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Alaska: unidentified outbreak kills dozens of ringed seals- Walruses ill as well - Ribbon seal found with syndrome 3/12

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  • #16
    Re: Alaska: unidentified outbreak kills dozens of ringed seals- Walruses ill as well - Ribbon seal found with syndrome 3/12

    This is the latest update from October 2012. No results yet on contaminants.

    http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/prot...update1012.pdf
    What do we need to know next?
    1) Whether there are any “new” cases: Harvest surveillance will continue this fall
    2) Why no “new” cases during Spring 2012
    3) Whether walruses / ice seals have the same illness
    4) What do the comprehensive series of symptoms (and timeline of events) indicate as a potential cause?
    5) Timeline for contaminant and radiation results
    6) Prevalence estimates – the proportion of animals are infected
    7) How samples from normal seals and walruses compare to those from diseased animals, particularly with respect to molting
    8) What are the risk factors that may indicate the UME is nutritionally or environmentally driven
    “‘i love myself.’
    the
    quietest.
    simplest.
    most
    powerful.
    revolution
    ever.” ---- nayyirah waheed

    Avatar: Franz Marc, Liegender Hund im Schnee 1911 (My posts are not intended as advice or professional assessments of any kind.)

    Comment


    • #17
      Re: Alaska: unidentified outbreak kills dozens of ringed seals- Walruses ill as well - Ribbon seal found with syndrome 3/12

      http://www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/...tement0212.pdf
      Drs. John Kelley and Douglas Dasher, who are the leads for the UME radiation assessment, are working with
      the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and College of Natural Science and
      Mathematics Engineering, Science and Technology Experiment Station on this investigation.
      Muscle tissues from sick and healthy pinnipeds will be measured for the presence of Cesium-134
      (134Cs) and Cesium-137 (137Cs).
      Using the 134Cs/137Cs ratio from the Fukushima accident the amount of 137Cs contributed by
      Fukushima can be estimated.
      The results for each sample will go through quality assurance first and be provided to the UME
      working group followed by timely reporting to the public.
      And???
      “‘i love myself.’
      the
      quietest.
      simplest.
      most
      powerful.
      revolution
      ever.” ---- nayyirah waheed

      Avatar: Franz Marc, Liegender Hund im Schnee 1911 (My posts are not intended as advice or professional assessments of any kind.)

      Comment


      • #18
        Re: Alaska: unidentified outbreak kills dozens of ringed seals- Walruses ill as well - Ribbon seal found with syndrome 3/12

        http://www.alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/...update0213.pdf

        Northern Pinniped Unusual Mortality Event (UME) Update
        February 2013

        How many ice seals appeared to be affected by UME symptoms in 2012 as compared to 2011?
        In 2011 over 200 ice seals were reported with UME symptoms. Most of the affected seals were ringed seals, but the unusual hair loss, delayed molt, skin lesions, and lethargy were also noted in spotted and bearded seals as well as one ribbon seal. Reports were received from northern Alaska, Canada (NWT), Russia (Chukotka), and Japan, with most ringed seal cases observed on the North Slope and bearded and spotted seal cases primarily observed from around the Bering Strait region.
        In 2012, fewer cases were reported, with numbers declining as the year progressed. No new Canadian cases were observed in 2012. In Russia, fewer than 3 cases were identified in the spring with no new summer or fall cases. Similarly, less than 5 spring cases were received from northern Japan and no new reports received in the fall. In Alaska, there were fewer stranded seals on the North Slope with no live seals hauling out on local beaches (as observed during the summer of 2011); among the stranded seal carcasses no new cases were observed around Wainwright, Point Hope and Barrow. For subsistence harvested seals in Barrow, only 6 seals were found that had moderate patchy hair loss. The majority of reported cases (53) were from the Nome/Bering Strait region. Many of the cases reported in 2012, primarily adult bearded seals, did not appear to fit the 2011 case definitions as closely and it was also uncertain how many of these cases were ongoing (aka survivors) vs. new.
        How many walrus appeared to be affected by UME symptoms in 2012 as compared to 2011?
        In 2011, coastal community members, active hunters and research teams reported walruses with unusual skin lesions at the Pt. Lay coastal haulout. Because the lesions were similar in appearance to those observed in stranded seals, walruses were included in the ongoing UME investigation. Although Russian researchers and hunters have previously observed walruses with similar skin lesions at coastal haulouts in Chukotka, the condition had not been previously reported in Alaska.
        In 2012, persistent sea ice in the Chukchi Sea prevented significant attendance at coastal haulouts, with no walrus observed at the Pt. Lay coastal haulout in Alaska and fewer animals observed at the Chukotka haulout in Russia. Of those animals observed in Chukotka, no new UME cases were noted. Similarly, no UME cases were noted in walrus carcasses along the Chukchi Sea coast as part of North Slope Borough surveys. Within the Alaska hunting community, 6 out of more than 1300 landed animals were reported with unusual skin lesions in 2012, however none of the reported animals clearly fit the UME case definition for walruses.
        Diagnostic testing of walrus tissue samples for known viral and bacterial agents have consistently returned negative results. The cause and significance of the unusual skin lesions observed in walruses remains unknown.
        Have polar bears been added as an affected species?
        Since the spring of 2012, a total of 23 polar bears from Barrow, Deadhorse and Kaktovik have been identified with variable degrees of hair loss/ thinning, inflamed and crusting skin, and oral lesions. The prevalence of these symptoms appears to be in about 28% of observed animals.
        Thus far, testing for endocrine abnormalities (thyroid function) and vitamin A and trace mineral imbalances in affected bears has been inconclusive, as have toxicity studies. Proposed testing includes genetic sequencing of tissue samples for new viruses.
        The concurrent presence of hair loss in seals, walrus and polar bears has suggested a possible connection between the events. However, unlike the seals and walrus, the bears do not appear to exhibit behavioral changes or systemic involvement nor has mortality been observed in affected animals. A similar hair loss condition has also been observed in polar bears in the past. Consequently, evidence is insufficient to include polar bears as a UME species at this time, but monitoring for new or unusual cases will continue into the 2013 field season.
        What are most recent events in the investigation?
        On January 21, 2013, a full day UME workshop was held at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage, Alaska. The workshop was designed for those who had been involved in the response and investigation to date, and included members of agencies, diagnostic laboratories, academia and the subsistence communities from many areas throughout the US and Canada. The goal of the workshop was to facilitate the exchange of information, update participants on current findings; discuss the next steps including a list of possible causes of the event; concluding with an after action review of the investigation outlining what worked, what didn’t work and gaps that needed to be addressed in the future. Proceedings of the workshop are being prepared and will be made available.
        Currently under discussion is how to most prudently use remaining tissues is as well as the submission and testing of control samples. Some specific questions under consideration include:

        Is the UME due to a poorly described infectious agent?
        A pathological progression that appears to be central to the UME includes a skin vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation) and immunosuppression followed by a variety of secondary bacterial and fungal infections. Substantial testing has been completed on an array of both viral and bacterial agents associated with vasculitis and other pathologies in marine mammals, with consistently negative results. Recently, more specialized testing has indicated the possible presence of less well characterized viral agents, including circovirus, lentivirus, retrovirus, and gammaherpesvirus. Follow-up of preliminary findings, as well as testing for these viral agents in control animals, is essential in determining their potential as agents of disease.
        Bacteria associated with the cases are likely secondary pathogens; however, S. phocae and hemotropic mycoplasma are two bacterial agents currently being considered for assessment as important co-factors.
        Is the Ume due to toxic agents?
        Public concern about the Fukushima nuclear plant accident in Japan has prompted tissue testing for radionuclides. Preliminary qualitative screening showed radiation levels within typical background levels for Alaska. As a follow up muscle tissue from control (n=11) and a few diseased seals (n=7) have been provided to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for gamma analysis. Gamma analysis of control and four diseased seal samples have been finalized in January ; preliminary results confirm cesium 137 levels in control and four diseased seals are similar to historical levels observed in seals sampled in the mid – 1990’s in Alaska. Testing for the remaining seal samples has not been completed and gamma analysis is ongoing. An interim report is being prepared on these preliminary findings, which will be made available.
        Testing has been negative for the most common harmful algal blooms (HABs), including domoic acid, PSP and okadiaic acid. Testing for cyanotoxins, such as mycrocystin and nodularin, has also been suggested relative to a cyanobacterial bloom that has occurred in recent years in the Kotzebue Sound/Chukchi Sea and liver samples from 4 seals with possible cyanobacterial changes have been submitted to a HABs discovery laboratory. Results were expected in December, but difficulties with the test have delayed these results. Results are expected imminently.
        Is the UME a result of multifactorial causes leading to abnormal molt?
        Testing is being considered for endocrine/metabolic/nutritional abnormalities associated with abnormal skin and hair growth. Environmental factors that made the spring of 2011 unique will continue to be reviewed.

        For more background on this event, updates, regional contacts, and how to help, see:
        http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/prot...ed/default.htm
        http://alaska.fws.gov/fisheries/mmm/...estigation.htm
        If you find a seal or walrus acting abnormally or showing signs of illness, note its location and contact your local wildlife authority as soon as possible.
        “‘i love myself.’
        the
        quietest.
        simplest.
        most
        powerful.
        revolution
        ever.” ---- nayyirah waheed

        Avatar: Franz Marc, Liegender Hund im Schnee 1911 (My posts are not intended as advice or professional assessments of any kind.)

        Comment


        • #19
          Re: Alaska: unidentified outbreak kills dozens of ringed seals- Walruses ill as well - Ribbon seal found with syndrome 3/12

          Northern Pinnipeds Unusual Mortality Event: Update 2014

          Summary and Background
          Beginning mid-July 2011, elevated numbers of sick or dead seals with skin lesions were discovered in the Arctic
          and Bering Strait regions of Alaska. The North Slope Borough Division of Wildlife Management first began to
          notice sick seals while conducting ice seal satellite telemetry studies during routine research in July and August
          2011. Hunters also reported observing unusual symptoms in subsistence harvested seals. Although abnormal
          hair growth (known as alopecia) had been under investigation in ringed seals for several years, hunters and
          researchers were seeing seals with more severe signs of a novel illness, as well as dead seals. Diseased seals--
          primarily ringed seals—exhibited the inability to properly regrow their annual new coat, a delay in the molting
          process, and skin ulcers. Some of these seals also exhibited lethargy, labored breathing, and internal issues such
          as a reduced thymus, hepatitis, etc. Similar cases were also reported in seals from western Canada, eastern
          Russia, and Japan. Spotted seals and bearded seals were also affected. In addition, reports of skin lesions in
          Pacific walruses were observed in Alaska, with some associated mortality.

          By December 2011, there were more than 100 cases of affected pinnipeds in northern and western Alaska. Due
          to the unusual number of marine mammals discovered with similar symptoms across a wide geographic area,
          and after consultation with the Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events, NOAA and USFWS
          announced the declaration of an Unusual Mortality Event on December 20, 2011. The declaration established an
          investigative team involving national and international specialists from numerous agencies, laboratories, and
          institutions, and included Tribal leaders, hunters, scientists, veterinarians, wildlife biologists, and disease
          diagnosticians.

          This was the first UME involving subsistence species essential to coastal Alaskan communities. The investigative
          team worked with the State of Alaska Division of Public Health and others to assess potential risk and distribute
          general precautionary guidelines around handling and consumption in the absence of a known pathogen.
          Throughout the event, Alaska Native subsistence hunters continued to use their traditional and customary practices when dealing with healthy and/or sick seals. At present, there is no evidence that consuming animals
          involved in this disease event has caused any human illness.

          Current Situation
          Disease surveillance efforts in 2012 and 2013 indicate no new cases similar to those observed in 2011 have been
          discovered. Instead, the seals reported with abnormal hair growth and healing skin ulcers are likely survivors of
          the initial disease. Hunters may continue to see hairless seals during spring 2014, particularly in the subadult age
          group.

          Test Results
          Currently, no specific cause for this
          disease has been identified. To date,
          numerous tests for viral, bacterial
          pathogens, as well as biotoxins have
          been performed. Despite extensive
          laboratory analysis, no specific
          infectious disease agent or process
          has been identified. This may
          suggest that the underlying cause of
          this disease is most likely complex,
          involving a variety of factors.

          The following disease agents, some
          of which cause ulcerative skin
          disease in marine animals, have
          been screened for and ruled out as
          possible causes: Calicivirus,
          Morbillivirus, Pan-Picornavirus,
          Herpesvirus, Papillomavirus,
          Poxvirus, Parapoxvirus, Vesicular
          Stomatitis Virus, Foot and Mouth
          Disease, Circovirus, Influenza A/B,
          Arterivirus, Adenovirus, Coronavirus,
          Enterovirus, Flavivirus, Orbivirus,
          Orthohepadnavirus, Paramyxovirus,
          Rhabdovirus, and Papovavirus.

          Future work
          Testing continues for a wide range of possible factors in this disease, including immune system-related diseases,
          fungi, man-made and bio-toxins, radiation exposure, contaminants, and other stressors related to sea ice
          change. Scientists are investigating the possibility that radiation could have been one of many factors that
          contributed to the illness in these animals. Preliminary radionuclide testing conducted by the University of
          Alaska Fairbanks found radiation levels within the typical background range.

          http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/prot...tsheet0214.pdf
          Twitter: @RonanKelly13
          The views expressed are mine alone and do not represent the views of my employer or any other person or organization.

          Comment


          • #20
            Re: Alaska: unidentified outbreak kills dozens of ringed seals- Walruses ill as well - Ribbon seal found with syndrome 3/12

            I've wondered about UV from the ozone thinning that winter.

            http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/fea...zone-hole.html
            NASA Pinpoints Causes of 2011 Arctic Ozone Hole
            03.11.13

            Maps of ozone concentrations over the Arctic come from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite. The left image shows March 19, 2010, and the right shows the same date in 2011. March 2010 had relatively high ozone, while March 2011 has low levels. Credit: NASA/Goddard
            A combination of extreme cold temperatures, man-made chemicals and a stagnant atmosphere were behind what became known as the Arctic ozone hole of 2011, a new NASA study finds.

            Even when both poles of the planet undergo ozone losses during the winter, the Arctic’s ozone depletion tends to be milder and shorter-lived than the Antarctic’s. This is because the three key ingredients needed for ozone-destroying chemical reactions —chlorine from man-made chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), frigid temperatures and sunlight— are not usually present in the Arctic at the same time: the northernmost latitudes are generally not cold enough when the sun reappears in the sky in early spring. Still, in 2011, ozone concentrations in the Arctic atmosphere were about 20 percent lower than its late winter average.

            The new study shows that, while chlorine in the Arctic stratosphere was the ultimate culprit of the severe ozone loss of winter of 2011, unusually cold and persistent temperatures also spurred ozone destruction. Furthermore, uncommon atmospheric conditions blocked wind-driven transport of ozone from the tropics, halting the seasonal ozone resupply until April.

            “You can safely say that 2011 was very atypical: In over 30 years of satellite records, we hadn’t seen any time where it was this cold for this long,” said Susan E. Strahan, an atmospheric scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and main author of the new paper, which was recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres...
            “‘i love myself.’
            the
            quietest.
            simplest.
            most
            powerful.
            revolution
            ever.” ---- nayyirah waheed

            Avatar: Franz Marc, Liegender Hund im Schnee 1911 (My posts are not intended as advice or professional assessments of any kind.)

            Comment


            • #21
              Re: Alaska: unidentified outbreak kills dozens of ringed seals- Walruses ill as well - Ribbon seal found with syndrome 3/12

              http://www.alaskadispatch.com/articl...rit-identified
              Investigation into walrus disease closes with no culprit identified
              Yereth Rosen
              May 12, 2014

              ...
              The potential causes looked into during the investigation of the mortality event included biological infections, viral infections and endocrine disruptions. Also investigated was the possibility of contamination from the Fukushima nuclear plant after the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster. A preliminary investigation in 2012 concluded that radioactive contamination was not the likely cause.

              Investigators are now looking at the possibility of multiple causes, Speegle said. “At this point, the theory is that a number of factors contributed to the illness,” she said....
              Multiple causes? The final report should include all the data found in testing. I'd like to know what factors were unique in starting in 2011 among those in the theory.
              “‘i love myself.’
              the
              quietest.
              simplest.
              most
              powerful.
              revolution
              ever.” ---- nayyirah waheed

              Avatar: Franz Marc, Liegender Hund im Schnee 1911 (My posts are not intended as advice or professional assessments of any kind.)

              Comment

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