facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Virus that killed zoo bear traced to zebra

Aug. 17, 2012 at 4:13 PM   |   Comments

WUPPERTAL, Germany, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- An infection that killed a polar bear at a German zoo has been traced to the zebra house, raising concerns of viruses that can jump species, scientists say.

It's of particular concern for endangered species and can threaten the conservation mission of zoos, the scientists wrote in the journal Current Biology.

Brain infection encephalitis struck two polar bears at the Zoological Gardens in Wuppertal, Germany, killing a 20-year-old female, the BBC reported Friday.

A 16-year-old recovered after suffering symptoms for several weeks, zoo officials said.

Gene sequencing of DNA and RNA from the dead bear suggested the culprit was a strain of herpes virus normally found in zebras.

"These viruses do not seem to respect species boundaries and in fact, we don't really know whether they have any," Klaus Osterrieder from the Free University Berlin said.

Zoos present a particular problem as animals from different continents and habitats that would never live alongside each other in the wild are brought in close proximity with each other.

"The visitors to the zoo want to see as many different animals from different places as possible, which is good but there has to be control," Alex Greenwood of the Leibniz-Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research said.

"Knowledge is the best weapon."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Scottish fish were the first to have sex and they did it sideways, study finds Scottish fish were the first to have sex and they did it sideways, study finds
2
Internet trolls in Britain could face serious jail time Internet trolls in Britain could face serious jail time
3
First white rhino born in captivity dies in Kenyan conservancy First white rhino born in captivity dies in Kenyan conservancy
4
Sean Parker to atone for wedding's Big Sur damage with app Sean Parker to atone for wedding's Big Sur damage with app
5
Protestors object plans to build telescope on land sacred to native Hawaiians Protestors object plans to build telescope on land sacred to native Hawaiians
Trending News
Around the Web
x
Feedback