Swedish authorities say bird flu was most likely the cause of death of some 3,000 seals off the coast of Sweden and Denmark this year.
The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management said on Tuesday that the number of seals to die from the bird flu this year was much higher than previously thought.
“So far this year about 3,000 harbor seals have died in Swedish and Danish waters and were probably infected with the bird flu virus H10N7,” the agency said in a statement.
Figures released in October suggested that about 700 seals had died, but researchers say the exact number is still unknown as most of the dead animals had sunk.
Dead seals infected with the virus were first found in April off the coast of Gothenburg, located southwest of Sweden.
The Swedish agency said some of the seals may have developed antibodies which have prevented all of its 10,000 seals from dying of the virus.
Last month, authorities in the northern German region of Schleswig-Holstein said 1,600 of the region’s 13,000 seals had died from the bird flu.
Separate cases of seal deaths related to the bird flu have been also reported in the Netherlands and Norway.