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Of 39 captive whooping cranes (Grus americana), 7 died during a 7-week period (Sept 17 through Nov 4, 1984) at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, Md. Before their deaths, 4 cranes did not develop clinical signs, whereas the other 3 cranes were lethargic and ataxic, with high aspartate transaminase, gamma-glutamyl transferase, and lactic acid dehydrogenase activities, and high uric acid concentrations. Necropsies indicated that the birds had ascites, intestinal mucosal discoloration, fat depletion, hepatomegaly, splenomegaly, and visceral gout. Microscopically, extensive necrosis and inflammation were seen in many visceral organs; the CNS was not affected. Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus was isolated from specimens of the livers, kidneys, lungs, brains, and intestines of 4 of the 7 birds that died, and EEE virus-neutralizing antibody was detected in 14 (44%) of the 32 surviving birds. Other infectious or toxic agents were not found. Morbidity or mortality was not detected in 240 sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) interspersed among the whooping cranes; however, 13 of the 32 sandhill cranes evaluated had EEE virus-neutralizing antibody. Of the 41 wild birds evaluated in the area, 3 (4%) had EEE virus-neutralizing antibody. Immature Culiseta melanura (the most probable mosquito vector) were found in scattered foci 5 km from the research center.
Additional Publication Details
Mortality of captive whooping cranes caused by eastern equine encephalitis virus
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association