By Carlos das Neves and Dave Jessup
Five cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) have been diagnosed in Norway in the last 9 months: the first in a wild reindeer found in poor body condition (Benestad et al. Vet Res (2016) 47:88), then two in elg (moose), and 2 more wild reindeer during the regular season hunt. Up to Christmas 2016 Norwegian authorities have tested a total of 9787 wild cervids taken during the season hunt but no further cases have been detected. The big question is, or perhaps should be, how did CWD, previously known only to exist in North America (NA) and South Korea (imported from NA) get to the wilds of Norway?
We have known for more than a decade that CWD prions persist in the environment. “The ability of the CWD agent to persist in contaminated environments for more than two years may further increase the probability of transmission and protract epidemic dynamics.” (Environmental Sources of Prion Transmission in Mule Deer, M. Miller, E. S. Williams, N. T. Hobbs, and L. Wolfe, Emerging Infectious Diseases, 2004, 10(6))
We have also know for several years that: “Unlike in most other prion diseases, in CWD, prions are shed in urine and feces, which most likely contributes to the horizontal transmission within and between cervid species,” (Early detection of chronic wasting disease prions in urine of pre-symptomatic deer by real-time quaking-induced conversion assay, T. John, H. Schätzl, and S. Gilch, Prion, 2013 7(3)). But, commercially produced deer and elk urine from North America, has been freely advertised, sold over the internet and in sporting goods stores, and exported. Perhaps nobody considered the potential downside of using urine from NA deer and elk as a hunting lure in Europe?
Virginia banned the use of natural deer urine in 2015. “The first item the urine-ban naysayers will mention is research that suggests CWD transmission by urine is a low risk,” said Matt Knox, deer project coordinator for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. “Low risk is not zero risk. What they fail to mention is the rest of the story. The infectious agents that cause CWD (prions) are shed by CWD-infected deer in urine, saliva and feces, and saliva and feces are reported to be higher risk than urine. Deer urine is collected from captive deer by housing these deer on grates or slatted floors, and any other fluids shed by these deer (saliva, feces, etc.) are also collected.”
By mid 2016, CWD had been found in either captive and/or free-ranging cervids in 24 states, three Canadian provinces, South Korea and Norway. In response, some state wildlife agencies have banned the use of natural deer urine and other scents taken from deer. The list includes Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Virginia (also, Canadian provinces Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba). Pennsylvania prohibits the use of deer urine in three “disease management areas.” The import of deer urine is now also forbidden in Norway.
Selected portions of the above taken from Urban Bowhunter, “To Pee or Not to Pee”, October 29, 2016
So how did CWD get to Norway….’That is the question’.
By Catharina Vendl, Student Representative on Council
New Student Chapters: The WDA Council recently approved the following new/renewed student chapters:
Welcome to the WDA Student Chapter Family!
Are you a student member and don't have a chapter at your university? Check out the WDA website at: http://www.wildlifedisease.org/wda/STUDENTS/StudentChapters.aspx for details on how to set up a new chapter.
Reminder for all chapters:
- The annual Student Chapter Progress Report is due on April 30th 2017.
- If your chapter received a WDA Chapter Grant, the deadline for the Financial Report is April 30th as well.
- The deadline to apply for the new round of Student Chapter Grants is May 1st 2017. Check out the student section of the WDA website for details.
Student Small Travel Grants (open to all WDA student members)
For the 6th WDA Annual Conference in Mexico in July 2017 several Student Travel Grants will be available ($ 400-500 each). Check out the WDA website for upcoming application details!
Apply for Student Awards:
The WDA annually offers four Student Awards:
1) WDA Graduate Student Research Recognition Award
2) WDA Graduate Student Scholarship Award
3) WDA Terry Amundson Presentation Award
4) WDA Student Poster Award
5) The AAWV Veterinary Student Scholarship
Check out the WDA website at: http://www.wildlifedisease.org/wda/STUDENTS/StudentAwards.aspx
for details including application deadline. For questions on the awards contact Tiggy Grillo (Chair of the Student Awards Committee) at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
By Bonnie Raphael and Carol Meteyer
The due date for WDA Small Grants Proposals has been extended until February 1, 2017. This program is entering its 4th year and a total of $11,000 is available. Guidelines and criteria used for scoring and selection proposals can be found on the WDA Small Grants webpage. Please read these guidelines carefully, also included is an example of a successful proposal on the webpage: http://www.wildlifedisease.org/wda/ABOUTWDA/SmallGrants.aspx
The WDA Small Grants Program is an opportunity for members of the WDA to contribute to the mission of the WDA “to acquire, disseminate and apply knowledge of the health and diseases of wild animals in relation to their biology, conservation, and interactions with humans and domestic animals". The committee will look favorably on proposals that reach the widest possible audience and is excited to receive your proposals and see the creative ways that our membership can further the mission of the WDA.
By Joe Gaydos and Dave Jessup
Endowment is a way to assure that something important will exist long after we are gone. In this case, we want to ensure, in perpetuity, coverage of the publication costs of the Journal of Wildlife Diseases and of providing free access to JWD for colleagues in the 2/3rds of nations with lowest per capita GDP. The latter is of utmost significance, as that is where conservation and health challenges are most acute, and ability to pay the least available.
Council approved endowment of JWD as WDA’s highest goal during two ‘visioning’ efforts in the 1980’s and 2000’s and after polling the membership. Since we started in 2012 we have raised 3/5ths (US $1.5 million) of what we need to endow JWD production and worldwide availability in perpetuity. We only need to raise $1 million more between now and 2020. Importantly, we need all WDA members to invest in this effort. This will provide WDA with a third steady and reliable revenue stream. For the last 50 years membership fees and author page charges were the only WDA income. We don’t want to raise these, and would prefer to keep them static (falling at the rate of inflation). A third revenue source will allow WDA to consider adding benefits the membership wants the most.
A new JWD Endowment Committee effort has just been approved by WDA Council, a sponsorship campaign designed to appeal to companies, agencies, institutions and non-profits (see below). If you have any candidates for or ideas about sponsors please contact Joe Gaydos, Chair of the Committee.
Endowment Sponsor Information
Endowing the production of the Journal of Wildlife Diseases and its free electronic distribution in the 2/3rds of nations with lower per capita GDP in perpetuity is the largest project the Wildlife Disease Association (WDA) has ever undertaken. We are 60% of the way towards raising the needed $2.5 million by 2020.
This is a one-time opportunity for Corporations and Agencies to sponsor endowment of the Journal of Wildlife Diseases. Sponsorship will bring recognition to the donors by putting their name and logos before our 1,585 members and the millions of people all around the world that read the journal. The following opportunities and recognitions are available:
Logo & Name on Endowment Page in JWD (5 years)
Name on banner ads in JWD online (5 years)
Listing with annual donor recognition in JWD (5 years)
WDA website logo placement
Logo on WDA Conference Materials
Distribution of promotional material
At conference & feature in member mailing (2/yr)
Free registration(s) at WDA's Annual International Conference
Limited number of sponsorships available
An ad hoc committee (the WDA Futures Committee), co-chaired by Dave Jessup, Dolores Gavies-Widen and Tim Portas has been established to look at WDA’s future after the endowment goal is reached. The membership will be polled in 2017 to help determine what goals we might want to set, what attributes and benefits of WDA membership are most valued, and what package of benefits and new features or improvements we might be able to offer after we reach our endowment goal.
By Dave Jessup
Great article about longtime WDA member and independent Alaskan wildlife pathologist Kathy Burek in Outside Magazine. See at: https://www.outsideonline.com/2143191/detective-northern-oddities
The Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is preparing an environmental assessment (EA) associated with the Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program. To manage the threat associated with cattle fever tick infestation, APHIS is proposing to treat white-tailed deer with ivermectin, a broad spectrum anti-parasitic drug, to control tick vectors of cattle fever in 10 counties in South Texas. White-tailed deer would be fed ivermectin-treated corn from a closed gravity feeder placed in areas where cattle fever infestation is a concern. See: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=APHIS-2016-0097
The number of animals shot in England’s controversial badger cull soared to more than 10,000 this autumn, as part of the government’s attempt to cut tuberculosis (TB) in cattle. Ministers claimed the result as a success but a leading scientist said there was “no basis” for suggesting the cull was effective, while wildlife charities said badgers were being used as a scapegoat for failures in the intensive livestock industry. Badger culling was rolled out to seven new areas in 2016, with ongoing shooting in three other areas. A total of 10,866 badgers were killed between August and October, according to government data, bringing the overall total to more than 14,800 since culling began in two areas in 2013.
TB in cattle is a serious problem for some farmers in England, with 28,000 infected cattle slaughtered in 2015 at a cost of more than £100m a year to taxpayers. An earlier decade-long trial of badger culling found it could “make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain”. However, ministers have remained adamant that changes to culling practices, alongside other measures such as controls on cattle movement, would help to cut TB. But almost all scientists have said the badger cull is very unlikely to work and could make matters worse.
The chief veterinary officer (CVO), Nigel Gibbens, said the 2016 results showed “culling can deliver the level of effectiveness required to be confident of achieving disease control benefits”. However, badger expert Prof Rosie Woodroffe from the Zoological Society of London told the Guardian: “There is no basis for drawing any conclusions about the effectiveness of culling.” Over 70% of badgers in an area must be killed to be sure that the disturbed remaining populations do not range more widely and spread the disease further. But the minimum targets set for badger kills in each area were changed during the culls depending on how many were being shot, being reduced by up to 50% in some places. “This means there is really no way to tell what reduction in badger numbers was achieved by culls,” said Woodroffe. “Culling that was consistently ineffective would look like a low badger density and prompt a reduced target. I would therefore consider the CVO’s conclusion to be based on extremely shaky evidence.”
An independent assessment of the first year of culling found it was neither effective nor humane, but the government then disbanded the expert panel. There is also no evidence that the culls since 2013 have cut TB, although it takes two years for the data to come through. “The government has embarked upon a widespread rollout of badger culling in the absence of firm evidence that this approach can reduce cattle TB,” said Woodroffe. “We could kill every badger in England but bovine TB would continue to spread in cattle herds due to inaccurate TB testing, excessive numbers of cattle movements and poor biosecurity controls,” said Dominic Dyer, the chief executive of the Badger Trust. “The badger is being used as a scapegoat for failures in intensive livestock practices that lead to increases in bovine TB.”
The government is proposing that badger culling can continue indefinitely via the granting of five-year licenses. However, Woodroffe said it was worrying that the licenses would carry less strict conditions than the current culls, heightening the risk of badgers spreading the disease more widely. The government had said it would use badger vaccination to help prevent TB spreading to new areas of England, but could not do so until 2018 due to a global shortage of supply.
This article is extracted from one first published by The Guardian on 16 Dec 2016.
. San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico July 23-28… WDA Annual International Conference with WDA Latin American Section and KALANKAAB
. Falls Creek, Victoria, Australia September 24-29… Australasian Section Annual conference
. Nordic Section of WDA, Denmark, location and date TBA
. WDA Africa Middle-East Section in conjunction with Tanzanian Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), early December, exact time and date TBA
For more information on the WDA 2017 Annual International Conference in English see: http://www.wildlifedisease.org/wda/CONFERENCES/UpcomingInternationalConference.aspx And in Spanish at: http://www.wildlifedisease.org/wda/CONFERENCES/LatinAmericanConference.aspx Look for the call for abstracts very soon and for registration to open in mid-January.
Written and compiled by members of the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center - Wildlife Epidemiology & Emerging Diseases Branch.
Bisgaard Taxon 40-Associated Mortality
Between August and October 2016, the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) received a number of avian cases in which a Pasteurella-like bacterium, Bisgaard taxon 40, was associated with mortality. The most significant of these was a mortality event involving rhinoceros auklets (Cerorhinca monocerata) that occurred in the Salish Sea area of Washington State. At this location approximately 420 dead adult and juvenile auklets washed ashore and were observed by volunteer beach survey teams. Ten adult auklet carcasses were submitted to the NWHC for diagnostic evaluation. In seven of these birds, bacterial septicemia associated with Bisgaard taxon 40 was determined to be the cause of death. Following this event, the NWHC continued to isolate this bacterium from dead birds collected from various locations in the Great Lakes region and the mid and north Atlantic coast of the U.S. (including Wisconsin, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Maine). These mortalities involved birds of the order Charadriiformes and included common tern (Sterna hirundo), roseate tern (S. dougallii), laughing gull (Leucophaeus atricilla), herring gull (Larus smithsonianus), and great black-backed gull (L. marinus). The NWHC also received similar reports and diagnostic results on 44 birds examined by the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative in British Columbia. Bisgaard taxon 40 was first recognized in 2003 in gulls, but has not previously been associated with mortality in wildlife. The NWHC is currently reviewing previous instances where Bisgaard taxon 40 was identified in the laboratory, as well as trying to determine the extent of this bacterium’s occurrence among apparently healthy gulls.
Gulf Coast Sanderlings Infected with Livestock Skin Bacteria
During regular surveys of over-summering sanderlings (Calidris alba) on a Gulf Coast barrier island in Louisiana in 2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) biologists with the USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center (Gainesville, Florida) observed eye and beak lesions on an estimated 20%-30% of individuals in foraging flocks. The lesions ranged from barely noticeable to severe with roughed and matted feathers, scab formation, and yellow waxy growths around the top of the bill, eyes, and head. Individuals with small lesions foraged and acted apparently normally. Those with severe lesions foraged lethargically and were less likely to stay with the foraging flocks. In the most severe cases, infected birds allowed biologists to approach them likely due to severe morbidity and probable blindness from the lesions. Sanderlings were the only species observed with lesions among mixed flocks of foraging shorebirds, with one exception: A single dunlin (Calidris alpine) showed similarly ruffled facial feathers, and photos appeared to show the same waxy growth on the face.
The USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) received several specimens with severe lesions and diagnosed dermatophilosis caused by a gram-positive, non-acid fast facultative anerobic bacterium, Dermatophilus congolensis. Overproduction of keratin (hyperkeratosis) resulted in waxy growths on the most severely affected sanderlings. Growths were evident on the wings, the side and the front of the head, and extended over the surface of the eyes of some individuals, although the cornea and conjunctiva were not infected. The D. congolensis infection was microscopically apparent and confirmed by sequencing PCR-amplified DNA extracted from the lesioned skin.
Refenences: Moriello KA. 2013. Overview of Dermatophilosis: Dermatophilus infection, Cutaneous streptothricosis, Lumpy wool, Strawberry footrot. Merck Veterinary Manual, http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/integumentary_system/dermatophilosis/overview_of_dermatophilosis.html
New World Screwworm Myiasis in Endangered Key Deer
In late September 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed New World screwworm (Cochliomyia hominivorax) infection in Key deer (Odocoileus virgineanus clavium) from National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key, Florida. New World screwworms had not been reported in the State of Florida in over 50 years due to an extensive and successful eradication program initiated by USDA during the 1950s-1960s in response to the parasite’s significant economic impact on livestock production. Adult screwworms typically deposit eggs in open wounds. Developing larvae feed on the living host and cause severe tissue damage which can quickly result in death. As of December 2, 2016, a total of 133 Key deer, >10% of the estimated population of approximately 1000 individuals, have been found dead or euthanized due to severe infestation. Peak mortality occurred in October and affected predominantly males, attributable to infestation of injuries sustained during the rut. A small number of cases have also been detected in other wildlife species, including raccoon (Procyon lotor), and domestic animals, including dog, cat, and pig. In all, 13 islands are known to be infested between No Name Key and Sugarloaf Key, Florida. The origin of the outbreak remains uncertain.
Since the initial detection, the Florida Department of Agriculture (FDACS), USDA APHIS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and other partner agencies have implemented multiple management strategies to eradicate screwworms from Florida and to conserve the remaining Key deer population. Increased surveillance by agency personnel, local veterinarians, and pet owners has been implemented to detect cases in wildlife and domestic animals from the resident populations. Inspection stations at Key Largo, the entrance to mainland Florida, to screen animals leaving the affected region have been instituted. Free-ranging Key deer are being treated both orally and topically with the anti-parasiticide, Doramectin. Sterilized male screwworm flies are being released in high numbers in the region to unproductively mate with female flies in order to eradicate the local screwworm population. Furthermore, sperm banking from all deceased male deer is underway in collaboration with the Southeast Zoo Alliance for Reproduction and Conservation. Ongoing monitoring efforts suggest that the combination of management efforts being implemented has been effective to date. For additional information on New World screwworm in North America and the current outbreak, please visit USDA-APHIS, FWS Wildlife Health Office, FDACS, or the Center for Food Security & Public Health at Iowa State University. Contributions to this summary were provided by Dr. Samantha Gibbs, FWS and Dr. Sherrilyn Wainwright, USDA-APHIS.
To view, search, and download historic and ongoing wildlife morbidity and mortality event records nationwide visit the Wildlife Health Information Sharing Partnership event reporting system (WHISPers) online database: http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/whispers/
To request diagnostic services or report wildlife mortality: http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/services/