Monday, October 31, 2011

October 31, 2011

West Nile Virus Linked To American Robin

By Kaitlin Vogel

The deadly West Nile virus that has killed five Californians this summer and sickened another 197 began with the infection of a species that thrives around people: the American Robin.

This shocking discovery was made by UC Santa Cruz biologist Marm Kilpatrick. He calls these birds “super-spreaders” because its numbers have increased along with the popularity of lawns at homes, parks and schoolyards. And although the virus can infect a wide range of animals, the robin seems to play the most major role in transmission.

"Just like other invasive species, the virus starts adapting to its new environment," Kilpatrick said, The Oakland Tribune reports.

Research shows after the virus arrived in New York in 1999, it began evolving to create a new and distinct strain. More than 1.8 million people have since become infected in North America, with about 360,000 sicknesses and 1,308 deaths, according to Kilpatrick.

The average American tends not to worry about the outbreak of exotic diseases across the world. However, the nation's leading health officials are becoming more concerned. Migrating birds fly across North America, carrying disease with them. As a result, medical and agricultural inspectors are always on the lookout to spot new threats...

Read the full story at link.


CBS Sunday Morning Features Invasive Species

Watch it here: link


16-Foot-Long Burmese Python Devours 76-Pound Deer

By Katie Kindelan

When it came to eating his last meal, a 16-foot-long Burmese python in South Florida did not mess around.

The humongous, slithering snake devoured a 76-pound female deer right before the snake was captured and killed last Thursday in western Miami-Dade County in the Everglades.

Workers from the South Florida Water Management District came across the surprising, and surprisingly large, discovery on Thursday as they were removing non-native plants from a tree island.

Officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission captured and killed the python, one of the largest ever found in South Florida, with a shotgun.

The deer was reportedly already dead when the snake consumed it. Autopsy results showed the python had a girth of 44 inches after eating the deer, found still fully intact, inside his belly...

Read the full story at link


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