August 6, 2012

Today's Wildlife Disease News Stories


An Avian Flu That Jumps from Birds to Mammals Is Killing New England's Baby Seals

A novel avian influenza virus has acquired the ability to infect aquatic mammals and was responsible for an outbreak of fatal pneumonia that recently struck harbor seals in New England, according to scientists at the Center for Infection & Immunity (CII) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, New England Aquarium, USGS National Wildlife Health Center, SeaWorld and EcoHealth Alliance.

This research is published in mBio.

Wildlife officials first became concerned in September 2011, when seals with severe pneumonia and skin lesions suddenly appeared along the coastline from southern Maine to northern Massachusetts. Most were infants (less than 6 months), and a total of 162 dead or moribund seals were recovered over the next 3 months.
ScienceDaily -
31 Jul 2012

Cited Journal Article
SJ Anthony et al. Emergence of Fatal Avian Influenza in New England Harbor Seals. mBio. 2012 Jul 31;3(4):e00166-12. doi:10.1128/​mBio.00166-12

Farm virus [Q Fever] found in Algonquin Park wildlife

They may seem like furry little friends, those little squirrels, as they skitter through the forests, but researches have discovered otherwise.

A bacterium known to cause ‘Q-Fever’ in humans has been detected in a high percentage rodents in Algonquin Park.

A team of Laurentian University biology researchers, led by Canada Research Chair Dr. Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde have found evidence of the spread of the zoonotic bacterium Coxiella bernetii in wildlife in the park and say their findings suggest that some visitors to the park could be at risk of infection. -
26 Jul 2012
MB Hartill

Fish getting skin cancer from UV radiation, scientists say

Teams find cancerous lesions on the scales of about 15% of the coral trout in Australia's Great Barrier Reef, which is under an ozone hole.

Approximately 15% of coral trout in Australia's Great Barrier Reef had cancerous lesions on their scales. In that regard, they resemble Australians who live on land — 2 in 3 people who live down under will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70, the highest rate in the world. It's probably no coincidence that Australia is under the Earth's biggest hole in the ozone layer.

Researchers hadn't set out to look for signs of cancer in fish.

Scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science were near the Great Barrier Reef conducting a survey of shark prey, predominantly coral trout. They kept seeing strange dark patches on the normally bright orange fish, and for help they turned to another research team from the University of Newcastle in England that was studying coral disease in the area.

Los Angeles Times -
02 Aug 2012
J Bardin
 Location: Queenland, Australia - Map It     

Cited Article
Sweet M et al. (2012)Evidence of Melanoma in Wild Marine Fish Populations. PLoS ONE 7(8): e41989. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041989


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