Tag Archive: Virginia


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Food Poisoning Bulletin

Restaurant photoThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has taken the lead in the investigation of a multi-state Salmonella outbreak linked to Fig & Olive restaurants. The agency is working in collaboration with health officials in various states.

The Washington DC Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) are among the agencies collaborating on the investigation. DFS has collected and tested food and environmental samples taken from Fig & Olive in DC’s CityCenter. So far, 45 food samples and 15 environmental samples have been negative for Salmonella. Results on 10 other tests are still pending.

DOH has interviewed 135 people who became ill after eating at the restaurant. Those who became ill are from DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Illinois and Alabama. Fourteen cases of salmonellosis have been confirmed. Interviews are ongoing.

Some of those who became ill ate at the restaurant over Labor Day weekend. After illnesses were reported, the restaurant closed for six days and was cleared to reopen September 16 after it had been sanitized, employees debriefed, food discarded and problematic menu items retired. Case patients reported eating truffle fries or mushroom croquettes, those items have been removed from the menu. Since the reopening, DOH has made two visits, September 16 and September 18, to monitor employee training and food handling procedures.

 

 

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Food Poisoning Bulletin

Fig & Olive DC Salmonella Outbreak Includes Cases From MD, PA, VA, IL & AL

Restaurant kitchenThe Salmonella outbreak at the Fig & Olive in Washington DC’s City Center sickened more than 60 people in five states and the District of Columbia. Case patients were from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Illinois and Alabama, health officials told Food Poisoning Bulletin today.

The outbreak, which began over Labor Day weekend, may have sickened as many as 150 people. Several people were so sick they required hospitalization.

The DC location was closed for six days for cleaning and staff training. When it reopened, two items were no longer on then menu, truffle fries and mushroom croquettes.

Fig & Olive operates several restaurants in NewYork, two in California, one in Chicago and one in Washington DC. Health officials in New York City, Chicago and Newport Beach, California told Food Poisoning Bulletin that no illnesses have been reported in association with Fig & Olive restaurants in those locations. But Salmonella illnesses were also reported in association with the California restaurant on Melrose Place in West Hollywood.

There are nine confirmed cases and three suspected. Of the confirmed cases,  six are patrons and three are employees. Truffle oil is a suspected food source in the California outbreak as well. Fig & Olive makes its own truffle oil.

 

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Earth Watch Report  –  Biological Hazards

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Biological Hazard USA State of Virginia, [The area was not defined.] Damage level Details

 

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RSOE EDIS

Biological Hazard in USA on Thursday, 10 April, 2014 at 03:23 (03:23 AM) UTC.

Description
Dr. Richard Wilkes, State Veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), announced Tuesday that Virginia has just received laboratory confirmation of its first case of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED). In light of this case, which coincides with the beginning of the exhibit season for 4-H members, ffa students and other livestock exhibitors, Dr. Wilkes says strict biosecurity is the most effective and most practical way to prevent the spread of PED and many other livestock and poultry diseases. Wilkes encourages every person involved in showing livestock to enhance their biosecurity efforts. “We always urge livestock owners who show animals and managers of show and exhibition facilities to keep biosecurity uppermost in their minds,” Wilkes said, “but with swine, it is even more important now that Virginia has experienced its first case of PED. Good biosecurity can help keep the disease from spreading.” Anytime animals are co-mingled at events, there is a risk they may be exposed to an infectious disease agent. Some states have cancelled pre-show weigh-ins or other animal commingling events to try to prevent PED infection of swine. Virginia show managers may want to consider voluntarily cancelling some of the higher risk activities. The PED virus is highly contagious, and commonly spreads through pig manure. Consuming pork continues to be safe and the disease does not affect humans, but is often deadly to piglets. Practicing and implementing sound biosecurity measures is critical in keeping the state’s animals disease free and marketable. Equine Herpes Virus is another highly contagious disease that has caused disease and death at multiple equine events across the country recently. Wilkes says that good biosecurity and advance planning will reduce the chances of spreading an infectious disease by people, animals, shoes and clothing or equipment. Show managers should have a proper biosecurity plan ready to execute in the event that an animal disease is introduced at a major stock show or event.
Biohazard name: Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED)
Biohazard level: 3/4 Hight
Biohazard desc.: Bacteria and viruses that can cause severe to fatal disease in humans, but for which vaccines or other treatments exist, such as anthrax, West Nile virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, SARS virus, variola virus (smallpox), tuberculosis, typhus, Rift Valley fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, yellow fever, and malaria. Among parasites Plasmodium falciparum, which causes Malaria, and Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes trypanosomiasis, also come under this level.
Symptoms:
Status: confirmed

 

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National Hog Farmer

 

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) Virus: FAQ and Survival Tips

 Iowa State University swine veterinarians provide answers to some of the most-asked questions about Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus.

By now, swine producers should be well aware of the emergence of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus in the United States.  Do not underestimate the likelihood of transmission to your herd; this is a sneaky virus.

Some answers to common questions asked at the diagnostic laboratory follow, as well as tidbits on how to understand disease impact and decreases losses of suckling pigs.

What is PED Virus?

Porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus is a disease occurring only in pigs, caused by a coronavirus that does exactly what the disease name implies: produces acute and severe outbreaks of diarrhea that rapidly transmits among all ages of pigs (epidemic).

Where did PED virus come from?  Sequence data from U.S. strains thus far suggests all to be very similar to a strain deposited in GenBank from China in 2012. PED virus is present in many countries in Asia and has been present in Europe since the 1970s.

How common is PED Virus in the United States?

Data provided by veterinary diagnostic laboratories to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) suggests that there are 40-50 new cases of PED virus diagnosed each week, with the disease now reported in 14 states. The epidemic form of the disease is easy to recognize clinically so samples may not always be submitted to a laboratory, hence currently reported data likely underestimates true prevalence. An accurate estimate of U.S. prevalence is difficult to achieve and will eventually need to rely on serologic surveys, particularly if the disease becomes endemic.

How did PED virus get into the United States?

There is no confirmation of particular source or location of entry of the virus. Speculation abounds, but it is unlikely that we will ever know how PED virus entered the United States with certainty. However, this does provide the opportunity to scrutinize the possibilities to prevent future events.

How is PED virus spread?

Huge numbers of virus particles are shed in feces. One thimble-full of feces could contain enough virus to infect all the pigs in the United States. The PED virus is being detected in samples collected from pig collection points, slaughter facilities, transportation vehicles and innumerable fomites illustrating the vast potential for transmission. It is expected that survivability and transmission of virus will be enhanced in cold weather. Farm biosecurity efficacy is likely to be tested aggressively in the coming months.

How do I get an accurate diagnosis of PED virus?

If PED virus is suspected, consult your veterinarian. Sometimes, 10 ml of feces from acutely affected pigs tested by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is sufficient to confirm the presence of virus. However, submission of tissues from acutely affected pig(s) for complete diagnostic testing (bacteria, viruses, parasites) will allow for diagnosis of PED virus as well as other diseases. The value of histopathology and immunohistochemistry (IHC) testing is illustrated in Figures 1-4 below. Sampling tips are found at http://vetmed.iastate.edu/vdpam/disease-topics/porcine-epidemic-diarrhea-ped-diagnostic-testing as well as the addendum below.

What is the impact of PED virus in weaned pigs?

Once pigs are weaned, the mortality rate from PED virus plummets. When not complicated by other diseases, pigs in nursery-finisher stages generally recover in about a week. The rumors of severe disease or high mortality in weaned pigs usually involve co-infections with salmonella or hemolytic E. coli or other risk factors associated with the environment or feeding practices.

 

 

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National Hog Farmer

 

Virginia Confirms PEDV Outbreak, Focuses on Biosecurity

Richard Wilkes, DVM, State Veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), recently announced that Virginia has just received laboratory confirmation of its first case of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) in the state. In light of this case, which coincides with the beginning of the exhibit season for 4-H members, FFA students and other livestock exhibitors, Wilkes says strict biosecurity is the most effective, as well as the most practical way to prevent the spread of PEDV and many other livestock and poultry diseases.

Wilkes encourages every person involved in showing livestock to enhance their biosecurity efforts. He noted that the VDACS always urges livestock owners who show their animals, as well as those individuals who manage show and exhibition facilities to keep biosecurity uppermost in their minds.

However, Wilkes said that with swine it is even more important now that Virginia has experienced its first case of PEDV, and that having good biosecurity measures in place can help reduce the spread of the disease.

Anytime animals are co-mingled at events, there is a risk they may be exposed to an infectious disease agent. Some states have cancelled pre-show weigh-ins or other animal commingling events to try to prevent PEDV infection of swine.

 

Read More here

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Roos Foods of Kenton, DE is expanding its recall of cheeses that may be contaminated with the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. The recall now includes all lots of Amigo and Mexicana brands of Requesón part-skim ricotta in 15 oz. and 16 oz. plastic containers and all lots of Amigo, Mexicana and Santa Rosa De Lima brands of Queso de Huerta (fresh curd cheese).

Roos cheese recalled after it is linked to deadly Listeria outbreak.

In addition to the cheeses listed above, all lots of the following cheese are being recalled: Cuajada En Terron, Cuajada/Cuajadita Cacera, Cuajada Fresca, Queso Fresca Round and Queso Dura Viejo Hard Cheeses sold under the brand names Amigo, Mexicana, Santa Rosa De Lima, and Queso Fresco sold under the Anita brand name. The recalled cheeses were packaged in flexible plastic bags and rigid plastic clam shell packages in 12 oz. and 16 oz. sizes.

 

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Food Poisoning Bulletin

Listeria in soft cheeses sold at Megamart stores has killed one person in California and sickened seven others in Maryland since August, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Seven people have been hospitalized. A recall has not been issued.

Fatal Listeria outbreak linked to queso fresco and other soft cheesesThe contaminated soft cheeses including queso fresco were made by Roos Foods of Kenton, Delaware and repackaged by Megamart, which describes itself as a 100 percent Latino supermarket. Megamart has five stores in Maryland located in Silver Spring, Hyattsville, Riverdale, Rockville, Gaithersburg and one in Manassas, Virginia. All of the cases patients in this outbreak are Hispanic.

On February 15, Virginia’s agriculture department announced it had found Listeria monocytogenes, in a sample of Cuajada en Terron (Fresh Cheese Curd) collected from Megamart’s Manassas store at 8328 Shopper’s Square. Ag officials warned consumers not to eat the cheese which was sold in clear, unlabeled plastic bags in the store’s cheese cooler. At that time, no illnesses had been reported in Virginia.

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One dead, 7 sickened from listeria outbreak linked to cheese

Roos Foods cheese

On Friday the CDC reported at least seven people have been sickened, and one died after eating “Hispanic-style cheese.”

The CDC says the outbreak has affected people only of Hispanic descent and living in California or Maryland.

Three babies were among those infected with listeria, while the other five were adults, including two women who had recently given birth.

The illnesses date back to between August 1 and November 27, 2013.

CNN reports, earlier this month, health inspectors in Virginia found listeria monocytogenes bacteria in a sample of Cuajada en Terron, or fresh cheese curd, on sale in clear, unlabeled plastic bags at a Mega Mart in Manassas. This was traced to Roos Foods, a company based in Kenton, Delaware. Virginia authorities said at that time there were no known sicknesses in the state tied to that cheese.

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Food Poisoning Bulletin

 

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, fresh cheese curd has been recalled in the northern part of the state because it tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. No reported cases of illness have been discovered at this time.

RecallThe cheese is Cuajada en Terron (Fresh Cheese Curd), sold at the Mega Mart, a retail store at 8328 Shopper’s Square in Manassas. The product was sold in clear, unlabeled plastic bags in the retail cheese display cooler. No lot or date coding information is on the package.

 

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The Guardian home

Despite Chris Christie’s emphatic win in New Jersey governor’s race, it was a bad night for conservative factions in the GOP

Chris Christie

Chris Christie won decisively with a campaign that appealed to moderates but alienated the conservative wing of his party. Photograph: Eduardo Munoz /Reuters

Republicans were considering the implications of a night of mixed electoral fortunes on Wednesday, capped by the re-election of New Jersey governor Chris Christie who won decisively with a campaign that appealed to moderates but alienated the conservative wing of his party.

Christie’s emphatic win in New Jersey cemented his position as a contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 and provided a boost to moderates in the GOP who have been battling with hardline conservatives.

The victory in New Jersey contrasted with defeat in Virginia, were the Tea Party-backed Republican Ken Cuccinelli lost to Democrat Terry McAuliffe. The race was closer than expected, but nonetheless represented a blow to Republicans; the first time since 1973 the party in the White House has won the state’s gubernatorial race.

The New Jersey and Virginia races differed in significant ways, and analysts cautioned against drawing hard-and-fast conclusions about the wider political landscape for Republicans.

But it was symbolic moment: a centre-right, pragmatic Republican triumphed in New Jersey, a solidly Democratic state, while a staunchly conservative Republican lost in Virginia, a traditional swing-state he had been tipped to win just a few months ago.

Polls indicated that anger over the government shutdown, which was sharply felt in parts of northern Virginia, as well as discomfort with Cuccinelli’s deeply conservative views, handed the race to McAuliffe, a controversial Democratic fundraiser and close ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

In New York, a Democrat won the race for city mayor for the first time in 20 years, with a landslide victory for Bill de Blasio. In Alabama, a closely-watched Republican primary was won by Bradley Byrne, in what was considered a victory for the party establishment against another Tea Party-inspired candidate, Dean Young.

Christie, who is due to assume the powerful chairmanship of the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA), was the most high-profile winner of the night. His election, which drew the support of African American, Latino and women voters who have elsewhere been deserting Republicans, catapults Christie to the ranks of front-runners in the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Other likely candidates include senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who have all adopted staunchly conservative positions that appeal to their base but alienate the moderates and independent voters generally seen as essential to take the White House.

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Earth Watch Report  –  Biological Hazards  –  Mass Animal Die Off (Dolphins)

More than 250 of them -- dead or dying -- have washed up on beaches over the past two months.

More than 250 of them — dead or dying — have washed up on beaches over the past two months.

/ CBS News

24.08.2013 Biological Hazard USA MultiStates, [States of Virginia and New Jersey coastal region] Damage level Details

Biological Hazard in USA on Tuesday, 06 August, 2013 at 09:06 (09:06 AM) UTC.

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Updated: Saturday, 24 August, 2013 at 04:11 UTC
Description
This has been a very bad summer for dolphins along the East Coast. More than 250 of them — dead or dying — have washed up on beaches over the past two months, and no one is quite sure why. The first dead dolphins washed up in New Jersey and Virginia in June. Since then more have been found in Maryland and New York. Biologist Kim Durham’s rescue team has recovered 27 dead dolphins. Durham doesn’t know why it’s happening. “When we were doing examinations, we would find they were very skinny animals,” she says. “They were compromised animals. Some of them had skin lesions — they were just very sick individuals.” Marine biologists believe the dolphins could be suffering from a bacterial or viral infection with symptoms that resemble measles. It was a virus that killed nearly 750 dolphins from New York to Florida in the late ’80s. Charles Potter studied that epidemic. He’s a marine mammal biologist at the Smithsonian. He believes pollution could be weakening the dolphins’ immune system. “As the animals migrate south, passing back through Virginia and are going down to the Carolinas, if this event follows what we saw in 1987, we can expect the epicenter of the epidemic to move south with the dolphins,” Potter says. Late Friday, another dolphin was found dead on the Jersey Shore.

(CBS News) RIVERHEAD, N.Y. — This has been a very bad summer for dolphins along the East Coast. More than 250 of them — dead or dying — have washed up on beaches over the past two months, and no one is quite sure why.

More than 250 of them -- dead or dying -- have washed up on beaches over the past two months.

More than 250 of them — dead or dying — have washed up on beaches over the past two months.

/ CBS News

The first dead dolphins washed up in New Jersey and Virginia in June. Since then more have been found in Maryland and New York. Biologist Kim Durham’s rescue team has recovered 27 dead dolphins.

Durham doesn’t know why it’s happening.

“When we were doing examinations, we would find they were very skinny animals,” she says. “They were compromised animals. Some of them had skin lesions — they were just very sick individuals.”

Marine biologists believe the dolphins could be suffering from a bacterial or viral infection with symptoms that resemble measles.

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Earth Watch Report  –  Mass Animal Deaths

Biological Hazard USA State of Virginia, [Chesapeake Bay coastal regions] Damage level
Details

Biological Hazard in USA on Tuesday, 06 August, 2013 at 09:06 (09:06 AM) UTC.

 

Description
Scientists are working to unravel why there has been a surge in the number of beached dolphins found along the eastern coast of the U.S.. A total of 44 bottlenose dolphins were found in July, washed up along the southern part of Chesapeake Bay in Virginia – around eight times as many as normal, according to the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team. Researchers are struggling to work out the cause of the deaths, but suspect a virus is to blame, as a similarly morbid bout of dolphin deaths occurred in 1987 and were the result of a measles-like disease. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has asked stranding centres situated along the coastline to record the number of dead dolphins found in a bid to find a pattern in the spikes. Susan Barco, research coordinator for the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Centre, told The Virginian-Pilot : ‘We’ve had a steady number coming in at the beginning of the summer, and starting last week, the numbers spiked…We’re just trying to keep our head above water.’ The states of Delaware and Maryland has also seen a rise in dolphin deaths and according to a report in The Press of Atlantic City, around 10 dead dolphins were found in a month – double that than usually recorded. Scientists in New Jersey have reportedly said necropsy results have indicated pneumonia might be to blame, but a spokesman for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service admitted no-one knows what is causing the mysterious dolphin deaths but data is being collected.

However, the stranding team in Virginia said the numbers of dolphins found beached reminds them of mass deaths that occurred in 1987, when over 750 carcasses were washed ashore between Florida and New Jersey. It took a few years to determine that morbillivirus – a disease similar to the measles – was to blame but the dolphins did show symptoms similar to those of measles and pneumonia. Ms Barco said: ‘It’s eerily familiar…That is one virus we’re looking for now.’ Bottlenose dolphins live in pods of between two and 15 creatures off the East Coast of the US and spend the majority of the year in the warmer southern waters, before moving to the bays of the Mid-Atlantic between may and October, Bob Schoelkopf, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, New Jersey. A total of 87 dolphin carcasses including those of the bottlenose species, have been collected by the response team in Virginia so far this year, compared to a usual count of 87 dolphins for the entire calendar year. Volunteers have had the unenviable task of collecting the dolphin remains – many of which are already very decomposed – which are analysed by marine biologists.

It is difficult for the scientists to gain valuable information about any suspected virus when the carcasses are in bad shape. The volunteers are combing the coast to find bodies of newly-dead dolphins to give the scientists a better chance of finding animals that might help them come up with the reason for the deaths. Krystle Rodrique, a volunteer with the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team described the smell of the pinky-white carcasses as a cross between a pet shop and rotting fish. She told The Virginian-Pilot: ‘You get used to the smell, but I never can really get it off my hands…I try to scrub them over and over again.’ Ms Barco said the volunteers have not seen any physical marks of trauma on the dolphins’ bodies that would indicate they have gotten tangled in nets or confused by sonar systems used by the Navy, that have been blamed for whale and dolphin beachings in the past. Ted Brown, a spokesman for the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, told The Virginian-Pilot there has been no change or increase in sonar use that could be related to the increase in dolphin deaths. Around 60 volunteers plus interns and permanent staff are working in Virginia to determine the cause of the deaths but they do not have specialist labs and are working from tents. It found baleen whale species, which include the blue whale, react to the mid frequency noises by changing behaviour. This includes altering foraging so they miss out on high-quality prey, which could make them weak and decimate numbers through starvation. The soundwaves, developed by the military to track enemies beneath the waves, are between 1 and 10 kHz, which is within the human hearing band. They have been blamed for lethal mass stranding of deep diving toothed whales. Sonar is thought to disrupt the animals’ diving behaviour so much that they suffer a condition rather like ‘the bends’.

Biohazard name: Mass. Die-off (dolphins)
Biohazard level: 0/4 —
Biohazard desc.: This does not included biological hazard category.
Symptoms:
Status: confirmed

Biological Hazard in USA on Tuesday, 06 August, 2013 at 09:06 (09:06 AM) UTC.

 

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Updated: Wednesday, 14 August, 2013 at 06:38 UTC
Description
A dolphin die-off in the Mid-Atlantic region is hitting Virginia hardest. Nearly 50 dolphins were found dead or dying in Virginia in July – seven times the normal rate for that month – and the pace is picking up. “August is looking to be significantly worse,” said Mark Swingle, director of research and conservation for the Virginia Aquarium Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach. The nonprofit aquarium is home to Virginia’s sole program for responding to stranded dolphins, whales and sea turtles. Bottlenose dolphins, intelligent and charismatic mammals loved by the public, are dying at abnormally high rates this summer from New York to Virginia – 156 animals from July 1 through Monday. The average for a full year in that region is 99. Most of the dolphins washed up dead. Some died soon after being found or were so near death they had to be euthanized. None has survived to be returned to the wild. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week declared the deaths “an unusual mortality event” – a declaration that frees up extra scientific expertise to investigate the case.

In Virginia, about a half-dozen dolphins normally wash up in July, and an additional half-dozen in August. Last month, there were 48, and this month there were 35 through Monday, officials said. Such a large number before mid-August “is not a good sign,” Swingle said. Virginia’s 83 deaths lead among the affected states, far surpassing second-place New Jersey’s 39. The cause of the deaths is a mystery. It could be that some disease is working its way through the dolphin population. That’s what happened in 1987, the last time the East Coast experienced a similar die-off. More than 740 dolphins succumbed from New Jersey to Florida. More than 200 died in Virginia, the most of any state along the coast. Experts linked the deaths to a virus found in some marine mammals, morbillivirus. Toxins from harmful algae may have contributed to some deaths. Preliminary tests indicate a few of the dolphins that died this summer suffered from morbillivirus, but experts say it’s too early to say that’s causing all the deaths. It could be that some other problem – a toxic-chemical spill, say, or a release of toxins by algae – weakened dolphins’ immune systems, making them vulnerable to a disease they normally would ward off. Morbillivirus is similar to measles in people, said Mendy Garron, the marine mammal stranding coordinator for NOAA’s Maine-to-Virginia region. “The measles can potentially kill someone if their immune system is suppressed,” Garron said. “It’s kind of that same concept.”

The investigation of the deaths could take months or even years, officials say. That means no one can help the animals that are dying now. But the investigation might shed light on similar events in the future. It’s not clear why most of the stricken dolphins are washing up in Virginia. It could be that some local pollution problem is hurting the dolphins, experts said. Or it could be something as simple as currents carrying bodies here. There is another possible, and simple, explanation: Of all the affected states, Virginia has the most dolphins. Thousands of the mammals live and migrate along the East Coast, and their Virginia numbers peak in summer. “Since there are more animals in Virginia, obviously we are going to see more animals affected,” Swingle said. People love dolphins, and they are concerned about the deaths. But Swingle said there is another reason to pay attention. “Marine mammals are mammals like you and I. They get some of the same diseases that we get. They are sort of sentinels for us in the water. When they are having trouble … we certainly want to know what’s going on and understand it better.”

Dolphin die-off hitting Virginia hardest

  • Sarah Rose, with the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team, examines a dead dolphin.

 

 

Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 9:15 am | Updated: 9:28 am, Wed Aug 14, 2013.

 

 

A dolphin die-off in the Mid-Atlantic region is hitting Virginia hardest.

Nearly 50 dolphins were found dead or dying in Virginia in July — seven times the normal rate for that month — and the pace is picking up.

 

“August is looking to be significantly worse,” said Mark Swingle, director of research and conservation for the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach.

 

The nonprofit aquarium is home to Virginia’s sole program for responding to stranded dolphins, whales and sea turtles.

 

Bottlenose dolphins, intelligent and charismatic mammals loved by the public, are dying at abnormally high rates this summer from New York to Virginia — 156 animals from July 1 through Monday. The average for a full year in that region is 99.

 

Most of the dolphins washed up dead. Some died soon after being found or were so near death they had to be euthanized. None has survived to be returned to the wild.

 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week declared the deaths “an unusual mortality event” — a declaration that frees up extra scientific expertise to investigate the case.

 

In Virginia, about a half-dozen dolphins normally wash up in July, and an additional half-dozen in August. Last month, there were 48, and this month there were 35 through Monday, officials said.

 

Such a large number before mid-August “is not a good sign,” Swingle said.

 

Virginia’s 83 deaths lead among the affected states, far surpassing second-place New Jersey’s 39.

 

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Earth Watch Report  –  Biological Hazards  –  Mass Animal Die-off (dolphins)

File:Bottlenose dolphin with young.JPG

Image Source  :  Wikipedia

Photographer: Peter Asprey, http://www.peter-asprey.com/

06.08.2013 Biological Hazard USA State of Virginia, [Chesapeake Bay coastal regions] Damage level Details

Biological Hazard in USA on Tuesday, 06 August, 2013 at 09:06 (09:06 AM) UTC.

Description
Scientists are working to unravel why there has been a surge in the number of beached dolphins found along the eastern coast of the U.S.. A total of 44 bottlenose dolphins were found in July, washed up along the southern part of Chesapeake Bay in Virginia – around eight times as many as normal, according to the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team. Researchers are struggling to work out the cause of the deaths, but suspect a virus is to blame, as a similarly morbid bout of dolphin deaths occurred in 1987 and were the result of a measles-like disease. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has asked stranding centres situated along the coastline to record the number of dead dolphins found in a bid to find a pattern in the spikes. Susan Barco, research coordinator for the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Centre, told The Virginian-Pilot : ‘We’ve had a steady number coming in at the beginning of the summer, and starting last week, the numbers spiked…We’re just trying to keep our head above water.’ The states of Delaware and Maryland has also seen a rise in dolphin deaths and according to a report in The Press of Atlantic City, around 10 dead dolphins were found in a month – double that than usually recorded. Scientists in New Jersey have reportedly said necropsy results have indicated pneumonia might be to blame, but a spokesman for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service admitted no-one knows what is causing the mysterious dolphin deaths but data is being collected.However, the stranding team in Virginia said the numbers of dolphins found beached reminds them of mass deaths that occurred in 1987, when over 750 carcasses were washed ashore between Florida and New Jersey. It took a few years to determine that morbillivirus – a disease similar to the measles – was to blame but the dolphins did show symptoms similar to those of measles and pneumonia. Ms Barco said: ‘It’s eerily familiar…That is one virus we’re looking for now.’ Bottlenose dolphins live in pods of between two and 15 creatures off the East Coast of the US and spend the majority of the year in the warmer southern waters, before moving to the bays of the Mid-Atlantic between may and October, Bob Schoelkopf, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, New Jersey. A total of 87 dolphin carcasses including those of the bottlenose species, have been collected by the response team in Virginia so far this year, compared to a usual count of 87 dolphins for the entire calendar year. Volunteers have had the unenviable task of collecting the dolphin remains – many of which are already very decomposed – which are analysed by marine biologists.

It is difficult for the scientists to gain valuable information about any suspected virus when the carcasses are in bad shape. The volunteers are combing the coast to find bodies of newly-dead dolphins to give the scientists a better chance of finding animals that might help them come up with the reason for the deaths. Krystle Rodrique, a volunteer with the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team described the smell of the pinky-white carcasses as a cross between a pet shop and rotting fish. She told The Virginian-Pilot: ‘You get used to the smell, but I never can really get it off my hands…I try to scrub them over and over again.’ Ms Barco said the volunteers have not seen any physical marks of trauma on the dolphins’ bodies that would indicate they have gotten tangled in nets or confused by sonar systems used by the Navy, that have been blamed for whale and dolphin beachings in the past. Ted Brown, a spokesman for the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, told The Virginian-Pilot there has been no change or increase in sonar use that could be related to the increase in dolphin deaths. Around 60 volunteers plus interns and permanent staff are working in Virginia to determine the cause of the deaths but they do not have specialist labs and are working from tents. It found baleen whale species, which include the blue whale, react to the mid frequency noises by changing behaviour. This includes altering foraging so they miss out on high-quality prey, which could make them weak and decimate numbers through starvation. The soundwaves, developed by the military to track enemies beneath the waves, are between 1 and 10 kHz, which is within the human hearing band. They have been blamed for lethal mass stranding of deep diving toothed whales. Sonar is thought to disrupt the animals’ diving behaviour so much that they suffer a condition rather like ‘the bends’.

Biohazard name: Mass. Die-off (dolphins)
Biohazard level: 0/4 —
Biohazard desc.: This does not included biological hazard category.
Symptoms:
Status: confirmed

Mystery of the dead dolphins of Virginia: Scientists suspect killer virus could be to blame for East Coast strandings

  • 44 dead dolphins have been washed up along the U.S. state of Virginia in July – eight times more than normal
  • A disease similar to measles wiped out over 750 dolphins in 1987 and scientists are keen to unravel the mystery to help the surviving mammals
  • Volunteers are collecting dolphin carcasses – which do not appear to show signs of physical trauma – for further examination

By Sarah Griffiths

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Scientists are working to unravel why there has been a surge in the number of beached dolphins found along the eastern coast of the U.S..

A total of 44 bottlenose dolphins were found in July, washed up along the southern part of Chesapeake Bay in Virginia – around eight times as many as normal, according to the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team.

Researchers are struggling to work out the cause of the deaths, but suspect a virus is to blame, as a similarly morbid bout of dolphin deaths occurred in 1987 and were the result of a measles-like disease.

Scientists are working to unravel the cause of a surge in the number of dolphin deaths as a number of stranded mammals have been found beached along East Coast US states

Scientists are working to unravel the cause of a surge in the number of dolphin deaths as a number of stranded mammals have been found beached along East Coast US states. Volunteers Krystal Rodrique (left) and Liz Schell (right) record observations of a deceased male dolphin in Norfolk Virginia

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has asked stranding centres situated along the coastline to record the number of dead dolphins found in a bid to find a pattern in the spikes.

Susan Barco, research coordinator for the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Centre, told The Virginian-Pilot : ‘We’ve had a steady number coming in at the beginning of the summer, and starting last week, the numbers spiked…We’re just trying to keep our head above water.’

The states of Delaware and Maryland has also seen a rise in dolphin deaths and according to a report in The Press of Atlantic City, around 10 dead dolphins were found in a month – double that than usually recorded.

Scientists in New Jersey have reportedly said necropsy results have indicated pneumonia might be to blame, but a spokesman for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service admitted no-one knows what is causing the mysterious dolphin deaths but data is being collected.

The volunteers load a deceased male dolphin onto a metal stretcher on the beach in Virginia

The volunteers load a deceased male dolphin onto a metal stretcher on the beach in Virginia. This was their third dolphin retrieval of the day. Officials are trying to determine the cause of a sharp increase in dolphin deaths in Virginia and other East Coast states

However, the stranding team in Virginia said the numbers of dolphins found beached reminds them of mass deaths that occurred in 1987, when over 750 carcasses were washed ashore between Florida and New Jersey.

It took a few years to determine that morbillivirus – a disease similar to the measles – was to blame but the dolphins did show symptoms similar to those of measles and pneumonia.

Ms Barco said: ‘It’s eerily familiar…That is one virus we’re looking for now.’

SONAR HAS BEEN RULED OUT

While it appears sonar is not to blame for the dolphins deaths,it could be killing blue whales, according to a study by the Cascadia Research Collective based in Washington.

It found baleen whale species, which include the blue whale, react to the mid frequency noises by changing behaviour.

This includes altering foraging so they miss out on high-quality prey, which could make them weak and decimate numbers through starvation.

The soundwaves, developed by the military to track enemies beneath the waves, are between 1 and 10 kHz, which is within the human hearing band.

They have been blamed for lethal mass stranding of deep diving toothed whales.

Sonar is thought to disrupt the animals’ diving behaviour so much that they suffer a condition rather like ‘the bends’.

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