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Pathologists confirm 'world's first' case of meningitis in deceased shark
Greenland sharks reside in the deep waters of the Arctic and North Atlantic oceans.

A post-mortem revealed discolouration and cloudy fluid around the brain.

A rare shark found stranded on a beach in Cornwall had meningitis, scientists have confirmed, in what is considered to be the first account of the disease in the species.

The female Greenland shark was temporarily stranded outside Newlyn Harbour in March and is thought to have lived to around 100 years old.

Researchers say the discovery explains why the shark was out of her natural deep-water habitat, but stress there is not enough evidence to connect the death with any human impacts on the oceans.

“During the post-mortem examination, the brain did look slightly discoloured and congested and the fluid around the brain was cloudy, raising the possibility of infection,” commented James Barnett, a veterinary pathologist from the Cornwall Marine Pathology team.
“This was then confirmed on microscopic examination of the brain (histopathology). A species of Pasteurella, a bacteria, was isolated from the fluid and this may well have been the cause of the meningitis.

He continued: “The shark’s body was in poor condition and there were signs of haemorrhage within the soft tissue around the pectoral fins which, coupled with the silt found in her stomach, suggested she may well have live stranded. As far as we’re aware, this is one of the first post-mortem examinations here in the UK of a Greenland shark and the first account of meningitis in this species.”

The post-mortem formed part of ZSL’s Cetacean Stranding Investigate Programme (CSIP), which coordinates the investigation of all cetaceans, marine turtles and basking sharks that strand around the UK coastline.

Rob Deaville, CSIP project lead, said: “This unfortunate and extraordinary stranding has allowed us to get an insight into the life and death of a species we know little about. Discovering that this shark had meningitis is likely a world’s first, but the significance of this in terms of any wider stressors is unknown.

“Ultimately, like most marine life, deep-sea species such as Greenland sharks may also be impacted by human pressures on the ocean but there is not enough evidence at this stage to make any connections.”

Greenland sharks reside in the deep waters of the Arctic and North Atlantic oceans up to 2,647 meters below the surface. The species is considered to be very mysterious, with some individuals described as having the potential to live to over 400 years old.

The team is expected to publish a paper further detailing their findings in due course.

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World Bee Day celebrations begin

News Story 1
 Today (20 May) marks the fifth annual World Bee Day, which raises awareness of the importance of bees and pollinators to people and the planet. Observed on the anniversary of pioneering Slovenian beekeeper Anton Jana's birthday, this year's celebration is themed: 'Bee Engaged: Celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems'.

Organisations and people celebrating the day will raise awareness of the accelerated decline in pollinator diversity, and highlight the importance of sustainable beekeeping systems and a wide variety of bees. Slovenia, the initiator of World Bee Day, will be focusing on teaching young people about the significance of pollinators. 

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News Shorts
Further avian flu cases confirmed

Three cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 have been confirmed in recent days, bringing the total number of cases in England to 98.

On Thursday, the APHA confirmed two cases of HPAI H5N1 near Redgrave, Mid Suffolk and Market Weston, West Suffolk. A case H5N1 was also confirmed in poultry at a premises near Southwell, Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire.

Protection and surveillance zones are in place around the affected premises. Further details are available at gov.uk