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Deem S.L.,Saint Louis Zoo Institute for Conservation Medicine | Fevre E.M.,University of Liverpool | Fevre E.M.,Kenya International Livestock Research Institute | Kinnaird M.,Mpala Research Center | And 7 more authors.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a recently identified virus causing severe viral respiratory illness in people. Little is known about the reservoir in the Horn of Africa. In Kenya, where no human MERS cases have been reported, our survey of 335 dromedary camels, representing nine herds in Laikipia County, showed a high seroprevalence (46.9%) to MERS-CoV antibodies. Between herd differences were present (14.3%- 82.9%), but was not related to management type or herd isolation. Further research should focus on identifying similarity between MERS-CoV viral isolates in Kenya and clinical isolates from the Middle East and elsewhere. © 2015 Deem et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Source

Levin I.I.,University of Missouri-St. Louis | Levin I.I.,WildCare Institute | Zwiers P.,University of Missouri-St. Louis | Zwiers P.,Francis Marion University | And 16 more authors.
Conservation Biology

Haemosporidian parasites in the genus Plasmodium were recently detected through molecular screening in the Galapagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus). We summarized results of an archipelago-wide screen of 3726 endemic birds representing 22 species for Plasmodium spp. through a combination of molecular and microscopy techniques. Three additional Plasmodium lineages were present in Galapagos. Lineage A-infected penguins, Yellow Warblers (Setophaga petechia aureola), and one Medium Ground Finch (Geospiza fortis) was detected at multiple sites in multiple years. The other 3 lineages were each detected at one site and at one time; apparently, they were transient infections of parasites not established on the archipelago. No gametocytes were found in blood smears of infected individuals; thus, endemic Galapagos birds may be dead-end hosts for these Plasmodium lineages. Determining when and how parasites and pathogens arrive in Galapagos is key to developing conservation strategies to prevent and mitigate the effects of introduced diseases. To assess the potential for Plasmodium parasites to arrive via migratory birds, we analyzed blood samples from 438 North American breeding Bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus), the only songbird that regularly migrates through Galapagos. Two of the ephemeral Plasmodium lineages (B and C) found in Galapagos birds matched parasite sequences from Bobolinks. Although this is not confirmation that Bobolinks are responsible for introducing these lineages, evidence points to higher potential arrival rates of avian pathogens than previously thought. © 2013 Society for Conservation Biology. Source

Depuy W.,University of Georgia | Depuy W.,University of Michigan | Benka V.,University of Michigan | Massey A.,University of Michigan | And 11 more authors.

Two hundred fourteen serosamples were collected from four livestock species across five ranches in Laikipia County, Kenya. Serological analysis for Coxiella burnetii (the causative agent for Q fever) showed a distinct seroprevalence gradient: the lowest in cattle, higher in sheep and goats, and the highest in camels. Laikipia-wide aerial counts show a recent increase in the camel population. One hundred fifty-five stakeholder interviews revealed concern among veterinary, medical, ranching, and conservation professionals about Q fever. Local pastoralists and persons employed as livestock keepers, in contrast, revealed no knowledge of the disease. This work raises questions about emerging Q fever risk in Laikipia County and offers a framework for further integrative disease research in East African mixed-use systems. © 2014 International Association for Ecology and Health. Source

Palmer J.L.,Saint Louis Zoo Institute for Conservation Medicine | Blake S.,WildCare Institute | Blake S.,Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Radolfzell) | Blake S.,University of Missouri-St. Louis | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Diseases

Mycoplasma species, which can cause upper respiratory tract disease (URTD), are significant pathogens of birds, mammals, fish, and reptiles. Mycoplasmosis is of high concern for chelonian conservation, with the most welldocumented cases in gopher and desert tortoises. Mycoplasma sp. infections have been reported in captive and free-living box turtles (Terrapene spp.). We documented URTD associated with Mycoplasma sp. in two free-living, three-toed box turtles (Terrapene carolina triunguis) in Missouri, US. Both turtles were Mycoplasma sp. positive by PCR and had URTD-like clinical signs, including nasal and ocular discharge, palpebral edema, lethargy, and weight loss, during a 6–8-wk period between June and September 2014. © Wildlife Disease Association 2016. Source

Jandegian C.M.,Saint Louis Zoo Institute for Conservation Medicine | Jandegian C.M.,U.S. Geological Survey | Jandegian C.M.,University of Missouri | Deem S.L.,Saint Louis Zoo Institute for Conservation Medicine | And 14 more authors.
General and Comparative Endocrinology

Environmental chemicals can disrupt endocrine signaling and adversely impact sexual differentiation in wildlife. Bisphenol A (BPA) is an estrogenic chemical commonly found in a variety of habitats. In this study, we used painted turtles (. Chrysemys picta), which have temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD), as an animal model for ontogenetic endocrine disruption by BPA. We hypothesized that BPA would override TSD and disrupt sexual development. We incubated farm-raised turtle eggs at the male-producing temperature (26. °C), randomly assigned individuals to treatment groups: control, vehicle control, 17β-estradiol (E2, 20. ng/g-egg) or 0.01, 1.0, 100. μg. BPA/g-egg and harvested tissues at hatch. Typical female gonads were present in 89% of the E2-treated "males", but in none of the control males (. n=. 35). Gonads of BPA-exposed turtles had varying amounts of ovarian-like cortical (OLC) tissue and disorganized testicular tubules in the medulla. Although the percentage of males with OLCs increased with BPA dose (BPA-low. =. 30%, BPA-medium. =. 33%, BPA-high. =. 39%), this difference was not significant (. p=. 0.85). In all three BPA treatments, SOX9 patterns revealed disorganized medullary testicular tubules and β-catenin expression in a thickened cortex. Liver vitellogenin, a female-specific liver protein commonly used as an exposure biomarker, was not induced by any of the treatments. Notably, these results suggest that developmental exposure to BPA disrupts sexual differentiation in painted turtles. Further examination is necessary to determine the underlying mechanisms of sex reversal in reptiles and how these translate to EDC exposure in wild populations. © 2015 Elsevier Inc. Source

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