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Mystery Virus Kills Thousands of Lambs

The worst affected counties are Norfolk, Suffolk, East Sussex and Kent, but the virus has spread all along the south coast to Cornwall Photo: GETTY

Thousands of lambs have been killed by a new virus that is threatening the survival of many British farms.

The Schmallenberg virus causes lambs to be born dead or with serious deformities such as fused limbs and twisted necks, which mean they cannot survive.

Scientists are urgently trying to find out how the disease, which also affects cattle, spreads and how to fight it, as the number of farms affected increases by the day.

So far, 74 farms across southern and eastern England have been hit by the virus, which arrived in this country in January.

A thousand farms in Europe have reported cases since the first signs of the virus were seen in the German town of Schmallenberg last summer.

The National Farmers Union has called it a potential “catastrophe” and warned farmers to be vigilant. “This is a ticking time bomb,” said Alastair Mackintosh, of the NFU. “We don’t yet know the extent of the disease. We only find out the damage when sheep and cows give birth, and by then it’s too late.”

It is unclear exactly how the disease arrived in Britain, but the leading theory is that midges carried the virus across the Channel or North Sea in the autumn. However, scientists cannot yet rule out transmission of the disease from animal to animal.

Infected ewes do not show any symptoms of the virus until they give birth, with horrific results. Farmers have described delivering the deformed and stillborn animals as heartbreaking.

The lambing season has only just begun, which means that the full impact of the disease will not be felt until the weather warms up and millions more animals are born.

On the Continent, some farms have lost half of their lambs. So far the worst hit in Britain have lost 20 per cent, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

…(Telegraph)

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February 27, 2012 Posted by | Animals, Health Warning | , , , | Leave a comment

Vietnam Fears Large-Scale Bird Flu Outbreak

Vietnam is at a high risk of a large-scale outbreak of bird flu without drastic preventive measures in the near future, the country’s Department of Animal Health has warned.

Bird flu has been reported in four communes in three provinces of Quang Tri, Thanh Hoa and Soc Trang over the past month, affecting nearly 1,700 poultry and forcing the killing of more than 4,000 domestic fowls, said the department’s deputy head Pham Van Dong at a meeting of the Steering Committee for Bird Flu Prevention and Control.

A number of poultry suspected of catching the disease have started to appear in other localities such as Nghe An, Bac Lieu, Kien Giang, Ha Noi and Thai Nguyen. The outbreak has also resulted in two human deaths in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta’s Soc Trang and Kien Giang Provinces.

The Health Ministry warned of a possible large-scale outbreak of bird flu if the three affected provinces could not keep the disease under control while unfavourable weather conditions, transport and slaughtering of poultry posed a high risk.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development urged localities to immediately vaccinate poultry, increase supervision and tighten management of farms, businesses, markets and slaughtering houses.
Minister Cao Duc Phat ordered cities and provinces across the country to take urgent measures to prevent a resurgence of bird flu.

A mutation of the H5N1 virus has been discovered in the northern region and existing vaccines do not offer protection against the mutant strain, Hoang Van Nam, head of the Animal Health Department, warned. The ministry has called on related agencies to quickly find a new vaccine to replace the existing one.

…(World Poultry)

February 10, 2012 Posted by | Animals, Health Warning | , , , , , | Leave a comment

129 Dolphins Found in Largest Stranding in Northeast U.S. since 1999

More strandings are expected after 129 dolphins beached themselves on Cape Cod in the last three weeks, with 92 dying in “the single largest stranding” of dolphins in the Northeast since at least 1999, the International Fund for Animal Welfare reported Monday.

On Sunday, four dolphins were stranded along Cape Cod’s hook-shaped peninsula and were quickly helped back to sea. The Massachusetts peninsula sees many dolphin strandings each year, but the 129 since Jan. 12 is typically about what rescuers see over an entire year, based on records that go back to 1999, IFAW marine mammal rescue manager Katie Moore told MSNBC.

“This event started on the 12th and is still continuing,” she added at a press conference on Monday, noting that rescuers from IFAW and other stranding networks were deployed in “anticipation of more dolphins coming in.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which manages the rescue response, echoed the concern.

For common dolphins, the species that has been stranding in Cape Cod, “this is the largest, most protracted stranding event in recent decades,” Teri Rowles, who coordinates NOAA’s Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program, told msnbc.com.

Most of the dolphins have appeared to be in good health, adding to the mystery of why so many have come ashore. Common dolphins are known to strand in groups due to their tight social structure, but given the large numbers this year, other factors such as weather and tides are being investigated.

February 7, 2012 Posted by | Animals | , , , | Leave a comment

Snowy Owls Soar South in Mass Migration

Bird enthusiasts are reporting rising numbers of snowy owls from the Arctic winging into the lower 48 states this winter in a mass southern migration that a leading owl researcher called “unbelievable.”

Thousands of the snow-white birds, which stand 2 feet tall with 5-foot wingspans, have been spotted from coast to coast, feeding in farmlands in Idaho, roosting on rooftops in Montana, gliding over golf courses in Missouri and soaring over shorelines in Massachusetts. A certain number of the iconic owls fly south from their Arctic breeding grounds each winter but rarely do so many venture so far away even amid large-scale, periodic southern migrations known as irruptions.

“What we’re seeing now — it’s unbelievable,” said Denver Holt, head of the Owl Research Institute in Montana. “This is the most significant wildlife event in decades,” added Holt, who has studied snowy owls in their Arctic tundra ecosystem for two decades.

Holt and other owl experts say the phenomenon is likely linked to lemmings, a rodent that accounts for 90 percent of the diet of snowy owls during breeding months that stretch from May into September. The largely nocturnal birds also prey on a host of other animals, from voles to geese.

Greater competition this year for food in the Far North by the booming bird population may have then driven mostly younger, male owls much farther south than normal.

…(Yahoo)

January 31, 2012 Posted by | Animals | , , , , | Leave a comment

2011-2012 Mass Animal Deaths

A shift in climate is being blamed for millions of dead fish in the Philippines

2011

To see the extremely lengthy list of sourced mass animal deaths in 2011, visit Paradigm’s Bend. You’ll understand why it could not be included in this post.

2012:

Jan 1) Arkansas, USA: Dozens of dead blackbirds fall again one year after 5000 fell last year to the day

Jan 2) Kvaenes, Norway: 20 tons of dead herring wash up then disappear

Jan 2) Arkansas, USA: 100,000 drum fish cover 20-miles of river

Jan 4) Ireland: Number of beached whales hits all-time high

Jan 4) Ghana: 3,000 dead fish found in reservoir

Severe trauma is to blame for over 5000 black bird deaths in Arkansas of Jan, 2011

Jan 4) Parangua, Brazil: 100 tons of fish wash up (sardine, croaker, catfish) one year to 100 tons of Jan, 2011

Jan 5) Coromandel, NZ: Dead fish “as far as the eye can see” reported by several on vacation

Jan 5) Whales pop up all over

Stephenville, NL: Long-finned whale washes up on shore

South Island, NZ: 25 long-finned whales wash up, seven die in stranding

Birchington, UK: Minke whale washes up on beach, necropsy shows animal died of hunger with no food in it’s 3 stomachs

Wales, UK: Two rare kemp’s ridley turtles wash up on beach thousands of miles from their natural habitat

Jan 7) FL, USA: Thousands of dead fish wash up, experts downplay significance

Jan 8) MT, USA: Disease kills 90% of white-tailed deer along 100-mile stretch of river

Jan 9) India: Hundreds of crows found dead, bird flu suspected

Jan 9) Swaziland: Chemical poisons hundreds of fish

– To keep you up to date on the mass animal deaths worldwide, I will be making a similar post to this once or twice a month.

January 9, 2012 Posted by | Animals | , , , , | Leave a comment