Bald Eagles Across U.S. Infected With Newly Identified Virus

TUESDAY, Oct. 22, 2019 — Bald eagles in the United States are facing another challenge: Nearly one-third are infected with a newly identified virus, researchers say.

The virus is called bald eagle hepacivirus (BeHV). The researchers discovered it while trying to determine the cause of Wisconsin River Eagle Syndrome (WRES), a fatal disease seen in bald eagles in the Lower Wisconsin River area.

The scientists said the virus may play a role in the syndrome, which was first described in the 1990s. It causes eagles to stumble and have seizures.

However, BeHV was also found in eagles without symptoms of WRES, so it’s difficult to make a direct connection between the two, according to the authors of the study. The results were published Oct. 18 in the journal Scientific Reports.

“This study has opened our eyes to glaring knowledge gaps about infection in a species of great national importance,” said study leader Tony Goldberg. He’s a professor of pathobiological sciences in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.

The researchers noted that while it’s most common among eagles in Wisconsin, BeHV infects eagles in other states. The virus is related to the hepatitis C virus that infects people and causes liver damage. Similar effects are seen in some eagles with BeHV.

For the study, the researchers tested 47 eagles from 19 states across the contiguous United States. They found that 32% had BeHV. The virus was found among eagles in seven states, including a few in the Midwest, but also states as far apart as Washington and Florida.

Eagles in Wisconsin were nine times more likely to have BeHV than those in other states. Also, the virus was 14 times more common among eagles in counties surrounding the Lower Wisconsin River than elsewhere, the investigators found.

The fact that BeHV was found in eagles outside of Wisconsin and that none of those eagles had WRES raises a number of questions, the study authors noted.

“Is BeHV the cause of WRES? Or is it more complicated than that?” said Goldberg in a university news release.

The virus and the disease don’t appear to pose a serious threat to the U.S. bald eagle population, according to the researchers.

The bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list in 2007 after recovering from a low of 412 nesting pairs in the U.S. mainland. In Wisconsin alone, there are now about 1,700 nesting pairs.

More information

The Audubon Field Guide has more on bald eagles.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019 – Daily MedNews

Only Spoken Words Processed in Newly Discovered Brain Region

WEDNESDAY, March 27, 2019 — A dementia study has led researchers to a brain region that processes spoken, not written, words.

Northwestern University researchers worked with four patients who had a rare type of dementia called primary progressive aphasia (PPA), which destroys language.

Although able to hear and speak, they could not understand what was said out loud. However, they could still process written words. For example, if they read the word “hippopotamus,” they could identify a picture of a hippo. But if someone said the word “hippopotamus,” they couldn’t point to its picture.

Through their tests with these patients, the researchers were able to identify an area in the left brain that appears specialized to process spoken words.

“We always think of these degenerative diseases as causing widespread impairment, but in early stages, we’re learning that neurodegenerative disease can be selective with which areas of the brain it attacks,” said senior author Sandra Weintraub. She’s a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and neurology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

“The fact that only the auditory words were impaired in these patients and their visual words were untouched leads us to believe we’ve identified a new area of the brain where raw sound information is transformed into auditory word images,” Weintraub explained in a university news release.

Because the study included only four patients, the findings are preliminary. But the study authors said further research could improve understanding of this type of dementia and lead to therapies for it that focus on written, rather than spoken, communication.

“It’s typically very frustrating for patients with PPA and their families,” said Weintraub. “The person looks fine, they’re not limping and yet they’re a different person. It means having to readjust to this person and learning new ways to communicate.”

The study was published March 21 in the journal Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology.

More information

The National Aphasia Association has more on primary progressive aphasia.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: March 2019 – Daily MedNews

MPP to Support Newly Filed CA Legalization Initiative

California voters are ready to end marijuana prohibition in 2016 and replace it with a more sensible system. That is exactly what the Adult Use of Marijuana Act will do, and that is why MPP is proud to support it.california-160550_640 We look forward to working with the initiative proponents and doing whatever we can to help pass this measure and make history in California next year.

Under the proposed initiative, marijuana will be regulated, taxed, and treated similarly to alcohol. Adults will no longer be punished simply for possessing it, and law enforcement officials will be able to spend more time addressing serious crimes. It will take marijuana sales out of the underground market and marijuana cultivation out of our national forests. The fact that it will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue each year is a huge bonus that will benefit all Californians.

The post MPP to Support Newly Filed CA Legalization Initiative appeared first on MPP Blog.

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