Washington News

SEATTLE -- Veterinarians at The Seattle Aquarium are taking an experimental step in hopes of heading off the deadly sea star-wasting disease.

The mysterious disease has wiped out vast populations of sea stars on the West Coast and shows no signs of slowing down. It has also decimated sea stars in aquariums that use sea water in their exhibits.

Dr. Lesanna Lahner at the Seattle Aquarium said they have separated a group of 50 sea stars showing signs of the wasting disease into two tubs. They are treating one group with antibiotic injections and the other with a saline solution.

She said they don’t expect to cure wasting disease; the antibiotics may have no affect at all on the disease itself. But she said it could be that the disease only weakens the stars to the point they cannot defend themselves against bacteria. If the bacteria is what’s consuming the stars’ bodies, the antibiotics can help the stars fight it off.

The aquarium just started the program in the last 48 hours and said it will take about a month to see if it the injections are working.