July 31, 2007

Hundreds of Oil-Covered Penguins Surface in South America
LiveScience - livescience.com
27 Jul 2007
R Lloyd
Photo courtesy of IFAW
Area: South America

Hundreds of oil-covered Magellanic penguins have surfaced off the Atlantic coast of South America in the past few weeks, according to an animal welfare organization. Magellanic penguins are medium-sized South American penguins. The species is classified as "near threatened" because of its vulnerability to oil spills, which kill tens of thousands of the animals yearly off the coast of Argentina. Oil spills harm numerous types of marine life, including seabirds. Oil interferes with their waterproofing abilities.

Nepal's Endangered Elephants Threatened by Tuberculosis
Monsters and Critics - monstersandcritics.com
30 Jul 2007
Area: Nepal

Nepal's dwindling population of endangered Asian elephants, already under threat from expanding human settlements, is faced with danger from tuberculosis, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said Monday. The warning came during a workshop on 'Disease Diagnosis and Treatment of Elephants' attended by experts from several national and international organizations working for the protection of the animals. WWF said the elephants in captivity in and around Chitwan National Park, about 120 kilometres south-west of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, were exposed to the possibility of several infectious diseases including tuberculosis. 'A total of 120 elephants have been tested for tuberculosis in Chitwan since 2006,' WWF said. 'As of now, six 'high risk' elephants out of 25 suspected with tuberculosis are being segregated from other elephants for observation.'

Dirt from Infected Trout Pond May Be Buried in Coal Mines
Cumberland Times-News (Posted by alliednews.com)
27 Jul 2007
MA Sawyers
Area: Maryland USA

Disease-bearing sediment from the bottom of a trout-rearing pond at the Bear Creek Trout Rearing Station may be buried at Western Maryland coal mines if the Department of Natural Resources can work out the details. The Maryland DNR’s Inland Fisheries Division hopes to transport 750 tons of sediment from the bottom of a drained pond where trout infected with whirling disease were grown. “So far, the coal sites we’ve looked at are in Allegany County,” said Bob Lunsford, the division’s director. “We’re talking about more than 50 dump truck loads, so the shorter the haul, the better.”

Lunsford said the dirt may be transported by DNR dump trucks if they are available. Whirling disease, an illness that deforms and kills trout, was discovered not only at the Bear Creek facility, but also at a rearing station at Mettiki Coal Co. and at the base of Jennings Randolph Dam, where trout were grown to larger sizes in suspended pens made of nets. The state chose to destroy about 140,000 trout, not all of which had the disease. Whirling disease does not affect humans. Lunsford reported earlier this summer that the agency is attempting to sanitize the Bear Creek facility near Accident so that it may once again be in operation in late summer or early autumn.

Dead Zone Might Return This Year
OSU News & Communications (Posted by gazettetimes.com)
31 Jul 2007
Area: Oregon USA

Water readings mirror last year’s oxygen levels

The Oregon Coast could be facing another serious marine die-off this summer, as oxygen levels near the shore appear dangerously low. Last year, a similar situation caused many marine animals to disappear from the area, and Oregon’s marine life still hasn’t recovered. A team of Oregon State University scientists monitoring near-shore ocean conditions off Oregon says that oxygen levels in the lower water column have plummeted, thrusting the region into a hypoxic event for the sixth consecutive year. Hypoxia can lead to significant marine die-offs, the researchers say, depending on the severity, duration and location of the low-oxygen zone.

Although conditions this summer have not yet duplicated the severity of the historic hypoxic event of 2006, the outlook for the remainder of the summer and early fall is uncertain. Measurements taken by OSU scientists in late June mirrored those of last year, but a shift to a southerly wind pattern in mid-July pushed the mass of low-oxygen water away from the shoreline. A sizeable mass of low-oxygen water remained, however, across much of the shelf from Florence to Newport. Last week, the winds shifted again and these northerly winds pulled the larger mass of hypoxic water back closer to shore, where it may endanger reef-dwelling sea creatures that have limited mobility. The OSU researchers say the region has not yet fully recovered from last year’s historic hypoxia.

CDC Investigates Cases of Tularemia in Utah
KSL Television & Radio - ksl.com
26 Jul 2007
E Yeates
Area: Utah USA

The Centers for Disease Control is in Utah to help investigate that outbreak of tularemia that occurred on the shores of Utah Lake two weeks ago. Tularemia is sometimes called rabbit fever. While it is endemic to Utah, only two to four people a year get it. So when a cluster happens, like the one at Utah Lake two weeks ago, epidemiologists want a thorough investigation. That's why State Health invited the CDC to come and help. State epidemiologist Robert Rolfs says, "One of the reasons we invited CDC to come is the last large outbreak where there's a good description of is more than 30 years ago, back in the 1970s.

And the risk did go all summer that time, so we want to stay on top of it. We're looking for more cases. If we see more, we'll put out more alerts so people do know about this." In most cases, a deer fly bites an infected rabbit or rodent then bites a human, passing on the bacteria. It spreads from the site of the bite to lymph nodes and other parts of the body. People can get seriously ill, but with treatment few die.

Other Wildlife Disease News

No Sign of Mosquito-borne Viruses in N.H. This Year

Journal Article(s) of Interest

Molecular and antigenic evolution and geographical spread of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses in western Africa
[online abstract only]
J Gen Virol. 2007 Aug; 88(Pt 8): 2297-306
MF Ducatez et al.

Oral Transmissibility of Prion Disease Is Enhanced by Binding to Soil Particles [free full-text available]
PLoS Pathogens. 2007 Jul; 3(7): [Epub ahead of print]
CJ Johnson et al.

Cell-Specific IRF-3 Responses Protect Against West Nile Virus Infection by Interferon-Dependent and -Independent Mechanisms [free full-text available]
PLoS Pathogens. 2007 Jul; 3(7): [Epub ahead of print]
S Daffis et al.

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