Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sick and Dead Sea Lions Washing Up on Oregon Coast

Sick, dying and dead sea lions are coming ashore along the Oregon coast. Rise in sea lion deaths traced to disease.

The sea lions are thought to have leptospirosis. There are warnings to avoid wet sand, and to not touch the sea lions, dead or alive (which is a given anyway, one would think) as leptospirosis can be transmitted to humans.

A sharp increase in the number of sick and dead California sea lions has been reported along the Oregon Coast in recent weeks, and necropsies conducted on dozens of the animals suggest that many may have died from leptospirosis.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease found in a variety of animal species and can be transmitted to humans, said Jim Rice, an Oregon State University scientist who coordinates the statewide Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network.
"We are now getting calls for multiple sick or dead sea lions daily, which is higher than normal," said Rice, an OSU Marine Mammal Institute researcher who works at the university's Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. "The overall number of sea lions also has risen, so it's difficult to compare mortality rates from year to year, but certainly we're seeing an increase in animals that test positive for leptospirosis."
Dogs need to be careful too; dog owners are urged to keep their dogs on leashes (which is the law anyway, but good luck with that one, given the number of arrogant dog owners who insist their dog is different, special, and are immune to innate doggy behaviors) :
Dogs can be infected with leptospirosis through contact with stricken seal lions. Rice said coastal visitors should always avoid sea lions on the beach and during outbreaks of leptospirosis should keep their dogs on a leash. The disease can be transmitted by direct contact, or even through contact with damp sand, soil or vegetation contaminated by the urine of infected animals.

Just within the past few days, an item appeared in the news that sea stars (star fish) were washing up on Oregon beaches; I posted about that here.

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