September 15, 2011

Today's Wildlife Disease News Stories


Fears grow of deadly tropical virus killing blackbirds

Fears are increasing in Germany that blackbirds are being wiped out by a tropical disease, while tests are being conducted on a number of cadavers to try to find out why they died.

Reports of mass deaths of blackbirds through the Rhine-Neckar area of Germany have been gathering pace over the last few weeks, and on Wednesday the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg, pointed the finger at the Usutu virus which comes from Africa.

“The find is alarming as the Usutu virus can also infect people,” said Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, virologist at the Institute, although he stressed there was no known case of a person becoming infected with the virus in Germany.

He said his colleagues were still working to gather conclusive evidence of the virus in the dead birds.

The Local -
14 Sep 2011
Location: Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region, Germany - Map It

Scotland's birds of prey 'face decline' over poisoning

Scotland's rarest birds of prey risk decline because of deliberate poisoning, the RSPB has warned.

RSPB Scotland said 29 birds had been confirmed as illegally poisoned in 2010, but warned the number could be the "tip of the iceberg".

Most incidents took place in areas managed for driven grouse shooting.

Official tests revealed 13 buzzards, seven red kites, four golden eagles, two peregrines and one white-tailed sea eagle were deliberately poisoned.

A further eight birds of prey were also confirmed as victims of shooting, trapping or nest destruction.

... there had been an increase in the confirmed use of highly toxic banned agricultural pesticides, such as Aldicarb and Carbofuran.

BBC News -
13 Sep 2011
Location: Scotland

Insights Into Brucella and Other Gram Negative Bacteria Infecting Marine Mammals

As with their terrestrial counterparts, marine mammals are colonised by a range of bacteria, some of which are friendly and others which can cause disease. The bacteria from cetaceans and seals however are poorly documented in contrast to most land-based species. PhD candidate Geoffrey Foster has studied in detail the Gram negative bacteria recovered from marine mammals and found that some of those recovered have significance beyond the host animals from which they were recovered.

Geoffrey Foster's doctoral research has investigated the Gram negative bacteria infecting marine mammals. The precise identification of organisms is a fundamental basis for the study of disease in animals. While bacteriology is a well-developed discipline for medical and terrestrial animals, much less is known about the organisms which infect marine mammals, the significance for their hosts and potential to act as zoonotic agents.

Science Daily -
13 Sep 2011

Disease Detectives: Investigating the Mysteries of Zoonotic Diseases

Zoonotic diseases are those that are spread between wildlife and humans, and are an increasing health threat in the U.S. and throughout the world. As such diseases emerge, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and other wildlife health agencies must embark upon complex investigative work to determine what these diseases are, where they come from, and how they’re transferred across species.

Jonathan Sleeman, director of the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, Discusses the critical role science plays in unraveling the mysteries of these zoonotic diseases.

USGS Multimedia Gallery -
13 Sep 2011
M Lubeck


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