October 22, 2007

Ebola Viruses 'Capable of Merging' into New Strains
SciDev.Net - scidev.net
19 Oct 2007
E Tola
Area: Gabon and Democratic Republic of Congo Africa

Scientists have discovered that a strain of Ebola virus isolated from wild apes in the Gabon/Congo region belongs to a new lineage and is capable of genetically merging with other strains of the virus to create new variants. This ability of the lethal virus to 'recombine' genetic material has important implications for vaccine development, write the researchers. A vaccine that is made up of weakened viruses could merge with the wild virus to form new strains, making the spread of the virus in humans and apes harder to predict and control. The findings were published online this week (17 October) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists from the International Centre for Medical Research in Franceville, Gabon, and their colleagues genetically analysed samples of Zaire Ebola virus — the most virulent type, which causes haemorrhagic fever and death within days in almost 90 per cent of infected people — taken from carcasses of great apes. They identified a new strain, strain B, that is genetically different from the strain A samples collected in past outbreaks from infected humans. The researchers estimate that strain B probably evolved just before the first recorded human outbreak in 1976. They confirmed that it was the cause of outbreaks in humans in the Republic of Congo in 2003 and 2005.


Cited Article

Viruses from Tropical Countries Are Moving to Temperate Zones
Europaworld - europaworld.org
20 Oct 2007

Animal diseases are advancing globally and countries will have to invest more in surveillance and control measures, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said this week, citing West Nile Virus, Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever and other plagues that have crossed from tropical to temperate zones. “No country can claim to be a safe haven with respect to animal diseases,” warned FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Joseph Domenech in a news release. “Transboundary animal diseases that were originally confined to tropical countries are on the rise around the globe. They do not spare temperate zones including Europe, the United States and Australia,” he added. Globalization, the movement of people and goods, tourism, urbanization and probably also climate change are favouring the spread of animal viruses around the planet, FAO noted.

“The increased mobility of viruses and their carriers is a new threat that countries and the international community should take seriously. Early detection of viruses together with surveillance and control measures are needed as effective defence measures,” Mr. Domenech said, calling for strong political support and funding for animal health and more adequate veterinary services. The agency raised concern about the spread of the non-contagious bluetongue virus, which affects cattle, goats, deer and sheep. First discovered in South Africa, it has spread to many countries for reasons that remain unclear, FAO said.

New Wisconsin Law Aimed at Keeping Feed from Elk, Bear
Ironwood Daily Globe - ironwooddailyglobe.com
21 Oct 2007
Area: Wisconsin United States

People who feed wild animals should be aware of a new regulation in Wisconsin that took effect Oct. 1. The new regulation requires people feeding deer for non-hunting purposes to stop feeding for a period of at least 30 days if the feed site begins to be used by elk or black bears. It is illegal to feed wild bear and elk in Wisconsin. Bears may be baited in accordance with certain restrictions for hunting purposes only, and if the person placing the bait holds a valid Class B Bear license.

There is no hunting season for elk in Wisconsin. Department of Natural Resources officials said the new rule helps protect wildlife, including deer, bear and elk, from infectious disease and reduces the risk of automobile-wildlife collisions. "The new rule requiring removal of feed from a deer feeding site applies to residences and businesses," said Tom Van Haren, WDNR conservation warden. "If the owner is notified by the DNR or otherwise becomes aware that bear or elk have been using a feeding site, he or she must stop the practice for not less than 30 days."

Bluetongue Spread from Norfolk Flock
EDP24 - edp24.co.uk
19 Oct 2007
Area: England United Kingdom

Bluetongue disease was transported to a sheep flock at Peterborough from a farm in central Norfolk, it emerged last night. Animal health officials are now checking when the ram became infected by the midge-borne disease. “We have traced the disease that has grown in Peterborough and Ashford to movements of livestock rather than blown-in midges from the continent,” said farming minister Lord (Jeff) Rooker. A senior official Defra official has also confirmed that livestock on Norfolk farms are likely to be have been infected by the midges over the past two months.

Scientists are working on the theory that a plume brought the midges over the North Sea on or about August 4 or 5, which came up the Orwell estuary and then effectively came up the A140 towards the centre of Norfolk. This explains why virtually the whole of Norfolk was designated within the extensive control zone once the bluetongue outbreak had been declared on September 28 - stretching almost 75 miles from the source of the first cases at Baylham, near Ipswich. Former Norfolk farmers' leader William Brigham, was briefed by Defra's head of exotic diseases, Sarah Church, said that it seems the ram was moved legally from Norfolk to Fitzwilliam Farms' Milton Park sheep flock, near Peterborough. Mr Brigham said: “The assumption they're working on is that the whole of Norfolk has possibly got bluetongue. In other words any animal moving out of the control zone is potentially a bluetongue carrier.”

Blueprint to Hit Tb Pests Where It Counts
19 Oct 2007
T Cronshaw
Area: New Zealand

Research on Molesworth Station has provided a new blueprint for controlling the spread of bovine Tb, challenging conventional thinking on the issue.

Deep in the heart of Molesworth Station, scientists think they have cracked the secret to mopping up problem high-country areas where bovine tuberculosis (Tb) lingers. The results from three years of studying station wildlife that catches, carries and passes on the disease will be used as a pest-control blueprint that challenges conventional wisdom and is a departure from blanketing the land with 1080 poison. The vastness of Molesworth's 183,000 hectares, and other high-country farms like it, means it is too difficult and too expensive to expect to drop 1080 from the air over the entire station. Landcare Research scientists have discovered in a $500,000 project that it is better to isolate the areas where the pests are deep-rooted by studying their movement, altitude range and habitat patterns, and then target the high-risk areas.

Project leader Dr Andrea Byrom likens finding the answer to fitting together many small pieces in a puzzle. "There have always been concerns about aerial control because there will be some possums left in the areas you leave out. What we are advocating is a bit different in that the focus is on your critical key areas first and you should be able to achieve much better results. "Where the possums are bad and very likely where there are a lot of feral pigs, is more likely to be where Tb is a problem in the landscape.



Spatial, Temporal, and Species Variation in Prevalence of Influenza A Viruses in Wild Migratory Birds [free full-text available]
PLoS Pathog. 2007 May 11; 3(5): e61
VJ Munster et al.

Mycoplasma gallisepticum Infection in House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) Affects Mosquito Blood Feeding Patterns [online abstract only]
Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2007 Sep; 77(3): 488-94
JM Darbro et al.

Sarcocystis Sp-Associated Meningoencephalitis in a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) [online abstract only]
J Vet Diagn Invest. 2007 Sep; 19(5): 564-8
EJ Olson et al.

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