A virus that wiped out half of western Europe’s seal population in 1988 has struck again.
“We are now employing more people to be alert on the western coast and to conduct more autopsies,” says Roos.
PDV was first identified in April 1988, when widespread harbour seal abortions and deaths were reported in the Kattegat area.
Suspicious harbour seal deaths were first reported on the islands of Anholt and Laesoe in the Kattegat Channel between Denmark and Sweden a month ago.
“We examined 17 of these mammals and most showed the same symptoms as those that died in 1988 from the virus that killed 4000 seals in Denmark,” says Dietz.
The virus spread rapidly to the North Sea, the Wadden Sea and the Baltic Sea, killing between 17,000 and 20,000 seals in north-western Europe in eight months. “Today there are about 15,000 harbour seals in the waters around Sweden and Denmark – more than there were before the outbreak,” says Roos.