Seal virus toll reaches 1000
A deadly virus has killed around one third of the seal population off the Norfolk coast.
Phocine Distemper Virus (PDV) has killed about 1000 animals, said Mike Hogg, Chief Inspector with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) on Wed 18 Sep 2002.
Infected seals found alive are being kept in long-term quarantine at the RSPCA's animal hospital at East Winch near King's Lynn in Norfolk. So far more than 100 have been taken there and about 40 have been saved. "We are looking at next spring before they will be able to be released back into the wild," Mr Hogg said.
RSPCA inspector Mark Thompson spent Wednesday looking for live seals on North Norfolk beaches. All he found was dead ones brought in by the tide. "At the moment we are getting a lot more dead adults come up on the beach."
"Whether they are dying out at sea and being washed in we are not sure, but they don't seem to be coming up onto the beach alive to be taken to the hospital at East Winch."
The last 1998 outbreak of the virus claimed an estimated 1500 seals off the north Norfolk coast. There is no known treatment for the virus, and no way of preventing it.
[For updated information on the PDV situation in the relevant countries, the reader is referred to this web-site.
According to Status Report No 33 of 13 Sep 2002, the number of dead seals in the Wadden Sea, the North Sea, and the Kattegat-Skagerrak area since the beginning of the outbreak in May 2002, has already reached 12 000.
A UK-based centre, the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU), St Andrews University, Scotland, maintains its own web-site.
SMRU's Report No 6, updated on 18 Sep 2002, follows:
"Between 11 Sep and 17 Sep , 472 dead seals were reported around the UK, bringing the total to 1587 since the beginning of the outbreak. The majority of these (1325 seals) have been from England, predominantly Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Northumberland and the East Riding of Yorkshire. 67 animals have been sent for post-mortem examination, to date 26 of these have been confirmed PDV cases. Further test results are awaited. All but one of the positive cases have been from the Wash area, the one exception was confirmed in a common seal from Essex. There have now been 95 reported dead seals around Scotland (13 common seals, 17 grey seals, 65 species undetermined). 8 post-mortems have been carried out in Scotland and 2 are pending. In total there have been 45 dead seals reported from Wales and one post-mortem has been carried out. 22 dead seals have been reported from Northern Ireland and one post-mortem has been carried out. There have been no confirmed cases of PDV so far in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland." - Mod.AS]