May 21, 2013

H1N1 discovered in marine mammals and other wildlife disease news stories


H1N1 discovered in marine mammals

Scientists at the University of California, Davis, detected the H1N1 (2009) virus in free-ranging northern elephant seals off the central California coast a year after the human pandemic began, according to a study published today, May 15, in the journal PLOS ONE. It is the first report of that flu strain in any marine mammal.

“We thought we might find influenza viruses, which have been found before in marine mammals, but we did not expect to find pandemic H1N1,” said lead author Tracey Goldstein, an associate professor with the UC Davis One Health Institute and Wildlife Health Center. “This shows influenza viruses can move among species.”

UC Davis researchers have been studying flu viruses in wild birds and mammals since 2007 as part of the Centers of Excellence in Influenza Research and Surveillance program funded by National Institutes of Health. The goal of this research is to understand how viruses emerge and move among animals and people.

UC Davis Press Release
15 May 2013

Cited Journal Article
Goldstein T, Mena I, Anthony SJ, Medina R, Robinson PW, et al. (2013) Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Isolated from Free-Ranging Northern Elephant Seals in 2010 off the Central California Coast. PLoS ONE 8(5): e62259. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062259

Is virus detected in Asiatic Lion deadly enough?

Int'l wildlife experts express concern, Indian foresters insist it's one of many strains.

In the heat of Gujarat government seeking a review of Supreme Court’s order of translocation of a few Asiatic Lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh, a scientific paper, published in the Journal of Veterinary Science in June 2012, has brought to light, for the first time, that a virus, generally found in domestic livestock, has been spotted in Asiatic Lions in Gir.

The virus called peste des petits ruminants virus (PPRV) has been detected in frozen pooled tissue samples of a dead Asiatic Lion by a group of seven veterinary scientists from different institutes with help from Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI).

The issue has gained significance now because a wildlife health expert with Britain’s Royal Veterinary College Dr Richard Kock has expressed concern about the findings of this paper and has recently written to Dr YV Jhala of Wildlife Institute of India to investigate the matter.

DNA India
17 May 2013
Location: Gir Forest National Park, Gujarat, India

Badger ammo plant salamanders stay youthful, but have virus

They might be lucky when it comes to staying young, but it appears the now-famous Badger Army Ammunition Plant salamanders are less fortunate when it comes to staying healthy.

Recent tests revealed the amphibians that dwell within old reservoirs at the former weapons plant south of Baraboo have a virus. Researchers have studied the salamanders because of their unusual ability to maintain youthful characteristics

...Considering the recently discovered virus among the population, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources now is trying to determine whether it would be wise to relocate the small amphibians.

“We’re still determining to what extent the virus is present in the salamanders,” said Mark Aquino, a DNR regional director. “It’s nothing new, and it’s not an unknown virus. It really isn’t even related to the fact they have this unusual life history. It’s just a matter of whether it’s OK to relocate them to areas where the virus may not be present.”

Wisconsin State Journal
17 May 2013

What is killing the giant ‘Ocean Sunfish’ off the coast of Chile?

Giant Ocean Sunfish in Bali, Indonesia
Photo credit: Kevin Deacon
Several specimens of Ocean Sunfish have washed ashore along the coast of Chile in recent months. The gigantic fishes, always in solitary, cast aground on sandy beaches and the cause of their death remains a mystery to researchers.

The latest sunfish stranding occurred two days ago (Wednesday May 15) on the beach “El Colorado” of the northern Chilean port of Iquique. The huge marine animal was found on a sector of the beach hit by large waves. Members of conservation organizations, Kaitieki and Sea Shepherd, attended to the site to attempt a rescue or to collect data, according to local media.

The sunfish measured almost 2 meters long by 1.5 meter high and weighed about 800 kilograms. It had no visible wounds or lacerations, and based on the condition of fish, it washed to the shore after dying offshore within the previous two days.

The death of a fish of this species has become a recurrent event on beaches along the Chilean coast. On 24 April, a fish of this species was found dead on the same beach. In January this year, another specimen was found dead near Castro in Chiloé Island, located in the south of Chile. On March 15, another fish of this species was found dead on rockeries of islet “El Alacrán” of Arica, Chile’s northernmost port. And on March 2012, a sunfish stranded on a beach in Dalcahue, also in the Island of Chiloé.

Despite detailed inspections by specialists, the causes of death of these fish are not apparent and remain a mystery. Because of their size, in the range of 300-800 kilos, these fish would be still relatively young.

Digital Journal
17 May 2013
II Solar
Location: Playa El Colorado, Chile - Map It

Spring Brings Flowers and the Dreaded Mosquito: West Nile Virus Hotlines are Open to Receive Dead Bird Reports

Homepage of the Wildlife Health Event Reporter.  The colored pins
on the map show where a report was recently made.
As the West Nile Virus season blooms, in addition to calling your state hotline, consider also reporting your sick/dead bird sightings to the Wildlife Health Event Reporter (WHER), Yea, we recognize it is an extra step for you, but your observation is that important.

By entering your report into WHER, it will reach a wider audience. In almost near real-time, (yup, it is that fast), it becomes available to anyone who is interested or needs this information (e.g. wildlife disease specialists, wildlife rehabilitators, public health officials, domestic animal veterinarians, wildlife state agencies, and concerned citizens). We are all about sharing the information to help increase awareness and gain a better understanding of wildlife health events.

Contribute to a healthy ecosystem that is inhabited by healthy, happy people and animals! Create your WHER account today!

Need help email us at or call at 608.616.9437.

States with Open Hotlines Reported in the News
West Nile Virus Hotline Open; Report Dead Birds [Illinois, USA]
West Nile virus tracking resumes; public asked to report dead birds online [Washington, USA]

Other West Nile News

Rabies News

One Health News Corner
Huh?! That's Interesting!
It Ain't All Bad News
The New York based wildlife rehabilitation organization, Into the Wild Inc., has chosen to focus on the conservation of bats native to New York State, in an effort to combat the negative effects that the White Nose Syndrome (WNS) epidemic is having on native bat populations.

Through their Bat Conservation Project, Into the Wild is educating the public about the benefits of bats to the ecosystem and human health. They are also busy building bat houses to promote healthy bat populations. Read about their conservation efforts here at:

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