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WASHINGTON (AP) — Scientific sleuths have a new suspect for a mysterious affliction that has killed off honeybees by the billions: a virus previously unknown in the United States.
The scientists report using a novel genetic technique and old-fashioned statistics to identify Israeli acute paralysis virus as the latest potential culprit in the widespread deaths of worker bees, a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder.
Next up are attempts to infect honeybees with the virus to see if it indeed is a killer.
"At least we have a lead now we can begin to follow. We can use it as a marker and we can use it to investigate whether it does in fact cause disease," said Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, a Columbia University epidemiologist and co-author of the study. Details appear this week in Science Express, the online edition of the journal Science.
Experts stressed that parasitic mites, pesticides and poor nutrition all remain suspects, as does the stress of travel. Beekeepers shuffle bees around the nation throughout the year so the bees can pollinate crops as they come into bloom, contributing about $15 billion a year to U.S. agriculture.
The newfound virus may prove to have added nothing more than insult to the injuries bees already suffer, said several experts unconnected to the study.
Originally posted by marg6043
Yes, my daugther told me about this article, but it said that this may have originated in australia but the bees now in Australia are inmune to it.
The earliest reports of colony collapse disorder date to 2004, the same year the virus was first described by Israeli virologist Ilan Sela. That also was the year U.S. beekeepers began importing bees from Australia — a practice that had been banned by the Honeybee Act of 1922.
Now, Australia is being eyed as a potential source of the virus. That could turn out to be an ironic twist because the Australian imports were meant to bolster U.S. bee populations devastated by another scourge, the varroa mite.