Transmission of Avian Influenza Virus by Humpback Whale and Its Stranding along the Atlantic Coast with CO2 Emissions

Humpback whales migrate, spending the summers in colder, high-latitude waters and breeding and calving in tropical and subtropical waters in 14 distinct population segments. It’s conceivable that the release of contaminated humpback whale faeces has infected the coastal areas with low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI). As a result, humpback whales can serve as a reservoir for the avian influenza virus (AIV), allowing it to spread from the poles to the continents and infect coastal animals. Strong ultraviolet (UV) exposure amidst CO2 emission increase and minimal sunspot number might cause mutations of aquatic virus, and humpback whale in the Antarctic and the Arctic. LPAI or highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) are expressed in the Continents under sufficient environmental conditions. Since penguins are birds and humpback whales are marine mammals, infected humpback whales may spread the mutant virus to a new host, causing evolutionary changes. Except for 1) different species of bird versus whale, 2) different landing area of land versus shore, and 3) similar infection means of bird faeces versus humpback whale faeces, the migration pattern of migratory birds and humpback whales is seasonally similar. The contribution of whales to AIV transmission was many times greater than that of migratory birds. As a result, in addition to migratory bird flyways, the paths of humpback whales should be considered to avoid AIV outbreaks. During 1992-2016, humpback whale stranding (y) along the Atlantic Coast of the United States was related to CO2 emissions (x) with y=0.3515x+18.595 (R2=0.4069), and y=0.0652x+4.5847 (R2=0.6128) during 2016-2018. As y=0.1387x+6.8184 (R2=0.3966), an AIV outbreak along the Atlantic Coast in 2010 (y) was also linked to humpback whale stranding (2016-2018) (x). The rare mortality events of humpback whale stranding is thought to be caused by an infected mutant virus in the Arctic because AIV epidemic was linearly (R2=0.9967) linked to the minimum sunspot level. As a result, humpback whales were stranded along large CO2 emitting Atlantic Coast States on their way to the West Indies’ winter habitat during CO2 emissions and low sunspot numbers with high UV radiation. The stranded dead whales should be burned as soon as possible to avoid more deadly viral interspecies transmission of AIV by the coastal animals. Since CO2 emissions rose in 2017 and the sunspot number was at an all-time low at the end of 2018, a large number of whales are predicted to strand in the Gulf of Maine, North Carolina, New York, and Virginia from November 2018 to April 2019. The replacement of fossil fuel combustion plants with nuclear power plants along the Atlantic Coast of the United States is proposed as a way to save humpback whales from an unusual mortality event along the Atlantic Coast.

Author (s) Details

Tai-Jin Kim
Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Suwon, Hwasung City, 18323, South Korea.

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