saying the prostitutes are getting hotter.

 
 
 
Ender
8  Ender    4 days ago

Wow. The complete lack of caring is on display.

Just read an article that now there is a transmittable cancer passing among sea life.

Thinking that people have no impact on the planet is just burying ones head in the sand.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
8.1  Greg Jones  replied to  Ender @8    4 days ago

In this particular case there is no evidence that a bit of alleged climate change is causing this virus to disperse.

It is foolish claims like this that keep shooting down the ongoing propaganda balloon sent up by climate change cultists.

 
 
 
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