March 22, 2013

Deer dispersal research and chronic wasting disease and more wildlife disease news stories


Deaths of manatees in Indian River Lagoon a mystery

Stomachs filled with algae, but appear OK

Manatees are drowning for some mysterious reason, with bellies full of seaweed as one of the only clues. At least 55 manatees have died in the Indian River Lagoon since July, including 25 of them in the past month, mostly in Brevard.

Their carcasses appear otherwise healthy, but their guts are filled with thick drift algae, also called macroalgae, and not so much of their usual seagrass staple diet. That stringy stuff is virtually nowhere to be found in the lagoon, after a phytoplankton explosion decimated the estuary’s seagrass in 2011.

Scientists have yet to identify any known algae toxin that may be killing the manatees. But biologists with the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg say the 2011 phytoplankton “super bloom,” as well as a severe brown algae bloom after that, may have contributed to the manatee die-off.

“So far we haven’t found evidence of disease or viruses at this point, but we’re still looking into that as well,” said Kevin Baxter, a spokesman with the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

...“That has been a common thread that there have been large amounts of it,” Baxter said. “They’ve generally been healthy looking, otherwise.”

... Dead cormorants, a few bottlenose dolphins and redfish also have been reported recently in Brevard.

Florida Today -
20 Mar 2013
J Maymer
Location: Brevard, Florida, USA - Map It

WNS Update – Ontario: First 2013 case confirmed

Updated map of WNS in Ontario.
Click on map to enlarge.
Ontario has confirmed its first cases of white nose syndrome (WNS) for 2013. The infected bats were found in a district of the province where WNS had not previously been reported, (see map).

This incident included reports of bats observed flying during the day, a strong indicator of WNS infection, and both scavenged and whole dead bats. The samples for WNS surveillance were collected and submitted as part of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources enhanced WNS surveillance program.

19 Mar 2013
Location:  - Ontario, Canada - Map It

Other News from the CCWHC blog

Deer dispersal research and chronic wasting disease

Between 2001 and 2005, when Duane Diefenbach was studying the dispersal of young white-tailed deer, he had no idea the research would prove useful in trying to contain an outbreak of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in the Keystone State.

By 2008, when the results of the collaborative research project conducted by Penn State, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the U.S. Geological Survey were published in an issue of Behavioral Ecology, it occurred to him that his work might have epidemiological implications.

... In his four-year study, Diefenbach, adjunct associate professor of wildlife ecology in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences and leader of the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, documented deer dispersal behavior that provides insight into how far and how fast CWD could spread among wild deer.

Penn State News -
15 Mar 2013

More Chronic Wasting Disease News

DNA tools help scientists trace salmon disease back to the source

B.C. fishery scientists are developing a new generation of genetic tools to find diseases that are undermining the health of wild Pacific salmon and track them back to their source.

More than 90 per cent of juvenile salmon that migrate from fresh water to live as adults in the ocean die before they return to spawn, according to the researchers.

Disease is believed to be responsible for excessive mortality, according to Brian Riddell, CEO of the Pacific Salmon Foundation. But very little is known about the incidence of disease among wild salmon, in part because wild salmon are very difficult to observe once they enter the ocean and because weakened fish are eaten by predators, leaving no evidence of the cause of illness.

“We almost never see diseased wild fish,” Riddell said.

But a new collaboration between Genome B.C., the PSF and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is collecting the biggest set of tissue samples from both wild and ocean-farmed Pacific salmon ever assembled in order to analyze the genomes of all the viruses, disease and pathogens the fish carry.

The Vancouver Sun -
19 Mar 2013
R Shore
Location: Canada

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