A new kind of bird flu has been detected for the first time in Adelie penguins in Antarctica, though the virus does not seem to make them sick, researchers said.
The virus was unlike any other avian flu known to science, said the report yesterday in mBio, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.
"It raises a lot of unanswered questions," said study author Dr Aeron Hurt, senior research scientist at the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, Australia.
The findings show that "avian influenza viruses can get down to Antarctica and be maintained in penguin populations", he said.
The study is the first to report on live avian influenza virus in penguins, though previous research has found evidence of influenza antibodies in penguin blood. Agence France-Presse