Author Archives: Jerry Genesio

CALIFORNIA biologist believes GRAY WOLF now called “Journey” (formally designated OR-7) faces uphill struggle ~ CALIFORNIA introduces new state web page inspired by GRAY WOLF called “Journey” ~ RABIES reports from NEBRASKA, NORTH CAROLINA, & TEXAS ~ CANADA: Ottawa launches $100,000 study of HUMAN-COYOTE conflict in NOVA SCOTIA.

Not "Journey". Photo courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service.

California 01/06/12 by Ryan Sabalow — A Department of Fish and Game biologist in charge of monitoring a wild gray wolf that’s made its way from Oregon to eastern Shasta County this week spoke bluntly and in stark terms Friday about the likelihood the wolf dubbed OR-7 by biologists will survive long enough to find the mate he’s already traveled more than 800 miles hoping to locate. “Most wolves don’t successfully establish a new pack or even join a new pack,” said Mark Stopher, a DFG senior policy adviser based in Redding. “They die along the way.” Stopher said while some wolves have been tracked traveling more than 6,000 miles as they seek a new pack or a mate, the vast majority don’t make it nearly that far. Instead, they’re met with the harsh realities of life in the wild, where wolves get sick, starve to death or are mortally wounded while trying to take down a large prey animal like a deer or an elk, Stopher said.

Then there are the deadly human obstacles wolves encounter along what were once their historic ranges, things like cities and train tracks and highways. Of course, hostile humans also pose a risk, even though the wolf is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, Stopher said. The latter is the reason why so far Stopher’s agency has declined to reveal OR-7’s exact location to the public. If too many details are disclosed, there’s a risk someone might try to hurt the wolf, Stopher said. Indeed, not everyone is welcoming of OR-7.

In an interview last week with the Los Angeles Times, Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong said the wolf should be shot on sight because of the threat it poses to livestock and people. She later softened her remarks in an interview with the Sacramento Bee. “It’s unfair to ask people to live with this dangerous predator,” she told the Bee. “It’s romantic, maybe, for urban people. But this affects our quality of life. It affects when we go out to get mail from the mailbox: Do we have to carry a gun?” The last fatal wolf attack was in 2010 in a small southwestern Alaskan village, something experts say is incredibly unusual and unlikely to occur elsewhere. But OR-7’s Imnaha pack does have a history of killing ranchers’ animals, though there have been no reports OR-7 has killed any livestock during his journey to California, Stopher said.

Imnaha wolf pack.

The Imnaha pack, which now consists of four other wolves since OR-7 left, killed at least 20 cattle between the spring of 2010 and mid-December, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported. The agency had been lobbying to have two of the wolves shot but was blocked from doing so by the state’s courts. Russ Morgan, the wolf coordinator for Fish and Wildlife, said the recent kills represented a “significant” change in the pack’s behavior. Stopher said “there’s certainly a concern” OR-7 learned to kill cows. But he said since OR-7 was collared 10 months ago, biologists have never tracked his location to one of the cattle kills. OR-7 also left the pack after it started taking down fully grown cows, Stopher said. – For complete article see

California 01/09/12 by Dean Kuipers — In response to the arrival of Journey, the Oregon wolf that is now roaming northern California’s Shasta County, the California Department of Fish and Game has put together a gray wolf Web page. The DFG put up the new page in response to a huge wave of public interest in the wolf, which is known as OR7 because of its origins in Oregon’s Imnaha wolf pack. – For complete article see,0,3411579.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Fnews%2Fscience%2Fenvironment+%28L.A.+Times+-+Environment%29

Nebraska 01/06/12 Columbus, Platte County:  Columbus Animal Control officers are looking for a stray dog that bit a 17-year-old girl on 18th Street a week ago near the old hospital building. The dog, described as a medium-sized black dog with longer hair, was last seen heading west in the 3000 block on 18th Street. Officers said the dog must be found or the victim will need to receive rabies vaccinations. Anyone who knows the whereabouts of this animal should contact Animal Control at (402)-564-8839 or the police department at (402)-564-3201.

North Carolina 01/06/12 Alamance County: A skunk that was killed by two unvaccinated puppies earlier in the week at an address on Mine Creek Road has tested positive for rabies. See

Texas 01/06/12 Parker County:  As many as 18 people may have been exposed to a three month old male Husky mix puppy that has tested positive for him. See


Nova Scotia 01/09/12 by Michael MacDonald — Parks Canada plans to pay an American biologist $100,000 to come up with a plan to reduce encounters between people and coyotes in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The proposed contract announced Monday comes more than two years after a young Toronto woman was mauled to death by coyotes while hiking alone in the park. Taylor Mitchell’s death on Oct. 28, 2009, marked the first recorded fatal coyote attack in Nova Scotia, and only the second in North America. Ten months later, an unidentified 16-year-old Nova Scotia girl was bitten twice on the scalp as she slept outside at one of the park’s campgrounds. The girl needed stitches to close her wounds. The maulings were among several coyote attacks across Nova Scotia that prompted the province to offer a $20 bounty for coyote pelts. About 2,600 of the province’s 8,000 coyotes were trapped last season for the bounty. An official with Parks Canada said no one was immediately available for comment. The federal government’s two-year project in Cape Breton will include live-trapping coyotes in the park and tracking them with global positioning system collars. Parks Canada says the contract will be awarded to Stan Gehrt at the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation in Dundee, Ill., unless a better bid comes forward in the next two weeks. – For complete article see

Two young girls dub OREGON’s wandering WOLF “Journey” ~ CALIFORNIA’s San Diego County health officials trap DEER MICE with HANTAVIRUS ~ WISCONSIN pet owners warned of COYOTE attacks ~ RABIES reports from FLORIDA, MASSACHUSETTS, NEW JERSEY, NORTH CAROLINA, & WISCONSIN ~ CANADA: RABIES report from NUNAVUT.

Gray Wolf (not Journey). Courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Oregon 01/04/12 News Release — After ten days of public voting, the wolf formerly known as OR-7 now has a name. Capturing just over 40% of nearly 700 online votes, the winning name for the first wolf west of the Cascade Mountains in 65 years and the first wolf to enter California in nearly a century is “Journey.” The name suggestion came from a 7 year old girl in Mountain Home, ID and an 11 year old in Dickinson, ND. The naming contest is part of the larger Connect with the Wild initiative sponsored by the conservation group Oregon Wild. The contest, launched in early November, was inspired by the adventures of “OR-7,” a young male wolf who broke away from the Imnaha Pack in northeast Oregon and eventually traveled over 700 miles to his new home in the wild backcountry of northern California’s Siskiyou County. – For complete news release see

Author’s Note: On January 6, NBC News with Brian Williams featured a segment about the wandering two-year-old male wolf from Oregon now known as “Journey”. According to biologists who have been tracking him, sometime between Wednesday and Thursday afternoon his satellite signal was picked up in California’s eastern Shasta County.

Deer Mouse

California 01/05/12 Two deer mice trapped last week in Carlsbad have tested positive for the potentially-deadly Hantavirus. A combination of 53 MICE and VOLES tested positive for hantavirus in the county in 2011, more than double the 21 that tested positive in 2010. Hantavirus can cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), which begins with flu-like symptoms but can escalate into severe breathing difficulties and even death. “This record high number of positive rodents is most likely due to two years of ample rain,” said Jack Miller, director of the County Department of Environmental Health. “The rain increases vegetation which provides plenty of food and shelter for the rodents to breed and multiply.” Infected mice and voles rarely pose a danger to people when they are in the wild. But when they infest homes and garages, people can contract hantavirus by inhaling dust particles from rodent droppings and nesting materials that contain the virus. There is no treatment, vaccine or cure for hantavirus infections, which are deadly in 36 percent of cases, according to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. – For complete article and safety precautions see

Wisconsin 01/05/12 by Jill Courtney & Teresa Mackin — A warning for pet owners in Madison, after a coyote attacked a small dog early Wednesday morning. It happened on the 1400 block of W. Skyline Road before 8:00 a.m. Thirteen-year-old Ean Miller said, “This morning I was laying in bed, and I heard something weird. I thought it was a cat and I didn’t really think about it. Then I saw my mom run down the hall crying; she said Scarlet was taken by a coyote down through the woods.” They haven’t seen five-year-old Scarlet since. Ean and his dad went looking for the dog, but only found another coyote nearby. Coyote sightings aren’t unheard of in the Highland neighborhood of Madison. There was another dog attack back in 2009. And just this November in the Milwaukee area, a coyote killed a dog there. Eric Lobner, Wisconsin DNR District Wildlife Supervisor, said, “Coyote populations in Madison and urban areas are actually quite high, certainly higher than most people realize… Coyote populations are probably only behind raccoons and songbirds in an urban setting.”- For complete article see

Florida 01/05/12 Ocala, Marion County: A rabies alert has been issued after a raccoon tested positive for the virus. See

Massachusetts 01/04/12 Montague, Franklin County: Health officials say a fox that bit an elderly Montague man last month has tested positive for rabies. See

New Jersey 01/05/12 Commercial Twp., Cumberland County: A raccoon that tested positive for rabies exposed a dog and three people to the virus. See

North Carolina 01/05/12 Maiden, Catawba County: A cat that lived in the Golf Course Road area has tested positive for rabies. See

Wisconsin 01/04/12 Wausau, Marathon County: The health department is looking for a dog that bit a man in Wausau today. The dog is a large brown dog with darker brown hair near its ears. The bite happened around noon on 10th Avenue between West and Rosecrans Streets in Wausau. Authorities need to verify the dog’s vaccination status so they don’t have to give the victim a series of rabies shots. If you have information, you should call the sheriff’s dispatch center at 715-849-7785.


Nunavut 01/04/12 Igloolik: Residents of Igloolik are on alert for a potential rabies outbreak after a fox caught in the Baffin community tested positive for the virus last month. See

COLORADO residential subdivision scene of MOUNTAIN LION DEER-KILL ~ NEBRASKA game officials confirm DEER with CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE found in three counties ~ RABIES reports from GEORGIA (2), and MASSACHUSETTS ~ FOLLOW-UP REPORTS: FLORIDA release of genetically altered MOSQUITOES delayed.

Photo by

Colorado 01/04/12 The Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife reported an incidence of a mountain lion deer-kill in the Innsbruck subdivision near Granby. A resident of the subdivision notified the Department on Dec. 22 about a dead deer near Overlook Drive in Innsbruck covered with some sticks and branches, according to the area’s Wildlife Manager Scott Murdoch. Dead prey covered with sticks, leaves and branches is indicative of a mountain-lion kill, Murdoch said. Cats cover dead prey with the intention of returning later to feed on it. Wildlife officials remind residents that any area where deer are present can mean the presence of mountain lion. Feeding wildlife, like deer, can attract their predators to neighborhood areas, Murdoch said, which ultimately puts pets and people in danger.

Deer with chronic wasting disease. Photo by Delaware Division of Fish and Game.

Nebraska 01/04/12 Chronic wasting disease has appeared for the first time in deer in Buffalo, Custer and Holt counties, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission said Wednesday. The disease affects deer and elk and always is fatal. Humans have never been known to contract it. Twenty-six of 1,565 lymph node samples collected from deer taken during the 2011 November firearm deer season tested positive for the disease, the commission said in a news release. In addition, samples were taken from 37 culled deer that showed clinical symptoms for the disease, with one male mule deer from Garden County testing positive. Those symptoms include a rough, emaciated appearance and a lack of fear of humans. A record 51 positives were found in 3,645 samples in Nebraska in 2010, the commission said, but surveillance efforts were reduced in 2011 due to a lack of funds. The 2011 effort focused on central Nebraska, the leading edge of the disease as it spreads from west to east. The commission confirmed the disease in the state’s deer population in 2000.

Georgia 12/27/11 A bat bit a citizen at 1173 Forest Vale Circle in Norcross on December 27, 2011. This animal has not been captured. A gray fox bit a citizen at 182 Jennifer Lane in Lilburn on December 17, 2011. This animal has not been located. A raccoon found at Saint Aurics Drive in Suwanee on December 4, 2011 tested positive for rabies at the state laboratory. A fox found at 450 Hoke O’Kelly Mill Road in Loganville on November 11, 2011 tested positive for rabies at the state laboratory. If you or your child have been bitten or scratched by any stray animals, or if you know of anyone handling this animal please call the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Office at 770.339.3200 ext. 5576.

Georgia 01/03/12 by Katie Highsmith — One final rabies case was reported in Hall County before 2011 came to a close, bringing the total number of rabies cases in the county to 17 for the year. According to officials with Hall County Animal Services, a skunk came into contact with a dog near County Line Road in northeastern Hall County. The skunk was shipped to the Georgia Public Health Lab in Decatur on Dec. 29, where it tested positive for rabies.

Massachusetts 01/03/12 Christopher Tanguay — A Concord mother is looking for the dog that bit her young daughter yesterday. The incident occurred yesterday afternoon at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Mitchell Avenue. The family would like to locate the dog in order to assess its health or learn about its vaccination history in hopes of sparing the girl from rabies treatment, which will be mandatory if the animal is not found by tomorrow morning. The dog is described as a beagle mix, tiny, and wearing a blue collar. Any information about the dog or its owner will be greatly appreciated. The child’s mother may be reached at (617) 283-7758.

Follow-Up Reports:

(See July 8, 2011: British bio-tech company stirs controversy by developing genetically modified MOSQUITO to wipe out those that carry DENGUE and other lethal diseases.)

Aedes-aegypti mosquito.

Florida 01/04/12 by Kevin Wadlow – Confusion over government permits will delay the planned release of genetically altered mosquitoes in Key West for several months. The pilot program outlined by the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District would release a test batch of about 5,000 to 10,000 mosquitoes — the Aedes aegypti species that carries dengue fever — that have been specifically bred to produce offspring that die young. Once planned for January, any release now will occur no sooner than “late spring,” said district Executive Director Michael Doyle. In theory, the released male bugs with faulty breeding genes will compete with natural mosquitoes, sharply reducing the overall production of future generations. Male mosquitoes do not bite.

An international environmental group, Friends of the Earth, this month issued statements that urge a more skeptical view of what would be “the first-ever release of genetically engineered mosquitoes in the U.S.” Doyle said in an e-mail that the Friends of Earth campaign does not affect estimated time of release. The delay mostly can be blamed on uncertainty over which state and federal agencies should review the project. Permit approval “appeared imminent several months ago,” he said. “A regulatory decision has been delayed while both federal and state agencies discuss under which type of permit this new type of technique would be approved,” Doyle said. “The intended trial does not neatly fit into normal permit processes.”

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulates chemical and biological products but not insect releases, Doyle said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees “sterile-insect techniques” used to control agricultural pests “in fields, not cities,” he said. Wildlife agencies may have to be consulted. “It takes time to both find the proper regulatory venue and complete the process,” Doyle said.

Oxitec, an English company working with Mosquito Control, says it has released genetically altered mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands, Malaysia and Brazil with positive results on reducing insect population. “The genetic aspect adds some mystery to some,” Doyle said, “but to most entomologists, it’s just a new twist on an old technique.” Friends of the Earth staff said the planned mosquito release in Key West creates “health, environmental and ethical challenges” that should be carefully considered. “Who will regulate their release and who will be legally and financially liable if something goes wrong?” the group’s biotechnology specialist Eric Hoffman asked. “Will Oxitec be required to obtain the free and informed consent of Key West residents?”

Friends of the Earth disputes the claim that releasing more mosquitoes can reduce the occurrence of disease, and questions how Oxitec can assure no female mosquitoes will be released accidentally. Doyle said Friends of the Earth “brings up some very interesting concerns, many of which need to be addressed during the permit process.” Other issues raised by the group show a “misunderstanding of our local ecology,” he said. The dengue-carrying mosquito is a nonnative species not numerous enough to provide a food source for wildlife, he said. “Reducing its numbers to near zero would have a negligible effect on the Key West urban ecosystem and virtually none on wildlife as a whole.” Doyle said Mosquito Control staff has worked in Key West to publicize its altered-mosquito plan for “nearly two years.” “There has been almost no public interest to date,” he said. “I expect that most questions will be answered during the formal permitting process. My goal is to allay any concerns with the facts of the science behind this promising technique.”

FOLLOW-UP REPORTS: MASSACHUSETTS confirms Cape Cod man with RABIES was bitten by BROWN BAT.

Little Brown Bat. Photo by MassWildlife.

Follow-Up Reports:

(See January 2, 2012: MASSACHUSETTS man diagnosed with HUMAN RABIES rule.)

Massachusetts 01/03/12 The state public health department has confirmed that a bat was responsible for the first case of but in more than 75 years in Massachusetts. The victim, a man in his 60s from Cape Cod, was likely bitten by the bat in his home. Officials said last week that the man, whose name has not been released, was in critical condition. Department of Public Health spokesman John Jacobs said Tuesday the agency was not expecting to release further updates on the man’s condition. Jacobs says tests conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the disease was transmitted by one of two species of brown bat, both of which are relatively common to Massachusetts. – For complete article see

FOLLOW-UP REPORTS: CALIFORNIA officials confirm GRAY WOLF OR-7 has crossed state line ~ MISSOURI authorities find two cases of CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE at Heartland Wildlife Ranches ~ RABIES reports from FLORIDA, NEW YORK (2), NORTH CAROLINA, and TEXAS.

Follow-Up Reports:

(See November 3, 2011: Lone GRAY WOLF in Oregon travels 300 miles crossing Cascades looking for mate and new territory; November 12, 2011: Oregon Wild launches CONTEST for youngsters to come up with new name for a lone GRAY WOLF known only as OR-7; November 15, 2011: OREGON’s OR-7 lone WOLF crosses into Jackson County; December 13, 2011: OREGON’s wandering lone WOLF – OR-7 – captures the imagination of a worldwide audience; December 20, 2011: The now famous OREGON GRAY WOLF known as OR-7 is still traveling alone.)

California 01/02/12 by Matt Weiser — A gray wolf was confirmed to be roaming California for the first time in 87 years when a young male migrating in search of a mate crossed over the state line from Oregon on Wednesday. The 2-year-old wolf, known as “OR7″, has roamed more than 750 miles, crossing the length of Oregon in search of a new territory to call his own. On Thursday morning, the wolf’s GPS collar reported location data from the previous 24 hours. Wildlife officials said he is now in Siskiyou County, just a few days after he had been near Keno, Ore. “It might just be sort of a drive-by experience or he could become a resident of Siskiyou County,” said Mark Stopher, a special assistant to the director of the California Department of Fish and Game, which is now monitoring the wolf. “He’s more like an interesting ghost right at the moment.”

State officials don’t yet have a plan to manage wolves, but an initial planning document is being prepared and is expected to be released in January. Regardless, because OR7 is migrating, he is considered endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. Disturbing him in any way could be considered a federal crime. As long as OR7 is in California, he will be jointly managed by the Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Stopher warned people not to look for the wolf, or approach it if they see it. But if anyone thinks they saw the wolf, Stopher urged them to report a detailed description of the animal to the Redding regional Fish and Game office.

Wild wolves were exterminated from the West in the early 1900s because they were viewed as a threat to livestock. Biologists now recognize that wolves play an important role in managing deer and elk herds and, in turn, the forests they live in. The last wild wolf confirmed in California was killed by a trapper in Lassen County in 1924. – For complete article see

Missouri 12/31/11 The Missouri Department of Agriculture is finalizing a depopulation and management plan for an approximately 3,000 acre captive wildlife hunting facility in northern Missouri following two positive tests for Chronic Wasting Disease. The facility, operated by Heartland Wildlife Ranches, LLC, is home to white-tail deer, elk and red deer. The plan includes a requirement to depopulate and test all remaining animals for CWD, as well as restrictions on the future movement of animals into the facility. The plan follows multiple positive CWD tests indentified through random surveillance and extends the facility’s current quarantine until all animals have been depopulated and tested for the disease. In October, MDA received results from the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa indicating that a captive white-tail deer harvested in the Macon County facility tested positive for CWD. The animal that tested positive was inspected as part of the State’s CWD surveillance and testing program. A second positive test result on a captive white-tail deer within the same facility was verified late this week.  – For complete article see

Florida 12/29/11 Bay County: Another raccoon has tested positive for rabies in North Bay County. See

New York 12/29/11 Westport, Essex County: Seven people who came in contact with a feral cat that tested positive for rabies are undergoing precautionary treatment. See

New York 12/29/11 Danube, Herkimer County: A skunk that attacked a puppy during daylight hours in the town of Danube has tested positive for rabies, officials with Herkimer County Public Health said Wednesday. See and 5139413/Rabid-skunk-attacked-himpuppy-in-Danube

North Carolina 12/30/11 Statesville, Iredell County: Iredell County Animal Services & Control, along with the Iredell County Health Department, has reported two new cases of rabies, which brings the total number of confirmed cases in Iredell County to nine. Each of the recent cases involved a rabid skunk coming in contact with a dog. See

Texas 01/02/12 News Release — The Texas Department of State Health Services this week begins its annual airdrop of rabies vaccine baits over portions of southern and western Texas in the continuing effort to protect people and livestock from rabies. Planes will take off from airports in Zapata and Alpine around dawn Wednesday, Jan. 4 and from Del Rio on Thursday, Jan. 12. They will drop about 1.8 million doses of rabies vaccine over the next month as part of the DSHS Oral Rabies Vaccination Program. – For complete news release see

CANADA: Five NUNAVUT hunters attacked by POLAR BEAR ~ MASSACHUSETTS man diagnosed with HUMAN RABIES ~ CALIFORNIA petting zoo owner has raiding MOUNTAIN LION shot ~ CALIFORNIA rancher has raiding MOUNTAIN LION trapped ~ IOWA police shoot MOUNTAIN LION ~ NORTH DAKOTA man shoots MOUNTAIN LION in his house ~ WISCONSIN scientist to lead study of LYME DISEASE ~ CANADA: CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE found on SASKATCHEWAN DEER farm.

Polar Bear. Courtesy National Oceanic & Atmospheric Admin.


Nunavut 12/22/11 A group of hunters near Igloolik, Nunavut, had a harrowing experience when they were attacked by a polar bear that was with her cubs. The bear died after the hunters shot it. On Wednesday, five men went out to retrieve their cache of Igunaq, or aged walrus meat, when the bear attacked them. John Arnatsiaq, 58, squared off against the bear after it went after his friend. “All of a sudden the bear was right there. But it wasn’t going for me – it was going for the other guy,” said Arnatsiaq.

Arnatsiaq jumped in between the two and shoved a hammer in the bear’s mouth. “What I did was poke the bear with the hammer and put the hammer in its mouth and pull to make him angry so it will go after me instead of going after that guy. Because I knew that guy had bullets in his pocket and that his rifle was not loaded,” said Arnatsiaq. Arnatsiaq said the bear kept going for his friend and swatted Arnatsiaq away. Arnatsiaq grabbed the bear’s fur and kept swinging the hammer. “And then we were fighting for a few minutes and then I missed my footing and almost fell. That’s when the bear was going for my shoulder,” he said. The bear bit into his hand which was covering his shoulder. At that point, the other hunters were finally able to shoot the bear and the cubs, which had joined in the fight. “It could have been worse, I’m fine, I’m ok,” he said.

inArnatsiaq said the bear was hungry and wanted the walrus meat. Arnatsiaq didn’t escape unscathed – the bear also bit his face, requiring him to get five stitches in his lip. He said his body is also sore. Arnatsiaq has had close polar bear encounters before. In the past, he smashed a bear on the nose with his camera. “First time with a camera, this time with a hammer. Probably no more next time,” he said. Polar bears are the largest terrestrial carnivores on the planet. Adult female bears can weigh up to 550 pounds and can grow to nearly eight feet in length.

Massachusetts 12/30/11 by Matt Stout & Ira Kantor — A Barnstable man given a grim outlook by state officials after being diagnosed as the first human victim of rabies in Massachusetts during the past 75 years may have a better chance to survive than public health officials say, according to a doctor who revolutionized treatment of the previously fatal disease. The man, who is in his 60s but not identified by state officials, remains in critical condition at a Boston hospital after likely being bitten by a bat inside his home or a converted barn. Though the disease only shows up in a handful of humans nationwide each year, rabies has a mortality near 100 percent, said Dr. Larry Madoff, director of the Department of Public Health’s Division of Epidemiology and Immunization. “Almost nobody survives.” But Dr. Rodney E. Willoughby, a Wisconsin pediatrician who created a drug regimen that helped a teenager become the first person to survive the disease without immunization, said the unnamed Bay State victim may still have a chance to avoid the fate of the five other rabies victims in the country who died from the disease this year, despite the man’s age.

We’re quoting about 20, 25 percent survival,” Willoughby told the Herald in a phone interview, though he declined to say if he had any direct involvement in the Massachusetts man’s case. “It’s not zero, but 20 percent isn’t something to write home about.” Thomas McKean, Director of the Barnstable Health Division, confirmed yesterday the man lived in the Cape Cod town. The man’s wife is also undergoing treatment in case she, too, was infected, McKean said. No one else lived on their property, which McKean said includes a barn that had been converted into office space, where the man may have been bitten. State officials yesterday were still awaiting the results of species tests, but they said there were bats in the man’s living quarters. – For complete article see

California 12/28/11 by David Danelski — A mountain lion that took a heavy toll on the animals in an Oak Glen petting zoo was killed on Christmas night when it returned to a sheep carcass to feed. The 7-year-old female lion had been raiding the petting zoo at Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho apple orchards. In all, 13 goats and sheep died, said Devon Riley, who owns the business in the mountains east of Yucaipa. When the goats and sheep started to disappear in late November, California Department of Fish and Game officials investigated and determined it was the work of a cougar. The department issued Riley’s a special permit to shoot the lion. When the goats and sheep started to disappear in late November, California Department of Fish and Game officials investigated and determined it was the work of a cougar. The department issued Riley’s a special permit to shoot the lion. The lion would hop a fence, grab an animal and then stash the carcass in a nearby willow thicket, Riley said. To discourage the predator, the Rileys moved their animals to pens close to their home. But the attacks continued. “She just found the next spot to go to,” he said. “We saw her only twice, always in the middle of the night.”

The end came about 11:30p.m. Sunday. “She killed a sheep, and she returned to feed on it,” Riley said. Riley’s son, 19-year-old Seth, killed the lion with a shotgun. Kevin Brennan, a Fish and Game wildlife biologist, said the cougar was about four feet long and weighed 82 pounds, a normal size. The animals live about 10 years in the wild, he said. Property owners can legally kill mountain lions or bears that attack livestock or pets, Brennan said. The resident must first obtain a permit or catch the animal in the act.

California 12/28/11 by Kollin Kosmicki — A county-designated trapper caught a mountain lion Tuesday after an Aromas rancher reported two steers were killed the previous day, said San Benito’s agriculture commissioner Ron Ross. A rancher off Anzar Road on Monday discovered two dead steers of about 450 pounds each. He suspected a mountain lion may have been responsible and reported it to the San Benito agriculture commissioner’s office. On Monday night, a county-hired expert with the U.S. Department of Agriculture set out a trap, and caught the mountain lion in a cage Tuesday morning, Ross said. The lion was about 100 pounds and has been euthanized, which is a state requirement when the big cats are captured after such encounters. There have been occasional reports from local ranchers of possible cougar attacks – some officials have expressed concern about a growing population and needing a statewide count of the species – but it is uncommon to actually capture a mountain lion in a trap, or large cage with a door that shuts when an animal enters. “To my knowledge, this is the first time (with a capture) on the San Benito County side of Aromas,” Ross said. The area where the trapper caught the lion is mostly rural with pockets of residential neighborhoods nearby. The trap was located about 100 yards from a residence, according to officials.

Iowa 12/23/ Authorities have shot and killed a mountain lion in western Iowa. The police chief in Blencoe, near the Nebraska border, and a Monona County Sheriff’s Deputy responded early Friday after someone reported seeing the animal. The officers shot the adult male lion after finding him in a tree. Officials believe the lion likely came from a state west of Iowa. Biologists with the Department of Natural Resources believe most of the lions seen in Iowa are pushed out of their native areas by older, dominant males. The lion will be analyzed to determine its age, feeding habits and place origin. It will eventually be mounted and put on display in Monoma County. The Department of Natural Resources says wildlife protection isn’t extended to mountain lions in Iowa.

North Dakota 12/22/ News Release — State Game and Fish Department officials are confirming that a rural western North Dakota homeowner shot and killed a 38-pound mountain lion kitten inside his home on Wednesday evening. According to chief game warden Robert Timian, upon returning to his farmstead northwest of Grassy Butte Wednesday, the homeowner discovered the mountain lion kitten lying on his couch. The man then grabbed a .22 pistol kept near his doorway, shot the animal, and then contacted Game and Fish. Timian said the initial investigation revealed the garage door was open during the day, and the door from the garage into the house was open when the owner returned home. Since the lion apparently killed four domestic cats in the house, and other domestic cats were present, it’s possible the lion was attracted to the house by cat scent coming through the open door, Timian added.  “This is a very unusual situation,” Timian said. “The homeowner probably wasn’t in any danger from the small lion, and he was well within his rights to dispatch it.” The home is located in an area of North Dakota where mountain lions are present. While Game and Fish periodically gets reports of lions in or near farmsteads, Timian said this is the first one that has entered a home. The fact that it was a young animal may have been a factor in its presence around a dwelling.

Wisconsin 12/22/ The Medical College of Wisconsin has received a $1.9 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Jenifer L. Coburn, PhD, professor of medicine, division of infectious disease, is the primary investigator of the grant. Wisconsin is one of the states with a high incidence of Lyme disease, with 20,000 cases being diagnosed since tracking began in 1980.

Dr. Jenifer Coburn

In the United States, 30,000 cases were diagnosed in 2010. Many patients are not diagnosed for weeks or months, and untreated cases can lead to permanent neurological impairment. In this research project, Dr. Coburn will study a protein named P66, which is a part of the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi. P66 has been shown to be critical to the ability of the bacterium to cause infection in mammals. Learning more about this protein and the way it contributes to infection could lead to novel approaches to prevention and early treatment of Lyme disease.


Saskatchewan 12/21/ Chronic wasting disease has been discovered on another game farm in Saskatchewan. It is the fourth case in the province so far this year. The latest case involves a white tail deer from a farm in the Prince Albert area. The animal was discovered to be carrying the disease through a mandatory testing program for all animals over the age of 12 months that die on farms. Canada Food Inspection Agency scientists say the disease poses very little risk to humans. However, they say to prevent the spread of CWD to other animals or farms it is necessary to slaughter the entire herd.

Deer with CWD

Alex McIsaac, from CIFA, says slaughter is the only way to do an accurate test. “Unfortunately we don’t have a live animal test at this time so that’s the only way we can determine how far it has spread, unfortunately it’s by destroying animals and using this post-mortem sample.”


Santa’s REINDEER get clean bill of health from AVMA

North Pole 12/23/11 News Release — The president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) returned this week from a health check-up at the North Pole, declaring Santa’s reindeer to be healthy, free of disease, and ready for their Christmas Eve flight.

‘I can assure you that all of them are in healthy condition and are all ready to go for Christmas Eve,’ said Dr. René Carlson, upon her return to the United States.

In addition to supervising all of the business affairs of the association, the AVMA president serves as the official veterinarian of the North Pole. In this role, Dr. Carlson is charged with providing the yearly health exam for Santa’s reindeer.

The reindeers’ annual exam includes ensuring a health check about a month prior to their Christmas Eve flight to make sure they’re healthy and not showing any signs of disease, such as brucellosis, tuberculosis, or chronic wasting disease, that can be transmitted to other animals.

‘It’s important that they don’t have any diseases they could give to other animals during their trip around the world,’ said Dr. Carlson. ‘They also need to be healthy, so they’re less likely to catch any diseases themselves on that long flight.’

Once she determined the reindeer were healthy, Dr. Carlson filled out the official “North Pole Certificate of Animal Export” that provides Santa with the documents he and his reindeer need to travel.


CALIFORNIA police find two MOUNTAIN LION cubs under car in Burbank ~ UTAH DNR finds CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE in new area ~ FOLLOW-UP REPORTS: SOUTH CAROLINA woman with RABIES has died.

A mountain lion cub. Photo by California Fish & Game.

California 12/20/11 Police say two badly malnourished mountain lion cubs were found hiding under a car in Burbank and taken to a wildlife center for recovery. City News Service reports that the animals were taken to the California Wildlife Center in Calabasas on Tuesday after animal shelter workers were called to the vehicle on East Orange Grove Avenue. Police Sgt. Darin Ryburn said there were reports that some residents tried to hit the cubs with brooms. The animals appear to not have been fed by their mother in a few weeks. The cubs were put with another litter at the wildlife center in hopes they would be accepted and cared for. The facility tries to rehabilitate animals that belong in the wild but have been injured or orphaned.

Utah 12/20/11 A deer infected with chronic wasting disease has been found in a new area in Utah. That’s not a surprise, though—the new area is next to an area where the disease has been for years. Technicians at the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Logan have finished testing tissue samples taken from more than 1,200 deer, elk and moose this fall. Hunters across Utah took the animals, and biologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources collected the samples.

Deer with CWD

One of the deer that was taken on the San Juan deer hunting unit in southeastern Utah tested positive for the disease. This is the first time a deer from the unit has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). Leslie McFarlane, wildlife disease coordinator for the DWR, says she’s not surprised that a deer from the San Juan unit tested positive for CWD. “We’ve found deer with CWD on the La Sal Mountains,” she says. “The La Sal Mountains are just north of the San Juan unit.”

Follow-Up Reports:

(See December 17, 2011; SOUTH CAROLINA DHEC confirmed case of HUMAN RABIES.)

South Carolina 12/20/11 by Tenessa Jennings – A Sumter County woman who became South Carolina’s first case of human rabies in more than 50 years has died, according to the coroner. Sumter Coroner Havrin Bullock said 46-year-old Ivey Durant died from complications from rabies. Officials believe she was bitten by a bat.

FLORIDA zoo training FERAL CATS to protect exotic residents and visitors ~ MOUNTAIN LION report from CALIFORNIA ~ NIH scientists begin CHIKUNGUNYA VACCINE trial ~ TRAVEL WARNINGS for BRAZIL.

Florida 12/18/11 by Carolyn Susman — The next time you visit the Palm Beach Zoo, feel free to feed the ducks and the geese and to follow the roaming peacock around. But stay clear of Snuggle Cat. He’s working. Snuggle Cat is part of a unique experiment the zoo is conducting to reduce the number of feral cats that have invaded zoo property and that can pose a health threat to zoo animals. Shockingly, over the past years, there have been deaths at the zoo because of cat-borne illnesses such as toxoplasmosis that can cause fatal infections in kangaroos and wallabies. And the feline leukemia virus can threaten the health of jaguars, tigers and African servals. The problem even affected which zoo animals were brought in and how they were housed. “Decisions were made, that were big time, not to get new animals or create new exhibits,” said Dr. Michele Miller, director of conservation medicine for the zoo and a veterinarian. The problem was hard to control. “Being in the center of an urban park, we find that the feral cats wander in on their own or are dropped off,” says Miller. She says that two or three feral cats a week would show up on zoo grounds and later produce kittens. Zoo staff tried collecting the animals and relocating them to places like the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, but that became increasingly difficult. And it didn’t stop the ferals from invading.

About six months ago, a “team decision” was made to neuter a couple of these cats, treat them for illnesses, vaccinate them, and act toward them the way “a responsible pet owner would.” The object was to create “resident” cats that would view the zoo as their own territory and patrol it against the invasion of others, Miller explained. So far, it seems to be successful. “I do think it’s helping,” she said. “We’re not seeing other feral cats. We don’t have to deal with taking ferals where they might have to be destroyed or to be concerned that they have introduced diseases to staff or visitors.” Snuggle Cat is one of these new residents. He’s friendly, but signs are posted that caution against petting him or approaching him like a house cat. There’s always the possibility he might bite or nip a stranger. And having cats like Snuggle Cat around doesn’t slow the zoo’s strict approach to keeping its animals well.

The zoo staff works “very hard” to keep its animals healthy, Miller said, and the feral cats had presented a “very significant concern.” The zoo’s animals are vaccinated, but the shots are “not 100 percent effective.” So, removing a possible source of infection was extremely important. Miller is aware that treating feral cats this way is controversial. She knows that the trap, neuter, release approach can draw opposition — as it has in Palm Beach — because the cats can present a threat to native wildlife. Even house cats, though, can hunt for fun. Snuggle and the other patrol cats are “very well-fed” to prevent these instincts from over taking them, Miller points out, so Snuggle is often content to stretch out on the porch of the zoo’s cafe and take in the sun. “It’s an up-close and personal zoo,” Miller says with a smile. And Snuggle Cat helps it stay that way.

California 12/19/11 Altadena, Los Angeles County: Mountain lion sighting reported. See
Global 12/20/11 News Release — An experimental vaccine to prevent chikungunya fever, a viral disease spread by certain species of mosquitoes, is being tested in a clinical trial conducted by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) scientists at the National Institutes of Health. The vaccine was developed by researchers at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center (VRC) using non-infectious virus-like particles to prompt an immune response. The trial is testing the vaccine’s safety and ability to elicit antibodies against chikungunya virus. It will enroll 25 healthy adults aged 18 to 50 years.

Chikungunya virus infection is generally not fatal but it can cause debilitating symptoms, most often fever, headache and severe joint pain. Symptoms usually subside in a few weeks but can last for months. The first cases of illness were reported in the early 1950s in east Africa. The disease is now endemic throughout much of Africa and parts of Asia. India, for example, has reported frequent outbreaks with significant public health impact, including a 2006 outbreak that lasted eight months and resulted in 1.25 million suspected cases of illness. Global travel and trade have increased the risk that the disease will spread. A 2007 outbreak of chikungunya fever in Italy prompted concern that the virus is becoming established in non-tropical settings and could pose a worldwide threat. There is no specific treatment for the illness and no vaccine to prevent it.

Dr. Gary Nabel

“A vaccine to prevent chikungunya fever, an emerging global health concern, would address an important need,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “If successful, this approach also might be used to develop vaccines against related mosquito-borne viruses, including those that cause Western, Eastern and Venezuelan equine encephalitis.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, human infections with these equine viruses are rare, but, in the case of Eastern equine encephalitis, more than 30 percent of infected people die and most of the survivors suffer serious neurological complications. In 2010, scientists led by VRC Director Gary Nabel, M.D., Ph.D, reported that rhesus monkeys inoculated with the virus-like particle chikungunya vaccine 15 weeks prior to virus exposure were completely shielded from infection. Monkey blood serum containing anti-chikungunya antibodies generated by the VLP vaccine also protected immune-deficient mice from becoming infected with chikungunya virus, the scientists showed.

Travel Warnings:

Brazil 12/19/11 News Release — Yellow fever is a risk for travelers to most areas of Brazil, except coastal regions. During 2009, an outbreak of yellow fever, including a number of deaths, occurred in parts of southeastern Brazil that had not been affected by yellow fever for many years. In response, the Brazil Ministry of Health has gradually expanded the list of municipalities for which yellow fever vaccination is recommended in the four southeastern states of São Paulo, Paraná, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul.

Globally, yellow fever occurs in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America and is spread to people through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Symptoms can include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, backache, nausea, and vomiting.

Currently, Brazil and CDC recommend yellow fever vaccination for travelers to the following states:

  • All areas of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Distrito Federal (including the capital city of Brasília), Goiás, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, and Tocantins.
  • Other designated areas of the following states: Bahia, Paraná, Piauí, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and São Paulo. Vaccination is also recommended for travelers visiting Iguassu Falls.
  • Vaccination is NOT recommended for travel to the following coastal cities: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Salvador, Recife, and Fortaleza.

Brazil currently does not require yellow fever vaccination for entrance into the country. However, travelers are strongly urged to get the yellow fever vaccine before traveling to an area of Brazil with risk of yellow fever virus transmission.