June 14, 2007

Disease Attacks Birds At Backyard Feeders
The Daily Green
14 Jun 2007
D Shapley
Photo Courtesy of J Phelps/Istock

People who feed birds with backyard seed feeders may be unwittingly abetting a deadly disease, salmonellosis. An outbreak in Washington state prompted state wildlife officials to warn residents against feeding birds unless they can commit to washing bird feeders daily with a solution of 10 parts water to one part bleach, and taking other sanitary precautions.

There’s no indication that there are outbreaks of the disease elsewhere in the country, but no federal agency tracks outbreaks and many can go unreported or unrecognized, said Krysten Schuler, a wildlife ecologist for the National Wildlife Health Center. “It’s one of those diseases that you get in a lot of backyard birds, and you might not see large die-offs from it so it’s very difficult to track,” she said.

Chromosome Painting Enlisted in Fight Against Tas Devil Disease
ABC News Online
14 Jun 2007
Area: Australia

Scientists are attempting to prove the theory that the Facial Tumour Disease killing Tasmanian Devils is a parasitic cancer spread through biting. The cancer cells are highly abnormal compared with healthy cells but are identical between animals, a phenomenon which gave scientists the first indication that the disease is unlikely to be transmitted by a virus or a bacteria. Instead, it's led to the theory that the tumour cells are passed from one animal to another by biting, or even sharing food.

The theory is that tumour cells then implant into another animal where they multiply and grow into cancers. PhD student Hannah Bender from the Australian National University is using a technique called chromosome painting to show in more detail how a normal cell undergoes such a radical transformation. The technique highlights chromosome rearrangements or breakpoints which may have led to the development of the disease. "I am looking at the tumour chromosomes in a bit more depth to hopefully show that this is the case," she said.

Crow Tests Positive for West Nile Virus
11 Jun 2007

A dead crow collected in Innisfil is the first bird to test positive for West Nile virus (WNv) in Simcoe Muskoka this season.

"This tells us that West Nile virus is the area and that we need to protect ourselves and our families throughout the season," says Marina Whelan, manager for health hazards at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. “The best way people can protect themselves against WNv is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using insect repellent when they are outdoors and by covering up. It’s also important that people get rid of any stagnant water around their home on a regular basis because that’s where mosquitoes like to breed.”

Since the health unit began its dead bird surveillance program in May it has received 186 reports of dead bird sightings. To date, three birds have been sent to the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre in Guelph for testing. “The public plays an important role in our West Nile virus program,” Whelan said. “Reports of dead birds are critical in helping us identify those areas where risk appears to be higher.” West Nile virus is spread by the bite of mosquitoes that have previously bitten infected birds.

State Monitors Rise in Rabies Cases
Rutland Herald
13 Jun 2007
P Hirschfeld
Area: Vermont

Health and wildlife officials are seeing a surge in the number of animals testing positive for rabies this year, a rise they attribute to new efforts to monitor the disease. More animals tested positive for the fatal virus in the first five months of 2007 than in all of 2006, according to data collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services. More than half the 84 animals that have tested positive since January were found in Franklin County, where wildlife biologists are monitoring a recent outbreak.

"We started seeing a couple of positives last fall and then we started doing a lot more surveillance in that area," says Martha Pitt, a wildlife biologist with the Vermont office of Wildlife Services, headquartered in Berlin. "The numbers are skewed for Franklin County because we're doing excessive surveillance in that area." Seventy-three animals tested positive in all of 2006, compared with 59 in 2005, 45 in 2004 and 38 in 2003. The ramped-up monitoring in Franklin County is part of an initiative to stop a particular strain of rabies from migrating northward into Canada.

N.Y. Issues Final Regulations to Limit Fish Disease
The Associated Press (Posted by WOODTV.com)
13 Jun 2007
Area: New York, USA

New regulations in New York state prohibit freshwater fishing with untested bait minnows anywhere except the lake or river where they were caught, part of an effort to stop the spread of a deadly fish disease. There are exceptions for commercial bait tested and certified free of various pathogens, including viral hemorrhagic septicemia, or VHS. Retailers have to provide a dated receipt, and fishermen have to use the bait within seven days.

"We chose to be a certified store, so that means the bait that we sell has been certified disease-free of several of these viruses that they're worried about," said Mike Conroy in Watervliet, north of Albany. Conroy's Bait Supply buys from a distributor who has it tested and certified. "We used to catch some bait," Conroy said. But now it's more costly and less timely, since the incubation period for testing samples lasts 28 days while that bait is quarantined and the tests can cost more than $1,000, he said.

Other Wildlife Disease News

Chronic Wasting Disease Not Found In Maryland Deer

Mystery Disease Strikes Cattle - ProMED-Mail Archive Number 20070612.1918

Eco-deadly Disease Found in Wild Frogs - ProMED-Mail Archive Number 20070613.1924

Be a Wildlife Vet in New 3D Game

Journal Articles of Interest

What’s Behind the Spread of White Syndrome in Great Barrier Reef Corals? [free full-text article]
PLoS Biol. 2007 June; 5(6): e164.
M Hoff

What's Killing American Honey Bees? [free full-text article]

PLoS Biol 5(6): e168
BP Oldroyd

No comments: