National Wildlife Health Center

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USGS National Wildlife Health Center
Quarterly Wildlife Mortality Report
October 2013 to December 2013

Reported
State
Location Dates Species Mortality A Diagnosis B Laboratory C
AK Saint Lawrence Island 11/18/13-12/31/13 Crested Auklet, Thick-billed Murre, Northern Fulmar, Glaucous Gull 1,000 (e) Avian cholera NW
CA Andree Clark Bird Refuge 11/17/13-12/21/13 American Coot 5 Trauma CAF
CA Hayward Marsh 12/12/13-ongoing Sora Rail, Unidentified Scaup, Ruddy Duck, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail 685 Avian cholera CAF
CA Madera 10/21/13-11/04/13 American Coot, Ruddy Duck, Unidentified Sandpiper 200 (e) Botulism suspect NON
CA Merced NWR 12/12/13-ongoing Ross' Goose, American Coot 200 (e) Avian cholera NW
CA Nearys Lagoon, Santa Cruz 11/07/13-11/20/13 American Coot 4 Trauma CAF
CA Redwood Shores 12/23/13-01/31/14 Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Ruddy Duck, American Coot, Canada Goose 361 Avian cholera NW
CA San Joaquin River NWR 12/31/13-ongoing Ross' Goose, American Coot, Aleutian Canada Goose 600 (e) Avian cholera NW
CA Woodbridge Creek Ecological Reserve 12/30/13-01/15/14 American Coot, American Wigeon, Black-necked Stilt, Northern Shoveler, Killdeer 200 (e) Avian cholera CAF
MN Lake Winnibigoshish 10/29/13-11/15/13 American Coot, Lesser Scaup 10 Parasitism: trematodiasis NW
MN Upper Mississippi River NWR, Houston County 10/24/13-11/06/13 American Coot, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Northern Shoveler 270 Parasitism: trematodiasis NW
MO Mark Twain Lake 10/15/13-11/15/13 American White Pelican 20 (e) Undetermined NON
NM Lea County 11/13/13-12/31/13 Eurasian Collared Dove 100 (e) Viral infection: avian paramyxovirus 1 NW
NM South San Ysidro 10/29/13-10/29/13 American Crow 5 Trauma: gunshot NW
NY Eastern Lake Ontario 10/29/13-12/15/13 Common Loon, Long-tailed Duck, Herring Gull, Red-necked Grebe, Great Black-backed Gull 300 (e) Botulism type E NON
OH Freemont Reservoir 12/03/13-12/13/13 Ring-billed Gull 55 Undetermined NW
OR Troutdale 10/11/13-10/17/13 Bullfrog 3,500 (e) Undetermined OR, SDZ
PA Grove City 10/03/13-10/03/13 Cedar Waxwing 9 Undetermined SCW
TN Nashville 10/23/13-10/23/13 European Starling 15 Renal failure SCW
TX Odessa 10/22/13-10/22/13 White-winged Dove 6 Toxicosis: strychnine NW
US Monterey Bay, CA and Salish Sea, WA 10/01/13-ongoing Purple Sea Star, Sunflower Sea Star 2,000,000 (e) Open NW, OT
UT Great Salt Lake 11/11/13-01/31/14 Eared Grebe 20,000 (e) Viral infection: West Nile NW
UT Great Salt Lake 12/14/13-12/18/13 Northern Shoveler 200 (e) Trauma: impact NW
UT Great Salt Lake 12/26/13-12/26/13 Eurasian Collared Dove 50 Viral infection: avian paramyxovirus 1 NW
UT Multiple counties 11/28/13-ongoing Bald Eagle 69 Viral infection: West Nile NW, UTV
VA Prince William County 12/12/13-12/12/13 European Starling 100 (e) Trauma: impact NW
WA East Wiser Lake 12/12/13-01/15/14 Mallard, American Wigeon, American Coot, Bufflehead, Northern Shoveler 100 (e) Aspergillosis NW
WA Seattle 12/23/13-12/23/13 American Robin, Dark-eyed Junco 12 Open NW
WA Snohomish County 11/09/13-11/11/13 Mallard 300 (e) Aspergillosis NW
WA Wiser Lake 12/16/13-01/31/14 Trumpeter Swan 200 (e) Lead poisoning NW
WI Upper Mississippi River NWR, La Crosse County 10/24/13-11/07/13 American Coot, Lesser Scaup, Blue-winged Teal 45 Parasitism: trematodiasis NW
WY Rock Springs 12/01/13-01/24/14 Eurasian Collared Dove 150 (e) Viral infection: pigeon paramyxovirus 1 NVL, WY
Updates and Corrections:
Reported
State
Location Dates Species Mortality A Diagnosis B Laboratory C
AZ Yuma County 09/01/13-12/01/13 Eurasian Collared Dove, White-winged Dove, Mourning Dove 200 (e) Viral infection: pigeon paramyxovirus 1 NW
MD Poplar Island 06/24/13-10/04/13 Mallard, Black-necked Stilt, Red-winged Blackbird, Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant 346 Botulism type C NW, SCW
MI Gulliver, Lake Michigan 06/13/13-11/06/13 Common Loon, Double-crested Cormorant, Ring-billed Gull, Long-tailed Duck, Herring Gull 11 Botulism suspect NON
MI Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore 06/25/13-11/22/13 Red-breasted Merganser, Ring-billed Gull, Double-crested Cormorant, White-winged Scoter, Long-tailed Duck 484 Botulism type E NW
MN Upper Mississippi River NWR, Houston County 04/08/13-05/08/13 American Coot, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Northern Shoveler, Bufflehead 5,505 (e) Parasitism: trematodiasis NW
OH Easton 09/30/13-09/30/13 Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Black-throated Blue Warbler 8 Undetermined SCW
TX Lubbock 09/01/13-12/31/13 Eurasian Collared Dove, Rock Dove, White-winged Dove 200 (e) Toxicosis: carbamate compound NW
TX Perryton 08/08/13-08/10/13 House Sparrow 197 Undetermined NW
WI Necedah 04/10/13-04/13/13 Dark-eyed Junco, Fox Sparrow 69 Toxicosis: carbamate compound NW
WI Upper Mississippi River NWR, La Crosse County 04/10/13-05/06/13 Lesser Scaup, American Coot, Ruddy Duck, Bufflehead, Ring-necked Duck 1,415 (e) Parasitism: trematodiasis suspect NW

A (e) = estimate

B 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 ongoing; Undetermined = testing is complete or was not pursued and no cause of death was evident; NOS = not otherwise specified.

CUtah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (UTV), California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory Network (CAF), Cornell University (COR), National Wildlife Health Center (NW), New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (NH), No diagnostics pursued (NON), New York State, Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Fish, Wildlife & Marine Resources (NY), Oregon State Diagnostic Laboratory (OR), Other (OT), San Diego Zoo Diagnostic Laboratory (SDZ), Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCW), Tufts University, Massachusetts (TU), USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory, Ames, Iowa (NVL), Washington State Disease Laboratory (WA), Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory (WY)

Written and compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center wildlife epidemiologists: Anne Ballmann, LeAnn White, Barb Bodenstein, and Jennifer Chipault.

To report mortality or receive information about this report, please contact the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, 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

Quarterly Mortality Reports

West Nile virus at the Great Salt Lake
Diagnostic evaluations of eared grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) and bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) carcasses submitted to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) from the Great Salt Lake area confirmed West Nile virus (WNV) as the cause of death. These diagnoses were based on pathological findings, molecular testing (RT-PCR), and isolation of viable virus from most tissues. These findings were consistent with the confirmation of WNV in a bald eagle from the same event by the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Extensive testing ruled out many other causes of death. Carcasses were negative for exposure to lead and organophosphate compounds; RT-PCR screening tests were negative for avian influenza and avian paramyxovirus-1 (Newcastle Disease virus); and no pathogenic bacteria such as Pasteurella multocida (causative agent of avian cholera) were isolated. To our knowledge, this is the first report of WNV in eared grebes and the largest single raptor mortality event attributed to WNV in the United States.

The event was first reported by the UDWR when sick and dead eared grebes were observed in a northern section of the Great Salt Lake (GSL) in mid-November 2013. Most birds were found dead or dying with clinical signs of drooping heads, lethargy, and inability to dive. At that time, an estimated 2 million grebes were arriving during fall migration and were potentially at risk. UDWR estimates that up to 1 percent of the grebe population had died (~15,000-20,000) during this mortality event. It is unclear if the entire 15,000-20,000 grebe mortality was due to WNV, and additional diagnostic evaluations on both eared grebes and bald eagles carcasses are in progress. The last significant eared grebe mortality event on the GSL was caused by avian cholera (Pasteurella multocida) and occurred during winter 2010 when an estimated 10,000 birds died. Grebes typically migrate from the GSL as food sources (brine shrimp) diminish, and travel to the west coast of the United States to spend the remainder of winter in coastal bays and estuaries of California, the Salton Sea of California, and the Gulf of California in Mexico.

In early December, the UDWR again contacted the NWHC to report morbidity and mortality in bald eagles occurring in proximity to the GSL. The first bald eagle was brought to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah on December 1, 2013. Clinical signs in eagles, some since diagnosed with WNV, included head tremors, paralysis of the wings and legs, formation of plaques at the back of the throat, and progressive seizures. To date, 69 bald eagles have been found sick or dead in multiple counties in Utah (primarily Box Elder, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah, and Weber counties). The GSL is a major overwintering site for bald eagles, estimated at 750 to 1,250 birds annually. For more information, view the Wildlife Health Bulletin on this topic.

Avian cholera in seabirds in Alaska
Large numbers of sick and dead seabirds were observed washing ashore along the northern coast of Saint Lawrence Island, Alaska in late November 2013. Citizens of Gambell and Savoonga, two tribal villages approximately 40 miles apart on this remote 100-mile long island in the Bering Sea, reported the event immediately to the University of Alaska’s Marine Advisory Program stationed in Nome. Villagers were able to collect some specimens from the initial die-off, including a thick-billed murre (Uria lomvia), a Northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis), and a crested auklet (Aethia cristatella), which were sent to the National Wildlife Health Center for diagnostic evaluation.

Avian cholera (Pasteurella multocida) was diagnosed based on bacterial cultures of liver and characteristic lesions in all bird specimens submitted. Testing for avian influenza was negative. Prior to this event, avian cholera had not been reported in Alaska. The closest avian cholera outbreak reported in recent history involved snow geese (Chen caerulescens) on Banks Island, Northwest Territories, Canada. The closest avian cholera outbreak involving seabirds was reported in common eiders (Somateria mollissima) and occurred on East Bay Island, Nunavut, Canada.

Affected birds were observed swimming in circles with heads laid over their backs, “throwing one wing in the air,” and subsequently dying. The weather in this area at the time was unseasonably mild with many recent southerly storms and freeze/thaw cycles. Average temperatures were in the mid 40’s and the sea remained ice-free, whereas sea ice would normally be formed by October. Native communities on Saint Lawrence Island rely almost exclusively on the subsistence harvest of many marine species, including birds, for food. Many seabirds use this area of the Bering Sea as a staging area during migration and it is an overwintering area for eiders, including the world’s population of spectacled eider (Somateria fischeri). For more information, view the Wildlife Health Bulletin on Wildlife Health Bulletin on this topic.

White-nose syndrome winter 2013/2014 summary
White-nose syndrome (WNS) has been confirmed in cave-hibernating bats in one new state (Arkansas) thus far during the 2013/2014 winter season. This represents a continued expansion of Pseudogymnoascus (formerly Geomyces) destructans distribution on the landscape. No evidence exists of geographic barriers preventing its spread. Since it was first recognized near Albany, New York in 2007, WNS has now been confirmed in 23 states and 5 Canadian provinces. Several additional counties in Missouri had confirmed cases of WNS as well as suspected cases this winter based on visible signs suggesting that the disease is now endemic throughout Missouri. Sites in several northeastern states —where WNS has been present the longest— continue to be occupied by bats although in much lower numbers than before the disease struck and evidence of bat mortality at the hibernaculum is beginning to be reported in several recently affected Southern states. Winter hibernacula survey data are being reviewed by state and federal management agencies to better understand the ongoing impacts of WNS on bat populations in affected regions. Recent phylogenetic analyses have demonstrated the WNS fungus is more closely related to the genus Pseudogymnoascus rather than Geomyces. Thus, the fungus has been reclassified as P. destructans. For the latest WNS updates, consult NWHC Wildlife Health Bulletins.

Current NWHC bat submission guidelines.

Leading causes of avian mortality in the United States during 2013
During 2013, 137 avian morbidity and mortality events were investigated by or reported to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC). More than 63,000 birds were estimated to be affected during these events. There were more epizootic events reported from the Pacific flyway (56) than any other flyway in 2013 (Mississippi [32], Central [26], Atlantic [23]). The estimated avian mortality was also higher in the Pacific flyway (46,361 birds) than any other flyway (Mississippi [8,790], Central [6,171], Atlantic [1,757]).

Based on carcasses examined, infectious disease was responsible for 83% (52,275/63,079) of avian deaths reported to NWHC during 2013. Avian botulism (types C and E) was associated with 11,433 bird mortalities and was the cause of more epizootic events (24/138) than any other cause of death during 2013. Over 60% (7,000/11,433) of the mortality attributed to botulism occurred during a single event in northern California involving mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), whiteface ibis (Plegadis chihi), green-winged teal (Anas carolinensis), northern pintails (Anas acuta), and western grebes (Aechmophorus occidentalis). Although West Nile virus was responsible for the largest number of avian mortalities (20,160) during 2013, the majority of mortality associated with this disease occurred at a single event in Utah that involved primarily eared grebes (Podiceps nigricollis). Avian cholera was the third leading cause of death and caused the third highest number of avian epizootic events (17) during 2013. Although various waterfowl including redhead (Aythya Americana), canvasback (Aythya valisineria) and ruddy ducks (Oxyura jamaicensis) were affected during these events, the highest mortality due to avian cholera occurred in eared grebes and snow geese (Chen caerulescens). There also continued to be several avian morbidity and mortality events associated with human activities, including several hundred deaths attributed to lead poisoning (species included trumpeter swans [Cygnus buccinators] and Canada geese [Branta Canadensis]), 516 deaths due to pesticides, insecticides, and other toxicants (primarily Eurasian collared doves [Streptopelia decaocto], European starlings [Sturnus vulgaris], and red-winged blackbirds [Agelaius phoeniceus]), and 34 deaths (primarily sandhill cranes [Grus Canadensis]) due to electrocution following a weather event (dense fog).

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