Scientists baffled after finding polar bears in Arctic with sores and patchy fur

By Daily Mail Reporter Polar bears have been spotted with sores and missing patches of fur, causing concern among wildlife experts that a mystery disease had become widespread in the species. Nine bears were being studied by biologists carrying out work along the Arctic coast to see if the condition was related to similar symptoms in seals and walruses. The bears were among 33 seen near Barrow, Alaska and according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the polar bears had 'alopecia, or loss of fur, and other skin lesions'. Mystery illness: Nine polar bears have been discovered with evidence of alopecia and skin lesions near Barrow, Alaska Tony DeGange, the chief biologist for the USGS in Alaska, told Reuters: 'There's a lot we don't know yet whether we're dealing with something that's different or something that's the same.' Last summer, an unusually high number of 60 ring seals and several walruses were found dead in the same area with hair loss and sores. No dead polar bears have yet been found by scientists. USGS stated: 'Despite extensive testing for a wide variety of well known infectious agents, the cause(s) of the observed condition in walruses and ice seals remains unknown. Into the wild: A polar bear and cub walking along the edge of the pack ice, at the eastern Chukchi Sea, Alaska Studies: Biologists were studying the bears after they were observed with alopecia, loss of fur and other skin lesions 'Advanced testing techniques for unidentified infectious agents is continuing as well as further testing for potential causes including man-made and natural biotoxins, radiation, contaminants, auto-immune diseases, nutritional, hormonal and environmental factors.' There had been suggestions that the mystery condition in the polar bears may be related to the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan which was badly damaged by last year's tsunami - however early tests do not support that theory. source:dailymail


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