December 27, 2011

Today's Wildlife Disease News Stories


Science team identifies influenza virus subtype that infected five dead seals

Risk to humans and pets low; tests continue

A virus similar to one found in birds but never before in harbor seals was the cause of five of 162 recent deaths of the animals in New England, according to a group of federal agencies and private partners.

This Influenza A virus subtype, H3N8, appears to have a low risk of transmission to humans. Experts continue to analyze this virus, and any findings of public health significance will be immediately released.

...“The work that NOAA and its partners have done to help identify and confirm the virus strain H3N8 in these animals has been an important first step in the investigation into this event,” said Dr. Teri Rowles, lead veterinarian and coordinator of the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Program for NOAA Fisheries Service. “We are now conducting tests on additional animals to learn more about the role this virus may have played in the die-off and to better understand the virus itself.”

Experts believe that Influenza A virus caused a bacterial pneumonia which was responsible for the death of the five seals. Most terrestrial animals infected with the previously known H3N8 virus suffered upper respiratory infections, and most recovered.

NOAA Northeast Regional Office -
20 Dec 2011
Photo courtesy of NOAA
Location: New England region, USA - Map It

More News on Seal Mortality Events

Catching a Coral Killer: First ever case of human-caused marine disease

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Sutherland has identified the first marine disease caused by humans, and it's proving fatal for Elkhorn coral in Florida.

The disease is White pox, which causes a slowing of growth, followed by white patches of tissue loss that occurs all over the coral colony.

Many diseases, such as swine flu, avian flu and HIV are known as zoonotic, moving from animals to humans. Sutherland has identified a marine disease that is a "reverse zoonosis."

"This is the first example of a human pathogen infecting a marine organism," she says.

National Science Foundation -
19 Dec 2011

Location: Florida Keys, USA

Little brown bats found that appear to resist disease that has devastated species

There is good news from Vermont this Christmas for the little brown bat, a threatened species that’s hanging on to existence “by a tiny little fingernail,” said a state conservationist who’s watched them die by the millions in the Northeast from a mysterious disease.

Scientists who visited more than a dozen sites where the bats nest in the western part of the state found thriving colonies that appear to be resistant to white-nose syndrome, a disease caused by an aggressive fungus.

Pennsylvania biologists are also monitoring about 2,000 bats that appear to be healthy in an abandoned coal mine in Luzerne County in the state’s northeast, the Associated Press reported.

Washington Post -
21 Dec 2011
D Fears
Location: Vermont and Pennsylvania, USA

More Good News for Bats!


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