August 15, 2007

Gene Mutation Turned West Nile Virus Into Killer Disease Among Crows
15 Aug 2007
Photo Courtesy of UC Davis

A gene mutation that appears to be responsible for changing relatively mild forms of the West Nile virus into a highly virulent and deadly disease in American crows has been identified by a team of scientists led by a researcher at the University of California, Davis. Because it is highly susceptible to West Nile virus, the American crow has served as the major sentinel species, playing an important role in alerting scientists and health professionals to the movement of the disease across North America.

"The findings from this study highlight the potential for viruses like West Nile to rapidly adapt to changing environments when introduced to new geographic regions," said Aaron C. Brault, a virologist at the Center for Vectorborne Diseases in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. "The study also suggests that the genetic mutations that create such adaptive changes may result in viral strains that have unexpected symptoms and patterns of transmission," Brault said.

State, Feds Target Bison: Wildlife Managers Eager to Begin Killing Bison on Elk Refuge to Reduce Herd of More Than 1,000
Jackson Hole News and Guide
15 Aug 2007
C Hatch
Area: Wyoming, USA

Jackson wildlife managers say they are anxious to start a bison hunt that could cull the local bison herd by 25 percent this year. Killing bison, they say, is an essential part of restoring habitat and helping prevent diseases in the Jackson Elk Herd. The statements came a day after Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal asked the federal government to help lift an injunction against bison hunting on the National Elk Refuge so the state can proceed with its planned bison hunt this fall.

In a letter dated Aug. 10, Freudenthal asks Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to help appeal to a federal court. “While we, like the Fish and Wildlife Service, believe that the number of bison on the National Elk Refuge needs to be reduced to protect this environmentally-sensitive area, we are unwilling to risk being found in contempt for going forward with actions that are presently prohibited by a federal court order,” Freudenthal wrote.

World Rabies Day Strives to Make Rabies History
PRNewswire-USNewswire (posted by
14 Aug 2007

World Rabies Day, Sept. 8, 2007 is a new, international event launching global efforts to eliminate rabies. The inaugural event will remind people that rabies is still a very deadly but preventable disease. Last year alone, at least 55,000 people died of rabies worldwide, including three in the United States, which had almost 7,000 confirmed cases of animal rabies.

In the United States, rabies is still present in bat populations (as well as regionally in raccoon, fox, and skunk) in every state but Hawaii, according to a rabies surveillance report published in the August 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The inaugural World Rabies Day includes participation by Canada, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Brazil, Pakistan, Thailand, Ethiopia, South Africa, Germany, Haiti, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United Sates, including veterinary medical school fund-raisers and educational programs by virtually every Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) chapter.

Forensics Lab Finishes Major Addition
13 Aug 2007
M Freeman

The world's top wildlife forensics lab is making new high-tech strides in the fight against wildlife diseases, while also keeping in stride with the needs of Ken Goddard's 11-year-old granddaughter. When animals carrying anthrax, chronic wasting disease or any other risky pathogen enter the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Lab in Ashland, they have to be handled in a way that poses no risk to what Goddard holds most precious. "I have the Granddaughter Rule," says Goddard, the director of the 18-year-old lab.

"When she comes here, she'll be safe." And so will the lab's analysts, the community, the county's domestic and wild animals, and future generations of granddaughters who find themselves facing new threats from animal diseases and poisoned evidence in wildlife crime cases. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed a $15 million addition and makeover of its Ashland lab that makes it safe to handle and preserve even the most tainted evidence found anywhere in the world.


Deadlier Than Foot and Mouth: Outbreak of Bluetongue Imminent


Journal of Wildlife Diseases
1 July 2007; Vol. 43, No. 3

Characterization of Major Histocompatibility Complex Class I and Class II Genes From the Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) [online abstract only]
Immunogenetics. 2007 Aug 3; [Epub ahead of print]
HVS Siddle et. al

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