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National Wildlife Health Center

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USGS National Wildlife Health Center
Quarterly Wildlife Mortality Report
October 2014 to December 2014

Location Dates A Species Mortality B Diagnosis C Laboratory D
AL Tuscaloosa 10/21/14-10/23/14 Brazilian Free-tailed Bat 20 Trauma SCW
AR Bald Knob NWR 12/31/14-01/01/15 Mallard, Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintail 273 Asphyxiation NW
AZ Goodyear 11/24/14-**** Mourning Dove, Unidentified Grackle 20 (e) Toxicosis: strychnine NW
AZ Surprise 11/26/14-12/02/14 Great-tailed Grackle, Western Screech Owl 16 (e) Trauma: impact NW
CA Multiple counties 12/20/14-ongoing Band-tailed Pigeon 6000 (e) Parasitism: trichomoniasis CFG
CA Multiple counties 12/24/14-ongoing Varied Thrush, American Robin 1000 (e) Trauma: impact CAF
CA San Luis NWR Complex 12/01/14-02/09/15 American Coot, Snow Goose, Ross’ Goose, Northern Shoveler, Aleutian Canada Goose 1330 Avian cholera NW
CA Sutter NWR 11/21/14-01/30/15 Snow Goose, Unidentified Duck, Ross' Goose, Greater White-fronted Goose, American Coot 232 Avian cholera NW
FL Everglades NP 12/28/14-12/31/14 Turkey Vulture 60 (e) Drowning NW
FL Fort Desoto Beach to Clearwater Beach 11/03/14-11/12/14 Red Knot, Unidentified Gull 20 (e) Undetermined NW
HI Hilo 10/12/14-10/12/14 House Sparrow 12 (e) Undetermined NW
IL Crane Lake 12/29/14-01/03/15 Lesser Snow Goose, Greater White-fronted Goose 50 (e) Avian cholera NW
LA Wham Brake 11/01/14-11/06/14 American Coot, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal 150 (e) Trauma: impact NW, SCW
MD Swan Harbor 10/12/14-10/31/14 Diamondback Terrapin 200 (e) Undetermined NW
MN Dassel 10/20/14-10/20/14 Double-crested Cormorant 7 Trauma: impact NW
NC Ayden 11/17/14-11/27/14 Canada Goose 10 (e) Lead poisoning SCW
NM Bosque del Apache NWR 11/15/14-01/19/15 Western Grebe, Mallard, Northern Pintail, American Coot, Lesser Snow Goose 3850 (e) Avian cholera NW
NV Reno 10/01/14-10/29/14 Mallard, Gadwall 6 Botulism type C NW
NV Walker Lake 12/05/14-02/17/15 American Coot, Mallard, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Ruddy Duck 3000 (e) Avian cholera NW
NY Lake Erie shoreline 10/31/14-11/15/14 Common Loon, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Bonaparte's Gull, Long-tailed Duck 876 (e) Botulism suspect NY
OH Medina County 10/15/14-10/15/14 Green Frog 200 (e) Trauma NW
OR Sauvie Island 12/20/14-01/23/15 Mallard, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail 29 Trauma NW, OR
PA Chester County 10/29/14-10/31/14 Canada Goose 6 Esophageal impaction: bean NW
TX Farnsworth 12/25/14-01/07/15 Eurasian Collared Dove 60 (e) Parasitism: trichomoniasis NW
TX Monte Alto 11/10/14-12/05/14 Eurasian Collared Dove 40 (e) Viral Infection: pigeon paramyxovirus 1 NW
UT Farmington Bay WMA 10/03/14-10/10/14 Eared Grebe 12 Predation NW
UT Great Salt Lake 11/26/14-12/15/14 Eared Grebe, Unidentified Gull 6000 (e) Avian cholera NW
UT Utah Lake, Provo 10/01/14-10/31/14 Mallard, Dog 100 (e) Botulism suspect CAF, UTV
WA Wiser Lake 12/01/14-01/31/15 Mallard, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Ruddy Duck 140 (e) Aspergillosis NW
WI Pool 7, Upper Mississippi River NWR 10/15/14-11/22/14 American Coot, Lesser Scaup 305 (e) Parasitism: trematodiasis NW
Updates and Corrections:
Location Dates A Species Mortality B Diagnosis C Laboratory D
AZ Skull Valley 09/14/14-10/14/14 Gambel's Quail 10 (e) Enteritis NW
CA Elizabeth Lake 06/01/14-11/15/14 Western Pond Turtle, Red-eared Slider Turtle 330 (e) Emaciation: starvation suspect NW
CA/OR/WA Pacific coastline 09/20/14-02/28/15 Cassin's Auklet, Common Murre, Rhinoceros Auklet, Brandt’s Cormorant, Western Gull 3500 (e) Emaciation: starvation CFG, NW, OR
HI Hawaiian Islands 02/01/14-06/30/14 Collector Sea Urchin 300 (e) Undetermined HFS
MD Frog Pond, Oregon Ridge Park 05/22/14-05/29/14 Wood Frog, Green Frog, Spring Peeper Frog, Spotted Salamander 1000 (e) Viral Infection: Ranavirus suspect NW
MD Howard County 06/09/14-06/17/14 Wood Frog 1000 (e) Viral Infection: Ranavirus suspect NW
MD Nature Center Pond, Oregon Ridge Park 05/05/14-05/07/14 Wood Frog, Green Frog, Spring Peeper Frog, Eastern Red-spotted Newt 1000 (e) Viral Infection: Ranavirus suspect NW
MD Patapsco State Park 06/04/14-06/17/14 Wood Frog, Green Frog, American Toad, Eastern Box Turtle 1000 (e) Viral Infection: Ranavirus suspect NW
ME Penobscot County 06/18/14-09/02/14 Wood Frog, Blue-spotted Salamander 8 Viral Infection: Ranavirus NW
MN Pool 8, Upper Mississippi River NWR 09/06/14-11/22/14 American Coot, Lesser Scaup 102 (e) Parasitism: trematodiasis NW
MT Musselshell and Golden Valley Counties 08/15/14-09/30/14 Greater Sage Grouse 18 Undetermined NW
NV Elko 07/14/14-12/16/14 Eurasian Collared Dove 75 (e) Viral Infection: pigeon paramyxovirus 1 NW
NY Lake Ontario 01/15/14-04/15/14 Red-breasted Merganser, Mute Swan, American Coot 23 Emaciation: starvation NY
OR Corvallis 05/29/14-08/28/14 Horned Lark 7 Toxicosis: zinc phosphide NW
TN Wilson County 06/15/14-06/15/14 Mallard, Hybrid Mallard Duck, Wood Duck, Unidentified Woodpecker, Raccoon 21 Toxicosis: carbofuran SCW
TX Hockley County 09/07/14-11/25/14 House Sparrow, Unidentified Hawk, Long-billed Thrasher 100 (e) Toxicosis suspect NW
VA Charlottesville 05/15/14-05/21/14 Eastern Box Turtle, Green Frog, Northern Water Snake 6 Viral Infection: Ranavirus suspect NW

A **** = cessation date not available.

B (e) = estimate.

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

D California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory Network (CAF); Disease Laboratory of the California Fish & Wildlife (Wildlife Investigations Laboratory) (CFG); NWHC Honolulu Field Station (HFS); National Wildlife Health Center (NW); New York State, Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Fish, Wildlife & Marine Resources (NY); Oregon State Diagnostic Laboratory (OR); Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCW); Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (UTV).

Written and compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center Epidemiology Team members: Anne Ballmann, Barb Bodenstein, Bob Dusek, and Jenny Chipault.
The Quarterly Wildlife Mortality Report is available at http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/publications/quarterly_reports/index.jsp. To view new and ongoing wildlife mortality events nationwide visit http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/mortality_events/ongoing.jsp. In the future, wildlife morbidity and mortality reports will be viewable, searchable, and downloadable via the WHISPers online database that is currently in development; see write-up in this report (Quarterly Wildlife Mortality Report October 2014 to December 2014) for more information.

To report mortality in contiguous United States or Alaska, or to receive information about this report, please contact the USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) Wildlife Epidemiology Team, 6006 Schroeder Road, Madison, Wisconsin 53711, (608) 270-2480, NWHC-epi@usgs.gov.
To report mortality in Hawaii or Pacific Islands, contact NWHC - Honolulu Field Station, PO Box 50167, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 5-231, Honolulu, Hawaii 96850, (808) 792-9596, thierry_work@usgs.gov.

Quarterly Mortality Reports

Highly pathogenic avian influenza in North America

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus was detected in wild birds at a mortality event in Washington State (Pacific Flyway) in December 2014. Subsequent investigation of this event by the USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory identified three HPAI viruses (H5N8, H5N2, and H5N1) in wild birds in this region. All three viruses shared at least 50% of their genetic material; most notably the H5 in all three cases was highly similar in each virus. The H5N8 is of Eurasian origin and found to be highly similar to the HPAI H5N8 virus that was detected circulating in domestic poultry and wild birds in the Republic of Korea in January 2014. This virus had also been found in four European countries, as well as Japan and Russia, in autumn 2014. The other two HPAI viruses, H5N2 and H5N1, were found to be reassortants of the HPAI H5N8 virus and North American low pathogenic avian influenza viruses. The HPAI H5N2 virus was initially found in poultry farms in British Columbia, Canada, where it has been responsible for the direct mortality of, or euthanasia of, approximately 250,000 birds. Subsequent surveillance in January 2015 by the USDA, the NWHC, and other state and federal agencies has found the HPAI H5N8 and H5N2 viruses in hunter-killed wild waterfowl in five additional states (California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah), backyard poultry flocks in three of these states, captive wild raptors in two of these states, and two commercial poultry operations in California. As of mid-March 2015, HPAI was also detected in commercial turkey operations in Minnesota, Missouri, and Arkansas (Mississippi Flyway) and backyard poultry in Kansas (Central Flyway). It is important to note that although North American wild ducks have not been reported to exhibit signs of disease when infected with HPAI, a single Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) confirmed infected with HPAI exhibited neurologic signs. The HPAI virus is believed to be the cause of death (or a contributor to the cause of death) in various raptor species including two Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), a Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii), captive Gyrfalcons (Falco rusticolus), a Peregrine Falcon (F. peregrinus), a captive Great-horned Owl (Bubo virginianus), and a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). The original finding of these first HPAI viruses in Washington during 2014 came as a result of testing wild waterfowl found dead during a mortality event that has primarily been attributed to aspergillosis.

It is possible that one or more of these HPAI viruses may continue to circulate in North America through 2015. To date, no humans or other mammals have shown signs of disease from these particular viruses but field personnel handling live or dead wild birds should take precautions. The NWHC is continuing to monitor for HPAI by testing sick and dead migratory birds, including screening all suitable raptor submissions. As we learn more about these HPAI viruses, submission and testing criteria may change; please consult with a Field Epidemiologist at the NWHC if you have any specific concerns. The NWHC will continue to provide updates via Wildlife Health Bulletins as more information becomes available. For an up-to-date summary of results from combined federal and state agency HPAI virus surveillance in wild birds, view this multiple agency table: Wild bird HPAI cases in the U.S. For surveillance results for HPAI in poultry and captive wild birds, view this USDA table: Update on Avian Influenza Findings.

Avian cholera 2014 national summary

During 2014, the USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) received carcasses from 15 wildlife mortality events and five additional reports from other laboratories that were confirmed or suspect avian cholera cases. These 20 events were spread over 12 states and three Flyways (Mississippi, Central, and Pacific). The total avian cholera mortality reported was ~18,500, which accounts for almost 40% of the total avian mortality reported in 2014.

Four events in 2014 involved 3,000 or more dead birds: Tule Lake NWR/Lower Klamath NWR in California (February to April; n = 3,500), Great Salt Lake in Utah (November and December; n = 6,000), Bosque del Apache NWR in New Mexico (November to January 2015; n = 3,850), and Walker Lake in Nevada (December to February 2015; n = 3,000). Of these events, three (New Mexico, Nevada, and California) involved primarily geese and ducks with Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens; n = 3,674), Ross’s Goose (C. rossii; n = 647), and American Coot (Fulica americana; n = 750) being the most affected species during 2014 cholera outbreaks. This is the first detection of avian cholera mortality in the state of Nevada since 1999 when over 2,500 ducks were reported dead in Churchill County. The Great Salt Lake event involved Eared Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis; n = 6,000), which is similar to what has been reported in past years. More information about avian cholera can be found on the NWHC website.

Cassin’s Auklet mortality

Beginning September 2014 and continuing into February 2015, surveyors conducting routine beached-bird surveys recorded unusually high numbers of dead and debilitated Cassin’s Auklets (CAAU, Ptychoramphus aleuticus) on beaches from central California, up the Pacific coast through Oregon, Washington, and to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Preliminary mortality estimates suggest that tens of thousands CAAU have died, at rates 10-100 times “normal.”

A total of 153 carcasses were examined to document age, sex, and body condition, and to assess probable cause of death. Necropsies were performed by the USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC; n = 12 from California, Oregon, and Washington in November and December), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (n = 32 from California in November), California Academy of Sciences (n = 23 from California in November and early December), Oregon State University (n = 5 from Oregon in December and January), and the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture (n = 81 from British Columbia in December). Most of the birds necropsied from California, Oregon, and Washington were emaciated or in poor body condition and most were presumed to have died of starvation. A consistent finding in birds examined from all sites was gastrointestinal hemorrhage, interpreted as a sign of physiological stress. No pathogenic bacteria or viruses were isolated from birds submitted to the NWHC. We continue to investigate additional carcasses from this event to rule out disease and determine the cause of death.

At major CAAU breeding colonies in California (Farallon Islands) and British Columbia (Scott Islands; >80% of the world population of CAAU), breeding success in 2014 was very high, resulting in an exceptional number of hatch-year birds dispersing away from colonies after the 2014 breeding season. Ocean conditions in the North Pacific during summer and fall 2014 were unusually warm. This warm water remained offshore from the Gulf of Alaska south to the northern California current for much of 2014. With the relaxation of upwelling in late summer, the warm water moved inshore to the coast in approximately September 2014. The anomalously warm water seemed to affect zooplankton community composition; krill (Euphausiaceae) were detected at normal abundance on trawl surveys off central California during July, but were absent during surveys in September. Winter storms began affecting the northern portion of the study area during late October 2014. These storms may have also affected both ocean conditions and CAAU energetics.

See Audubon Magazine’s account of this event at http://www.audubon.org/magazine/march-april-2015/lost-sea-starving-birds-warming-world

Wildlife Health Information Sharing Partnership – event reporting system (WHISPers)

The USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) is in the beta testing stage of a new online database for reporting wildlife health events that will be an easy and efficient way for wildlife professionals across North America to share disease event information, such as outbreak onset and ending date, general location, species involved, numbers involved, diagnoses, and laboratory and contact names. It is a partner-driven, web-based system for tracking basic information about historic and ongoing wildlife mortality and morbidity events. The primary goal of the system is to provide natural resource partners and the public with timely, accurate situational awareness regarding these events. The system also serves as a searchable archive of historic mortality and morbidity event data. Initially, the NWHC will populate this database with the wildlife mortality data the NWHC has maintained for several decades (see
http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/publications/quarterly_reports/index.jsp); after the initial rollout, other wildlife professionals will be able to enter data that can be viewed by others. A “Frequently Asked Questions” handout is available at

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