May 9, 2013

Mercury exposure linked to dramatic decline in Arctic foxes and other wildlife health news stories


Wildlife Health Bulletin: Avian Influenza A(H7N9) in China

This bulletin provides information on the current situation regarding the avian influenza A(H7N9) outbreak in China and preparations at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center. At this time, the People’s Republic of China has reported over 120 cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) infection in people, with an approximate case fatality rate of 20 percent.

Presently, there is no evidence of sustained humanto-human transmission. The source of human infection is still under investigation, but the avian influenza A(H7N9) virus has been isolated from healthy ducks, pigeons, chickens, and quail in live bird markets in Shanghai and neighboring provinces. Concern exists within China and among other countries about the potential spread of virus.

USGS National Wildlife Health Center
03 May 2013

News on Environmental Toxins: Mercury exposure linked to dramatic decline in Arctic foxes

On one Russian island where the population of foxes has crashed, the researchers believe the toxin has played a key role in the decline. They say the findings could have important implications for conservation. The data is published in the Journal, PLOS ONE.

Mercury levels in the world's oceans have doubled over the past 100 years, according to the UN, with more mercury deposited in the Arctic than on any other part of the planet. The Arctic Council says there has been a ten-fold increase in the levels of mercury found in top predators in the region over the past 150 years.

... Now a team of researchers says it has found significant levels of mercury in different populations of Arctic foxes in different environments.
BBC News
06 May 2013
M McGrath

Cited Journal Article
N Bocharova et al. (2013) Correlates between Feeding Ecology and Mercury Levels in Historical and Modern Arctic Foxes (Vulpes lagopus). PLoS ONE 8(5): e60879. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060879

Climate changes could bring malaria to the UK

Health experts warn of growing threat from 'exotic' diseases

Leading health experts are urging the government to take action against the growing threat that mosquito-borne diseases, including potentially fatal malaria, could soon arrive in the UK.

The disturbing recommendation to "act now before it is too late" is being made as a growing body of evidence indicates that what were once thought of as tropical diseases are being found ever closer to the UK.

...In the UK, previously rare diseases are being diagnosed with increasing frequency. In 2001, there were 200 confirmed cases of Lyme disease, which is caused by infected ticks carried on animals. By 2011, this had risen to 959 confirmed cases, according to HPA statistics. The true figure could be considerably higher, experts believe, as Lyme disease requires a clinical diagnosis and its symptoms, such as rashes and flu, can mimic other illnesses and be misdiagnosed. At its most serious, the disease can result in blindness and paralysis.

The Guardian
04 May 2013
J Doward

Health defects found in fish exposed to Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Gulf killifish embryos affected

Three years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, crude oil toxicity continues to sicken a sentinel Gulf Coast fish species, according to new findings from a research team that includes a University of California, Davis, scientist.

With researchers from Louisiana and South Carolina, the scientists found that Gulf killifish embryos exposed to sediments from oiled locations show developmental abnormalities, including heart defects, delayed hatching and reduced hatching success. The killifish is an environmental indicator species, or a "canary in the coal mine," used to predict broader exposures and health risks.

The findings, posted online in advance of publication in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, are part of an ongoing collaborative effort to track the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Gulf killifish populations in areas of Louisiana that received heavy amounts of oil.

Other species that share similar habitats with the Gulf killifish, such as redfish, speckled trout, flounder, blue crabs, shrimp and oysters — may be at risk of similar effects.

01 May 2013

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