nes spread along the Australian coast at approximately 10,000 kilometers a year, while a mid-1980s bacterial infection to long-spined urchins ripped through the Caribbean at 3,000 to 4,8000 kilometers a year. By comparison, birds in North America spread West Nile virus across the continent at about 1,000 kilometers a year. The findings, the Frontiers
authors write, "suggest that pathogens may pose a particularly severe problem in the ocean."
paper ("Does terrestrial epidemiology apply to marine systems?" by Hamish McCallum of Australia's University of Queensland, Harvell and four colleagues) explains the difficulties in controlling ocean disease using land-bound methods.
Even where limited inoculation is possible -- by including antibiotics in food for aquaculture fish, for example -- the treatment is problematic. "Spillover of antibiotics from fish pens can lead to low doses of antibiotic being delivered to the wider marine ecosystem, with resulting selection for antibiotic resistance" among disease pathogens, the researchers wrote.
Rather, the marine scientists suggest in the Frontiers article, prevention might be the best medicine. "The most practical immediate remediation for many marine communities is to reduce pathogen inputs (especially from land) and synergistic stressors, such as warm temperatures and eutrophic waters," they write. They add: "Reducing such inputs requires knowing the source of new marine pathogens -- research should focus on identifying sources and reducing inputs while at the same time developing control measures."
That is precisely the prescription marine scientists have written for the their global assessment of coral disease. Preliminary surveys are already underway, with full cooperation of local marine scientists, at the four sites they will target as Centers of Excellence: Australia, the Philippines, Mexico and the western Pacific island nation of Palau. In addition to resePage: 1 2 3 Related biology news :1
Contact: Roger Segelken
Cornell University News Service
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