Zebra virus blamed for polar bear death

2012-08-17 16:25
A polar bear died after contracting a virus that originated in zebras. (Charles Rex Arbogast, AP)

A polar bear died after contracting a virus that originated in zebras. (Charles Rex Arbogast, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Paris - A polar bear in a German zoo died and its companion barely survived after they fell sick with a mutated encephalitis virus that originated in zebras, scientists said.

The finding is a concern, for it shows how rare species in zoos can be at risk from species-jumping pathogens, they say.

The incident happened in Wuppertal Zoo, western Germany, in 2010, when a female bear called Jerka and her male companion Lars fell ill with encephalitis.

"The symptoms were quite shocking, and it was completely unclear at the time what was causing them," Wuppertal vet Arne Lawrenz said in a press release.

"We tried to stabilise both animals for days. In the case of Jerka, we were sadly unsuccessful. Fortunately, however, Lars recovered after several weeks and is still alive today."

The next step was to hunt for the cause of the virus, and the result - published in the journal Current Biology - points to a hybrid virus that began in zebras but spread to other species.

It is a mix of the equine herpesvirus EHV 9 and a cousin virus, equine herpesvirus 1.

Still unresolved, though, is how the virus got to the polar bears, which are housed 68m from the zebras and are cared for by different keepers.

One theory is that other animals, possibly wild mice or rats, spread it around.

"These viruses do not seem to respect species boundaries and in fact we don't really know whether they have any," said Klaus Osterrieder, a professor at Berlin's Free University, who took part in the probe headed by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

"One conundrum is that these viruses are not particularly stable in the environment, so it is important to figure out how they move between species."

Read more on:    animals
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 19:35 PM
    Road name: M7 Vanguard Drive
    ROADWORKS - traffic restrictions between the R300 and Highlands Drive - expect delays
  • Tuesday Belhar - 17:58 PM
    Road name: Belhar Drive
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Alabama Drive
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia E6

Nokia E6 has 8-megapixel digital camera with autofocus and built...

From R2599.69

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is always easier to look out and see what needs changing. Looking in is a lot harder... Today you may need to look at what...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.