Possible Immune Deficiency Syndrome in Bees and Other Species

Bees, bats, birds, and amphibians have been experiencing declines worldwide since the mid-1990s, but the problem has become truly terrible since the early 2000s. Researchers have noticed these species dying from a variety of diseases, but now some think the real problem is that pesticides are compromising the immune systems of animals, causing them, like people with AIDS, to be killed by diseases that creatures with healthy immune systems can defeat.

The public have little knowledge of these widespread crises affecting the environment. In 2011, we now have the situation in the US (and, at present, to a lesser extent in Europe) in which there are widespread declines (and in some places areas of local extinctions) in populations of amphibians, bats, honey bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies, bumble bees and birds. In several areas of the US whole populations of bats and amphibians have been “wiped out.” As far as we know, the declines are continuing. Many organisations, including the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), have warned of a global crisis in pollinators which is likely to threaten global food security.

The paper in which that quoted appeared, “Widespread Immune Deficiency Disease in Wildlife: A Hypothesis,” was written in April 2011 by retired Welsh scientist Rosemary Mason, MB, ChB, FRCA, and Palle Uhd Jepsen, former Senior Adviser in Nature Conservation and Wildlife to the Danish Forest and Nature Agency. The PDF is available on the website of the Boulder County Beekeepers Association.

I wrote a related article in December 2010, which provides some background information on the neonicotinoids, the class of pesticides held responsible by the paper’s authors.

Thanks to Laura Tyler of Boulder Media Women for this information.