The H191 pandemic in 2009 was a seasonal flu virus that is also known to circulate in pigs; you may know it better as "swine flu," but now it may be affecting the marine world as well. Scientists have found evidence that Washington sea otters have also getting sick with the H191 virus during an August 2011 health monitoring project.
Hon Ip, a scientist and co-author of the study stated:
“Our study shows that sea otters may be a newly identified animal host of influenza viruses”
The study from the U.S. Geological Survey and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Washington sea otters get sick too. While they could not determine the exact date and source of exposure, the virus was found in 70 percent of the sea otters by their blood samples.
The good news is that none of the sea otters were showing symptoms. They were, however, susceptible to influenza viruses. While it is unclear how they were exposed to the influenza, researchers concluded that it did not come from human exposure.
The study, also notes that elephant seals have also been infected with the H191 virus, highlights the complex nature of influenza viruses in the marine world.