July 6, 2007

Platypus Research Hits Snag
Mercury – news.com.au
06 Jul 2007
M Paine
Area: Australia, Tasmania

Ignornace of a disease striking the platypus continues while research is at a standstill, says a leading researcher.

Professor Nigel Forteath has hit out as the deadly fungal disease infects the poor cousin of Tasmanian wildlife. In March Senator Eric Abetz announced $332,000 in funding to investigate the disease. "We all got excited we were at least going to get into the lab. But we haven't seen a cent," Prof Forteath said.

The disease, caused by the Mucor amphibiorum fungus which also affects frogs interstate, was first reported in Tasmania in 1982 and covers half the state. "We still don't know how they even get the disease, if it's because they eat tadpoles or frogs. It's a real worry." Affected animals die slowly as open ulcers eat into their flesh, become infected and expose them to cold. Prof Forteath said very little was known about the disease or even about the platypus.

Alarm over High Number of Sea-bird Deaths
07 Jul 07
T Leonard

Hundreds of emaciated seabirds have washed up dead along the south-eastern coast of America, alarming scientists who fear changes in the ocean could have affected the fish that the birds normally eat. More than a thousand shearwaters, large gull-like birds that spend most of their lives far out to sea, have been found dead over the past two weeks on beaches stretching from the Bahamas to the Carolinas, say wildlife biologists.

Officials are not certain what is causing the casualties but say that the only common factor is that they appeared to have died of malnutrition and dehydration during migration. "It's got a lot of folks talking and wondering. Is this a canary in the coal mine issue?", said Jennifer Koches of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Flying Fox Deaths Prompt Viral Outbreak Fears
ABC News – abc.net.au
03 Jul 2007
Area: Australia, Queensland

The sudden death of 50 to 100 juvenile flying foxes in Charters Towers and Cairns in far north Queensland has raised concerns of an exotic viral outbreak within the population.

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service has taken test samples from the dead bats and says it would be irresponsible to try and predict what caused the deaths at this early stage. Dr Mark Read says Queensland Parks and Wildlife hopes to have results by the end of the week. "Because we're at a very early stage of trying to work out what's going on we're taking it seriously like we would with any sort of mass death of animals in terms of trying to work out what's going on," he said.

But a Brisbane-based bat conservation group says the flying foxes face a bigger problem in tree clearing. Louise Saunders says large numbers of flying foxes are starving to death along Australia's east coast, as their natural feeding grounds are cleared and developed. Others are dying as the result of dog attacks and wounds inflicted by barbed wire, as the bats search closer to the ground for food they would ordinarily not have to look for.

Swans with Bird Flu Found in France

The Financial Times Ltd (posted by msnbc)
05 Jul 2007
S Davoudi
Area: France. Lorraine, Assenoncourt

Three swans found dead in the north-east of France have tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, suggesting that the virus may once again be spreading across Europe. At least five other European nations have reported avian influenza outbreaks this year, according to the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health, but none of them has resulted in human deaths.

Last month the virus was discovered on two poultry farms in the Czech Republic. Dr Alex Thiermann, special adviser to the director of the organisation, said: "We don't know if this is serious, and we need to continue monitoring for the presence of sick wildlife. We see this as a new cycle. Last year there was a bit of activity, then things remained dormant. But this year we have seen a several outbreaks including the Czech Republic, Germany and France."


Tuberculosis, Elephants – ProMED Mail Archive Number 20070702.2111
ProMed Mail
06 Jul 2007
Area: Nepal

"Excluding the data from Nepal, approximately 99 Asian and 72 African elephants in Europe, Australia, South Africa, and the US have been tested using the Elephant TB STAT-PAK and MAPIA [multi-antigen print immunoassay], including 22 elephants with culture-confirmed TB.
Preliminary data has demonstrated 100 percent sensitivity and 97 percent specificity for the Elephant TB STAT-PAK and 100 percent sensitivity and 100 percent specificity for the MAPIA using culture as the reference standard.

Other Wildlife Disease News

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6,700 Bird Samples Test Negative for Deadly Flu

Journal Articles of Interest

Inefficient Transmission of H5N1 Influenza Viruses in a Ferret Contact Model [online abstract only]
Journal of Virology. 2007 Jul. 81(13): 6890-6898.
H Yen et al

Dominance of a Nonpathogenic Glycoprotein Gene over a Pathogenic Glycoprotein Gene in Rabies Virus [online abstract only]
Journal of Virology. 2007 Jul. 81(13): 7041-7047.
M Faber et al

Ecoregional Dominance in Spatial Distribution of Avian Influenza (H5N1) Outbreaks [free full-text available]
Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2007 Aug; [Epub ahead of print]
R Senguota et al

An Analysis of the Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Occurrence in Vietnam Using National Surveillance Data [online abstract only]
Veterinary Journal. 2007. [Epub ahead of print]
DU Pfeiffer et al.

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