November 12, 2007

Biologist Dies of Plague in Arizona
Miami News -
11 Nov 2007
Area: Arizona United States

Man Performed Necropsy On Infected Mountain Lion

A wildlife biologist at Grand Canyon National Park most likely died from the plague contracted while performing a necropsy on a mountain lion that later tested positive for the disease, officials said Friday, reported WCVB-TV in Boston. The death last week of 37-year-old Eric York triggered a health scare that led to 49 people who had contact with him being given antibiotics as a precaution. None have shown symptoms of the sometimes-fatal disease. York, who worked in the park's cougar collaring program and grew up in Massachusetts, became ill on Oct. 30 and called in sick for a couple of days before being found dead in his home on Nov. 2. Testing after his death was positive for the plague.

York's symptoms were consistent with pneumonic plague, the most serious but least common form of plague. The biologist had skinned the lion and was exposed to its internal organs during the necropsy he performed three days before developing symptoms, said David Wong, an epidemiologist for the U.S. Public Health Service. The cougar, which had died from the plague, was believed to have remained in back-country areas where park visitors wouldn't normally go, officials said. York had worked in the Grand Canyon for two years.

Foreign Goldfish Bring Death to Our Frogs
Telegraph -
11 Nov 2007
Area: England United Kingdom

The humble goldfish is being blamed for spreading a deadly virus that has wiped out tens of thousands of frogs in Britain. Fish imported from breeding farms in the United States are believed to be infected with Red Leg disease, a virus that causes frogs' limbs to waste away and leads to their bleeding to death. Now a major European project is investigating how the international trade in ornamental fish is causing the devastating disease to spread. Dr Andrew Cunningham, from the Zoological Society of London who has been investigating the disease, said: "One of the most common factors that has been associated with the virus in frogs was deaths in goldfish, so there is an epidemiological link. Goldfish might be carriers of this virus."

Red Leg disease, named after the red sores it produces on frogs' legs before they die, was introduced from the United States nearly a decade ago but until recently had been confined to south-east England. Scientists now claim it has begun spreading west and north. While the virus has been found to be harmful to Britain's population of common frogs, it is also thought to infect other amphibians such as the common toad and newt. Dr Barry Hill, of the Centre for Fisheries, Environment and Aquaculture Science at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: "We have found that almost without exception, the virus is present in the dead frogs we are testing.

UN Warns of Possible Sharp Rise in Bird Flu Outbreaks ahead of Northern Hemisphere Winter
The Associated Press (Posted by
09 Nov 2007

Asia must keep watch for a sharp rise in bird flu outbreaks as winter approaches, the top U.N. influenza official said Friday, calling illnesses from animals "one of the greatest threats to the survival of the human race." "The northern winter seems to be a time when the risk of the disease in poultry increases, and it's partly to do with the fact that this virus quite likes cold weather," said David Nabarro, the U.N. coordinator for avian flu and influenza. Birds migrating from Asia to the south and west in winter could also carry the disease to new areas, Nabarro told The Associated Press in Tokyo. "When you get a high concentration of diseased birds, the risk of the virus coming into the human population seems to increase," he said.

"Each time a human is infected with the virus, the possibility of the mutation to cause the pandemic flu comes along — and that's what we're on the lookout for." Nabarro spoke after the Vietnamese government said Friday that dozens of ducks had died from bird flu in the country's south. Tests showed the birds had the lethal H5N1 bird flu virus strain, Vietnam's Department of Animal Health said. The World Health Organization says the H5N1 strain, which has ravaged farms across Asia since late 2003, has killed at least 205 people worldwide, including 90 in Indonesia, 46 in Vietnam and 15 in China.

Oil Spill Threatens Bay Area Wildlife
The Associated Press -
09 Nov 2007
T Chea
Area: California United States

Assessment and recovery teams hit the skies, waters and beaches Friday trying to contain the damage from a 58,000-gallon oil spill that has stained some of Northern California's coastline. Oil skimmers, surveillance flights and shoreline cleanup teams continued to mop up the damage as questions persisted about why the Coast Guard took so long to report the scope of the spill. The spill, believed to be the biggest in the bay since 1988, has fouled miles of coastline, closed several beaches, canceled weekend outdoor events and threatened thousands of birds and marine animals. "The effects of the oil spill could persist for months and possibly years," said Tina Swanson, a fish biologist with the Bay Institute.

. . . Wildlife rescue workers and volunteers combing beaches have found dozens of dead and injured seabirds coated in black oil, said Michael Ziccardi, director of the California Oiled Wildlife Care Network. Ten to 15 teams were to be dispatched Friday to search for more. More than 30 oiled birds, mostly surf scoters that live on the water's surface, were taken to a mobile treatment center at Fort Mason, Ziccardi said. Most will be taken to a wildlife care center to be cleaned and rehabilitated before being released into the wild. Wildlife officials are concerned that the region's sea lions and harbor seals could also be affected, though there were no confirmed reports of injured marine mammals. Officials and fishermen also worried that the spill could hurt several species of fish.



Rapid Detection of H5 Avian Influenza Virus by TaqMan-MGB Real-time RT-PCR [online abstract only]
Lett Appl Microbiol. 2007 Oct 17; [Epub ahead of print]
YY Lu et al.

Molecular Epidemiology of Trichinella spp. in Three Baltic Countries: Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia [online abstract only]
Parasitol Res. 2007 Mar; 100(4): 687-93. Epub 2006 Sep 30.
A Malakauskas et al.

Influenza Viruses in Animal Wildlife Populations [online abstract only]
Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2007 Jul; 315: 67-83
RJ Webby et al.

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