First polar bear to die of bird flu – what are the implications?

Dr Alastair Ward, Associate Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management in the School of Biology, writes for the Conversation UK.

Climate change is a threat to polar bear’s survival. Now they have a new deadly challenge facing them: bird flu. 

The current strain of H5N1 influenza has affected a far wider range of species than any previously recorded strain. 

However, while some cases in mammals have been associated with large numbers of animal deaths, the few cases in humans have, so far, shown only mild symptoms or have been asymptomatic.

So, why are there such differences between species, and what are the implications of this polar bear’s death for the wider polar bear population, as well as other large mammals and humans?

In this recent article published on The Conversation UK online, Dr Alastair Ward, School of Biology, helps to answer these questions.