September 25, 2012

Today's Wildlife Disease News Stories


Climate change to fuel northern spread of avian malaria, study finds

Researchers discover infected birds in Alaska, say global warming will send disease farther north

Malaria has been found in birds in parts of Alaska, and global climate change will drive it even farther north, according to a new study published today in the journal PLoS ONE.

The spread could prove devastating to arctic bird species that have never encountered the disease and thus have no resistance to it, said San Francisco State University Associate Professor of Biology Ravinder Sehgal, one of the study's co-authors. It may also help scientists understand the effects of climate change on the spread of human malaria, which is caused by a similar parasite.

SF State News -
19 Sep 2012

Avian botulism the cause of die-off of 1,200 birds at Oregon wetland

Labs in Wisconsin and at Oregon State University say that testing performed on at least a dozen ducks show preliminary findings that avian botulism was the cause of death of more than 1,200 birds at a Portland-area wetland, according to a Metro government news release Sept. 20.

Metro and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff have removed more than 1,200 dead or dying waterfowl from the Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area.

Smith and Bybee Wetlands is a 200-acre natural area that attracts a variety of migratory birds.

In addition to migrating waterfowl, several shorebirds and a pelican also died. The Portland Audubon Society has been receiving and rehabilitating two dozen live affected birds, which will be released when they have recovered and are able to continue their migration. -
22 Sep 2012
R Herriman
Location: Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area, Oregon, USA - Map It ]

UT student hunting water snakes to study viruses

...A senior at the University of Tennessee majoring in wildlife and fisheries management, Nelson for the past two years has been catching northern water snakes and testing them for ranavirus, a group of viruses that have infected and killed large numbers of frogs and salamanders in the United States and abroad.

...Nelson's is the first project to test for ranavirus in any species of snake in North America. The virus, which was first linked to large-scale amphibian mortality in the 1980s, recently has been identified in box turtles, including those at the Oak Ridge Arboretum. With this latest jump between turtles, which are reptiles, and amphibians, biologists even are more determined to understand how the disease is spread.

...No one knows if northern water snakes even carry ranavirus, but studies have shown that hellbenders in the Little River are infected, and northern water snake feed on small hellbenders.

Knox News -
19 Sep 2012
M Simmons
Location: Tennessee, USA

Viral infection hits Himalayan blue sheep in wild

The Himalayan blue sheep or bharal, an important prey of the endangered snow leopard, is under threat in the wild from a highly contagious viral infection in the Spiti Valley, the state's northernmost part that runs parallel to the Tibetan border.

... "A large number of blue sheep suffering from the disease were spotted in the Demul (village) area," Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife) Rajeev Kumar said.... Kumar said even camera traps (automatic cameras) laid by the wildlife department in coordination with Mysore-based NGO Nature Conservation Foundation in the Spiti Valley to study the habitat of snow leopard have recorded the infected animals.

"Since the domesticated goats and sheep share the grazing grounds with wild animals, there are chances that the blue sheep acquired the disease from the domesticated ones," he said.

... According to wildlife experts, the rise in the population of domesticated animals in the remote, inaccessible mountains can pose a threat to the wild animals.

"This might even threaten the Asiatic ibex - a wild goat species - another prey of the snow leopard prominently found in Spiti," an expert said.

Two -
20 Sep 2012
Location: Demul, Pakistan - Map It

Wildlife Health News from
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