November 7, 2011

Today's Wildlife Disease News Stories


Alert as 'rabbit fever' strikes

Health authorities in Tasmania have confirmed the first Australian cases of a rare disease known as "rabbit fever".
Two people contracted tularaemia, also known as rabbit fever, after being bitten and scratched by possums on Tasmania's west coast earlier this year, Tasmania's deputy public health director, Chrissie Picken, said on Friday.

The two suffered a persistent but treatable skin infection, Dr Picken said. "Both cases were treated by their general practitioners and specialists, and are now recovering," she said in a statement.

Dr Picken issued a warning for Tasmanians against handling wild animals. "We would advise anyone who has been bitten or scratched by a wild animal to see their doctor," she said.
Infectious diseases expert Tom Gottlieb, of Concord Hospital in Sydney, said there were no known cases of the disease recorded in Australia.

"It's not likely to be a major outbreak, but it's important for doctors to recognise if someone has been bitten by a wild animal and if an ulcer or fever develops that people are tested (for rabbit fever)," Professor Gottlieb said.

"To suddenly have two cases could mean the disease has been recently introduced."

The Australian -
5 Nov 2011
Location: Tasmania - Map It


Lethal salmon virus now detected in four species

A lethal virus that could pose a new threat to British Columbia's prized Pacific salmon has now been detected in four wild species, prompting fears about its effect on the multi-billion-dollar fishery.

On Wednesday, biologist and salmon advocate Alexandra Morton learned an infectious salmon amenia [sic] (ISA) lab at the Atlantic Veterinary College in P.E.I. found evidence of the virus in three of 10 dead fish — a Chinook, coho and chum — she pulled from the Harrison River on Oct. 12. Researchers at Simon Fraser University announced last month the virus was found in two of 48 sockeye smolts collected in B.C.'s Central Coast.

"The terrible thing about the work that myself and (SFU researcher Rick) Routledge have done is that it's tiny," Morton said. "We looked at 60 fish, and we got it in two different generations, 600 kilometres apart, four different species. That's a huge red flag."

ISA's effect on Pacific salmon — if any — is not known. This is the first time the disease has been found in wild Pacific salmon, raising fears among advocates that the already stressed wild stocks could be further jeopardized.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said Morton's samples are now being tested in Canada's official ISA lab in Moncton, N.B.

The Province -
3 Nov 2011
Location: British Columbia, Canada - Map It


Avian flu found in wild birds

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has found a low pathogenicity H7 avian influenza virus in wild birds in central and western Canada.

The virus was found in healthy mallards by Canada's Inter-Agency Wild Bird Influenza Survey, an early warning system designed to detect AI viruses in the wild that could be transmitted to domestic poultry, during regular testing during the fall migratory season.

Regions such as the Fraser Valley are on wild bird flyways, although this virus was identified in healthy live mallards sampled in Manitoba and Saskatchewan in the course of regular testing during the fall migratory season.

Low pathogenicity influenza viruses commonly circulate in the wild bird population with little or no impact on the health of domestic birds or people.

However, the H5 and H7 AI viruses have been known to mutate from low pathogenic-ity to highly pathogenic forms once introduced into domestic poultry, potentially causing high rates of disease and mortality in birds.

Abbotsford Times -
3 Nov 2011
Location: Saskatchewan, Canada - Map It
; Manitoba, Canada - Map it

Photo courtesy of The Guardian's Week in Wildlife