August 20, 2007

Climate Change Devastating Wildlife in East Africa
17 Aug 2007
K Abwao
Area: Kenya Africa

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) says climate change is to blame for increasing conflicts between humans and wildlife across East Africa, and is heightening the risk that animal diseases will spread. The Biodiversity Research Unit of the KWS warns in its annual report — released last week (10 August) — that unless urgent strategies are developed to counter the effects of climate change, management of wildlife could suffer irreparably. Researchers at the unit say climate change is to blame for rivers drying up and species migrating to new habitats, causing changes in ecosystems. This has led to animals, such as lions, killing domestic animals like sheep and goats in villages near the animal parks.

. . . The KWS says climate change and ecological disturbances could have caused a recent increase in deaths in wildlife populations from infectious diseases. Birds and mammals have been the worst affected, with climate change blamed for the sudden mass death of flamingos around Lake Nakuru in central Kenya last year. The KWS initially suspected bird flu, but 493 samples proved negative for H5N1 avian influenza. According to the report, Kenya's 66 animal parks are all experiencing changes in animal disease patterns.

HPAI in Europe 2007: Concurrent Outbreaks in Poultry and Wild Birds
[text excerpts] - Archive Number 20070817.2695

ProMed Mail -
17 Aug 2007
Area: Europe

As of 13 Jul 2007, the ongoing outbreaks in Europe reveal that deaths occurred in: 1) 1800 domestic turkeys in the Czech Republic starting on 21 Jun 2007; 2) 8 mute swans (_Cyngus olor_) and a Canada goose (_Branta canadensis_) on 25 Jun 2007 in Germany; 3) 153 black-necked grebes (_Podiceps nigricollis_) in Germany and 3 mute swans in France on 4 Jul 2007; 4) a domestic goose in Germany on 8 Jul 2007, and 5) a mute swan in the Czech Republic on 10 Jul 2007. To date from surveys and surveillance in wild birds, with the analysis of more than 300 000 freeranging healthy bird samples in over 40 countries, only a very few rare samples from healthy wild birds have been shown to be positive for H5N1 HPAI virus. Therefore, we could say that a wildlife reservoir for this disease has not yet been clearly identified.

In fact, to answer this question whether wild birds are reservoirs or not, additional surveillance is necessary, and a more focused approach is warranted with emphasis on determining whether healthy wild birds are found to be positive for H5N1 HPAI near, adjacent to, or on infected poultry farms, demonstrating movement of virus either from poultry to wild birds, or visa versa. While introduction of H5N1 HPAI from wild birds can not be ruled out, as we have seen from many past H5N1 HPAI outbreaks that initially occurred in poultry facilities, a much more classical explanation for the initial outbreak is importation of contaminated egg shells or their crates, poultry, or unintentional spread of disease by workers, equipment, or other fomites.

Benton-Franklin Health District Confirms Fifth Hantavirus Case
Tri-City Herald -
16 Aug 2007
I Stegemoeller
Area: Seattle, WA USA

A 65-year-old Franklin County man is in intensive care at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle after being diagnosed earlier this week with Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, a health official said Wednesday. The man is the fifth confirmed case of hantavirus in the Benton-Franklin Health District this year, and the third in the past week, according to Dr. Larry Jecha, the Benton-Franklin Health District medical director. The district usually doesn't hear of more than one case of hantavirus per year, Jecha said, so the health district has warned local health service providers to be on the lookout for symptoms. They include fatigue, fever and muscle aches in the early stages, and later, coughing and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

The virus can be fatal. "We're alerting people to be careful around droppings," Jecha said, because the virus is transmitted through rodent urine, droppings and saliva, particularly that of deer mice. He said the increase in hantavirus cases locally may be because more mice may be carrying the virus. People catch the virus when they breathe contaminated air, typically caused by sweeping or cleaning in areas likely to contain droppings, such as barns, attics or garages, according to the CDC.

Park County Hosts Roundtable on Schweitzer’s Brucellosis “Buffer Zone”
New West -
17 Aug 2007
D Nolt
Area: Montana USA

Responding to Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s plan to create a “brucellosis-free buffer zone” around Yellowstone National Park, the Park County Commissioners sponsored and hosted a public meeting in Livingston on Friday, August 17. The meeting came as Montana faces the possibility of being downgraded to a “Brucellosis Class A State” if cattle in any herd in the state test positive for the disease. Brucellosis causes female ungulates to suddenly abort their fetuses and can be carried in most mammals and birds. Last month the U.S. Department of Agriculture discovered brucellosis in six cows on Joe and Sandy Morgan’s ranch near Bridger.

The entire herd—569 head of cattle—were subsequently sent to slaughter. Governor Brian Schweitzer’s buffer zone plan would require all cattle entering or leaving the as-of-yet determined zone around the park to be tested for brucellosis. Schweitzer and others’ fears stem from the possibility of wild Yellowstone National Park bison transmitting the disease to cattle, though no such transmission has ever been recorded. Park County Commissioner Larry Lahren opened the discussion by saying the meeting was an attempt to “get the facts on the table, which will hopefully result in a resolution about the governor’s plan, which really isn’t a plan at all.”

Trail of Destruction in Mara
The Standard -
19 Aug 2007
I Ongiri
Area: Africa

. . . They say the black-bearded wildebeest, whose return to the country is the climax of the tourist season at the game reserve, is spreading a deadly disease that is killing livestock. "We have been forced to move our cattle out of here, these wildebeests have been the cause of an infectious disease over time; we have to go away," says Mr Shadrack ole Seyio, a rancher near Kichwa Tembo Lodge in the Mara. Seyio told The Sunday Standard he lost more than 100 head of cattle last year after they succumbed to an ailment he blames on the wildebeests. The villagers complain that their pleas for Government intervention have fallen on deaf ears.

The disease, they say, spreads just three weeks after the wildebeests have flocked into the game reserves and start breeding. A Kenyan Wildlife Service physician, Dr Zahoor Kashmir, says the disease is a result of foetal sacs dropped by the herbivores. Kashmir says the foetal sacs are seeped in the vegetation and cause the disease to both domestic and wild animals that feed on it. "It does not only affect the cows but also other herbivores like the buffaloes, topis and gazelles," he explains.


Deer Falling Prey to Insect-borne Disease Again

Hemorrhagic Disease Suspected in Kentucky Deer Deaths


Quantifying the disease transmission function: effects of density on Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis transmission in the mountain yellow-legged frog Rana muscosa
[online abstract only]
Journal of Animal Ecology. 2007 Jul; 76 (4): 711-721
LJ Rachowicz and CJ Briggs

A Single Positively Selected West Nile Viral Mutation Confers Increased Virogenesis in American Crows [online abstract only]
Nature Genetics. 2007 Aug; [Epub ahead of print]
AC Brault et al.

Monitoring of Usutu Virus Activity and Spread by Using Dead Bird Surveillance in Austria, 2003-2005 [online abstract only]
Veterinary Microbiology. 2007 Jun; 122 (3-4): 237-245
S Chvala et al.

Risk Assessment of Great Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus) Exposed to Polychlorinated Biphenyls and DDT along the Kalamazoo River, Michigan, USA [online abstract only]
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 2007 Jul; 26 (7): 1386-1398
KD Strause et al.

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