January 17, 2008

Fourth swan found with bird flu
BBC News - news.bbc.co.uk
16 Jan 2008
Area: England United States

A fourth swan at a sanctuary in Dorset has tested positive for the virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu, environment department Defra has said. Three mute swans found dead last week at the Abbotsbury Swannery, near Chesil Beach, also tested positive for H5N1. The fourth swan was one of four found dead at the swannery on Friday. Tests on the other three proved negative.

Culling has been ruled out so far but there are restrictions on movements of captive birds nearby. Defra said there was currently no evidence to suggest the disease was widespread among wild birds in the area, but officials were closely monitoring the situation. Tests are being carried out on birds around the Chesil Beach area as part of routine surveillance for the disease. Bird keepers in the area have been urged to remain vigilant.

Botulism takes fatal toll on thousands of Great Lakes birds
Chicago Tribune - wgntv.trb.com
15 Jan 2008
J Janega
Area: United States

The bird die-off was obvious as soon as Gary Rentrop and his English setter turned onto the Lake Michigan shore. The sugar-white sand, long buried in the crushed gray shells of invasive mussels and mats of rotting algae was now, suddenly, littered with dead birds. "It was almost like a war zone of birds," said Rentrop, a Michigan lawyer who recalled his November stroll along a Michigan beach. Rentrop counted 80 carcasses on a remote mile of beach near Cross Village, just a fraction of the estimated thousands of dead mergansers, gulls, loons and other birds whose migration last autumn ended in deadly poisoning from Type E botulism on Lake Michigan.

The mounting toll on migrating birds has stoked fears among researchers and ecologists that blame for the deaths lies with invasive populations of zebra mussels and round gobies -- which arrived in ballast tanks in the 1980s and 1990s -- spreading over the Great Lakes and effectively creating a new food chain. Zebra mussels and their deep-water kin, quagga mussels, filter naturally occurring botulism and other toxins from the water. Gobies eat the mussels, and birds, in turn, eat the gobies. Scientists theorize this new food chain is concentrating botulism and other toxins and passing them up to predators. The theory is the subject of a handful of scientific papers and upcoming research proposals.

Killer disease wipes out ghariyals
IBN Live - www.ibnlive.com
16 Jan 2008
Area: India

There's a mysterious disease stalking the gharial (the Indian crocodile). Even as I write this, dead bodies of the gharial are being dragged out from the river Chambal. Females, males and sub-adults - the death toll continues to rise day after day. It's a mass slaughter and it's not due to poaching - it's an epidemic, which has already wiped out a massive chunk of the gharial population. Almost a hundred gharials have died at the National Chambal wildlife sanctuary alone, the only one in the country that extends into three states, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

The MP government has been swift to react. But Rajasthan still refuses to acknowledge the problem (even though the Environment Minister at the Centre is from Rajasthan). The UP government, too, is foxed. But other than sending the dead bodies for a routine post-mortem, everyone is clueless. Renowned wildlife filmmakers Naresh and Rajesh Bedi, who have been filming gharials for the last decade, could not believe what they saw this December: a male gharial heaved and trembled as it raised its snout in the air and died a slow death.

Herons persist in Chicago wetlands despite exposure to banned chemicals
Physorg.com - www.physorg.com
16 Jan 2008
Photo courtesy of Michael Jeffords, Illinois Natural History Survey
Area: Illinois United States

Herons nesting in the wetlands of southeast Chicago are still being exposed to chemicals banned in the U.S. in the 1970s, a research team reports. The chemicals do not appear to be affecting the birds’ reproductive success, however. The findings appear in the current issue of the Journal of Great Lakes Research. University of Illinois veterinary biosciences scientist Jeff Levengood led the study. Levengood, a wildlife toxicologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey, said that chemicals banned 30 years ago for their deleterious effects on wildlife are still showing up in the offspring of black-crowned night-herons in a Chicago wetland. The researchers found PCBs and DDE in the eggs of night-herons nesting in the wetlands abutting Lake Calumet, in southeast Chicago. The Lake Calumet wetlands are surrounded by industrial developments along Lake Michigan near the Illinois-Indiana border.

The research team included scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Illinois Waste Management and Research Center, and Purdue and Duke universities. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) were commonly used in electrical transformers and other industrial applications until they were banned in 1977 because of their toxicity in the environment. DDE is a metabolic by-product of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), a pesticide banned in 1972 because it was observed to kill or disrupt the reproduction of birds and other wildlife. The DDT ban is believed to have reversed the dramatic decline in the American bald eagle and the peregrine falcon in the continental U.S.

Eisele: CWD committee punts, fumbles opportunities
The Capital Times - www.madison.com
16 Jan 2008
T Eisele
Area: Wisconsin United States

When you turn over the institution to the inmates, someone will eventually have to decide when to take back control. That is what the Department of Natural Resources did with its Chronic Wasting Disease program. Everything was put on hold this year while turning over the program to a diverse CWD Stakeholders Advisory Committee. The committee's job was to recommend how Wisconsin should manage CWD to minimize the impact of the disease on Wisconsin's free-ranging deer population, the economy, hunters, landowners and others who benefit from a healthy deer herd. The committee began meeting in July and held their final session last Saturday to vote on recommendations.

They debated deer seasons while the rest of the state watched a Green Bay football team play in the snow. Perhaps their votes made perfect sense to the 15 people voting, but to me they sidestepped concerns over deer baiting, fumbled an opportunity to recommend that deer farms come under the jurisdiction of the DNR, and booted opportunities to use sharp shooting in CWD areas. They even told representatives from the CWD technical committee to take a hike, and not speak unless asked. The 15 committee members turned down a proposed statewide ban on baiting of deer.

Gulls' blood records oil impacts
BBC News - news.bbc.co.uk
16 Jan 2008
Photo courtesy of A Velando
Area: Spain European Union

Seabirds' blood can hold vital clues about the long-term ecological impacts of oil spills, researchers suggest. Scientists collected samples from gulls in north-west Spain, close to where the Prestige tanker sank in November 2002. Seventeen months after the disaster, concentrations of toxic compounds in the birds' blood were, on average, 120% higher than normal. The team hopes its findings will offer a way to collect data about oil spills' accumulative effect on wildlife.

Writing in the American Chemical Society's journal Environmental Science and Technology, the Spanish scientists explained why seabirds could be considered good "bioindicators" of lasting pollution. "Life history characteristics of seabirds make them particularly vulnerable to oil pollution because they spend much of their lives on the ocean's surface, and because their populations concentrate in habitats prone to high oil exposure." They added that the birds also were also high up the food chain, making them "good candidates to monitor the marine ecosystem". Between May and June 2004, the researchers collected blood samples from 61 adult yellow-legged gulls (Larus michahellis) breeding in seven colonies along the north-west Spanish coast.

Popular aquarium fish imports may be restricted
Practical Fishkeeping - www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk
17 Jan 2008
M Clarke
Photo courtesy of Neil Hepworth
Area: European Union

Imports of a wide range of popular wild-caught tropical fish could be restricted later this year when a new European Union Directive is introduced. Imports of barbs from the Puntius genus, Trichogaster gouramis, freshwater sharks from the Labeo genus, Channa snakeheads, Catla, Mastacembelus spiny eels and mullet from the Mugil genus could all be restricted when the EU Directive on Aquatic Animal Health comes into force in August 2008. The Aquatic Animal Health Directive (known as 2006/88/EC) makes the fish diseases KHV (Koi Herpes Virus) and EUS (Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome) notifiable diseases throughout the EU and will introduce measures to control the import of susceptible fishes.

While KHV is currently believed to primarily affect the carp (Cyprinus carpio), EUS can potentially affect a much wider range of species, including a number of popular tropical aquarium fish. The Directive has listed the entire Puntius, Trichogaster, Mastacembelus, Labeo, Catla and Mugil genera as susceptible to the disease, and is proposing to restrict imports of the fish from areas not proven to be free of the disease. There are currently 126 Puntius, 28 Channa, 5 Trichogaster, 61 Mastacembelus, 105 Labeo, 18 Mugil and 3 Catla species recognised; so the list covers nearly 350 species. No mention is made of a ban on closely related genera, which may contain fishes formerly in those genera listed in the Directive.



Avian Pathology - January 2008
Vol 37, Issue 1

Double introduction of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus into France in early 2006 (online abstract only)
Avian Pathology. 2008 Jan; 37(1): 15 – 23
G Le Gall-Recule et al.

Echinococcus multilocularis in Belgium: Prevalence in red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and in different species of potential intermediate hosts (online abstract only)
Veterinary Parasitology. 2008 Feb 14; 151(2-4): 212-217
R Hanosset et al.

Evidence of avian influenza virus and paramyxovirus subtype 2 in wild-living passerine birds in Slovenia (online abstract only)
European Journal of Wildlife Research. 2008; [Epub ahead of print]
J Racnik et al.

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