Author Archives: Julie Ellis

NWDC presents!

Dr. Anne Lichtenwalner (U. Maine Animal Health Lab) presented a poster titled, “Parasites in Maine Moose 2010-13: Collaborative Studies,” at the 62nd Wildlife Disease Association International Conference.  In this study, necropsies were conducted on 25 moose, a large proportion of which was affected by lungworms, winter ticks and lung cysts.

Photo from Bangor Daily News

Photo from Bangor Daily News

A student project to sequence the ITS2 gene of the worms indicated that it may be a unique species.  This study was a collaboration among the University of Maine, the state of Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, state Center for Disease Control, and the NWDC.

NWDC participants  and several collaborators also co-authored an oral presentation, “Unusual Winter Mortality Events in Multiple Atlantic Seabird Species,” at the WDA Conference.  In December 2012, an irruption of live Razorbills (Alca torda) began in Florida and other southeastern states. Within weeks, reports of dead Razorbills were coming in from the same region, and would ultimately rise to several hundred individuals. razorbill

In the subsequent months, hundreds of Dovekies (Alle alle) and murres (Uria spp.) were found dead along the east coast, and the worst mortality event affecting Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula arctica) in decades began in the northeastern U.S. and in the U.K.  Necropsies performed at multiple laboratories indicate that most birds were thin or emaciated with no gross indication of disease.  Unusually strong winter storms and sea surface temperature anomalies may have contributed to this mass die-off.

Training and workshop in Maine

The assembled crowd (in their personal protective gear) prepare for necropsy of a deer.

Earlier this month, NWDC and the University of Maine (specifically, Dr. Anne Lichtenwalner, Director of their Animal Health Lab) hosted a training for biologists. The event outlined the purpose and scope of NWDC, as well as the concept of OneHealth and the need for an integrated approach to human, domestic animal, and wildlife disease. NWDC’s Director, Dr. Julie Ellis, and pathologists Drs. Sidor and Lichtenwalner all addressed the group, and the afternoon was filled with hands-on instruction in necropsy and sample collection. The lively and engaged group asked a number of excellent questions and took away a great deal of new knowledge back to their agencies. We at NWDC look forward to collaborating with this cadre of wildlife professionals in the future. Thank you for making this event a success!

“Swine, Swans and Seals, Oh My!”: a webinar on influenza in New England

On April 25th, at 1pm, you are invited to join us in a virtual meeting of wildlife, public health, and agriculture professionals. Our topic: influenza among New England animals.

 This webinar will provide an opportunity for key state and federal animal agriculture, veterinary public health and wildlife representatives to discuss reports of influenza in New England in 2011 which involved wildlife or animal agriculture populations. This webinar is being presented in conjunction with the New England States Animal Agriculture Security Alliance (NESAASA), the Northeast Wildlife Disease Cooperative (NWDC) and is being facilitated by the USDA, Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services.

The agenda for the webinar is provided below, along with information on how to register. At present, about half of the available slots are filled, so register now! Please feel free to share this information with colleagues. We hope to hear from you on the 25th!



1)   Surveillance in Swine Following Reports of H3N2v in ME

       Don Hoenig, VMD

ME State Veterinarian & ME State Public Health Veterinarian

2)   Sudden Swan Deaths in MA — Role of AI and other Avian Diseases

Randy Mickley,   Wildlife Disease Biologist

USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services (WS)

3)   H3N8 in Stranded Seals in NH and MA

Mendy  Garron, CVT, Mammal Stranding Coordinator

NOAA Fisheries Service

4)  Facilitated Discussion


Presentation Goals:

1)     Present relevant agency roles, responsibilities and capabilities

2)     Discuss recent reports of and surveillance for influenza in animal populations in New England

3)     Identify event successes and challenges


Discussion Goal:

1)      Identify planning, training and coordination opportunities & needs



Registration is by invitation only.  Pre-registration is required—number of portals is limited.  Follow the URL, <>   press the green registration button and enter your contact information to register. Reading materials, webinar and audio-bridge connection information will be sent to registrants on Monday, April 23 at Noon.


Questions or Comments:

Contact:  Fredric Cantor, USDA, APHIS, VS, New England,  508-363-2290

Another successful training!

Dr. Inga Sidor (in blue) orients the participants.


On March 26, over a dozen wildlife professionals gathered at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine to learn the basics of wildlife necropsy, sampling, and disease surveillance. This was the second training in a month, and was an equal success! Participants got the opportunity to dissect and examine a variety of Northeastern species, from fox and coyote to great horned owl and wild turkey. NWDC pathologists were on hand to aid the biologists in their very hands on endeavors, and it appears clear that a good (and educational) time was had by all.

Our thanks goes out, once again, to Safari Club’s Connecticut Chapter and their New England Foundation for generously funding these workshops. We’re laying the groundwork for biologists to feel confident and empowered to initiate disease investigations in collaboration with NWDC’s scientists and veterinarians!

The definition of hands on: a participant dissects a coyote.

Successful training at UConn

NEWDC Interim Director Julie Ellis presents to the attendees.

On March 16th, 2012, NWDC held its first training workshop for biologists and other wildlife personnel at the University of Connecticut. About a dozen attendees received both lecture and hands-on instruction in wildlife disease issues, personal protection, epidemiology, forensics and outbreak investigation. The crew suited up in Tyvek for the necropsy portion of the day, when pathologists from UConn and UNH dug in alongside the participants for the kind of training they just won’t get anywhere else.

Pathologists and biologists pause for a photo on the necropsy floor.

We’re fully booked for the next session at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts next week, and hope for equal success there.

Thanks to Safari Club International’s Connecticut Chapter and New England Foundation for their generous sponsorship of these workshops!

Necropsy training workshops this month!

Two training workshops are scheduled and booked to capacity this month, with wildlife biologists and other agency personnel signed up to learn hands on field necropsy techniques, disease outbreak investigation, and minimizing risk to wildlife, domestic animals, and human health when conducting such investigations. The workshops will take place at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, and the University of Connecticut, and will be lead by NWDC pathologists.

We are very grateful to the Safari Club New England Foundation and Connecticut Chapter for funding these workshops. We’re excited for this big step, and look forward to offering additional workshops throughout the Northeast in the future!

Yale Human Animal Medicine Project now blogging

Yale’s Human Animal Medicine Project has been a leader in the One Health concept of ecological medicine for some time. Recognizing that human health cannot be logically isolated from animal health, they have been hard at work building linkages between researchers and medical professionals across a wide variety of species.

Now you can follow their work at their new blog. NWDC positions itself at the same convergence point between wildlife, human, and domestic animal health that Yale has been focussed on, and we are pleased to publicize their new blog.

NWDC presence at WDA 2011

The 60th annual International Meeting of the Wildlife Disease Association will take place this month, August 14-19, 2011 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. The proximity of the meeting makes it the perfect venue to get the word out about NWDC to both regional partners and the wider wildlife community. Dr. Richard French will present a poster on NWDC, and is looking forward to discussing our project with any and all who wish to stop by his station. If you will be attending WDA this year, look for Rich and stop by a chat!

Dr. Richard French aids in fish kill diagnosis

Location of Spofford Lake in Chesterfield, NH.

NWDC pathologist Richard French, based at the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, was called upon to assist when a fish kill occurred at Spofford Lake in southwestern New Hampshire in mid-June. Unusual numbers of dead sunfish (bluegill, pumpkinseed), and lesser numbers of several other species were observed dead on the lake’s shores, prompting NH officials to submit samples to the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Fish Health Center in Lamar, PA. Whole specimens were also submitted to Dr. French. You can read the full story and the apparent cause of the die-off at NH Fish and Game’s website.