[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Massive die-offs of little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) have been occurring since 2006 in hibernation sites around Albany, New York, and this problem has spread to other States in the Northeastern United States. White cottony fungal growth is seen on the snouts of affected animals, a prominent sign of White Nose Syndrome (WNS). A previous report described the involvement of the fungus Geomyces destructans in WNS, but an identical fungus was recently isolated in France from a bat that was evidently healthy. The fungus has been recovered sparsely despite plentiful availability of afflicted animals.
We have investigated 100 bat and environmental samples from eight affected sites in 2008. Our findings provide strong evidence for an etiologic role of G. destructans in bat WNS. (i) Direct smears from bat snouts, Periodic Acid Schiff-stained tissue sections from infected tissues, and scanning electron micrographs of bat tissues all showed fungal structures similar to those of G. destructans. (ii) G. destructans DNA was directly amplified from infected bat tissues, (iii) Isolations of G. destructans in cultures from infected bat tissues showed 100% DNA match with the fungus present in positive tissue samples. (iv) RAPD patterns for all G. destructans cultures isolated from two sites were indistinguishable. (v) The fungal isolates showed psychrophilic growth. (vi) We identified in vitro proteolytic activities suggestive of known fungal pathogenic traits in G. destructans.
Further studies are needed to understand whether G. destructans WNS is a symptom or a trigger for bat mass mortality. The availability of well-characterized G. destructans strains should promote an understanding of bat-fungus relationships, and should aid in the screening of biological and chemical control agents.
PLoS ONE 05/2010; 5(5):e10783. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0010783 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a condition associated with an unprecedented bat mortality event in the northeastern United States. Since the winter of 2006*2007, bat declines exceeding 75% have been observed at surveyed hibernacula. Affected bats often present with visually striking white fungal growth on their muzzles, ears, and/or wing membranes. Direct microscopy and culture analyses demonstrated that the skin of WNS-affected bats is colonized by a psychrophilic fungus that is phylogenetically related to Geomyces spp. but with a conidial morphology distinct from characterized members of this genus. This report characterizes the cutaneous fungal infection associated with WNS.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In New York, an epizootic of American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) deaths from West Nile virus (WNV) infection occurred during winter 2004-2005, a cold season when mosquitoes are not active. Detection of WNV in feces collected at the roost suggests lateral transmission through contact or fecal contamination.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Using oral swab samples to detect West Nile virus in dead birds, we compared the Rapid Analyte Measurement Platform (RAMP) assay with VecTest and real-time reverse-transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. The sensitivities of RAMP and VecTest for testing corvid species were 91.0% and 82.1%, respectively.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The VecTest antigen-capture assay for West Nile virus was performed on oral and tissue swabs from dead birds in New York State from April 2003 through July 2004. Results were compared with those from real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction of kidney or brain. Oral VecTest sensitivity is adequate for surveillance in American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) (87%), Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata) (80%), and House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) (76%). Oral VecTest performed well for small samples of American Kestrels (Falco sparverius), Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), Common Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula), and House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus). Poor sensitivity occurred in most raptors, Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura), Fish Crows (Corvus ossifragus), and American Robins (Turdus migratorius). Specificity was excellent (98%), except for false-positive results that occurred mostly in Gray Catbirds (Dumatella carolinensis), Green Herons (Butorides virescens), and tests of blood and tissues. Feather pulp and kidney may be useful for VecTest assays in corvids.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: West Nile (WN) virus was found throughout New York State in 2000, with the epicenter in New York City and surrounding counties. We tested 3,403 dead birds and 9,954 mosquito pools for WN virus during the transmission season. Sixty-three avian species, representing 30 families and 14 orders, tested positive for WN virus. The highest proportion of dead birds that tested positive for WN virus was in American Crows in the epicenter (67% positive, n=907). Eight mosquito species, representing four genera, were positive for WN virus. The minimum infection rate per 1,000 mosquitoes (MIR) was highest for Culex pipiens in the epicenter: 3.53 for the entire season and 7.49 for the peak week of August 13. Staten Island had the highest MIR (11.42 for Cx. pipiens), which was associated with the highest proportion of dead American Crows that tested positive for WN virus (92%, n=48) and the highest number of human cases (n=10).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: As part of West Nile (WN) virus surveillance in New York State in 2000, 71,332 ill or dead birds were reported; 17,571 (24.6%) of these were American Crows. Of 3,976 dead birds tested, 1,263 (31.8%) were positive for WN virus. Viral activity was first confirmed in 60 of the state's 62 counties with WN virus-positive dead birds. Pathologic findings compatible with WN virus were seen in 1,576 birds (39.6% of those tested), of which 832 (52.8%) were positive for WN virus. Dead crow reports preceded confirmation of viral activity by several months, and WN virus-positive birds were found >3 months before the onset of human cases. Dead bird surveillance appears to be valuable for early detection of WN virus and for guiding public education and mosquito control efforts.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Diagnostic and analytical findings are presented for 105 common loons (Gavia immer) found dead or debilitated in New York (USA) from 1972-99. Aspergillosis (23% of cases) and ingestion of lead fishing weights (21%) were the most common pathologies encountered. Stranding on land, shooting, other trauma, gill nets, air sacculitis and peritonitis, and emaciation of uncertain etiology accounted for most of the remaining causes of disease or death. Analysis for total mercury in the liver of 83 loons yielded a geometric mean (gm) of 10.3 mg/kg (wet basis) and range of 0.07 to 371 mg/kg, with emaciated birds generally showing higher levels. Organochlorine contaminant levels in brain were generally low, principally consisting of PCB's (gm = 2.02 mg/kg) and DDE (0.47 mg/kg).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: From 1971 through 1997, we documented 51 cases (55 individual animals) of poisoning of non-target wildlife in New York (plus two cases in adjoining states) (USA) with anticoagulant rodenticides--all but two of these cases occurred in the last 8 yrs. Brodifacoum was implicated in 80% of the incidents. Diphacinone was identified in four cases, bromadiolone in three cases (once in combination with brodifacoum), and chlorophacinone and coumatetralyl were detected once each in the company of brodifacoum. Warfarin accounted for the three cases documented prior to 1989, and one case involving a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in 1995. Secondary intoxication of raptors, principally great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) and red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), comprised one-half of the cases. Gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis), raccoons (Procyon lotor) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were the most frequently poisoned mammals. All of the deer originated from a rather unique situation on a barrier island off southern Long Island (New York). Restrictions on the use of brodifacoum appear warranted.