AR-News: (US) Cormorant Newcastle Virus

Ronda Roaring rondaroaring at
Mon Oct 13 07:38:54 EDT 2003

10-7-2003 Virus Discovered in CormorantsFor Immediate Release: October 7, 2003
Media Contacts: Ward Stone, N.Y.D.E.C. 518-478-3032
John Gobeille, VT Fish & Wildlife 802-878-1564 
WATERBURY, VT – A virus has been diagnosed as the cause of death of double-crested cormorants at Young Island in Lake Champlain and at Oneida Lake in New York. Wildlife biologists with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services worked together several weeks ago to collect sick cormorants on Lake Champlain. They submitted the birds to a New York state wildlife pathologist for testing. 
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty announced on October 7 that the department’s Wildlife Pathology Unit identified the disease as Cormorant Newcastle Disease (CNV). 
The diagnosis of PMV-1 (Paramyxovirus-1), more commonly known as Cormorant Newcastle Virus (CNV), was a cooperative effort between NYDEC, New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Deparment, and the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center. 
“The virus recently detected in cormorants at several locations in New York State and at Young Island in Vermont’s portion of Lake Champlain is a strain of Newcastle disease that has been known to exist in wild cormorants in other parts of the country and is not considered a threat to human health,” Commissioner Crotty said. “NYDEC will continue to work closely with other state and federal agencies to detect and identify viruses that contribute to wildlife mortality to ensure the protection of public health and the wildlife resources.” 
CNV is in the family of viruses called the Paramyxidae and is spread from bird to bird in secretions (primarily respiratory) and in excretions (primarily feces). The disease is not an exotic Newcastle Virus and has been identified for at least the last dozen years in other parts of the United States and Canada, and once before in Cormorants in New York. 
“Wildlife that congregate in high densities are very vulnerable to disease outbreaks,” said Vermont wildlife biologist John Gobeille. “It is not surprising to find a disease such as Cormorant Newcastle Disease is affecting Lake Champlain’s cormorants. There have been other die-offs of colonial-nesting water birds in Vermont in the past, the last being a gull die-off in 1990 on Lake Champlain.” 
A graduate research assistant in Vermont first notified NYDEC of ill cormorants on Lake Champlain in late August, and New York State wildlife specialists observed unusual cormorant mortality on Oneida Lake a short time later.

New York State Wildlife Pathologist Ward Stone said, “As a result of the team effort that took place between state and federal agencies, we were able to quickly identify the Cormorant Newcastle Virus and determine that it poses no threat to humans or domestic poultry.” 
Currently, there is no evidence the virus has impacted terns or other wild birds. As in past outbreaks in cormorants, the disease appears to be self-limiting and has died out again.

For Further Information please contact: John Gobeille at 802-878-1564 or email to john.gobeille at postamble();

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