Unexplained Neurologic Disease in Bald Eagles in Southwestern Arkansas and American Coots in Arkansas, North Carolina, and Georgia
Biological Resources Division, National Wildlife Health Center, US Geological Survey, Madison, WI, USA
Morbidity and mortality in free-ranging bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and American coots (Fulica americana) due to a neurologic disease of undetermined cause, has occurred on three lakes in southwestern Arkansas, one lake in North Carolina and one lake in Georgia in recent years. A total of 58 eagles in Arkansas and an unknown number of coots at sites in each of the three states have been affected. The only consistent finding in affected birds was a microscopic lesion in the brain and spinal cord described as a vacuolar myelinopathy.1 This disease had not previously been reported in free-ranging wildlife. Extensive diagnostic evaluations, research and field studies have so far been unsuccessful in identifying the cause of these events.
1. Thomas, N.J., C.U. Meteyer, and L. Sileo. Epizootic vacuolar myelinopathy of the central nervous system of bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and American coot (Fulica americana). Veterinary Pathology. In press.