March 1, 2010


Nutrient enrichment linked to diseases in humans and wildlife

Scientists have provided a rather grim prognosis for global health: the recent increase in nutrient enrichment due to human activities, such as nitrogen pollution through fossil fuel combustion, is likely contributing to several varieties of infectious diseases in humans and wildlife.

Lead author Pieter Johnson from the University of Colorado and colleagues referenced several studies showing the links—both direct and indirect—between nutrient enrichment and the emergence and resurgence of human and wildlife illnesses, such as limb malformations in amphibians and malaria, West Nile virus and schistosomiasis in humans.

Tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia and South America are especially at risk.

EcoTone -
24 February 2010
K Kline
Photo credit: Jurvetson/Flickr

Journal Article Cited

Emerging tick-borne diseases: a domestic ecological mystery

. . . An interdisciplinary team at Washington University in St. Louis has been keeping a wary eye on emerging tick-borne diseases in Missouri for the past 20 years.

. . . The team recently developed a sophisticated DNA assay, described in the March 2010 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, that allows them to identify which animal hosts are transmitting pathogens to ticks.

“This new technology is going to be the key to understanding the transmission of diseases from wildlife to humans by ticks,” Allan says.

Washington University in St. Louis Newsroom -
25 February 2010
D Lutz
Photo courtesy of U.S. Centers for Disease Control

More Deer News
>>> Chronic wasting disease found in Missouri deer [farm-raised; Linn County, Missouri, USA - Map It ]

How Has Human Sprawl Affected Bird Migration—And the Spread of Avian Diseases?

As human population numbers grow, oceans of people seem to spread out into every conceivable environment—even the forests and estuaries used for eons by migratory birds as nutrient-rich stopovers on their longer annual journeys between feeding areas and birthing grounds.

. . . But tired and hungry birds may not have the wherewithal or instinctual coding to seek out alternative resting areas, so they make do with habitat crowded and compromised by human incursion.

Close proximity to avian life hasn’t presented too big of a problem for people in the past, but new concerns about the spread of bird flu (the H5N1 virus) via infected migratory birds (which presumably infect local populations of domestic birds) does have some scientists worried that persistent human expansion could indirectly lead to a disease pandemic of global proportions.

Scientific American -
25 February 2010
Photo credit: T Brakefield/Getty Images

More Bird News

Plagued by Plague: New Research Shows Widespread Risk to Wildlife

The effects of plague on wildlife may have been underestimated in the past, according to research published today in a special issue of Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases.

. . . Eruptions of the fatal disease have wiped out prairie dog colonies, as well as dependent ferret populations, in many locations over the years.

The newly published work demonstrates that plague continues to affect the black-footed ferret, one of the most critically endangered mammals in North America, as well as several species of prairie dogs, including the federally threatened Utah prairie dog—even when the disease does not erupt into epidemic form.

USGS Newsroom -
24 February 2010
Photo credit: D Biggings/USGS


  1. Congressman sees need for more zoo and wildlife veterinarians
  2. 'Kidnap' a joey to save a species
  3. Wild bird telemetry project helps FAO to better understand disease ecology of emerging diseases and the role of migratory birds in transmission dynamics
  4. New and Ongoing Wildlife Mortality Events Nationwide
  5. Flamingos at risk from deadly avian disease
  6. TWRA Confirms First Cases of White Nose Syndrome in Tennessee Bats
  7. Dolphin Diseases Linked to Human Ailments and Ocean Health
  8. Gray Whale Dies from Sucking Sand
  9. UPDATE: White Nose Syndrome Confirmed in Critical Cave
  10. ProMED Rabies, bovine, equine, vampire bat - Argentina
  1. Disease surveillance and referral bias in the veterinary medical database
  2. Journal of Wildlife Management - February 2010 Issue
  3. Consumption of Baits Containing Raccoon Pox-Based Plague Vaccines Protects Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus)

Photo credit: HO/Reuters

Coral News

Huh, That's Interesting!