19 April, 2011

White-nose syndrome spreads, Foot and Mouth Returns to S. Korea, and Avian Influenza In Ostriches

White-nose syndrome reaches Nova Scotia and spreads in the United States
A Hunts County, Nova Scotia bat has tested positive for white-nose syndrome. The finding makes Nova Scotia the 4th Canadian province to see signs of the devastating disease. While spread primarily from bat-to-bat and not harmful to humans, Canadian authorities are urging residents to stay out of caves and old mines that are home to bat populations. Humans may inadvertently carry fungal spores that cause the disease into caves by way of clothing or caving gear.  

First seen in caves outside of Albany, New York in 2006, white-nose syndrome has spread rapidly west to Oklahoma, north into Canada, and south to the state of North Carolina. With the recent confirmation of the disease in Trigg County, Kentucky, 16 US states have now been affected.

White nose syndrome has been the cause of over 1 million bat deaths in Eastern North America, and bat declines have exceeded 70 percent in severely affected areas of New England. The total population of the little brown bat has declined so dramatically that the species may become extinct in the region within 20 years.

Foot and mouth returns to South Korea
Just 5 days after South Korea declared the end of their foot and mouth outbreak, six pigs were diagnosed with the disease.  All the pigs were on the same farm in Yeongcheon, N. Gyeongsang province.  Earlier, South Korea had chosen to vaccinate its animals against foot and mouth in an attempt to control the epidemic.  Countries generally prefer to eliminate outbreaks by culling and restricting animal movements because it take longer to regain certification as “foot and mouth free” if vaccinations are used.  The detection of the disease is a blow to South Korea; the epidemic has already led to losses totalling 2.6 billion US dollars.

Ostrich meat trade interrupted by flu outbreak
An outbreak of avian influenza on an ostrich farm in Oudtshoorn, Western Cape, South Africa had led to a ban on all exports of the product..  South Africa accounts for over 80% of the world’s ostrich meat production.  In an attempt to control the outbreak, 5,000 birds have been culled.  If the infection is contained, ostrich meat exports may resume next month.

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