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Mon, 18 Jan 2021
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Plagues

Bizarro Earth

US: Mysterious Outbreak Killing Pines in Montana

Pine Trees
© Patrick Verdier / Wikipedia
Salmon, Idaho - Bob Appleby will learn this spring if the evergreen tree in his yard in Montana has survived a mysterious outbreak threatening to kill thousands of Austrian pines across the state.

"It was a real pretty tree; we just want it to stay alive," the Bozeman, Montana man said about a towering Austrian pine cropped to 15 feet to stem the onslaught of what scientists say is an ailment of unknown origins happening in epidemic proportions.

Although native to Europe, the tree has gained extensive ground in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, where the pine's dense needles, uniform shape and tolerance of tough conditions have made it a popular planting in downtowns, parks and private properties.

In a trend experts say has emerged in recent months, the tree's top branches brown and die at the start of what appears to be a march down the trunk despite preventative pruning.

"As we go through winter, these trees are continuing to die; it's one big laboratory out there," said Linnea Skoglund, plant disease expert with Montana State University.

Skoglund said the school's Schutter Diagnostic Lab has been flooded with calls from city foresters, tree surgeons and landscapers, all alarmed by the sudden decline of Austrian pines.

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Sri Lanka: Mysterious disease poisons fish in Batticaloa lagoon

Following the floods, fishermen have to face this new problem, which will seriously affect the population's main source of livelihood. Silence of authorities.

Colombo - The fish in the Batticaloa lagoon, in the eastern province of Sri Lanka, are being decimated by an unknown disease, probably caused by floods that have lashed the region for weeks. Sidambarapullai Piyadasa, president of the Tamil community of fishermen, speaking by phone to AsiaNews laments: "Fishermen on the lagoon have had to cope with this problem for over three months now, but despite our cries for help, the authorities have remained totally silent".

Fish suffering from this disease "are red or orange in colour, some bearing strange wounds," said Sidambarapullai. As explained by the leader of the community, because of the disease almost 85% of the daily catch is lost. This causes severe damage to the 11,750 fishermen (about 3,500 families) of Batticaloa, whose livelihood depends almost entirely on fishing.

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Sudden death tree fungus killing off UK forests

Image
© Unknown
A virulent infection first seen in the US is spreading like wildfire through Britain's woods and forests, causing million of trees to be cut down.

Phytophthora ramorum first surfaced in America and is known there as Sudden Oak death, responsible for a massive number of tree deaths amongst species of American oak. In 2002, a fungus was discovered on a viburnum plant is a Sussex garden and identified as Phytophthora ramorum. Since then, the plague has spread at an incredibly fast rate and is jumping species, with the English oak, around 100 other tree species and even rhododendrons falling prey to the pathogen.

Phytophthora ramorum affects tree bark, causing lesions which bleed black fluid, followed by blackening foliage and the death of the tree. According to the National Trust, this tree plague is far worse than Dutch Elm disease as the spores are now reproducing at an incredibly fast rate in one of England's commonest trees, the Japanese larch.

Wolf

UK: Mysterious Illness Affects Dogs

Image
© Unknown
A seasonal canine illness seems to be affecting dogs in certain parts of England.

The disease which was first noted in the autumn of 2009, has affected 19 dogs in Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire in the past two years, and 12 died. More fell ill in 2010, which prompted the Animal Health Trust to carry out its research into this illness, the most common symptoms being sickness, diarrhoea and lethargy.

Eye 1

Farmer wants to know what's killing his buffalo

Image
© Yellowstone National Park
Dozens of buffalo on a Sempronius farm have died mysteriously over the last four months, and veterinary examinations provide no clue to what happened.

"We're going nuts down here trying to figure out what's going on," farm owner Peter Head said. "This is going to put me out of business."

Beginning in October, the buffalo have been dying off sporadically - as many as six on some days. Of the original 110 animals, 55 have died, including 17 of 23 calves and many of the older animals, Head said.

"They just stand around like they have stomach cramps," Head said of the sick buffalo. "Like something's bothering them on the inside."

Cow Skull

Preliminary Results Show Pneumonia As Cause Of Mass Cattle Death

Amherst, Wisconsn -- Preliminary results show acute interstitial pneumonia is to blame for a mass death of cattle outside of Wausau.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison's Veterinary Diagnostic Lab is studying tissue samples from two of the 200 dead Amherst steers.

The steers all came from one farm, and while the lead veterinarian said the preliminary results pointed to pneumonia as the cause of death, associate lab director Peter Vanderloo said nothing is being ruled out until the final tests are completed.

"We can approach the problem both from looking at what's going on microscopically in the animal, to identifying a pathogen, viral or bacterial, or looking for a toxin that might be causing deaths," Vanderloo said.

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Canada: Mysterious infection is killing British Columbia salmon

Carleton Professor Part of Team Investigating Mysterious Fish Infection

Ottawa - The Globe and Mail published the following story. Carleton Professor Steven Cooke was one of the 15 scientists involved in this research. He developed the biopsy technique that enabled the collection of non-lethal tissue samples from fish. His lab was involved with fish tagging and tissue collection in the wild.

Mysterious infection is killing B.C. salmon

By Mark Hume

Large numbers of sockeye salmon are dying in the Fraser River, before spawning, because of a mysterious virus, new research suggests.

Historical records show that some fish always die en route to their spawning beds, but since the early 1990s the problem has become increasingly acute - with more than two million fish dying in some years. Researchers have long puzzled over what was causing the seemingly healthy fish to suddenly stop swimming and turn belly up.

A large team of researchers from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and three Canadian universities has now found most of the fish that die before spawning have a common "genomic signature" - or a pattern that shows changes have taken place in an array of genes activated to fight infection.

"Our hypothesis is that the genomic signal associated with elevated mortality is in response to a virus infecting fish before river entry and that persists to the spawning areas," says the report published in the journal Science on Thursday.

Bizarro Earth

Mysterious Infection is Killing B.C. Salmon

Sockeye Salmon
© John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail
A male sockeye salmon attacks another male as they make their way up the Adams River at Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park north of Chase B.C. October 12, 2010.
Large numbers of sockeye salmon are dying in the Fraser River, before spawning, because of a mysterious virus, new research suggests.

Historical records show that some fish always die en route to their spawning beds, but since the early 1990s the problem has become increasingly acute - with more than two million fish dying in some years. Researchers have long puzzled over what was causing the seemingly healthy fish to suddenly stop swimming and turn belly up.

A large team of researchers from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and three Canadian universities has now found most of the fish that die before spawning have a common "genomic signature" - or a pattern that shows changes have taken place in an array of genes activated to fight infection.

"Our hypothesis is that the genomic signal associated with elevated mortality is in response to a virus infecting fish before river entry and that persists to the spawning areas," says the report published in the journal Science on Thursday.

Studies on the spawning grounds show more than 70 per cent of the salmon that died before spawning had the genomic signature.

Bizarro Earth

Japan Is on High Alert as a Virus Infiltrates Bird-Heavy Regions

Japan Bird Sanctuary
© Kyodo/Reuters
Japanese bird sanctuaries, poultry farms and zoos went on high alert last month after several species of migratory birds in different regions were found dead of what appeared to be H5N1 avian influenza.

The virus frightened flu specialists when it resurfaced in Hong Kong in 2003 and quickly spread throughout Asia and along bird migratory routes to Europe and Africa. It has not mutated to spread among humans, though it still kills them occasionally - Egypt reported its 38th death last month.

According to articles in the Japanese press gathered by ProMED, which monitors disease outbreaks, a hooded crane was found dead of H5N1 on the Izumi Plain in Kagoshima Prefecture in southern Japan. The plain is Japan's largest wild crane wintering site, and the prefecture is the nation's top poultry-raising area.

Bizarro Earth

India: 30 Cattle Deaths Spark Panic in Velur, Mudhur

The mysterious death of more than 30 heads of cattle in Velur and Mudhur panchayats in Arakkonam taluk in the last week has sparked panic among farmers in the locality. Though an anthrax attack rumoured to have caused the death of the animals in the two panchayats, officials attached to the department of animal husbandry have denied this.

Milch animals, including goats and cows, in Velur, Velurpettai, Mudhur and its hamlets have been dying in quick succession over the last 10-15 days. The total deaths livestock due to the mysterious disease has crossed 30, according to the villagers. Claiming that 24 cows and 11 goats had died in Velur and Mudhur panchayats in the last one-and-a-half weeks, they said 16 cows had died in Veeranarayanapuram village recently.

The animals had stopped consuming fodder and their stomachs had started to bloat two days before the death. They did not move and were found frothing at the mouth just hours before the death, said the villagers. The sudden death of the animals has left farmers, who depend on them for their livelihood, worried. With the cause of death still remaining a mystery, the farmers are clueless on how to protect their animals.