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Dead Seals--An Ominous Sign?

The flu can jump from animals to humans. A new strain of flu has emerged four times in the past 100 years. The one that emerged in 1918 killed 50 million people, which is why scientists watch these new flu strains so carefully.

Last fall, over 150 harbor seal pups washed up on the shores of New England beaches. Researchers discovered that they were killed by a new strain of flu, that evolved from bird flu. It had obviously gained the ability to spread from seal to seal.

In the July 31st edition of the New York Times, Carl Zimmer quotes biologist Katie Pugliares as saying, "Surfers were surfing into seals floating in the water."

Zimmer quotes immunologist W. Ian Lipkin as saying, "If it adapts better to animal hosts, it may well start to move into humans. This is clearly a virus for which we need some surveillance." It turns out that pigs are especially good at producing new flu strains because they can be infected by bird flu and mammal flu at the same time. The two kinds of virus can then combine, giving rise to a NEW hybrid strain. Lipkin says, "It could be the equivalent of an aquatic pig. The question mark is what it means for us."

He quotes evolutionary researcher Eddie Holmes as saying, "Just because we find a seal with mammal-adapted (flu) does not mean we're going to get a pandemic. At the moment, it's hard to say what the threat really is."

Would an Indian tribe hide itself away because it felt threatened by modern society? Now you can download this wonderful novel by Whitley Strieber, which has never been published before. It's hard to know what the flu threat is, but we KNOW what the threat is to this website--not enough subscribers! We want to deliver a small warning to all our readers and listeners: If we don't get more support from you, it won't take the flu to finish us off: We will be nothing more than a memory in the future. So if you really do love our up-to-date news about the climate (and everything else), subscribe today!



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