Avian influenza A(H5N1) virus in a Florida dolphin

The detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus in a bottlenose dolphin recovered by University of Florida marine animal rescuers in 2022 was the first time the virus has been identified in a cetacean in America. (Photo courtesy of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

The case of a Florida bottlenose dolphin found with highly pathogenic avian influenza virus, or HPAIV — a discovery made by University of Florida researchers in collaboration with multiple agencies and one of the first reports of a constantly growing list of mammals affected by this virus — has been published in Communications Biology. Drs. Walsh, Ossiboff, and Allison, CDPM faculty, contributed to this research.

The report documents the discovery, the first finding of HPAIV in a cetacean in North America, from the initial response by UF’s Marine Animal Rescue team to a report of a distressed dolphin in Dixie County, Florida, to the subsequent identification of the virus from brain and tissue samples obtained in a postmortem examination.

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