Animal health

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1996:

Illegal use of farm pesticides on farmland
south of the Salton Sea, 120 miles east of San Diego,
brought a major fish kill in late August. Botulism from
the rotting fish soon contaminated the shallow lake,
which was created by a 1905 engineering accident during
an attempted irrigation diversion from the Colorado
River, and as of October 24 had killed more than
13,000 migratory birds––including more than 1,000
endangered brown pelicans. At that, the bird losses
were less than 10% as great as the toll in 1992, when an
estimated 150,000 grebes were poisoned by a build-up
of selenium and salt. Formerly attracting 500,000 visitors
a year, the Salton Sea now draws just half as many.

So-called equine morbilivirus, medically
identified for the first time two years ago after killing
Queensland horse racing trainer Vic Rail and a dozen of
his steeds, turns out to be endemic to fruit bats, says
investigator Ian Douglas. of Scotland. “We still don’t
know know how the virus was transferred to horses,”
said Peter Young of the Brisbane Animal Research Unit.
“It is possible, but not 100% certain,”
Queensland University of Technology microbiologists
Peter Timms and Phil Gifford reported on October 24,
“that koalas got their Chlamydia pecorum,” a venerial
disease causing blindness and infertility, now threatening
some regional subpopulations, “from the farm animals
introduced since white Europeans came to
Australia.” The disease also occurs in sheep and cattle.
The Southern African Development
Community has committed $5.3 million to a three-year
plan for emergency control of contagious bovine pleuro
pneumonia, now hitting cattle in Botswana, Namibia,
Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, and Mozambique, and
crippling regional beef exports to Europe just as opportunity
developed to cash in on the forced withdrawal of
Britain from the European market. Trying to check the
disease, Botswana has already destroyed more than
240,000 cattle.
“A sizeable portion of the lions in Kruger
National Park, Kenya, are FIV-positive,” reports
Jonathan Taylor from Onderstepoort, South Africa,
“but whether this is clinically significant in the short
lifespan of a wild lion is unknown. Probably a more
pressing problem is that some of the lions in the southern
part of the park have been diagnosed with tuberculosis,
probably infected by Cape buffalo, who were
infected in turn by cattle bordering the park.
The World Society for the Protection of
A n i m a l s is working with the Tanzania Ministry of
Agriculture and Tanzania National Parks Department to
vaccinate all the dogs in the villages surrounding
Serengeti National Park against distemper, rabies, and
parvo virus. Research by Sara Cleveland of the Londonbased
Institute of Zoology and Craig Packer of the
University of Minnesota has discovered that the dogs
transmit distemper to hyenes, who then infect African
lions when they come into conflict at kill sites.

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