September 19, 2011

Today's Wildlife Disease News Stories


Cats in Savoy test positive for 'rabbit fever'

Three cats from two households in Savoy have tested positive for tularemia, or "rabbit fever," an infectious disease that has been relatively rare in Illinois.

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District said the cats were diagnosed in July and September at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.

The three cases could indicate an increased concern for the disease in the area, health officials warned.

Tularemia is caused by a bacteria found in animals, especially rodents, rabbits and hares, and cats may become infected by preying on those animals or through tick exposure, according to the health district.

The News Gazette -
14 Sept 2011
Location: Savoy, Illinois, USA - Map It


New Threat Closes in On Iconic Galápagos Wildlife [West Nile Virus]

Renewed vigilance over the biosecurity of the Galápagos Islands is needed, based on new research on the risk posed by West Nile virus. Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the University of Leeds and the New York State Department of Health, together with the Galápagos National Park Service and University of Guayaquil, have been studying the disease threat posed by Islands' mosquito populations. They have discovered that a species of these biting insects is capable of transmitting West Nile virus, a potentially dangerous disease for the archipelago's unique wildlife.

West Nile virus (WNV) most commonly affects birds, but can infect mammals, including humans, and reptiles. Previous studies of West Nile virus impact in the USA have linked the virus to declines in several bird populations, demonstrating the high risk it poses to the Galápagos' endemic species. The virus recently invaded South America, but has yet to reach the Galápagos.

Recent studies on tourist boats and planes have shown that the mosquito species Culex quinquefasciatus (also known as the Southern house mosquito) is hitching a ride onto the Galápagos on airliners. Culex species are well-known vectors of WNV elsewhere in the world, so their presence on the Islands has caused concern amongst the scientific community.

Science Daily -
16 Sept 2011


Salmon shark found dead on Seacliff State Beach: Juvenile shark suffered from bacterial encephalitis

A juvenile salmon shark found stranded on Seacliff State Beach on Sunday, likely died from an infection that is commonly found in young salmon sharks, according to preliminary tests performed by the Californian Department of Fish and Game.

The meter-long shark was found by early-morning beach visitors who notified Park Ranger John Gunnik. Sean Van Sommeran of the Santa Cruz-based Pelagic Shark research Foundation then worked with Gunnik to pack the shark in ice packs and ship it via FedEx to a Fish and Game laboratory in Southern California.

… "We always want to make sure there isn't a pollution event that is causing the deaths," he said. Thursday, William Cox of the Fish and Game Department confirmed preliminary lab tests showed the shark was infected with bacterial encephalitis, a common cause of death for young salmon sharks.

According to researchers, every year about a dozen salmon sharks are found on California shores and more often than not they are found to have the same infection, which can disorient the sharks.

Santa Cruz Sentinel
15 Sept 2011
Location: Seacliff State Beach, California, USA - Map It


Bird eggs poisoned by toxins

Toxic industrial pollutants contaminate bird eggs in Australia's major eastern cities at levels seven to nine times higher than those in inland areas, a new study has found.

The findings raise questions about potential impacts on bird breeding success and about the accumulation of such toxins in their predators higher up the food chain.

Researchers at the Australian Wetlands and Rivers Centre at UNSW tested for pollution levels in eggs of Australian white ibis sampled in and around Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane and Melbourne and compared them with eggs from the same species at four rural wetlands in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

The tests revealed widespread contamination from a range of environmentally hazardous man-made pollutants – including DDT, dioxins and PCBs - released as a result of the use of pesticides, flame retardants and cooling agents and by industrial incineration.

"The good news is that pollutant levels found in Australian ibis eggs are not as bad as in other parts of the world," says researcher Camila Ridoutt, an Honours student in environmental science and author of the study. On average, they were lower than levels from major urban cities such as United States and China, although the difference varied from only 1 per cent lower for dioxins to more than 100 per cent lower for PCBs.

Science Alert -
16 Sept 2011