February 22, 2011

from PreventDisease Website

Public Health Ministry Officials in Kenya are investigating the deaths of millions of aquatic animals, the latest in a string of mysterious animal deaths around the world.

Conservationists suspect the deaths that started last week might have been caused by agro chemicals from farms, that drain into the river.


Hoteliers in Masai Mara Game Reserve are now expressing fear that the chemicals might kill animals that depend on the river.

“The deaths could have been caused by agro chemicals from large scale farms on the upper side of the river. The chemicals might also kill hippos, crocodiles and other animals that drink water from the river,” said Ben Kipeno, a conservationist from the northern side of the reserve.

Meanwhile, wildlife officials say they have no idea what is killing thousands of ducks and geese along Lake Erie and the Maumee River.

When they first discovered the trend a few weeks ago, only a few birds were infected. As of last Friday, around 200 birds have been linked to the mystery illness. Infected birds simply throw their heads back and lose their motor skills before they die.

No one knows how far it could spread.

"This may be something that's not at all going to affect people, but it may be, and we need to figure it out to know what's going on," said Nature's Nursery's Laura Zitzelberger.

So far, labs tests confirm that the birds did not die of the avian flu.

State wildlife officials say they may never know what is causing the deaths.

About 5,000 birds fell from the sky in Arkansas over the New Year’s weekend. That incident is part of a string of fish and animal deaths seen in the U.S. and Europe, including a case in Maryland where two million fish washed up on the shores of Chesapeake Bay earlier this month, blamed on a rapid drop in temperature.

In Quebec City, wildlife officials there said pigeons are also dying at an alarming rate.

A spokesperson for the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries said tests are currently being performed at the animal pathology lab in the provincial capital.

“The cause right now isn’t known,” said Nicolas Begin. “It’s not related to what happened in the U.S. (But) we don’t see this sort of thing every day and we’re treating this as a serious matter.”

Wildlife officials are stating that the birds weren’t killed by the avian flu or the West Nile virus.

"There’s something going on,” he said. “This is not normal.”