October 31, 2011

Today's Wildlife Disease News Stories


It's Official: Fungus Causes Bat-Killing White-Nose Syndrome

A fungus known as Geomyces destructans is indeed responsible for the dusting of white across bat noses and wings that has wiped out entire populations of the flying mammals, new research shows. By purposefully infecting healthy bats with the fungus—and confirming that seemingly healthy "control" bats from the same population did not get sick from a prior but hidden fungal infection—microbiologist David Blehert of the U.S. Geological Survey and his colleagues showed in a paper published online October 26 in Nature that G. destructans is in fact responsible for the disease known as white-nose syndrome (WNS), which has devastated bat populations across the northeastern U.S., killing an estimated one million of the animals. (Scientific American​ is part of Nature Publishing Group​.)

"It is specifically during hibernation that bats are infected with this fungus," Blehert notes. "The greatest damage it does to bats is to wing membranes."

Such membranes, in addition to enabling flight, help control physiological functions such as water retention and blood flow, and even "release CO2 when the respiratory rate is just a couple of breaths per minute," Blehert says. At the same time, it is not clear why a skin infection with G. destructans would prove directly lethal to the animals—the bats in this controlled experiment had not died from the disease by the time the experiment ended after 102 days. Nor had the fungus invaded the bats' vital organs, the researchers found.

In addition, it appears that G. destructans has been a part of the European cave-scape for some time and it has been isolated from cave walls there as well as from bats roosting in those caves. Thus far, however, the fungus has not proved lethal for those species. "It could be that European bats have evolved over a longer period of time and are immune or have a different way of coping with the fungus during hibernation," says mycologist Vishnu Chaturvedi of the New York State Department of Health, who is also studying the fungus and disease, which he calls geomycosis, but was not involved in this study. "Or the fungus in the U.S. has subtle variations that we have not even started looking at."

Scientific American - www.scientificamerican.com
26 Oct 2011
D Biello


Cited Journal Article
Lorch, J.M., et al. Experimental infection of bats with Geomyces destructans causes white-nose syndrome. Nature (2011), doi:10.1038/nature10590 .

Other WNS-Related News

Bacteria linked to deaths of bottlenose dolphins

Scientists investigating the stranding of hundreds of dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico since early last year reported Thursday that they have identified Brucella bacteria in five of 21 tested and are trying to determine whether the deaths may be linked to last year's BP oil spill.

"We believe these five dolphins died from brucellosis," said Teri Rowles, coordinator of the National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"Die-offs from bacterial infections could be occurring because the bacterium has become more lethal, but they could also be occurring, or be more severe, because the dolphins are more susceptible to infection."

Severe environmental stress, such as exposure to oil, could have reduced the animals' ability to fight infection, she said, adding that investigators were trying to pinpoint the cause.

Another possibility is that the bacterium itself has changed so that it causes more serious disease, she said.

CNN - www.cnn.com
27 Oct 2011
T Watkins


What illness is harming Alaska's ringed seals? Veterinarians search for clues.

Scientists hoping to learn what's killing Arctic ringed seals, an affliction that's peppered the animals' skin and organs with ulcers, turned their attention Monday to a fresh seal carcass shot by a Northwest Alaska subsistence hunter.

In a cramped University of Anchorage laboratory, veterinarians and assistants in biomedical scrubs carved the big marine mammal into bits, all in the name of science.

They plucked out eyeballs, sliced off skin, and snapped open ribs with garden-pruning shears. They clipped nails, pulled whiskers and placed pieces into vials and plastic bags for shipment to several labs in the Lower 48 and Canada.

Part of an international mystery, more than 45 ringed seals have been found dead in Alaska's Arctic since late July, gathering on beaches instead of ice floes, which they prefer. The North Slope Borough's wildlife experts said dozens more were reported sick with the lesions and patchy hair loss.

Alaska Dispatch - www.alaskadispatch.com
25 Oct 2011

Photo courtesy of The Guardian's Week in Wildlife
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease
Translated Articles

October 28, 2011

In the Spotlight : Wildlife Health Newsmaker Interview with Dr.Thomas (Tom) Yuill

Wildlife Disease News Digest
In the Spotlight

Wildlife Health Newsmaker Interview with
Dr. Thomas (Tom) Yuill

Who are you?
Thomas Yuill
  • Professor Emeritus, Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Professor and Director Emeritus, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
  • Professor Emeritus, Forest and Wildlife Ecology
University of Wisconsin-Madison - Map It

What are you working on now?
Training and education of wildlife biologists and veterinary students and graduates on wildlife diseases

How does your work benefit wildlife disease research?
  • Past research has provided information on the roles of wild birds and mammals as reservoirs of human and domestic animals' diseases.
  • Past research has contributed to an understanding of avian botulism as a cause of waterfowl mortality.
What do you see as the most significant challenge for wildlife health professionals today working in the field of wildlife disease?
  • Learning to work as part of an interdisciplinary team.
  • Learning to communicate with the public.
What informational resource (e.g. book, journal, website, etc) should any wildlife health professional be familiar with?

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in your field?

Specialize in one area, but acquire some background in other areas to be able to function well in a team.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

  • Interacting with grandchildren

  • Hiking, cross country skiing
  • Music

October 27, 2011

Today's Wildlife Disease News Stories


Bighorn sheep reintroductions on hold after deaths in Skalkaho area

A possible pneumonia outbreak in bighorn sheep in the Skalkaho area in Western Montana is delaying a plan by wildlife biologists to bolster the herd with additional sheep.

Craig Jourdonnais of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said that six bighorns in the Skalkaho herd have been discovered dead. "We've decided it's not prudent to bring sheep into the Warm Springs drainage right now," said Jourdonnais. "Right now, there are just too many things we don't know."

He said biologists haven't confirmed the sheep died due to pneumonia, but there have been numerous reports by people who have observed bighorns coughing or showing other signs of illness.

State officials had been considering moving sheep as early as this winter into the area. The transplanted sheep would likely have come from the Upper Madison or Wild Horse Island.

Billings Gazette - billingsgazette.com
24 Oct 2011

Location: Montana, USA - Map It

Unknown disease killing Kinneret fish

The first stage of a mysterious disease affecting Kinneret fish begins in one of its eyes, which starts to pop out, and gets destroyed leaving an empty hole in the socket. Then the second eye is affected. In the third stage, the blind fish blacken and starves. Red spots appear on its body and then it dies.

So far, there is no official answer whether the disease is an unknown virus, or a mutation of a virus, a bacteria or a parasite. Initial signs of the problem were discovered ten years ago in small numbers.

... The ministry's Fish Division laboratory at Nir David has concluded that the cause is not bacteriological. Its preliminary report in September found the characteristic symptoms in fishes' eyes. If the problem is a parasite, this will cause a major kashrut problem and the Rabbinate is liable to ban fish from the Kinneret.

The Water Authority believes that the disease is genetic in origin. Ministry of Agriculture Veterinary Services fish health director Dr. Avi Eldar is trying to discover whether a new or mutated virus is the cause of the disease.

The Veterinary Services has not found an unambiguous answer, and Dr. Eldar has contacted a lab in Italy, which has not yet given its answer.

Globes - www.globes.co.il
24 Oct 2011
M Lichtman
Location: Kinneret, Israel - Map It

Veterinary researchers discover first US strains of hepatitis E virus from rabbits

Researchers in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech have identified the first strains of hepatitis E virus from farmed rabbits in the United States. It is unknown whether the virus can spread from rabbits to humans.

Caitlin Cossaboom of Salisbury, Md., a second-year student in the combined Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Ph.D. program in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, is the first author of a publication entitled "Hepatitis E Virus in Rabbits, Virginia, USA" in the November issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Although researchers found hepatitis E virus in rabbits in China in 2009, this is the first time the virus has been identified in rabbits in the United States or anywhere outside of China," Cossaboom said.

EurekAlert - www.eurekalert.org
25 Oct 2011

Similarities seen in seal deaths

It's been weeks since biologists launched an investigation into the surge of seal deaths along the New England coastline, and while there is still no explanation, researchers have noticed startling similarities in the dead marine mammals.

Maggie Mooney-Seus, a public affairs official for NOAA's Northeast Region, said Monday investigators have determined most of the seals collected over the last few weeks all shared the same symptoms. "They all had pneumonia and had lesions on theirs fins and bellies," Mooney-Seus said.

What those similarities mean is not yet known, she said. An explanation behind the recent surge in seal deaths along the coastline will likely not come this week either....

The number of dead seals found along the shoreline since Sept. 1 has grown steadily. The total was at 94 more than a week ago. Mooney-Seus said the most up-to-date totals shows 138 seals have been found dead along the stretch of coastline from southern Massachusetts to southern Maine.

Seacoast Online - www.seacoastonline.com
25 Oct 2011

C McMahon

Location: Northeast Coastline, USA



Type E Botulism News
Deer Disease News
West Nile Virus NewsMarine Mammal Mortality News
Alga Bloom News

October 26, 2011

Wildlife Disease Journal Digest

Browse complete Digest publication library here.

Diseases in free-ranging bats from Germany
BMC Veterinary Research. 2011; 7:61. doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-61
K Muhldorfer et al.

Chronic Wasting Disease Update - Report Number 102[pdf]
October 20, 2011
B Richards and USGS National Wildlife Health Center

Viruses in reptiles
Vet Res. 2011 Sep 21;42(1):100. doi:10.1186/1297-9716-42-10
E Ariel

MHC genotypes associate with resistance to a frog-killing fungus
PNAS. 2011 Oct 04;108(40): 16705-16710
AE Savage and KR Zamudio

Immunophenotype of Cells within Cervine Rectoanal Mucosa-Associated Lymphoid Tissue and Mesenteric Lymph Nodes
J Comp Pathol. 2011 Oct 13. [Epub ahead of print]
MP Dagleish et al.

Migratory flyway and geographical distance are barriers to the gene flow of influenza virus among North American birds
Ecol Lett. 2011 Oct 18. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01703.x. [Epub ahead of print]
TT Lam et al.

Macroparasitism influences reproductive success in red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)
Behavioral Ecology. 2011; 22(6): 1195-1200. doi: 10.1093/beheco/arr112
K Gooderham and A Schulte-Hostedde

The Wildlifer - September 2011
The Wildlife Society Newsletter, Issue 378

Phylogenetic and host-parasite relationship analysis of henneguya multiplasmodialis n. sp. infecting pseudoplatystoma spp. in brazilian pantanal wetland
Veterinary Parasitology. 2011; [Epub ahead of print]
EA Adriano et al.

Fatal cetacean morbillivirus infection in an Australian offshore bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)
Australian Veterinary Journal. 2011 Nov; 89(11): 452–457. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-0813.2011.00849.x
BM Stone et al.

Sarcoptic mange in a wildlife swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor)
Australian Veterinary Journal. 2011 Nov; 89(11): 458–459
PH Holz et al.

Molecular evolutionary and epidemiological dynamics of a highly pathogenic fish rhabdovirus, the spring viremia of carp virus (SVCV)
Veterinary Microbiology. 2011 [Eupub ahead of print]
A Padhia and B Vergheseb

Parasites and pathogens in wild populations of water voles (Arvicola amphibius) in the UK [Short Communication]
European Journal of Wildlife Research. [Epub ahead of print]. DOI: 10.1007/s10344-011-0584-0
M Gelling et al.

The Urgent Need for Robust Coral Disease Diagnostics
PloS Pathogens. 2011; 7(10): e1002183. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002183
FJ Pollock et al.

October 25, 2011

Today's Wildlife Disease News Stories


Probe into fish disease in Gladstone harbour focuses on parasites

THE mystery of the Gladstone fish disease outbreak continues, with scientists focusing on a parasitic flatworm and about 300 tonnes of barramundi that spilled into the Boyne River last summer from Awoonga Dam.
Many of these fish have since become infested with the common saltwater parasite. The Gladstone Area Water Board estimated 30,000 barramundi of about a metre in length were swept over Awoonga's 25m wall from December to March after flood rains.

This has seen an enormous spike in Gladstone's commercial barra catch, with fishermen selling 18 times the annual average take.

Queensland Fisheries scientist John Robertson said yesterday the fish would have become stressed and susceptible to diseases and parasites after being hammered by the drop, having scales ripped off and shocked by rapid changes in conditions.

This was then exacerbated by crowded conditions in the Boyne River and a lack of food.

Fishermen have had to dump up to 80 per cent of barramundi catches over past weeks because of disease and discolourations.

They believe the disease problem is more likely to be related to a 46 million cubic metre harbour dredging program sullying the water.

Courier Mail - www.couriermail.com.au
18 Oct 2011
Location: Australia


First Ebola-like virus native to Europe discovered

A team of international researchers has discovered a new Ebola-like virus – Lloviu virus -- in bats from northern Spain. Lloviu virus is the first known filovirus native to Europe, they report in a study published in the journal PLOS Pathogens on Octobr 20th.

The study was a collaboration among scientists at the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII) in Spain, Roche Life Sciences, Centro de Investigación Príncipe Felipe, Grupo Asturiano para el Estudio y Conservación de los Murciélagos, Consejo Suerior de Investigaciones Científicas and the Complutense University in Spain.

Filoviruses, which include well-known viruses like Ebola and Marburg, are among the deadliest pathogens in humans and non-human primates, and are generally found in East Africa and the Philippines. The findings thus expand the natural geographical distribution of filoviruses.

"The study is an opportunity to advance the knowledge of filoviruses' natural cycle," said Ana Negredo, one of the first authors of the study.

Scientists at ISCIII analyzed lung, liver, spleen, throat, brain and rectal samples from 34 bats found in caves in Asturias and Cantabria, Spain, following bat die-offs in France, Spain and Portugal in 2002 affecting mainly one bat species.

EurekAlert - www.eurekalert.org
20 Oct 2011


Cause of seal deaths from Mass. to Maine still a mystery

Two dead harbor seals washed ashore in Rockport this weekend, bringing the number of the marine mammals found dead on New England beaches to 128. Scientists, having ruled out human involvement, are now looking at other reasons for the deaths.

Northern Massachusetts has experienced 19 seal deaths since Sept. 1, including the two seals found dead in Rockport on Oct. 14 and 16.

Preliminary results from necropsies performed by the New England Aquarium in Boston on 10 of the dead seals ruled out human involvement, both direct involvement including attacks on the animals and indirect involvement such as fishing effects. Investigators are focusing on the possibility of a disease outbreak, according to aquarium spokesman Tony Lacasse.

"(Researchers) need results before they can start comparing," said Lacasse, speaking about the ways experts are trying to determine the cause of the deaths. "Unfortunately, we are in the early steps of getting results."

Pathology reports from the necropsies are still being processed, and no definitive information has been found.

Gloucester Times - www.gloucestertimes.com
18 Oct 2011


Photo courtesy of The Guardian's Week in Wildlife

October 24, 2011

Today's Wildlife Disease News Stories


Officials collect dead birds from Ontario shoreline

Scores of dead birds will be collected from an Ontario shoreline on Sunday as officials try to determine what killed the waterfowl.

Officials estimate as many as 6,000 dead birds have washed up on the Georgian Bay's shoreline. The carcasses are scattered along nearly three-kilometre stretch near Wasaga Beach.

"You just want to cry," resident Faye Ego told CTV Toronto on Saturday.

Authorities speculate that the birds may have been killed by a form of botulism after eating dead fish.

Locals said they noticed some dead fish on the beach a few weeks ago and a few dead birds earlier in September.

The incident is being investigated by the Ministry of Natural Resources which says it isn't unusual for large numbers of fish and other wildlife to die on the Great Lakes at certain times of the year.

According to the ministry, smaller-scale die-offs occur annually on the Lakes. The last one happened on Lake Ontario in 2007.

CTV News - toronto.ctv.ca
23 Oct 2011
Location: Ontario, Canada

Chronic Wasting Disease found in Macon County deer

The Missouri Departments of Agriculture, Conservation and Health and Senior Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced late today that a captive white-tailed deer in Macon County has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease, a neurological disease found in deer, elk and moose.

"We have a plan in place and our team is actively working to ensure that this situation is addressed quickly and effectively," said State Veterinarian Dr. Linda Hickam. "Fortunately there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans, non cervid livestock, household pets or food safety."

The animal that tested positive for CWD was a captive white-tailed deer inspected as part of the state's CWD surveillance and testing program. Preliminary tests were conducted by the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

Upon receiving the confirmed CWD positive, Missouri's departments of agriculture, conservation and health and senior services initiated their CWD Contingency Plan that was developed in 2002 by the Cervid Health Committee, a task force comprised of veterinarians, animal health officers and conservation officers from USDA, MDA, MDC and DHSS working together to mitigate challenges associated with CWD.

Houston Herald - www.houstonherald.com
19 Oct 2011
Location: Macon County, Missouri, USA - Map It

Photo courtesy of The Guardian's Week in Wildlife

October 21, 2011

In the Spotlight: Workshop Announcement - EcoHealthNet 2012

Workshop Announcement: EcoHealthNet 2012
Early June, 2012
Madison, WI, USA

The workshop will be jointly hosted by the National Wildlife Health Center, University of Wisconsin, and University of Minnesota. The theme of the EcoHealthNet 2012 Workshop is Epidemiology and Outbreak Investigation. Instructors will include veterinary and medical experts, wildlife biologist, and ecologists.

From the site: "The aim of this workshop will be to introduce students to epidemiological, molecular, and ecological methods for the investigation, monitoring, and response of infectious disease outbreaks.

Outbreaks in wildlife or domestic animals can often precede or coincide with an epidemic of the same disease in people. The detection of such an outbreak in animals can significantly accelerate the discovery of and response to a human epidemic.

Examples include the discovery of West Nile virus in the U.S., as well as multiple Ebola and Rift Valley fever outbreaks.... The workshop students will benefit from top-notch lectures and demonstrations from both the human and wildlife perspectives involved in disease investigation."

Topics will include the following (and more!):
  • Outbreak response
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Molecular diagnostics in outbreak response
  • Case studies, etc.
There may also be wet labs, such as histopathology, stats (R, EpiInfo, etc), and a tour.

Know About Upcoming Professional Development Activities? We Want to Know About It!

Readers know the Wildlife Disease News Digest provides information about the latest wildlife disease related news, publications, and research developments, but it is also a place where readers can share professional news.

If you have an announcement, related to continuing education or professional development opportunities, email us the details at digest@wdin.org. If it fits the scope of the Digest, we will feature it in a future post. Your colleagues will appreciate your efforts!

October 20, 2011

Today's Wildlife Disease News Stories


ND stops hunting license sales because of disease

North Dakota officials announced Tuesday they are suspending the sale of some remaining deer hunting licenses and offered refunds to the holders of 13,000 licenses that already have been sold after detecting a disease that kills white-tailed deer in much of the western portion of the state.

The state Game and Fish Department began receiving isolated reports in August of deer deaths from epizootic hemorrhagic disease, better known as EHD, Wildlife Chief Randy Kreil said. With pheasant hunting season under way, reports have intensified to a "steady stream," he said.

"We've had about 120 reports, totaling about 300 dead deer," he said. "The first week of pheasant season is the real telltale sign of the intensity and extent of the outbreak. It's not a scientific survey by any means, but at the same time it's pretty clear and convincing evidence."

Kreil said it is difficult to estimate how many deer might have died but the outbreak appears to be the biggest since 2000. Environmental conditions were similar that year, with warm and wet conditions in late summer and early fall that are conducive to the development of the insects that transmit the disease, he said.

The Republic - www.therepublic.com
18 Oct 2011
Location: North Dakota, USA - Map It


Reports of distemper in foxes and raccoons up in some Bay Area wildlife centers

More wild foxes and raccoons with distemper symptoms are being reported this year in several Bay Area parks and wildlife centers, signaling a threat to household pets that aren't vaccinated against the highly contagious and deadly virus.

Humans don't get distemper, but pets are at risk. Distemper is spread primarily through the air, but also through direct contact with infected animals or their bodily fluids.

"There are ebbs and flows with distemper. When populations are high, the potential for spreading is higher," said Susan Heckley, wildlife rehabilitation director at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek. "Many wild animals get it. That's a very good reason to vaccinate your pets."

The Lindsay museum reported six gray foxes this summer with distemper symptoms, a slightly higher number than usual, Heckley said. For each sick animal brought to a shelter or hospital, there likely are several more in the wild with the disease, she added.

Mercury News - www.mercurynews.com
19 Oct 2011
Location: Walnut Creek, California, USA - Map It


October 19, 2011

No Wildlife Disease Journal Digest Today

Due to the fact that a number of WDIN team members are attending the Organization of Fish & Wildlife Information Managers 2011 Conference and Annual Meeting this week in St. Louis, Missouri, the Wildlife Disease Journal Digest will not be published today, but it will be back next week!

A little bit about the Organization of Fish & Wildlife Information Managers (OFWIM). It was founded in 1993, as an international non-profit association dedicated to the management and conservation of natural resources through technology and information exchange.

For more information about OFWIM visit their website, www.ofwim.org

October 18, 2011

Today's Wildlife Disease News Stories


Wild B.C. salmon test positive for 'lethal' virus linked to fish farms

Wild sockeye salmon from B.C.'s Rivers Inlet have tested positive for a potentially devastating virus that has never been found before in the North Pacific.

Infectious salmon anemia is a flu-like virus affecting Atlantic salmon that spreads very quickly and mutates easily, according to Simon Fraser University fisheries statistician Rick Routledge.

ISA can be fatal to Atlantic salmon, especially those confined in fish farms. Its effect on wild sockeye is unknown.

The virus detected in sockeye smolts by the Atlantic Veterinary College in P.E.I. — Canada's ISA reference lab — is the European strain of ISA, the same virus that devastated fish farms in Chile four years ago.

"It is described as highly contagious and lethal," said Routledge, who had underweight Pacific sockeye sent for testing at the suggestion of B.C. salmon biologist Alexandra Morton.

Of the 48 fish sent for testing, two were found to have the virus.

The Vancouver Sun - www.vancouversun.com
17 Oct 2011
Location: British Columbia, Canada


1000 birds dead from Rena oil slick

The Wildlife Rescue Centre and – in particular – its post mortem tent really drives home just what an effect the oil spill has had on Tauranga wildlife.

As of Sunday afternoon, 1018 deceased birds had been collected from the beaches and brought to be processed at the centre. Work is underway on more pools and enclosures, as those that have survived are rehabilitated in preparation for release.

Wildlife Field Operations Manager Brett Stevenson says survivability is very species dependent. So far 130 little blue penguins have been brought in to the centre alive – 55 of which have been completely cleaned. Just one little blue penguin has died as a result of the oil. Meanwhile, 28 dotterels have been captured as a pre-emptive measure and will be kept at the centre until it is safe to release them, chief vet Brett Gartrell says. Though when that will be, no one is sure.

Of the oiled birds at the centre, the youngest patients are three little blue penguins that are less than a week old. Mum and dad were both found “100 percent covered in oil”, bird rehab manager Bill Smith says. The birds will be hand reared then released into the wild when they’re strong enough to fend for themselves. It’s not known yet just what the long-term effect of the oil spill will be on the birds.

3 News - www.3news.co.nz
16 Oct 2011
A Beswick
Location: Tauranga, New Zealand - Map It


MNR probing the deaths of fish and birds

The Ministry of Natural Resources is trying to figure out why fish and birds have been dying in south Georgian Bay.

The ministry started receive sporadic reports beginning in late August, but cases have increased in frequency and distribution in recent weeks.

The fish die-off includes channel fish, freshwater drum, carp, lake whitefish, and one largemouth drum. Wasaga Beach Provincial Park staff have disposed of about 120 dead sturgeon.

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources spokesperson John Cooper says fresh samples have been sent to the University of Guelph to test for fish and bird diseases, including the Type E botulism toxin, which Cooper says is quite likely the cause.

"It's a naturally occurring event," said Cooper, adding little is known about the ecology of the bacteria which produces the botulism toxin.

"Something is occurring at the bottom of the lake," said Cooper.

The Barrie Examiner - www.thebarrieexaminer.com
16 Oct 2011
Location: Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada


Photo courtesy of The Guardian's Week in Wildlife

October 17, 2011

Today's Wildlife Disease News Stories


Rabbit deaths spark fear of deadly disease outbreak on Hampstead Heath

Sightings of rabbit carcasses with signs of a deadly disease have sparked an investigation into a possible outbreak of a lethal virus on Hampstead Heath.

Park authorities have launched a fact-finding mission following reports of dead rabbits near Kenwood House and Jack Straw’s Castle. The Ham&High has also received eyewitness accounts of rabbits with swollen eyes sitting very still around the Heath – symptoms of myxomatosis.

There are fears the lethal strand could spread to pet rabbits around Hampstead. The disease is near incurable and almost always leads to an agonising death for the affected rabbits.

Park user Maureen Rose, who has seen a few of the afflicted rabbits, said: “They’re dying slowly and the crows are picking them off. It should serve as warning for people to be aware that if they traipse around on the Heath with their dogs, fleas could transfer from the rabbits to their pets and be taken home with them."

London 24 - www.london24.com
13 Oct 2011
Location: Hampstead Heath, England - Map It


Walruses suffer from similar unknown disease afflicting Alaska ringed seals

Arctic ringed seals aren't the only marine mammal suffering an unusual skin-lesion outbreak along Alaska's northern coasts.

Walruses that have hauled out by the thousands at Point Lay in Northwest Alaska during recent summers -- an event driven by climate change -- are also turning up with bizarre, festering sores. Scientists estimate perhaps 600 are infected. Instead of wounds on their faces and rear flippers, red abscesses pepper the animals' entire bodies. But apparently only a few have perished. Still, scientists from a number of agencies are working to answer several questions, including whether the outbreaks in the two species are related. They also worry the lesions could eventually lead to deaths among Pacific walrus, an animal more than 100,000 strong that's being considered for protections under the Endangered Species Act.

"Is it the bubonic plague or just a really bad case of acne?" asked Tony Fischbach, a federal walrus biologist who first noticed the sores on some walruses late this summer.

As in the case of the ringed seals, biologists are working with the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management, pathology experts and others. They've sent skin and tissue samples to labs in the U.S. and Canada, but haven't pinpointed a cause. Everything from viruses to toxins are being considered.

Alaska Dispatch - www.alaskadispatch.com
14 Oct 2011
Location: Point Lay, Alaska, USA - Map It


Related Stories
Mysterious Disease Killed Scores of Seals in Alaska

Number of dead seals approaches 100

Federal officials say the number of dead harbor seals found on beaches in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts in the past several weeks is nearing 100, yet the cause remains a mystery.

Meddy Garron, regional marine mammal stranding coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday the count is now up to 94 since Sept. 1.

Most of the dead mammals are considered young.

Biologists are awaiting results of necropsies to determine a cause.

Cape Cod Times - www.capecodonline.com
14 Oct 2011
Location: Maine - Map It
; Rockport, Massachusetts -Map It ; New Hampshire

PPhoto courtesy of The Guardian's Week in Wildlife

October 14, 2011

In the Spotlight - Past Wildlife Disease Investigation from AWHW

Interesting Case from the Latest Australian Wildlife Health Network Newsletter - Wildlife Health in Australia

Wild Platypus in New South Wales (page 7)

A subadult male in poor body condition was presented after several days in care. Blood work revealed a moderate to marked infection of red blood cells with a parasite (Theileria) not uncommonly found in these animals. The animal was treated for the parasite and nursed diligently for approximately one week before deteriorating in condition and dying.

Based on histological and bacteriological findings, the animal was suffering from acute enteritis and appeared to have developed a terminal septicaemia with Staphylococcus sp. Additional findings included adrenal cortical hyperplasia and splenic histiocytic proliferation. The former indicates this animal was physiologically stressed. The latter is interesting given the ante mortem diagnosis of Theileriosis. It is speculated that increased phagocytic cells demonstrating erythrophagocytosis in the spleen were removing infected erythrocytes (7962.1).

Theileria infections have been previously identified in both platypus and bandicoots but have not been related to disease in these species. Theileria in platypus have commonly been identified as Theileria ornithorhynchi but infection densities have generally been low (Ladds 2009). For immunosupressed and young individuals however, infection may be more significant (Vogelnest & Woods 2008).

October 13, 2011

Today's Wildlife Disease News Stories


Botulism deaths of birds near Stillwater climb to 2,356

The number of ducks and others birds killed in a botulism outbreak in a private lake near Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge now totals 2,356, according to officials with the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

The outbreak at Six Man Club, located about 20 miles southwest of Stillwater, began Aug. 30. It’s unknown how soon it might end and could be worsened by warming weather, said NDOW spokesman Chris Healy.

The outbreak is now the 10th worst for botulism since state records started in 1949. Officials say there is little danger it will spread to Stillwater or other nearby water bodies.

Reno-Gazette Journal - www.rgj.com
11 Oct 2011
Location: Stillwater, Nevada, USA - Map It


4 dead dolphins wash up on Gulf Coast beaches in 5 days; deaths part of 'unusual mortality event'

A dolphin carcass, bloated and violet in the morning sun, was found on Fort Morgan early Saturday, bringing the number lost since the BP oil spill to more than 400. Three other dolphins have washed up in Alabama in the past week, including a pregnant female on Dauphin Island and a mother and calf pair on Hollingers Island in Mobile Bay.

"We should be seeing one (death) a month at this time of year," said Ruth Carmichael, a Dauphin Island Sea Lab scientist tasked with responding to reports of dead dolphins. "We’re getting one or more a week. It’s just never slowed down."

An examination of the Gulfwide death toll, broken down by month, reveals that dolphins continue to die at rates four to 10 times higher than normal. For instance, 23 dolphins were found dead in August, compared to a monthly average of less than 3 each August between 2002 and 2009.

Federal scientists acknowledge they are no closer to solving the mystery behind the "Unusual Mortality Event" that has been sweeping through the Gulf’s dolphin population since March of 2010, one month before BP’s well was unleashed.

Alabama Live - www.al.com
10 Oct 2011
Location: Fort Morgan, Alabama, USA - Map It


PPhoto courtesy of The Guardian's Week in Wildlife

West Nile Virus

October 12, 2011

Wildlife Disease Journal Digest

Browse complete Digest publication library here.

An H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus isolated from a local tree sparrow in Indonesia
Microbiology and Immunology. 2011 Sep; 55(9): 666–672. doi:10.1111/j.1348-0421.2011.00361.x
ED Poetranto et al.

Variation in spring migration routes and breeding distribution of northern pintails Anas acuta that winter in Japan
Journal of Avian Biology. 2011 Jul; 42(4): 289–300. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-048X.2011.05320.x
JW Hupp et al.

Reduced Effect of Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumor Disease at the Disease Front
Conservation Biology. 2011; [Epub ahead of print]
R Hamede et al.

US Geological Survey's Environmental Health Newsletter - GeoHealth
Volume 9, Number 1; Articles of note
- Volunteers AMBLE the Lake Michigan Shoreline Observing Bird Health
- Do Wild Birds Play a Role in the Spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI H5N1)?
- New Developments in Understanding Chronic Wasting Disease
- Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Virus in the Great Lakes

How and why environmental noise impacts animals: an integrative, mechanistic review
Ecology Letters. 2011; 14: 1052–1061
CR Kight and JP Swaddle

Atrazine selects for ichthyotoxic Prymnesium parvum, a possible explanation for golden algae blooms in lakes of Texas, USA
Ecotoxicology. 2011; [Epub ahead of print]
BS Yates and WJ Rogers

Genetic diversification of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza A virus during replication in wild ducks
J Gen Virol. 2011 Sep;92(Pt 9):2105-10. Epub 2011 Jun 1.
Y Watanabe et al.

Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis supports the presence of host-adapted Salmonella Typhimurium strains in the British garden bird population
Appl Environ Microbiol. 2011 Sep 23. [Epub ahead of print]
B Lawson et al.

Frontiers in climate change–disease research [Opinion]
Trends Ecology and Evolution. 2011 Apr; 26(6): 270-277
JR Rohr et al.

Reduced Avian Virulence and Viremia of West Nile Virus Isolates from Mexico and Texas
Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2011; 85(40): 758-767. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.2011.10-0439
AC Brault et al.

Avian influenza in migratory birds in the United States, 2007-2009, and effects of September hunting seasons on survival, harvest, and recovery rates of Canada geese banded in southeast Nebraska
Dissertations & Theses in Natural Resources. 2011; 1-195
SR Groepper

An H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus that invaded Japan through waterfowl migration [pdf]
Jpn J Vet Res. 2011 Aug;59(2-3):89-100.
M Kajihara et al.

Reassortant H9N2 Influenza Viruses Containing H5N1-Like PB1 Genes Isolated from Black-Billed Magpies in Southern China
PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e25808. Epub 2011 Sep 29. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025808
G Dong et al.

Identification and complete genome sequencing of paramyxoviruses in mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) using random access amplification and next generation sequencing technologies
Virol J. 2011 Oct 6;8(1):463. [Epub ahead of print]
T Rosseel et al.

Adaptation, isolation by distance and human-mediated transport determine patterns of gene flow among populations of the disease vector Aedes taeniorhynchus in the Galapagos Islands
Infect Genet Evol. 2011 Sep 23. [Epub ahead of print]
A Bataille et al.

Host phylogeny determines viral persistence and replication in novel hosts
PLoS Pathog. 2011 Sep;7(9):e1002260. Epub 2011 Sep 22.
B Longdon et al.

Interspecies transmission and limited persistence of low pathogenic avian influenza genomes among Alaska dabbling ducks
Infect Genet Evol. 2011 Sep 23. [Epub ahead of print]
AB Reeves et al.

Cumulative Effects in Wildlife Management:Impact Mitigation [Preview book on Google]
PR Krausman and LK Harris