May 16, 2011


Cats pass disease to wildlife, even in remote areas

Researchers tracking the spread of Toxoplasma gondii – a parasite that reproduces only in cats but sickens and kills many other animals – have found infected wildlife throughout a 1,500-acre (600-hectare) natural area in central Illinois.

The researchers also found dozens of free-ranging cats in the area, the
Robert Allerton Park, near Monticello, Ill. Two years of tracking, trapping and motion-triggered night photography at eight sites in the park found no evidence of bobcats, but plenty of examples of feral or abandoned house cats, many of them infected with Toxoplasma.

T. gondii reproduces in cats and is shed in their feces. Other animals pick it up from soil or water or by eating infected animals. Infection can lead to neurological problems, and sometimes death, in humans and other animals.
The researchers trapped, sedated and collected blood samples from 18 cats and hundreds of other mammals, including raccoons, opossums, squirrels, mice, woodchucks, chipmunks and rabbits. All of the animals were tagged and released where they were found.

One third of the cats sampled were infected with T gondii, as were significant numbers of the wild animals found at every site. Animals that inhabit or range over territories of 247 acres (100 hectares) or more, such as raccoons and opossums, were more likely to be infected than those with smaller ranges.

EurekAlert! -
12 May 2011


Drug ban helps vulture recovery

A ban on the veterinary use of a painkiller in South Asia appears to be preventing vultures from being poisoned there, say researchers. Many vultures have been killed by eating livestock carcasses that were contaminated with the drug. The crash in vulture populations was so severe that the three endemic species are now threatened with extinction.

This study, published in the journal PLoS One, reveals the first signs that the ban has reduced vulture poisonings. The governments of India, Nepal and Pakistan banned the use of diclofenac for livestock in 2006. But by this time the oriental white-backed vulture population had crashed by 99.9% and populations of the long-billed vulture and slender-billed vulture had fallen by about 97%.

The researchers set out to assess the effectiveness of the ban by measuring the concentration of the drug in livestock carcasses. They took samples from the livers of 5,000 of cattle carcasses. Some samples were gathered one year before the ban, some immediately after its implementation, and some between 2007 and 2008.

This revealed that the proportion of cattle carcasses in India contaminated with the drug declined by approximately 40% between 2006 and 2008.

12 May 2011
V Gill


Cited Journal Article
Cuthbert R, et al. 2011 Effectiveness of Action in India to Reduce Exposure of Gyps Vultures to the Toxic Veterinary Drug Diclofenac. PLoS ONE 6(5): e19069. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019069

Dead crow infected with West Nile Virus

Authorities today confirmed that a dead crow found recently in West Covina tested positive for West Nile Virus, a sign that the virus has come to Los Angeles County.

"I would say yes, it is an indication that the West Nile Virus is circulating again this year," said Kelly Middleton, information officer for the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District, which serves Walnut, Diamond Bar and Glendora. The crow was found Tuesday, near San Bernardino and Azusa Canyon roads.

It takes about two days for a crow to become ill when bitten by an infected mosquito, said Middleton, and with those birds, it is almost always fatal. The West Nile Virus is spread when mosquitoes ingest the blood of infected birds and then bite humans, said Crystal Brown, information officer for the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District.

In order to stay on top of the problem, health and vector control officials place “sentinel chickens,” in strategic spots around Los Angeles County.

DiamondBarPatch -
13 May 2011
M Alfonso
Location: West Covina, California, USA - Map It


Large number of fish dead in the Qin Huai River in Nanjing

Yesterday afternoon, a reporter received a tip from Yao residents that hundreds of dead fish were floating in the Qin Huai River, near the Chang Fu Street Bridge area. Tianjiao Xu, deputy director of the EPA, said that preliminary investigations seem to indicate that hypoxia from the hot weather caused the die-off.

Specific water quality tests are also being performed, as some residents believe that sewage leaked in and led to water quality deterioration. Xu reported that initial testing reveals no water contamination.

Sina -
12 May 2011
F Xiaolin
Location: Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China - Map It


Photo credit: This Week in Wildlife