Global warming and emissions of greenhouse gases have become a serious concern. It is affecting mother Earth as well as the creatures residing in it. This time, scientists have discovered a fatal virus that is swiftly spreading in Arctic’s marine animals. Reportedly, researchers have found a relationship between the sickness and rapidly melting sea ice. According to a study published in the journal Nature, climate change, including warming change, are liable for the disease. PDV or Phocine distemper virus is one of the most common pathogens. It is present in some seal communities from the past few years. Even more, the virus is liable for many massive death occurrences, which includes a few hundred thousand creatures since 1988.
Having standard features in the epidemics has triggered a question, how the virus spread in all seals across the globe. After that, the disease started circulating across other animals, like sea lions and otters, in the northern Pacific Oceans. Besides, scientists surmised melting ice liable for the offender. To know more about the fatal disease, researchers have studied historical data of around 15 years. Throughout the study, they have analyzed around 2,500 marine creatures in various places by using satellites. Researchers have attempted to know whether the rise in PDV remained in line with the lowering number of sea creatures. Meanwhile, the team has also analyzed extents of Arctic sea ice. Besides, they have tested samples of nasal swab and blood from more than 150 dead ice-related animals.
In one instance, they have discovered a massive ice decline in August 2002. As a result, there initiated an extensive PDV epidemic in North Pacific Steller sea lions during 2003-04. Notably, the outbreak had affected more than 30% of the creatures. According to Dr. Tracey Goldstein, the study’s author, the ice loss is heading marine life to look and forage in new environments and get rid of that physical obstacle. It is also opening new pathways for them to move. Dr. Tracey noted as animals travel and engage with other species, they carry chances to initiate and spread new infectious diseases, with likely disturbing results.
In the end, scientists have concluded that transforming climate due to humans has set the ground for PDV to spread to new locations. Also, it has infected new communities of marine animals, mainly through the coast of northern Canada and the north Russian coast. Above all, researchers surmise the spread of viruses could become more frequent as ice continues to melt. There remains an increased risk that the infection will affect more species.