September 27, 2007

Sea Life Dying as Red Tide Grows
The Florida Times-Union -
27 Sep 2007
D Treen
Area: Florida USA

IMPACT ON WILDLIFE A second wave of dead fish washes ashore in Nassau County. IMPACT ON PEOPLE Severe coughs, burning eyes and nose are possible.

Nassau County lifeguards hoisted red warning flags Wednesday at beach parks as a second wave of dead sea life washed up on shore, likely killed by an algae overload known as red tide identified in the waters. Dead fish also washed ashore Wednesday at Huguenot Memorial Park in Jacksonville, where people complained of mild respiratory irritation, according to a news release from the city. Water samples have been sent to a state lab. Researchers from the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg have identified medium concentrations of red tide in water samples from Fernandina Beach and low to medium levels in Amelia Island samples.

Results of the Duval County tests are not yet available. It was the first outbreak of red tide in the area since 2002, and thousands of fish have already washed ashore. "I don't know if we are dealing with a couple-of-days scenario or a week-long scenario," said Daniel Salmon, Nassau County's director of parks, recreation and ocean rescue. Salmon said he saw a dead turtle on the beach, as well as large red bass and a stingray he estimated at 100 pounds.

Study Reveals Role of Lymph Nodes in Prion Disease
Cordis -
25 Sep 2007

Lymph nodes appear to play a key role in spreading low doses of prion diseases such as scrapie or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) to the central nervous system (CNS), according to new research from German scientists. The work, which was partly funded by the EU, is published in the open access journal BMC Veterinary Medicine. Prion diseases occur when abnormally folded infectious prions cause normal proteins in the brain to become similarly malformed. The brains of those infected have large numbers of tiny holes, causing them to look like sponges. There is currently no cure for prion diseases, which are always fatal.

Many questions remain about how prion diseases are transmitted from one individual to another, and how the prions themselves get from the site of infection to the central nervous system. In this latest study, scientists from the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin looked at the role of lymph nodes, which are part of the body's immune system, in spreading the infectious prions within the body. The scientists infected hamsters with the prion disease scrapie by injecting different doses of the disease into the animals' feet. Some animals had nearby lymph nodes removed before being infected, and others had them removed at different points after infection.

BLM Horse Facility near Reno Closed Due to 130 Animal Deaths
The Associated Press (Posted by
26 Sep 2007
S Sonner
Area: Nevada USA

Federal land managers on Wednesday temporarily shut down the National Wild Horse and Burro Center in northern Nevada, where 130 wild horses recently have died from health problems that could pose a threat to workers and visitors. The voluntary closure of the center in Palomino Valley about 20 miles north of Reno is a preventive measure because the salmonella bacteria found in some of the mustangs can infect people and domestic animals, officials for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said. The center's 160 acres of corals serve as a national holding facility for up to 1,650 animals the BLM rounds up from public rangeland to be vaccinated and marked while awaiting shipment under the agency's wild horse adoption program. The problems apparently stem from about 1,000 unhealthy horses that were gathered in northwest Nevada's Jackson Mountains in early September.

Many of them were extremely thin and weak due to a lack of food and water resulting from extended drought conditions, BLM officials said. Consequently, those horses have had trouble adjusting to feed at the holding center. The deaths were attributed to poor body conditions combined with pneumonia and severe diarrhea related to salmonella, said Dr. Al Kane, a veterinarian for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The pneumonia is blamed on dust and lack of moisture, compounded by wide fluctuations in fall temperatures from the 30s at night to high 70s during the day.

Scientists Check Ducks for Bird Flu Strain
The Missoulian -
27 Sep 2007
M Moore
Area: Montana USA

State and federal scientists are at work across Montana over the next few months, anxiously hoping they don't find what they're looking for. The scientists are doing some sleuthing, capturing live ducks and testing dead ones to see whether a deadly strain of avian flu has made it to America. “This surveillance is a way for us to determine whether the disease has made it here,” said Rose Jaffe, avian influenza coordinator for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “So far, it hasn't happened, and we hope it stays that way.”

From now into December, the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services, FWP and other agencies will take about 1,500 samples from around Montana. Those samples will be taken from a variety of places - national wildlife refuges, urban duck flocks and birds taken by hunters, Jaffe said. “We parcel them out between the live trapping that we'll do at the urban ponds, hunter harvest samples and the banding programs on the refuges,” she said. “It's important to spread out the samples.”

Waiting for Frost: Bluetongue Appears in Montana Livestock and Wildlife
New West -
25 Sep 2007
KL Schlegel
Area: England United Kingdom and Montana USA

Over the weekend the mysterious bluetongue virus simultaneously appeared in parts of England and Southeastern Montana. On Sunday, the BBC reported the first case of bluetongue, also called catarrhal fever, which most likely traveled from Europe in a swarm of infected midges. The small gnat-like insects can travel up to 124 miles a day, and just one midge bite is enough to infect an animal. And while the United Kingdom’s Telegraph reports that the disease is harmless to humans, it can kill up to 70 percent of ruminants in weeks.

. . . Bluetongue is also the source of major concern for hunters hoping to provide their own meat this season as populations of deer and antelope are suspected of being infected. On September 13th, Montana’s Fish Wildlife & Parks Department released an alert that the virus had been seen in big game populations in southeastern Montana. Domestic sheep, white-tailed deer and mule deer, antelope and elk are all susceptible to bluetongue virus, although no bluetongue deaths have been reported in elk. The virus is the suspected cause in the deaths of hundreds of animals in southeastern Montana, particularly near Roundup and Miles City. According to an article in the Great Falls Tribune, the Melstone area near the Musselshell River has been hit hardest.


Deadly Virus Wreaks Havoc on N.J. Deer

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Continues to Spread


Parasites Physically Block Host Copulation: A Potent Mechanism of Parasite-mediated Sexual Selection [online abstract only]
Behavioral Ecology. 2007 Jul; 18(5): 952-957
M Polak et al.

Avian Defensive Behavior and Blood-feeding Success of the West Nile Vector Mosquito, Culex pipiens [online abstract only]
Behavioral Ecology. 2007 Jun; 18(4): 750-757
JM Darbro and LC Harrington

Aquatic Eutrophication Promotes Pathogenic Infection in Amphibians [online abstract only]
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Sep; [Epub ahead of print]
PTJ Johnson et al.

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