January 23, 2012

Today's Wildlife Disease News Stories


Scientists seek origin of disease in Arctic ducks: Outbreak of avian cholera persists in eider ducks

Researchers believe it could be years before we know the origin of an avian cholera outbreak that's killing off eider ducks in Nunavut.

In 2006, thousands of dead eider ducks were found on Southampton Island. Since then it has been found in Nunavik and south Baffin Island and has also affected other bird species.
But the origins of avian cholera are still unknown.

“We’re interested to know if the disease persists in the environment, the soil and the water of these nesting colonies through the winter or whether [it is] being brought to the nesting islands by the birds themselves each year,” said Grant Gilchrist, a scientist with Environment Canada.

CBC News - www.cbc.ca
19 Jan 2012
Location: Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada - Map It


Journal Cited

NJ Harms. Avian Cholera in the Eastern Canadian Arctic: Investigating Disease Origins and Reservoirs [free full-text pdf]. Arctic. 2011 Dec 01; 64(4):501-505

Can La Niña predict the next pandemic?

The weather phenomenon known as La Niña — or the appearance of cooler-than-normal waters in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean — may be responsible for more than just changes to global weather patterns.

It could also play a role in worldwide flu pandemics, according to a researcher at Columbia University whose study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Jeffrey Shaman, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia, studies how environmental factors affect infectious disease transmission.

... Changes in La Niña have been shown to alter migration, stopover time, fitness and interspecies mixing of migratory birds, according to the researchers. And those changes could allow for divergent influenza subtypes carried by the birds to mix and mingle, creating a novel pandemic strain.

The Star - www.thestar.com
20 Jan 2012
D Black

More Climate Change Related News
>>> Climate change brings alien species to Canada: study
[Deer ticks bringing Lyme disease with them. The smallmouth bass, gypsy moth and pea-like kudzu plant threaten forests and lakes]

Two panels in Iowa Legislature reject lead shot rule: Resource commission's proposed ban is unneeded, improper, legislative critics say

Two state legislative panels voted Thursday to reject a new regulation to ban lead shot for hunting mourning doves, and a key lawmaker predicted the Iowa House and Senate would nullify the rule.

... Representatives of the National Rifle Association, the Iowa Outdoor Wildlife Partnership and several other pro-hunting organizations spoke against the rule, saying it was unwarranted. The ban was supported by the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club, plus a coalition known as Lead is Poison for Hunters and other environmental activists who cautioned lawmakers about problems linked to lead.

Des Moines Register - www.desmoinesregister.com
19 Jan 2012

Nearly 60 Dolphins Stranded on Cape Cod

In a massive rescue effort, IFAW's (International Fund for Animal Welfare - www.ifaw.org) Marine Mammal Rescue and Research Team has been able to rescue and release 19 of the 27 Common dolphins that stranded alive on Cape Cod shores during the past few days including a dolphin calf and a pregnant mother. Approximately 32 additional animals stranded, but were found dead most likely due to injuries sustained from stranding.

"I've been doing this for 15 years and this is only the second season I've seen it like this," said Katie Moore IFAW's Marine Mammal Rescue and Research Manager. "These types of lingering mass strandings seem to be unique to our area."

The Sacramento Bee - www.sacbee.com
20 Jan 2012
International Fund for Animal Welfare
Location: Cape Cod, USA - Map It

More News on Dolphin Strandings

USF study finds more sick fish in oil spill area than rest of Gulf of Mexico

A USF survey of the Gulf of Mexico last summer found more sick fish in the area of the 2010 oil spill than in other areas. The dots show areas where fish with skin lesions were found.

A government-funded survey of the entire Gulf of Mexico last summer found more sick fish in the area of the 2010 oil spill than anywhere else, according to the top University of South Florida scientist in charge of the project.

"The area that has the highest frequency of fish diseases is the area where the oil spill was," said Steve Murawski, an oceanographer who previously served as the chief fisheries scientist of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

That doesn't necessarily mean the red snapper and other fish with nasty skin lesions were victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, he said. That same area has lots of oil rigs, leaky pipelines and even natural oil vents in the sea floor that could be the source of any contamination that has affected the fish.

"Even if the disease is from oil," he said, "it's another step to show it's from the oil spill."

... The USF scientists plan a second survey of the gulf next month, and also plan to check whether the sick fish they have caught suffer from immune system and fertility problems. Their goal, according to Ernst Peebles, another USF scientist working on the study, is to be able to report something definite by April 20, the second anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion.

Tampa Bay Times - www.tampabay.com
14 Jan 2012
C Pittman
Image courtesy of Tampa Bay Times
Location: Gulf of Mexico, USA


Photo courtesy of The Guardian's feature 'The Week in Wildlife'

Wildlife Trafficking News
News of Declining Wildlife Populations
Huh?! That's Interesting!