Investigating disease outbreak in bighorn sheep

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Desert bighorn sheep – Photo by Regina Vu

The San Gorgonio Mountains in Southern California are home to a population of desert bighorn sheep.  At least 20 bighorn have died in the past few months.  Click on the link below to learn more about what is being done to investigate the causes of the mortality event, and the important collaborative roles played by California Fish and Wildlife field biologists and veterinarians, land owners, California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory, and volunteers.

https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/2019/01/17/bighorn-sheep-dying-california-desert/2603545002/

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View your Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) results online today!

A big shout out and thank you to all the hunters who helped boost our CWD surveillance numbers in 2018. The results are in and have been posted on our CWD webpage. If you submitted a sample for testing, you can look up your individual results using the document number on your deer tag (e.g. D-0029999999-0).

With your help, we were able to test over 200 animals throughout the state for CWD. Fortunately, the prion was not detected in any of the samples submitted to the Wildlife Investigations Laboratory. Our job is not over though, and neither is yours. Good surveillance is the only way to continue to ensure the safety of California’s deer and elk herds. To get defensible data we need more samples from hunters like you. If you did not bring your deer or elk in for sampling this year, please consider bringing your animal in for sampling at one of our hunter check stations or CDFW Regional offices during the 2019 hunt season. The details can all be found on our webpage closer to the opening of the season.

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Deer hunters can play an important role this season in Chronic Wasting Disease sampling

It’s deer season, and CDFW is looking to hunters to help collect samples for our 2018 Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance efforts. This season we are setting up CWD stations near hunt zones across the state where hunters can get their deer tested for this disease, and get their tag validated at the same time. Check out our CWD page at www.wildlife.ca.gov/CWD for a map with information about locations, dates and times of our surveillance efforts. You can also take a look at this table for the same information. We need your help to keep this devastating cervid disease out of California’s deer and elk herds. If you are planning to hunt out of state this year, make sure you are following the law, don’t bring any skull or backbone back with you! If you are hunting in a state with known CWD make sure you get your animal tested and processed in the state you harvest it, and if it tests positive give us a call (916-358-2790) we can help you dispose of it properly. Good luck.

Bats All Folks!

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Checking bat carcass for White Nose Syndrome under ultraviolet light

On Thursday, August 9, 2018, the CDFW Wildlife Investigations Laboratory sampled and processed over 350 bats that had been submitted by the California Department of Public Health; all bats had been found dead throughout the State and subsequently tested negative for rabies. Assisting with the sampling and processing were representatives from the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology located in Berkeley, CA. Processing involved determining the species of each bat, collecting morphometrics, screening the bats for white-nose syndrome (WNS) under ultraviolet light, and collecting biological samples. In addition to gaining knowledge of species distribution throughout the State, the bats will provide opportunities for stable isotope research, genetic analysis, wind farm mortality studies, and growth of museum collections. Furthermore, the processing provides valuable disease surveillance data with regards to WNS, a disease that is decimating bat populations throughout the United States. For more on WNS, please visit:

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Laboratories/Wildlife-Investigations/Monitoring/WNS

CDFW Expanding Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance in 2018

The Wildlife Investigations Laboratory is working with biologists and wardens throughout California to ramp up Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance of deer. CWD is a fatal neurologic disease of deer and elk that has been detected in 25 states, 2 Canadian provinces, South Korea, Norway, and Finland. The disease has never been detected in California, but the best defense is a robust surveillance program, and an informed public. In 2017 effort was focused on collecting samples from hunter-harvested animals in the X-zones along California’s border. In total 100 animals were tested for CWD, and all came back negative. This year CDFW plans to expand surveillance throughout the state. Keep an eye on our CWD page for more information about CWD sampling locations during the 2018 hunt season. If you are planning to hunt out of state this year, be sure to follow the law, NO SKULL or BACKBONE. We also recommend to hunters who take a deer or elk in a CWD positive state to get your animal tested and processed in that state, and not to consume the meat until you have a negative test result.

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Click here to view the brochure on CWD.

A Busy First Year…

Andrew Di Salvo, DVM, the inaugural Free-Ranging Wildlife Health Veterinary Resident with the CDFW Wildlife Investigations Laboratory and the UC Davis Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, shares a photo from each month of his first year…

Deer viral hemorrhagic disease outbreak in San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles County

An outbreak of bluetongue (BTV) and epizootic hemorrhagic disease viruses (EHDV) occurred in free-ranging deer in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles County this year. The outbreak started mid to late August and continued through October. Reports from concerned citizens in the Pasadena and Altadena areas adjacent to deer habitat, including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory grounds, suggested that multiple deer were affected (> 20), deer were often found dead near streams or other water sources, there were few or no sick deer observed, and no other species were affected. The history was consistent with an outbreak of one of a group of hemorrhagic disease viruses that can affect deer. In collaboration with CDFW South Coast Region biologists and the Pasadena Humane Society, three deer associated with this mortality event were necropsied and samples were submitted to the California Animal Food and Health Safety (CAHFS) laboratory in San Bernardino. Testing at CAHFS confirmed that EHDV was the cause of death for two of the deer tested and BTV the cause of death for the third.

The Department’s Wildlife Investigations Lab (WIL) is interested in outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic diseases in California’s free-ranging deer populations. These viruses include deer adenovirus and two closely related Orbiviruses, BTV and EHDV. None of these viruses are known to affect people. Deer adenovirus was first described following a 1993 outbreak in California involving multiple counties with mortality estimates of over a thousand deer. Since first being described in California deer, deer adenovirus has subsequently been detected in association with deer mortalities in most of the Western states and may be the most important hemorrhagic disease virus affecting California’s deer. Bluetongue virus has long been recognized as a disease of both domestic ungulates like cattle, sheep, and goats, and of free-ranging ungulates like deer. Epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus is one of the most significant infectious diseases of white-tailed deer with outbreaks occurring regularly in white-tailed deer from the Northern Great Plains down to Florida, and has been associated with disease in cattle. Historically, mule deer and black-tailed deer, the deer native to California, were considered less susceptible to the Orbiviruses than white-tailed deer; however, we do see localized outbreaks of BTV and EHDV in native deer throughout California.

The Wildlife Investigations Lab would like to thank the efforts of the local citizens that reported this outbreak and the Department staff, the Pasadena Humane Society, and the California Animal Health and Food Safety labs for their efforts in determining the causes of this outbreak.

Authored by: Dr. Brandon Munk