This post was last updated July 25th, 2022. This is an ongoing situation; please visit this NOAA Fisheries webpage for the most up-to-date information.
On July 1, 2022, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) National Veterinary Service Laboratories (NVSL) confirmed that samples from four stranded harbor seals in Maine had tested positive for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1. All of these animals had recently died or required euthanasia.
Testing for HPAI was prompted by an elevated number of stranded seals observed by Marine Mammals of Maine (MMoME), a NOAA Fisheries authorized marine mammal stranding partner. During elevated stranding events such as these, MMoME collaborates with NOAA Fisheries to further investigate.
On July 11, 2022, NVSL also confirmed a positive H5N1 HPAI result from a gray seal.
On July 20, 2022, NOAA declared an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) for elevated Maine harbor and gray seal strandings from June 1, 2022 to present. Declaring an Unusual Mortality Event triggers the development of a response plan and will make available additional resources to respond to any new strandings that occur.