July 2, 2007

Fears over Seal Virus
UK News - lse.co.uk
29 Jun 2007
Area: United Kingdom

Fears are growing that a deadly virus that has wiped out seals in northern Europe could return to UK waters. The alarm was raised after the bodies of seals were washed up on Danish coasts with tests confirming they died from phocine distemper virus (PDV). The RSPCA has been put on alert following the outbreak in case it spreads to British seas as it did in 1988 and 2002 when the virus devastated the populations of common seals around Britain. The RSPCA is currently unaware of any reports of unusual seal mortality on our coast which would be the first indication that the disease had reached the UK.

But staff are drawing up an action plan based on previous experience of dealing with infected seals. The highly contagious disease, similar to dog distemper, spreads quickly and is lethal to the common or harbour seals. The virus wiped out most of the colonies off the North East coast in 1988. Vets say the seals seldom die directly from distemper but because it weakens their defence systems, it leaves them vulnerable to other illnesses such as pneumonia.

Experts Worried Disease Might Wipe Out Sabah's Sumatran Rhino
The Star Online - thestar.com.my
30 Jun 2007
Area: Sabah Malaysia

Wildlife experts are worried that Sabah’s “critically endangered” Sumatran rhino may be on the verge of extinction due to a disease that is keeping them from reproducing in the wild. State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjum said researchers were concerned with the lack of signs indicating there were any young rhino offspring in the wild. “The worry now is that a disease is affecting our rhinos that could prevent the females from conceiving,” he said in a meeting with representatives of Sabah’s tourism players and the media on Friday evening. Masidi said the actual number of Sumatran rhinos in Sabah were still not known though the WWF had estimated there were less than 25 left in the state.

The Toxic Origins of Disease
Scientist Live - scientistlive.com
02 Jul 2007

Never in his wildest dreams had Fred vom Saal pictured himself studying urethral outlet obstruction. Nor, for that matter, had he ever thought much about the causes of obesity. For most of his 30-year career, vom Saal, a developmental biologist at the University of Missouri, studied the harmful consequences of tiny changes in natural hormone levels at critical periods during the development of the brain and reproductive tract. But he began to include synthetic chemicals in his investigations when he learned that pesticides and other environmental contaminants caused reproductive defects in wildlife much like those seen in lab animals exposed to abnormal estrogen levels.

During embryonic development, steroid hormones like estrogen control gene-expression programs to coordinate cell differentiation, growth, organogenesis, and metabolism. Adding extra estrogenâ”whether foreign (exogenous) or natural (endogenous)â”can irreversibly alter these developmental processes by mimicking, blocking, or otherwise disrupting pathways that have been fine-tuned over millions of years to respond to minuscule changes in hormone levels. Diethylstilbestrol (DES) offered a tragic illustration of the risks of exposing a fetus to synthetic compounds that mimic the behavior of endogenous estrogen: the drug was prescribed to millions of pregnant women before doctors realized it was causing rare cancers in their daughters.

Livestock Head: Elk May Be Brucellosis Culprit
Associated Press (Posted by kxmb.com)
29 Jun 2007
S Cooke
Area: Montana USA

The director of the state Livestock Department says preliminary findings are pointing to elk as the possible source of a brucellosis outbreak at a Bridger ranch this spring. Christian Mackay told the Environmental Quality Council today the possibility isn't definitive and quote "may never be definitive." A spokesman for the U-S Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service wouldn't confirm the possibility. Larry Cooper says the agency is still investigating.

Other Wildlife Disease News

Another Fish Virus Found in Mississippi

World Rabies Day, September 8, 2007

Journal Article(s) of Interest

Emerging Infectious Disease
July 2007 Issue

Sensitive Assays for Simian Foamy Viruses Reveal a High Prevalence of Infection in Commensal, Free-Ranging Asian Monkeys [online abstract only]
J. Virol. July 2007; 81(14): 7330-7337.
L Jones-Engel et al.

Generation of Infectious Molecular Clones of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus from Fecal Consensus Sequences of Wild Chimpanzees [online abstract only]
J. Virol. July 2007; 81(14): 7463-7475.
J Takehisa et al.

Characterization of Low-Pathogenic H5 Subtype Influenza Viruses from Eurasia: Implications for the Origin of Highly Pathogenic H5N1 Viruses
[online abstract only]
J. Virol. July 2007; 81(14): 7529-7539.
L Duan et al.

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