Mysterious Illness Strikes
Cormorants In Florida

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
Hello Jeff: If you remember, Cormorants were the first birds in the Bronx, NY Zoo that succumbed to West Nile Virus. These Cormorants however are making a recovery which might rule out West Nile Virus. At this time Cormorants are the only birds involved in the illness.
Patricia Doyle
Date 24 Nov 2004
From ProMED-mail
By Tom Roussey
A mysterious illness is making a number of wild birds sick, but it is only affecting one species, the double crested cormorant. Wildlife watchers are baffled, because no theory about the illness makes perfect sense.
Workers at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida's Wildlife Rehab Center are helping an unusual number of double crested cormorants. The birds are starving, thin, and lack energy. No one knows what's causing the mysterious ailment. Workers hydrate the birds and feed them. Some of them are eating willingly; others have to be force-fed. Despite all their best efforts, about half the birds that have gone into the rehab center have died. "Even though you know you're doing all you can, it's frustrating for some not to make it," said Joanna Fitzgerald of the Wildlife Rehab Center. The main theory is that red tide in the gulf is making the double crested cormorants sick. "The typical signs we see with red tide we just aren't seeing with these birds. I'm not 100 percent convinced it's red tide," said Fitzgerald.
Double crested cormorants are the birds you see on the side of a lake with their wings spread out. "These are the ones that dry their wings, they'll spread their wings to dry after they've been hunting or fishing," said Fitzgerald.
One of the birds regained enough strength to be able to be released into the wild in Port Royal. "It's very rewarding when you see them go," said Rebecca LeBlanc of the Wildlife Rehab Center.
-- ProMED-mail
One would hope that these biologists are having the birds necropsied and some diagnostic tests run. The article here does not give enough specifics for speculation.
Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy (AVM) may be a possibility. If a bird recovered, then it seems likely that AVM and botulism could be ruled out.
Certainly, if there is any more authoritative information on this situation, we would appreciate it. - Mod.TG
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message board at:
Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
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