August 23, 2007

Bird Flu 'Not Mutating'
The Nation -
23 Aug 2007
P Sarnsamak
Photo courtesy of CDC
Area: Thailand

After years of warnings that the bird flu virus H5N1 could mutate into a strain that would spread easily among humans and create a pandemic, no signs had emerged that this was happening yet, the Disease Control Department (DCD) says. DCD director general Dr Thawat Suntrajarn said the agency had closely monitored changes in the virus and found the genomic sequence of the H5N1 virus had still not altered into a dangerous pandemic strain. "The results from laboratory testing have found there has been a small change of amino acids within the bird flu virus, but this alteration has still not developed into the mutation stage," Thawat said.

Dr Paijit Warachit, director-general of the Department of Medical Science, confirmed the strain had not shown any significant mutation - particularly the Hemagglutinin antigen of H5N1, which could indicate mutation was underway. "We have seen some changes, but nothing significant, particularly the position of the Hemagglutinin antigen in the H5N1 virus, which has not altered." Paijit said. The avian influenza virus contains two types of antigen - Hemagglutinin (H) and Neuraminidase (N) - which constitute the main structure of the virus. Most scientists and health experts are worried the virus could change its H antigen and then develop into a highly pathogenic or low pathogenic avian influenza virus.

Outdoors: CWD Experts Address First Meeting of Advisory Committee
The Capital Times -
22 Aug 2007
T Eisele
Area: Wisconsin USA

Why should we care? That was a rhetorical question asked by Scott Craven, professor of Wildlife Ecology at UW-Madison, in leading off the second CWD Stakeholder Advisory Committee meetings in Madison last Saturday. The meeting, held at Lowell Inn and Conference Center on the UW-Madison campus, drew a surprisingly small public attendance, less than 10 people. However, the reason for the meeting was for the 16-member committee to hear from experts about what is known about chronic wasting disease. The committee will meet monthly between August and January and then come up with recommendations for the DNR on how it should change its CWD management program.

The meetings are open to the public and, theoretically, this would have been an important meeting for members of the public who cared to attend and learn from experts directly, with the opportunity to question them following their presentations. Craven said that he was influenced by CWD both personally and professionally. He participated in a deer hunting camp located just six miles from where the first three CWD-positive deer were shot in the 2001 deer hunting season. During the next three years that deer hunting camp disappeared as hunters moved on. He and his son have since killed two deer that turned out to be CWD positive.

Unusual Cluster of 9 Rabid Bats Shows Up in NW
Arizona Daily Star -
23 Aug 2007
A Rivera
Photo courtesy of C. Schwalbe
Area: Arizona USA

Health Officials Notify Schools in Area, nearby

A spate of rabid bats found dead on the Northwest Side prompted the Pima County Health Department to alert several area schools of the problem earlier this month. Since June, nine bats found on the Northwest Side have tested positive for rabies. The area where most were found is roughly bounded by West Overton Road to the north, La CaƱada Drive to the east, West Ina Road to the south and North La Cholla Boulevard to the west. "We don't usually see a cluster like this," said Patti Woodcock, a community relations manager for the Health Department.

"We don't want to panic everybody. It's something we need to watch. We truly need to caution everybody." Though only Mesa Verde Elementary School, 1661 W. Sage St., in the Amphitheater Public Schools district is located within those boundaries, the department has issued warnings to several other nearby Amphi district and Marana Unified School District schools. Only one of the bats that tested positive for rabies was found on a school campus — Pima Community College's Northwest Campus at 7600 N. Shannon Road. The bat was discovered about two weeks ago and taken to the Health Department, where it tested positive for rabies, PCC spokesman David Irwin said.

California Governor Schwarzenegger Deploys Additional Resources to Fight West Nile Virus in Wetland Wildlife Areas
All American Patriots -
20 Aug 2007
Area: California USA

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed an executive order allocating up to $500,000 for the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) for vegetation management in State managed wetland wildlife areas most at risk for West Nile Virus. Today’s action builds upon Governor Schwarzenegger’s emergency proclamation signed earlier this month and commitment of more than $10 million in emergency funding to fight this mosquito borne disease. “Working together with our local partners, the State has targeted its swift response to the areas in greatest danger of this mosquito borne disease. I will continue to do everything within my power to ensure California is adequately protected against West Nile Virus,” said Gov. Schwarzenegger.

Marburg Virus Found in African Fruit Bats
Public Library of Science (Posted by
22 Aug 2007
Area: Africa

A collaborative team of scientists reported findings today demonstrating the presence of Marburg virus RNA genome and antibodies in a common species of African fruit bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus). The study is the first in which RT-PCR and serological findings have both affirmed Marburg infection in a specific bat species. The natural reservoir for Marburg virus has been the subject of much speculation and scientific investigation. In demonstrating evidence of infection in this common species of fruit bat, the paper provides new insight into a deadly disease that has long baffled epidemiologists, ecologists and virologists, and in which the public has shown a sustained interest.

"Identifying Marburg infection in the African fruit bats brings us one step closer to understanding this deadly disease," says Dr. Eric Leroy of CIRMF, corresponding author on the paper. Marburg virus and the related Ebola virus have caused large outbreaks with high case fatalities (80-90%) in humans and great apes. No vaccine or drug therapy is available presently. The paper reports detection of viral RNA from four out of 283 R. aegyptiacus bats in a collection of over 1100 bats tested, representing 10 species.


Pathology and Epidemiology of Natural West Nile Viral Infection of Raptors in Georgia [free full-text available]
Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 2007 Apr; 43(2): 214-223
AE Ellis et al.

Asymptomatic Infection with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 in Wild Birds: Sound Is the Evidence? - Art. No. 96 [free full-text available]
Virology Journal. 2006 Nov; 3: 96-96
CJ Feare and M Yasue

Prion Protein Genes in Caribou from Alaska [free full-text available]
Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 2007 Apr; 43(2): 224-228
GM Happ et al.

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