National 02/09/16 newsweek.com: by Douglas Main – A new species of malaria parasite has been found in one-quarter of the white-tailed deer living the eastern United States. The news comes as a surprise since deer are one of the better-studied wild animals; they are some of the more populous mammals and very popular game species for hunting, and they are often surveyed for disease. A team of researchers found the parasite accidentally when they were looking at DNA within the blood of mosquitoes at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. In a mosquito engorged with deer blood, they noticed the presence of genetic material that they didn’t recognize. Further analysis revealed that the genetic material came from a protozoan in the genus Plasmodium. The results of the study were published last Friday in the journal Science Advances. Species in the genus Plasmodium are known as malarial parasites. The genus includes several species that spread malaria in humans; other varieties infect nonhuman mammals, birds and reptiles. There are about 200 species worldwide in this genus. In the recent study, scientists sampled blood from deer in 17 states and found 41 infected animals in 10 states; nearly 25 percent of the deer from Virginia and West Virginia had the parasite. None of these deer seemed to have any symptoms, however. It’s unclear yet if the new species could affect people, but it seems unlikely, Ellen Martinsen, lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral fellow, told Smithsonian.com. Although there was one scientific record of a malarial parasite found in a deer’s spleen in 1967, this is the first proof of a widely established malaria parasite in New World mammals, and it expands scientists’ knowledge of the malarial family tree. – See http://www.newsweek.com/malaria-parasite-found-nearly-one-four-white-tailed-deer-424344
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD):
Arkansas 04/01/16 arkansasonline.com: by Jaime Dunaway – Six more deer have tested positive for chronic wasting disease, bringing the total number of cases in Arkansas to 56, officials from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said Friday. All infected deer came from a sampling area in Newton County. The final results of the sampling effort should be available late next week once the last batch of 110 samples has been processed, according to the commission. Officials said the high number of positive results, some of which came from outside the sampling area, has prompted a second sampling initiative to see if the disease is present throughout the state. The second phase of testing will continue until May 20, and anyone who sees a dead or sick deer is asked to contact the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. See http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2016/apr/01/chronic-wasting-disease-cases-climb-56/?news-arkansas
Author’s Note: The first case of CWD ever reported in Arkansas was confirmed just two months ago.
Author’s Note: Until media sensationalism surrounding the ZIKA VIRUS issue subsides only reliable scientific information from credentialed sources will be referenced in this blog. See http://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/2016/dpk-zika-virus.html
Author’s Note: The family history I was working on is finally done and published, though it took a bit longer than anticipated. The I had carpal tunnel surgery on my right hand 4 weeks ago (March 7) and recovering very well. Scheduled to have the left hand done on May 9. I will post a blog entry whenever possible and appropriate over the next several months but it won’t be a daily or even regular posting. Thanks!