Are They Suffering Zika and Wolbachia Infections?
Wolbachia is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
I was gobsmacked to discover last year that safety tests prior to Wolbachia-infected mosquito releases was only carried out spiders, spider eggs, soil samples, plant leaves, plant roots, earthworms, and millipedes (in Australia).
There are many species that feed preferentially upon Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, eggs, and/or larvae.
And Wolbachia isn't some harmless bacteria (although it's been touted as such). Sure, it's natural, but so is snake venom. It's a double-walled, reproductive parasite that has enormous influence over its host.
"Both Wolbachia and host mitochondria are maternally transmitted and subsequently can be co-inherited by the offspring ... Previous studies have documented the role of Wolbachia in driving dramatic changes within host populations ... excessive infection intensity may result in pathology, resulting in negative effects upon host fitness ..."
What You Aren't Being Told:
Culex are ZIKV vectors; Birds have Zika
If you delve deeply into the Zika research, you'll soon discover that there is a huge divide within the scientific community:
Why Culex Matters:
Culex have a sylvatic cycle with birds
Sadly, it appears that only Canadian medical entomologist, Dr. Fiona Hunter (and I) have recognized the Okia et al. 1971 study which found that almost 1/2 of bulbuls tested had Zika.
Whales have been infected (and died rather quickly) from WNV and SLEV infections.
And it's crucial to understand that birds may be reservoir and amplifying hosts of Zika (as they are with West Nile virus). In fact, a bird can amplify West Nile virus a billion times more than a human host can. One bird can infect literally 100s of mosquitoes.
Below are screenshots from Dr. Hunter's report, Linking Only Aedes aegypti with Zika Virus Has World-Wide Public Health Implications which also highlights the phylogenetic relationship Zika has with West Nile and St. Louis encephalitis viruses and the Okia et al. study results.
Over 97 Percent Nodal Support for ZIKV + SLE + WNV
The Forgotten Paper by Okia et al. (1971)
Zika may be more like "Culex-associated" flaviviruses
My Theory is Two-Fold: Infected Culex & Cal fin
"Culex tarsalis are naturally uninfected with Wolbachia."
Bulbuls in Florida & Texas Might Be Amplifying ZIKV
And 1/3 of Calanus finmarchicus contains Aedes aegypti
Cal fin and krill have Wolbachia for 5 to 7 years
The study Suppression subtractive hybridization library prepared from the copepod Calanus finmarchicus exposed to a sublethal mixture of environmental stressors by Hansen et al. 2007 clearly states:
"The majority of the most similar matches when performing BLAST-X on arthropod sequences were found in insects (87.8%), and by far the most common species were yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti (33.3%), honey bee Apis mellifera (15.9%), red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum (15.9%), fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster (10.6%) and domestic silkworm Bombyx mori (4.8%)."
North Atlantic right whales feed mostly on copepods and krill larvae. About 1,000 - 2,500 kg (2,200 - 5,500 lb) may be consumed per day.
Right whales feed on calanoid copepods and other small invertebrates (smaller copepods, krill, pteropods, and larval barnacles) by slowly skimming through patches of concentrated patches at or below the surface.
The most common prey species is the
copepod Calanus finmarchicus (Perry et al. 1999).
The study Antarctic Krill 454 Pyrosequencing Reveals Chaperone and Stress Transcriptome by Clark et al. 2011 states:
"Further analysis of the BLAST results indicated that this sequence is actually more similar to TRAP1 (Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNF) Receptor-Associated Protein 1) or HSP75, even though some of the database matches have been designated as HSP90 (Aedes aegypti and Culex quiquifasciatus [sic]). This example demonstrates some of the confusion over the naming of these genes ..."
My point: Aedes aegypti is mentioned, plus Culex quinquefasciatus (both are ZIKV vectors too).
ADDENDUM: September 24th, 2017
My Misinterpretation of BLAST Does NOT Negate My Theory Though
I am sorry, the above BLAST studies are something I have misinterpreted. From my understanding of how many insects are studied, they get mashed up and stomach contents (along with everything else) gets "matched" to known genetic values.
But, North Atlantic right whales are opportunistic filter feeders. They happen to prefer Calanus finmarchicus (aka Cal fin). And one source even stated:
"Known as extreme opportunistic feeders, right whales primarily feed on zooplankton, smaller crustaceans called copepods, krill, and pteropods."
Since "microplastics have accumulated far from population centers" (Obbard et al. 2014), it seems beyond foolish to continue the mantra that North Atlantic right whales will not be exposed to and infected by both Wolbachia and Zika (or another encephalitis virus).
Calanus finmarchicus is omnivorous and actually "takes in" water at both ends. North Atlantic right whales "can drink salt water but are thought to get the bulk of the water they need from their prey. As the whale processes the prey, it extracts water."
Global Sites of Wolbachia-Infected Aedes Releases
Wonder who is funding Wolbachia-infected Aedes Males?
Some pretty deep pockets that have the $$$ to try and rectify it:
Estimated Global Distribution Range of ZIKV Vectors
Culex tarsalis has also been reported in western Africa
"Introduced" Red-Whiskered & Red-Vented Bulbuls
are established where the worst cases of Zika have been reported:
Tests to Conduct on North Atlantic Right Whales
The book Immunology, Inflammation and Diseases of the Eye by E. Pearlman and K. Gentil (on page 91) states:
Wolbachia "is most numerous in the mammalian host compared with the insect stage ... Elevated Wolbachia DNA and even intact Wolbachia are detected in the blood."
Further along, it states:
"within 7 days in the mammalian host, bacteria numbers increased 600-fold."
Therefore, it would be fairly easy to add Wolbachia to serologic testing.
As for Zika, West Nile or St. Louis encephalitis:
Store fresh tissues at -80 C, fixed in 10 percent buffered formalin and stained with hematoxylin and eosin.
Using total RNA extracted from brain tissue, analyze and confirm the microarray results. Perform immunohistochemical staining on brain tissue.
NB: For ZIKV, the Lanciotti E-, the Pyke E- and NS1-, the Bonn E- and the Bonn NS1-based assays are highly sensitive for the Asian Zika virus lineage and show few mismatches within genomic domains targeted by these assays.
Easier, Faster, Safer, More Reliable Test
Rapid Bilateral Intraocular Cocktail Sampling Method
Last year, I stumbled upon this YouTube video (scroll to 1:18 mark) which shows how much easier, safer, and faster it is to test for West Nile by extracting eye fluid. I am fairly certain that Zika could be tested more easily via the same way in whales (with a much larger needle).
The paper Rapid Bilateral Intraocular Cocktail Sampling Method for West Nile Virus Detection in Dead Corvids by Arleen K. Lim, Gundula Dunne, and Nikos Gurfield goes into detail about how to do it.