August 20, 2013

Botulism tied to soaring loon deaths in Michigan and more wildlife disease news


Why Are Norway’s Moose Balding?

Moose are some of the most majestic creatures around. They’re the largest of the deer family, with huge antlers and quite ornery personalities. But the moose of this world are struggling a bit. In Minnesota, they’re falling to wolves. And over in Europe (where they’re called Eurasian elk), they’re balding.

In 2007, people started noticing that Norway’s moose were looking a little bit ratty. They seemed to be losing their hair. And eventually a veterinarian figured out what it was: a parasite called deer keds.
05 Aug 2013
Location: Norway

Botulism tied to soaring loon deaths in Michigan

Loon lovers, state officials and researchers are concerned about an escalation in the annual die-off of loons on the state’s shores through a strain of botulism.

In most years, deaths total in the hundreds, but in recent years, most notably 2010 and 2012, the toll has reached several thousand.

Many loons that die here each year are from other Great Lakes states. Michigan’s own population of loons is estimated at around 2,000, so the losses — regardless of the birds’ home state — are viewed with alarm.

High-profile issues impacting the Great Lakes in recent years — invasive species such as mussels and gobies as well as the spread of an algae called Cladophora — seem to be contributing to the increase in loon deaths.

The Detroit News Science
13 Aug 2013
J Lynch
Location: Great Lakes Region

More Avian Botulism News
Dead Ducks Found in Gulfport [Gulfport, Florida, USA - Map It ]

Largemouth Bass Virus Found in Northern Snakeheads in Virginia

A virus that can cause disease in largemouth bass has now been identified in otherwise apparently healthy northern snakeheads taken from two Potomac River tributaries in Virginia, the US Geological Survey announced this week.

This is the first time that the pathogen, known as largemouth bass virus, has been reported in northern snakeheads. The virus has been found in bass, sunfish, and other fish species, but largemouth bass are the only species known to develop disease from it.

While the significance of this finding is not yet known, the study's lead author, USGS research biologist Luke Iwanowicz, said it raises the possibility that snakeheads could be reservoirs of this virus and capable of transmitting it to bass populations in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

USGS Newsroom
13 Aug 2013

Cited Journal Article
L. Iwanowicz, C. Densmore, C. Hahn, P. McAllister & J. Odenkirk. 2013; Identification of Largemouth Bass Virus in the Introduced Northern Snakehead Inhabiting the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Journal of Aquatic Animal Health. 25(3): 191-196

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