June 30, 2011


Mass fish deaths in Moscow

A fishy case has washed up at the door of Moscow’s prosecutors after dead perches and roaches were spotted by city dwellers in the Yauza river in eastern Moscow. Witnesses claim they could smell something strong and that a large dark mark appeared on the water surface.

Results of water tests are to be announced in three days, according to officials, and they claim the incident could have been caused by various things. Chemicals resembling varnish and painting materials have been found on where the fish deaths came to light, but Igor Yepifanov, press-secretary of Moscow state-run sewage company Mosvodstok, thinks there is nothing to worry about.

“In general, no serious harm has been done to the river’s ecology, as the level of polluting materials is not critical,” Yepifanov told RIA Novosti. Floating barriers have been put in place to stop the spread of the emissions, he added.

The Moscow News - www.themoscownews.com
29 June 2011
A Lobzina
Location: Yauza River, Moscow, Russia - Map It


Herpesvirus claims another elephant as search for answers continues

This past May the Berlin Zoo announced that Ko Raya, a 2-year-old female Asian elephant, had died of an infection caused by a particularly virulent species of herpesvirus discovered only within the past two decades.

With few exceptions, herpesviruses don't cause clinically important disease. The virus that caused Ko Raya's death, however, was one of several novel elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses now considered among the most serious challenges to the Asian elephant's survival in captivity and the wild. No vaccine is available for EEHV, nor are there any reliable treatment options for the disease, which accounts for a quarter of young, captive Asian elephant deaths.

Many of the 12 species of herpesviruses carried by elephants are benign. What sets the EEHVs apart is their lethality. Elephant endotheliotropic herpesviruses can cause a hemorrhagic illness so severe as to result in death within 24 hours of onset. The odds of surviving systemic EEHV viremia are approximately 20 percent, and just eight elephants have done so.

...Fatal EEHV disease has been traced back to the early 1980s. At least 50 Asian elephant deaths in North America and Europe were a result of EEHV viremia. In addition, the herpesviruses are linked to 24 wild and captive elephant fatalities in India, Thailand, and Cambodia, although the actual number of elephants dying of the viral disease in these regions is thought to be much higher.

American Veterinary medical Association - www.avma.org
29 Jun 2011
R Nolen


Multiple Sclerosis-Like Disease Discovered in Monkeys

Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University have discovered a naturally occurring disease in monkeys that is very much like multiple sclerosis in humans -- a discovery that could have a major impact on efforts to understand the cause of multiple sclerosis.

...Before the OHSU findings, researchers had been able to study MS-like diseases in nonhuman primates only after the disease had been artificially induced. A naturally occurring disease, such as the one discovered at OHSU, can give researchers many more clues into the causes and development of the disease.

"Now, we may be able to tease apart what's triggering the onset of the disease," Wong said.
And the fact that the disease, found in a small percentage of the Japanese macaques at OHSU each year, came from a herpes virus could prove hugely important to MS researchers worldwide.

ScienceDaily - www.sciencedaily.com
28 Jun 2011


Cited Journal Article
M Axthelm, et al. Japanese macaque encephalomyelitis: A spontaneous multiple sclerosis-like disease in a nonhuman primate. Annals of Neurology, 2011; doi: 10.1002/ana.22449

Scientific advance may keep Tasmanian devils alive

A just-completed genetic analysis of the Tasmanian devil could help biologists create a genetically diverse ark to keep the species alive and healthy in captive breeding programs. The carnivorous marsupials, which live only on the island of Tasmania at Australia's southern tip, face almost certain extinction in the wild due to a fatal, transmissible cancer that has infected more than 60% of devils and is expected to kill off the rest within the next 10 to 40 years.

An international group of scientists completed the whole-genome analysis of the devils, which is published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The scientists had to work quickly because "this species didn't have time," says Vanessa Hayes, a professor of genomic medicine with the J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego and co-author on the paper.

The genomes of two animals were sequenced — a male named Cedric from northwestern Tasmania, and a female named Spirit from southeastern Tasmania. Both have since died from the cancer.

USA Today - www.usatoday.com
28 Jun 2011
E Weise


Cited Journal Article.
W Miller, et al. Genetic diversity and population structure of the endangered marsupial Sarcophilus harrisii (Tasmanian devil). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print, 2011. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1102838108

Huh? That's Interesting!