Sick Alaska seal shows possible spread of disease

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) ? Federal wildlife officials say a sick ringed seal that was captured in southeast Alaska last week appears to be afflicted by the same symptoms suffered last year by ringed seals and Pacific walrus along northern coastlines.

The National Marine Fisheries Service says the Yakutat (YAK-uh-tat) seal was taken to Anchorage and euthanized because it was so ill.

The seal’s blubber thickness indicated it was in good body shape, but veterinary pathologist Kathy Burek-Huntington says it had almost total hair loss and nodular, scabbed skin sores consistent with the disease seen on the North Slope and along the Bering Strait.

More than 60 dead and 75 sick seals were reported in Alaska starting in July, and most were ringed seals.