White nose syndrome, a deadly fungal disease that has been spreading through the country, has claimed all but 23 of some 10,000 bats in one of the largest colonies in Pennsylvania. Of the surviving bats in an abandoned mine in Upper Bucks, about half show symptoms of the illness, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission biologist Greg Turner. Almost all of the state's cave-dwelling bat population has been felled, according to Turner. "Going to places where there used to be tens of thousand bats hibernating, and then going in and seeing only a few bats -- only a few stragglers left -- that's very difficult," he said.
New England cottontails, which inspired author Thornton Burgess in the creation of the character Peter Cottontail, are decreasing at an alarming rate, and they may soon be on the endangered species list. Conservationists are working to restore their habitat.
A new drug may improve or prolong life for some cats with the deadly feline infectious peritonitis virus, according to information presented at a meeting of the American Animal Hospital Association, veterinarian Lorie Huston writes. Veterinarians Niels Pedersen and Alfred Legendre said FIP results from a mutation in a common virus combined with an impaired immune response in some cats. While there is no cure, Dr. Legendre observed that the drug polyprenyl immunostimulant helped some cats do better and may also improve longevity.
Infections involving avian H7N9 influenza have been confirmed in humans for the first time. Three people in China have been infected with the avian flu subtype. Two of them died, and the third is in critical condition. The illness has not be found in 88 people who had contact with the three patients, and human-to-human transmission is not considered likely, according to the World Health Organization.