October 4, 2012

Today's Wildlife Disease News Stories


Snakes in the Wild Harbor Deadly Mosquito-Borne EEEV Virus Through Hibernation, Study Finds

Snakes in the wild serve as hosts for the deadly mosquito-borne Eastern equine encephalomyelitis Virus (EEEV), possibly acting as a "bridge" to the next season, according to researchers studying endemic areas in the Tuskegee National Forest in Alabama. This sets the stage for mosquitoes feeding on the infected snakes -- primarily in the early spring -- to become virus carriers. Scientists have been puzzled as to how the virus survived a harsh winter. With this new link established in the transmission cycle, a viable strategy to counter the virus may be at hand.

...While previous studies demonstrated that snakes experimentally infected with EEEV in laboratories could harbor the virus in their blood through hibernation, this is the first evidence documenting wild-caught snakes with EEEV already circulating in their blood. "This study confirms that the snakes carry the live virus across seasons," said study co-author Thomas R. Unnasch, Ph.D., of the University of South Florida's Global Health Infectious Disease Research Program. "So after hibernating all winter, when they emerge in the sun in the spring, they still have the virus in their blood ready to share with a new crop of mosquitoes which can then spread it on to other animals."

Science Daily - www.sciencedaily.com
01 Oct 2012

Cited Journal Article
Andrea M., et al. Detection of Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis Virus RNA in North American Snakes. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 2012; DOI: 10.4269/ajtmh.2012.12-0257

Manatees Reflect Quality of Health in Marine Ecosystems, Study Finds

A West Indian Manatee.
Photo credit: U.S. Geological Survey
A long-term study conducted by Mason researchers may be a benchmark in determining health threats to marine mammals.

More than 10 years of research in Belize was conducted studying the behavioral ecology, life history and health of manatees, large marine mammals sometimes called sea cows, in an area relatively undisturbed by humankind.

“Manatees are the proverbial ‘canaries in the mineshaft,’ as they serve as indicators of their environment and may reflect the overall health of marine ecosystems,” says Alonso Aguirre, ....

... Aguirre, also a professor in Mason’s Department of Environmental Science and Policy, says, “This long-term study, unique within marine mammals, provides insight on the baseline health of this species now threatened primarily by human encroachment, poaching and habitat degradation.”

Aguirre concludes: “This study is a benchmark aiding in early disease detection and the current environmental impacts affecting the epidemiologic patterns in the manatees of this region.”

George Mason University - newsdesk.gmu.edu
02 Oct 2012
T Laskowski
Location: Belize

Cited Journal Article

One Health News Corner
Marine Mammal Health News

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) News

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