Vacuolar myelinopathy in waterfowl from a North Carolina impoundment.

US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, Raleigh, North Carolina 27636-3726, USA.
Journal of wildlife diseases (Impact Factor: 1.31). 05/2003; 39(2):412-7. DOI: 10.7589/0090-3558-39.2.412
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Vacuolar myelinopathy was confirmed by light and electron microscopic examination of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris), and buffleheads (Bucephala albeola) collected during an epizootic at Lake Surf in central North Carolina (USA) between November 1998 and February 1999. Clinical signs of affected birds were consistent with central nervous system impairment of motor function (incoordination, abnormal movement and posture, weakness, paralysis). This is the first report of this disease in wild waterfowl (Anseriformes).


Available from: Kimberli Miller, Aug 06, 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Vacuolar myelinopathy (VM) is a neurologic disease primarily found in birds that occurs when wildlife ingest submerged aquatic vegetation colonized by an uncharacterized toxin-producing cyanobacterium (hereafter "UCB" for "uncharacterized cyanobacterium"). Turtles are among the closest extant relatives of birds and many species directly and/or indirectly consume aquatic vegetation. However, it is unknown whether turtles can develop VM. We conducted a feeding trial to determine whether painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) would develop VM after feeding on Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata), colonized by the UCB (Hydrilla is the most common "host" of UCB). We hypothesized turtles fed Hydrilla colonized by the UCB would exhibit neurologic impairment and vacuolation of nervous tissues, whereas turtles fed Hydrilla free of the UCB would not. The ability of Hydrilla colonized by the UCB to cause VM (hereafter, "toxicity") was verified by feeding it to domestic chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) or necropsy of field collected American coots (Fulica americana) captured at the site of Hydrilla collections. We randomly assigned ten wild-caught turtles into toxic or non-toxic Hydrilla feeding groups and delivered the diets for up to 97 days. Between days 82 and 89, all turtles fed toxic Hydrilla displayed physical and/or neurologic impairment. Histologic examination of the brain and spinal cord revealed vacuolations in all treatment turtles. None of the control turtles exhibited neurologic impairment or had detectable brain or spinal cord vacuolations. This is the first evidence that freshwater turtles can become neurologically impaired and develop vacuolations after consuming toxic Hydrilla colonized with the UCB. The southeastern United States, where outbreaks of VM occur regularly and where vegetation colonized by the UCB is common, is also a global hotspot of freshwater turtle diversity. Our results suggest that further investigations into the effect of the putative UCB toxin on wild turtles in situ are warranted.
    PLoS ONE 04/2014; 9(4):e93295. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0093295 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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