December 18, 2007

Liver cirrhosis kills 26 crocodiles in north India
Reuters -
14 Dec 2007
S Pradhan
Area: India

As many as 26 endangered crocodiles have been found dead over the last three days in northern India and experts attribute the rare mass deaths to cirrhosis of the liver, authorities said on Friday. The reptiles died in the waters of the Chambal river, which runs along the borders of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and the central state of Madhya Pradesh, baffling experts as it is considered their natural habitat. "Autopsies confirm liver cirrhosis as the cause of death," D.N.S. Suman, Uttar Pradesh's top wildlife official, told Reuters from Etawah town on the banks of the Chambal where experts have camped to investigate the deaths.

Benin confirms its first H5N1 outbreaks
17 Dec 2007
Area: Benin

Tests in Italy have confirmed the first poultry outbreaks of H5N1 avian influenza in the West African country of Benin, according to news services. Agriculture Minister Robert Dovonou said suspected cases found on two farms earlier this month were confirmed by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) in Padua, Italy, according to a Dec 15 report by Agence France-Presse (AFP). The farms are north of Porto Novo, the capital, and in Cotonou, the commercial capital, both in Benin's southern coastal strip, AFP and Reuters reported. Benin is surrounded by countries that have faced poultry outbreaks within the last 2 years: Nigeria, Togo, Niger, and Burkina Faso. Nigeria has had one human H5N1 case. Ivory Coast and Ghana are other West African states that have had poultry outbreaks.

Benin officials reported the two suspected outbreaks to the OIE on Dec 5, saying 100 birds had died and 245 had been killed to stop the outbreak. Most of the birds were chickens, but eight turkeys were among affected poultry on the Cotonou farm. According to the Reuters report, published today, health experts have expressed concern that Benin's Voodoo priests could be at risk for avian flu because of their practice of tearing out the throats of live chickens in ritual sacrifices. In other developments, the agriculture ministry in Saudi Arabia destroyed 13,500 ostriches to control an H5N1 outbreak on a farm in the Al-Kharj region, about 50 miles south of Riyadh, according to a report today by ArabNews, an English-language newspaper in the country.

DNR: 5 more cases of wasting disease found in Hampshire County
The Associated Press (Posted by
18 Dec 2007
Area: West Virginia United States

Preliminary tests show that five more deer killed in Hampshire County during the fall gun season had chronic wasting disease. Division of Natural Resources Director Frank Jezioro (JEZ'-uh-roh) says samples were collected from 1,285 deer brought to game-checking stations in the county, the only one in the state where the disease has been reported. The findings announced Monday bring the number of infected deer found in Hampshire County to 19 since 2005. The DNR has taken measures to prevent the spread of the disease, which affects the brains and nervous systems of deer and elk.

Study to test birth control in park's elk
The Coloradoan -
18 Dec 2007
D Crowl
Photo courtesy of Miles Blumhardt/Coloradoan library
Area: Colorado United States

Though Rocky Mountain National Park officials have been careful not to endorse fertility control for elk as a possible management tool, they may soon find out if it can work in the park. A three-year fertility study conducted by Colorado State University, the National Park Service and other federal agencies has been linked to Rocky Mountain National Park's Elk and Vegetation Management Plan, released last week. The plan aims to bring down a bulging herd size from between 2,200 and 3,100 elk to 1,600 and 2,100 animals in 20 years to lessen the animals' impact on new-growth aspen and willow trees. Park officials could allow as many as 200 elk a year to be shot, according to the plan.

For wildlife biologists, so many culled animals a year is a rare research opportunity. "Samples like this don't come around very often," said Margaret Wild, wildlife biologist for the National Park Service. "We are trying to bring on as many collaborators as possible so we can learn what we can from the elk." The fertility study is one of two major research projects connected to the plan, though the culled animals will undergo a litany of other tests. The second study would determine if a live test for the fatal brain malady chronic wasting disease works. So far, accurate tests can only be performed on carcasses.

Commerce Department awards grant to Great Falls research center
The Associated Press (Posted by
17 Dec 2007
Area: Montana United States

The Montana Department of Commerce has awarded a $2 million biomedical research grant to the McLaughlin Research Institute in Great Falls. The institute is working to better understand and detect bovine spongiform encephalopathy in livestock and chronic wasting disease in deer and elk. The grant will allow it to expand its research and provide more educational opportunities to students and teachers. The money was appropriated by the 2007 state Legislature.

Herpesvirus, zoo elephants - USA - Archive Number 20071217.4058
ProMED-mail -
10 Dec 2007

Regarding the presence of herpesvirus in the wild, Laura Richman is correct and Joe Dudley is incorrect. Elephantid herpesvirus 1 (ElHV1) has been found in a wild elephant in Asia. See: Endotheliotropic elephant herpes virus (EEHV) infection. The first PCR-confirmed fatal case in Asia.

Dr. Dudley also overstates the present knowledge of these viruses. While it is a viable theory that elephantid herpesvirus 1 is of African elephant origin, it is far from proven. Significant ElHV1-associated disease in elephants tends to be found in weaning age animals, and this is not necessarily inconsistent with the behavior of some herpesviruses in their native hosts. Further, in some recent deaths, the virus found to be the cause of death was not elephantid herpesvirus 1, but a distinct and novel endotheliotropic herpesvirus, and this novel virus has not been associated with African elephants.

NOAA Seeks Greater Protections for Threatened Elkhorn and Staghorn Corals
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -
18 Dec 2007

NOAA is proposing to extend most of the prohibitions of the Endangered Species Act - normally applied only to endangered species - to the threatened elkhorn and staghorn corals. NOAA biologists estimate more than 90 percent of elkhorn and staghorn corals have been lost because of coral bleaching due to rising sea temperatures, disease, and tropical storm damage. Both species were listed as threatened in May 2006. “These were the most dominant and important coral species on Florida and Caribbean reefs,” said Roy Crabtree, NOAA Fisheries Southeast regional administrator.

“Since their decline, they no longer fulfill their important ecosystem role – which includes protecting coasts from storms and supporting healthy fisheries.” Species listed as endangered under the ESA are automatically covered by a suite of protective measures and prohibitions in the law. However, for species listed as threatened, such as elkhorn and staghorn corals, these same measures and prohibitions do not automatically apply. Therefore, NOAA Fisheries Service developed a separate proposed rule, called a 4(d) rule after section 4(d) of the ESA, detailing the prohibitions necessary to provide for the conservation of elkhorn and staghorn corals.

Researcher mounts cold-weather assault on bird flu
The Associated Press (Posted by
17 Dec 2007
E Shaw
Area: Michigan United States

A Central Michigan University researcher is poking holes in the ice at area waterfowl watering holes, hoping to find a new way to stand guard against the potentially deadly bird flu. The lethal strain of the avian influenza virus — known as H5N1 — has killed more than 150 people worldwide since 2003, with more than 4,000 outbreaks in poultry and deaths in more than 60 wildlife species. It hasn't been detected yet in North America, but the World Health Organization has tracked its spread across the globe to Europe, Africa and Asia — highlighting the need for better early warning methods. "Two or three years ago, bird flu was everywhere in the news.

Today, you don't hear about it as much, but the threat hasn't gone away — it's just been replaced in the media by other health scares," said Todd Lickfett, a Central Michigan graduate assistant Lickfett hopes to develop his new monitoring method using bird flu strains that are common in North American migratory flocks but aren't harmful to humans. Researchers now collect and test samples from individual birds — an effective but costly and time-consuming approach.


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