National Wildlife Health Center

...advancing wildlife and ecosystem health

USGS National Wildlife Health Center
Quarterly Wildlife Mortality Report
April 2013 to June 2013

State Location Dates A Species Mortality B Diagnosis C Laboratory D
AL Gulf State Park 05/05/13-05/12/13 Brown Pelican 10 Undetermined NON
AZ Glendale 04/01/13-06/27/13 Mourning Dove, American Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Harris' Hawk 40 (e) Parasitism: trichomoniasis NW
CA San Diego Bay NWR 05/15/13-05/30/13 Gull-billed Tern 70 Parasitism: acanthocephaliasis NW, SWD
CA Lancaster 06/20/13-07/16/13 Hybrid Mallard Duck 80 (e) Botulism suspect CAF
CA Batiquitos Lagoon Ecological Reserve 06/11/13-07/29/13 California Least (Little) Tern 150 (e) Starvation suspect CAF
CA Big Bear Lake 06/28/13-08/13/13 Acorn Woodpecker, Northern Flicker 15 (e) Open CAF
CA Dana Point Preserve 06/21/13-06/27/13 California Gnatcatcher 6 (e) Undetermined NW
CA Yuba County 06/29/13-08/20/13 Muscovy Duck 12 Botulism suspect CAF
CA Hayward Region Marsh 05/02/13-08/30/13 Unidentified Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, Unidentified Avian, Canada Goose 277 Botulism suspect CAF
CA Los Angeles 05/13/13-05/15/13 Mallard 10 (e) Botulism suspect CAF
CA Mojave National Preserve 05/15/13-08/15/13 Bighorn Sheep 100 (e) Pneumonia CAF
DE Brandywine Creek State Park, Freshwater Marsh Nature Preserve 05/03/13-05/27/13 Wood Frog, Spring Peeper Frog, American Toad, Unidentified Frog 100 (e) Viral Infection: Ranavirus NW
DE Lums Pond State Park 05/30/13-06/14/13 Spring Peeper Frog, Wood Frog 1000 (e) Viral Infection: Ranavirus NW
FL Jacksonville 06/13/13-06/30/13 Muscovy Duck 12 Duck plague suspect FL, NW
FL Jacksonville 06/26/13-07/24/13 Great Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron 76 (e) Parasitism: eustrongylidiasis NW
IA South Twin Lake 04/12/13-05/08/13 American Coot, Greater White-fronted Goose, Lesser Snow Goose, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal 300 Avian cholera NW
IN Allen County 06/12/13-08/30/03 Mallard, Canada Goose, Domestic Duck 256 Botulism type C NW
MA Essex County 04/01/13-04/10/13 Canada Goose 9 (e) Lead poisoning NW
MA Great Meadows NWR 05/15/13-08/06/13 Muskrat 4 Trauma: impact NW
MD C&O Canal NHP 06/03/13-06/21/13 Wood Frog 10 Viral Infection: Ranavirus NW
MD Washington County 06/26/13-**** Unidentified Frog 10 (e) Open NON
MD Columbia 05/06/13-05/30/13 Bullfrog, American Toad, Painted Turtle 15 Viral Infection: Ranavirus suspect NW
MD Ocean City 05/08/13-05/09/13 Clapper Rail 28 Trauma: impact MDA, NW
MD Oregon Ridge Park 05/15/13-05/30/13 Green Frog, Wood Frog 15 (e) Viral Infection: Ranavirus NW
MD Patapsco State Park 05/31/13-06/20/13 Wood Frog, Spotted Salamander 200 (e) Viral Infection: Ranavirus NW
MD Poplar Island 06/24/13-ongoing Mallard, Black-necked Stilt, Red-winged Blackbird, Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant 318 Botulism type C NW
MD Seth Forest 06/17/13-07/09/13 Eastern Spadefoot Toad, Spotted Salamander 20 Viral Infection: Ranavirus NW
MI Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore 06/25/13-ongoing Ring-billed Gull, Double-crested Cormorant, Herring Gull, Canada Goose, Sanderling 102 Botulism type E NW
MN Upper Mississippi River NWR, Houston County 04/08/13-05/01/13 Lesser Scaup, American Coot, Ring-necked Duck, Northern Shoveler, Bufflehead *** (e) Parasitism: Sphaeridiotrema sp. NW
MT Billings 05/26/13-07/31/13 Red Crossbill 50 (e) Salmonellosis suspect NON
NE Mormon Island State Recreation Area 04/01/13-**** Unidentified Sandhill Crane 11 (e) Bacterial infection suspect NW
NJ Berkshire Valley WMA 06/01/13-06/05/13 Wood Frog 50000 (e) Open NW
NJ Blairstown 06/16/13-06/19/13 Wood Frog 200 (e) Open NW
OH Fayetteville 04/14/13-04/16/13 European Starling, House Sparrow, American Robin 9 (e) Pasteurellosis NW
SD Brule County 04/15/13-05/25/13 Redhead Duck, Canvasback, Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal, Mallard 1750 (e) Avian cholera NW
SD Sand Lake NWR 04/16/13-04/30/13 Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Snow Goose, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Redhead Duck 250 (e) Avian cholera NW
SD Aberdeen 04/27/13-05/06/13 Canada Goose, Greater White-fronted Goose, Unidentified Domestic or Hybrid Goose, Mallard 20 (e) Avian cholera NW
TX Terry County 04/03/13-04/03/13 Greater Sandhill Crane 32 Electrocution suspect NON
UT Tooele County 04/15/13-04/15/13 Eared Grebe 4972 Trauma DoD, NW, UT
VA Ft. Eustis 06/26/13-07/12/13 Evening Bat 20 (e) Parasitism: external, NOS Emaciation NW
VA Chincoteague Island 05/06/13-05/17/13 Muscovy Duck 12 (e) Duck plague NW
WI Town of Necedah 04/10/13-**** Unidentified Junco, Fox Sparrow 67 Toxicosis: carbamate suspect NW
WI Trempealeau NWR 06/09/13-06/13/13 Great Blue Heron 5 Toxicosis: blue-green algae suspect NW
WI Upper Mississippi River NWR, La Crosse County 04/08/13-05/01/13 Lesser Scaup, American Coot, Ring-necked Duck, Canvasback, Redhead Duck *** Parasitism: trematodiasis NW
Multiple States
States Location Dates A Species Mortality B Diagnosis C Laboratory D
NY Multiple counties 01/28/13-04/24/13 Common Redpoll 50 (e) Salmonellosis (S. typhimurium) COR, NY
SD LaCreek NWR 07/10/12-09/03/12 Blue-winged Teal, Mallard, Unidentified Shorebird, Northern Pintail, Killdeer 200 (e) Undetermined NW
WA Whatcom County 01/29/13-01/29/13 River Otter 7 Undetermined OT, WA

A **** = cessation date not available at this time.

B (e) = estimate, *** = mortality estimate not available at this time.

C Suspect = diagnosis is not finalized or completed tests were unable to confirm the diagnosis, but field signs and historic patterns indicate the disease; Open = diagnosis is not finalized and tests are on-going; Undetermined = testing is complete or was not pursued and no cause of death was evident; NOS = not otherwise specified.

D California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory Network (CAF), Cornell University (COR), Department of Defense (DoD), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FL), Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), National Wildlife Health Center (NW), No diagnostics pursued (NON), NY State, DEC, Division of Fish, Wildlife & Marine Resources (NY), Other (OT), Sea World of San Diego (SWD), Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UT), Washington State Disease Laboratory (WA).

Written and compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center Field Investigations Team members: Anne Ballmann, LeAnn White, Barb Bodenstein, and Jennifer Buckner.

To report mortality or receive information about this report, please contact the USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC), 6006 Schroeder Road, Madison, WI 53711.

Eastern United States


Dr. Anne Ballmann
Wildlife Disease Specialist
Phone: (608) 270-2445
Fax: (608) 270-2415
Email: aballmann@usgs.gov

Central United States


Dr. LeAnn White
Wildlife Disease Specialist
Phone: (608) 270-2491
Fax: (608) 270-2415
Email: clwhite@usgs.gov

Western United States


Barb Bodenstein
Wildlife Disease Specialist
Phone: (608) 270-2447
Fax: (608) 270-2415
Email: bbodenstein@usgs.gov

Hawaiian Islands


Dr. Thierry Work
Wildlife Disease Ecologist
P.O. Box 50167
300 Ala Moana Blvd., Rm 8-132
Honolulu, HI 96850
Phone: (808) 792-9520
FAX: (808) 792-9596
Email: Thierry_work@usgs.gov

For single animal mortality, nationwide, please contact: Jennifer Buckner, USGS National Wildlife Health Center Biologist by phone: (608) 270-2443, fax: (608) 270-2415, or email: jbuckner@usgs.gov.

Quarterly Mortality Reports

Acanthocephaliasis mortality in Gull-billed terns (California).

Gull-billed terns (Gelochelidon nilotica vanrossemi) were submitted to the National Wildlife Health Center by refuge staff at the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge during the month of May 2013 as a result of a mortality event involving 70 breeding adults and chicks. Clinical signs included head tilt, difficulty breathing, and ataxia. No other birds, including waterfowl, skimmers, or other tern and gull species, using this nesting area appeared affected.

There was no evidence of trauma and birds were in fair body condition with mild to moderate lack of pectoral musculature, suggestive of poor nutritional status. All terns had shrimp-like crustaceans present in the proventriculus and gizzard which were later identified as mole crabs (Emerita analoga), one of the most abundant invertebrates living on sandy beaches along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Baja California. In addition, the birds had moderate to heavy presence of intestinal parasites, identified as the acanthocephalan Profilicollis altmani, within the intestines as well as protruding through the intestinal walls into the abdominal cavity causing associated peritonitis. Brain cholinesterase levels were within normal limits for common terns indicating these birds were not recently exposed to organophosphates or carbamates. Routine bacterial cultures of liver and lung revealed no pathogenic organisms.

Acanthocephalans can infect all vertebrates, with ducks, geese and swans most commonly affected. Epizootic mortality events involving this parasite may occur and usually correspond to food shortages and/or periods of high stress (migration and breeding). Mole crabs are a common intermediate host and can have very high concentrations of the parasite. Contact: Barbara Bodenstein, USGS National Wildlife Health Center, 608-270-2447, bbodenstein@usgs.gov

Suspected carbamate poisoning in songbirds (Wisconsin)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received reports of more than 60 dead songbirds at a private residence in Juneau County, Wisconsin in mid-April 2013. The primary affected species were fox sparrows (Passerella iliaca; FOSP) and dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis; DEJU). Although there were bird feeders in the yard, the majority of the birds were observed under the resident’s cedar trees. Four specimens (2 DEJU and 2 FOSP) from this event were examined at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center. All four had significant brain cholinesterase inhibition and results from follow-up tests were suggestive of carbamate poisoning as the cause of this mortality event.

Carbamate compounds are found in a variety of pesticides approved for application in agricultural and residential land uses. Although these chemicals are considered short-lived in the environment (lasting days instead of months or years) they have also been associated with wild bird deaths throughout the United States. The toxicity of carbamate compounds is due to their ability to disrupt the nervous system of invertebrates and vertebrates through inhibition of cholinesterase enzymes. Once an area contaminated by a pesticide is identified it is important to not only prevent access of the area by additional birds, but also to pick up and properly dispose of carcasses to prevent secondary toxicity in scavengers. Contact: LeAnn White, USGS National Wildlife Health Center, 608-270-2491, clwhite@usgs.gov

Eustronglyoides mortality in juvenile great egrets (Florida)

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission investigated mortality of juvenile great egrets at a large active urban rookery (>1000 birds) in Jacksonville, Florida. Mortality was first reported July 23, 2013 at which time biologists observed 71 great egrets (Ardea alba) and 5 juvenile black-crowned night-herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) dead; sick individuals were on the ground and exhibited uncoordination. None of the adults on-site were affected. According to local residents, the die-off began approximately four weeks earlier and had occurred in previous years following harsh weather.

The USGS National Wildlife Health Center received three freshly dead egrets for evaluation; two were emaciated while the third bird was in good nutritional condition. All three juveniles had evidence of disseminated helminth parasite infection observed at necropsy. Various trematode, nematode, cestode and acanthalocephalan parasites were identified; the most notable being nematodes of the genus Eustrongylides. Similar findings were reported in specimens examined by the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study. Mortality from Eustrongylides sp. infection occurs from penetration of the parasite through the stomach wall resulting in secondary peritonitis. Young wading birds are most commonly affected although infections have also been reported in birds of prey from consuming infected fish, amphibians, or snakes that serve as either secondary intermediate hosts or transport hosts in the parasite’s complex life cycle. Major mortality events attributed to Eustrongylidosis have been reported sporadically in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Virginia, Delaware, South Carolina and Indiana over the past three decades. Contact: Anne Ballmann, USGS National Wildlife Health Center, 608-270-2445, aballmann@usgs.gov

More information on eustrongylidosis can be found in the Field Guide.

Amphibian mortality surveillance in the northeastern United States

A regional, two-year surveillance project is underway in Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia to better understand the geographic distribution and cause(s) of juvenile mortality among wild amphibians. Biologist Scott Smith, with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, is the study coordinator. Other collaborating partners include Towson University (Maryland), Montclair State University (New Jersey), USGS-Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (Maryland), New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Conserve Wildlife Foundation (New Jersey), and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (Washington, DC).

The USGS National Wildlife Health Center provides diagnostic evaluation of specimens associated with current or suspected amphibian die-offs at select study sites for the surveillance project. Thus far, ranavirus infections have been identified at 8 of 65 locations (2-Delaware; 6-Maryland) surveyed in 3 states. Evaluation of morbidity and mortality at two additional study sites in New Jersey is pending, as are some non-study sites in Maryland that also reported amphibian die-offs in 2013. Wood frog tadpoles (Rana sylvatica) are most frequently involved in the die-offs which can also include spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer), green frogs (Rana clamitans), American toads (Bufo americanus), eastern spadefoot toads (Leptobrachium sp.) and/or spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum). Field signs include abnormal swimming behavior, hemorrhages on the ventral surface, swollen appearance, and mass mortality or lack of live amphibians. Mortality estimates range from a few individuals to thousands based on spring 2013 egg mass counts at some sites. Ranavirus-associated mortality among amphibians occurs rapidly, potentially decimating an entire season’s recruits within 1-2 weeks at affected locations. This can be easily missed if sites are only visited once during the spring. Population level impacts at locations with recurrent seasonal mortality can be significant. Contact: Anne Ballmann, USGS National Wildlife Health Center, 608-270-2445, aballmann@usgs.gov

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