Category Archives: Viral disease

Iowa’s Bittendorf PD says BOBCAT sighting first ever reported in the city ~ Indiana MOUNTAIN LION sighting first ever confirmed in the state ~ Maine HUNTERS helping to track spread of EASTERN EQUINE ENCEPHALITIS (EEE) in the state ~ North Carolina reports EEE found in SENTINEL CHICKENS ~ New York hospital isolates two VISITORS from New Mexico who might be infected with BUBONIC PLAGUE ~ South Dakota confirms eight CHILDREN infected with TULAREMIA so far this year ~ and RABIES reports from Missouri, and North Carolina (2).

Bobcat. Courtesy National Park Service.

Iowa 11/05/11 Bettendorf, Scott County: Bobcat attacks small pet dog in owner’s backyard. Local police say this is the first bobcat sighting ever reported in the city. See

Indiana 11/07/11 Green County: Mountain lion sighting confirmed by Indiana DNR with motion activated camera. Of 233 claimed sightings in the state since April 2010, this is the first to be confirmed. See

Maine 11/07/11 by Keith Edwards – State epidemiologists and other volunteers are out for blood at deer-tagging stations across the state, as part of efforts to track the spread of a primarily mosquito-borne disease deadly to people and horses. State Epidemiologist Dr. Stephen Sears said so far their findings indicate the disease, Eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, is more widespread than previously thought. “We’re finding the virus is far more dispersed in the state than we had any information about,” Sears said Sunday. “We’re concerned it is spreading in the state. We’re working with the federal Centers for Disease Control and partners in the state to find ways to see where it is spreading.” One of those ways is testing the blood of deer shot by hunters. Sears said deer do not seem to become ill from being bitten by a mosquito carrying EEE, but they do produce an antibody to fight it off. So researchers track the prevalence of that antibody in deceased deer to help track the spread of EEE. Which makes hunters partners in the effort, though, for most, they’re unknowing partners until they’re approached by a worker or volunteer at a tagging station and asked to allow a sample of the animal’s blood to be collected. “It’s entirely voluntary, but we’ve been doing this three years, and nobody has ever said they won’t give us blood,” Sears said. “Hunters have been very supportive. And they’ve been curious about what we’re doing.” One of the things hunters are most curious about: If their deer is found to have been bitten by an EEE-carrying mosquito, is the venison safe to eat? Sears explains the virus is not actually in the deer — it’s the antibody deer put out when they are bitten that is still present. “You can’t get it from a deer,” Sears said of EEE. “It’s absolutely safe to eat.” – For complete article go to

North Carolina 11/08/11 New Hanover County: Officials have confirmed a case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in a local sentinel chicken flock. According to the New Hanover County Health Director, human incidence of EEE is rare, but is a dangerous disease. There is no cure or vaccine available so people need to protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. See

New York 11/07/11 Two people visiting New York from New Mexico were being treated in isolated hospital rooms today with symptoms of bubonic plague, the first likely cases of the deadly bacterial disease in the city in more than 100 years, officials said. Health officials announced Wednesday night that a 53-year-old man had tested “presumptively positive” for bubonic plague and his 47-year-old wife had similar symptoms, but test results were not yet known. “The man is in critical condition and the woman is in stable condition,” Mike Quane, spokesman for the Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan where the unidentified couple are being treated, said today. The city health department said bubonic plague, which has largely been eradicated but does occur in the rural southwest of the country in states such as New Mexico, is not spread from person to person and there is no risk to New York’s population of 8 million, the largest city in the United States. Bubonic plague is a bacterial disease of rodents transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas. Pneumonic plague, a more serious form of the disease, occurs when plague bacteria are inhaled after direct contact with infected animals including rodents, wildlife and pets, health officials said. – For complete article go to

American Dog Tick

South Dakota 11/08/ The SD Department of Health confirms eight cases of tularemia in the state so far this year, all in children ranging from 4 to 12 years of age. According to State Epidemiologist Dr. Lon Kightlinger, 6 of the cases had known tick attachment, and only 1 had known contact with rabbits. 7 were West River residents, and 1 was from East River. Historically SD reported 11 tularemia cases in 2010, 5 in 2009, 10 in 2008, 7 in 2007 and 4 in 2006.

Missouri 11/06/11 West Plains, Howell County: Six area residents are receiving rabies shots and seven pets were euthanized after being exposed to a skunk that tested positive for the virus. See

North Carolina 11/07/11 Stokesdale, Guilford County: A skunk that was in contact with two dogs has tested positive for rabies; the county’s 17th case this year. See

North Carolina 11/07/11 Davidson County: A fox that was in contact with a human and a dog has tested positive for rabies; the county’s 17th case this year. See

COYOTE-WOLF hybrids spread south along U.S. eastern seaboard ~ Delaware confirms first case of TULAREMIA (RABBIT FEVER) since 2003 ~ Illinois officials issue COYOTE warning ~ CDC News: Two news cases of SWINE FLU (H3N2) confirmed in Maine and Indiana.

Coyote-Wolf Hybrid aka Red Wolf. PD. Wikimedia Commons.

National 11/07/11 by Christine Dell’Amore – Scientists already knew that some coyotes, which have been gradually expanding their range eastward, mated with wolves in the Great Lakes (map) region. The pairings created viable hybrid offspring—identified by their DNA and skulls—that have been found in mid-Atlantic states such as New York and Pennsylvania. Now, new DNA analysis of coyote poop shows for the first time that some coyotes in the state of Virginia are also part wolf.

Scientists think these animals are coyote-wolf hybrids that traveled south from New England along the Appalachian Mountains. The study also identified another coyote migration route moving through the southern states. “You have a situation where you have these two waves of coyotes coming into the mid-Atlantic, a terminus for coyote colonization,” said study leader Christine Bozarth, a research fellow at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. Northern Virginia in particular seems to be a convergence point for coyote migrations, Bozarth said—and the animals’ numbers are increasing there, especially in suburban areas where food is more plentiful. – For complete article go to

Delaware 11/07/11 Kent County: Last month, the Delaware Public Health Laboratory confirmed the first case of tularemia in the state since 2003. The afflicted Kent County man was hospitalized and undergoing treatment for the disease caused by an infectious bacterium. See

Illinois 11/03/11 Aurora, Kane County: Animal Control officials issue warning to pet owners after a coyote kills a small dog. See

CDC News:

National 11/04/11 CDC has confirmed two additional cases of human infection with a swine–origin influenza A (H3N2) virus that carries the M gene from the 2009 H1N1 virus. The cases were reported by Maine and Indiana (bringing the total number of cases confirmed to 7 so far this year). There is no evidence at this time of an epidemiological link between these two patients or any person to person transmission associated with either of these cases. Both patients reported exposure to pigs prior to their illness. Human infections with swine influenza viruses are rare, but do occur. In most cases, these infections are associated with exposure to infected pigs. The swine-origin influenza A (H3N2) virus with the M gene acquired from the 2009 H1N1 virus that caused the 2009-2010 pandemic was first detected in a child in Indiana in July 2011. Subsequently, three additional cases (cases 2 through 4) of human infection with swine–origin influenza A (H3N2) viruses carrying the same genetic change were detected in Pennsylvania. A fifth case was identified in Maine in October. All of these prior cases had direct exposure to pigs, except for one patient who had a caretaker with swine exposure.

The acquisition of the M gene likely occurred as a result of swine being co–infected with the swine influenza A (H3N2) virus and the human 2009 H1N1 virus. While we know the M gene plays a role in influenza virus infection, assembly and replication, the significance of this change in these swine–origin influenza A (H3N2) viruses is unknown at this time. CDC continues to investigate the implications of this genetic change. Both of the most recent patients confirmed with swine–origin influenza A (H3N2) infection had been in close contact with live pigs during the week prior to their illness onset. Both patients have recovered from their illness.
Seasonal flu vaccine would not be expected to protect against these swine flu viruses because they are very different from seasonal human influenza A (H3N2) viruses. While there is no vaccine to protect humans against these swine–origin influenza viruses, there are two FDA–cleared drugs that can be used to treat illness with these viruses. The antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir – which are used to treat infection with human seasonal influenza viruses – also have shown activity against swine–origin influenza viruses. – For complete News Release go to

(See also Natural Unseen Hazards posts dated September 3, September 6, and October 22, 2011.)

Canada: Open-water SALMON farms may be source of VIRUS thought to be reducing WILD SALMON numbers by millions ~ Arizona’s endangered MOUNT GRAHAM RED SQUIRREL numbers increase ~ Montana HUNTER injured by hit-and-run BEAR ~ RABIES reports from New York, & North Carolina.

Sockeye Salmon. Courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.


Salmon farm on coast of British Columbia.

British Columbia 11/05/11 A virus that has hit fish farms hard in eastern Canada, Norway and Chile may be present in wild salmon that spawn in British Columbia, a biologist says. Bruce Cohen, a justice on the provincial supreme court, has scheduled a two-day special hearing on evidence that the infectious salmon anemia virus could have hit the region, Postmedia News reported.

Salmon eggs

Cohen is leading an inquiry into the sharp drop in numbers of Fraser River salmon. Alexandra Morton, a biologist who submitted samples of coho and sockeye salmon for testing, blames open-water salmon farms. She said ISA could have arrived in British Columbia with imported salmon eggs.  “It’s a complete wild card. We just don’t know and that’s what has everyone so afraid,” she said.

Fraser River Sockeye Salmon Run

The number of salmon returning to the Fraser to spawn in 2009 dropped to about 1 million, when 10 million had been expected, but bounced back in 2010. The fish-farming industry says 2009 was an anomaly caused by unusual conditions in Queen Charlotte Sound in 2007 when the salmon went to sea. Wild salmon managers argue the 2009 catastrophe followed years of lower numbers and 2010 was the anomaly.

Arizona 11/04/11 ArizonaGame&FishDeptWildlifeNews: As part of a conservation program for the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Forest Service conducted an annual survey and estimated approximately 240 animals in the Pinaleño Mountains in southeastern Arizona.

Mt. Graham Red Squirrel

The latest survey count is an increase of 26 squirrels over the 2010 estimate. Small mammal species like the Mount Graham red squirrel typically have cyclical populations that depend on the conifer cone crop, their primary food resource. While this year’s surveys show an increase in the minimum population, biologists remain concerned about the species’ status and are exploring new ways to conserve it, including habitat improvements, squirrel research, and consideration of a pilot captive breeding program. The red squirrel survey is conducted annually in the fall by visiting a random sample of known middens (areas where red squirrels store or cache their cones).The Mount Graham red squirrel population spiked to around 550 animals in the late 1990s, but typically ranges between 200 and 300 individuals. Habitat losses caused by fire and insect infestations and poor cone crops caused by drought are considered primary factors in the species’ recent trends.“ Squirrel numbers are closely tied to available habitat and food resources,” says Tim Snow, nongame specialist for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Improving forest health and preventing catastrophic wildfire events will help ensure the continued existence of these squirrels.” Mount Graham red squirrels live only in the upper elevation conifer forests of the Pinaleño Mountains and feed primarily on conifer seeds. Females produce two to seven young annually. The species was added to the endangered species list in 1987. The multi-agency Mount Graham Red Squirrel Recovery Team, including the Coronado National Forest, Arizona Game and Fish, University of Arizona, Native American tribes and others, oversees conservation of the species.

Montana 11/05/11 Madison County: A Billings hunter was knocked down by a bear on November 4 in the Gravelly Range near Cascade Mountain. Fortunately, the bear then ran off without biting or clawing the hunter, who has been released from the hospital. The man was hunting with a partner who was uninjured. Officials aren’t certain what type of bear was involved in the incident. See

New York 11/04/11 Niagara Falls, Niagara County: The dead and mutilated body of a fox found under the Lockport Road Bridge is presumed positive for rabies. It has been reported by residents that many children possibly had contact, but the lab was unable to test for rabies due to the body’s state of deterioration. See

North Carolina 11/04/11 Davidson County: A rabid raccoon killed by three dogs earlier in the week is the 16th rabies case reported in the county this year. See,0,4379520.story

Alabama officers kill escaped RED DEER/ELK hybrid to protect native DEER herd from CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE ~ West Virginia DNR issues area ALERT advising that two ELK escaped from Pennsylvania facility near state border ~ Wyoming confirms Carbon County MAN died of HANTAVIRUS ~ COYOTE reports from Illinois, & Kansas ~ WEST NILE VIRUS reports from Illinois, & New York ~ CDC Reports: ZOONOTIC DISEASE summary for week ending October 29, 2011.

Bull Elk. Courtesy National Park Service.

Alabama 11/04/11 by Jeff Dute – Conservation enforcement officers in Madison County killed a young red deer/elk hybrid bull earlier this week that had wandered more than 80 miles north, then east from where it is suspected to have escaped from an enclosure near Hanceville, said District I assistant supervising wildlife biologist Mitchell Marks.

Red Deer.

Marks said the estimated 450-pound bull’s path to where it was killed north of Huntsville was easy to track from the numerous phone calls the department received over the last two weeks. When no one claimed ownership, Marks said the decision to kill it was based on concerns over the possible spread of the always-fatal deer malady chronic wasting disease and for public safety reasons. “It’s not believed that this animal had CWD, but since we don’t know exactly where it came from, first we have to test to make sure it doesn’t,” he said.

Elk with CWD.

“We don’t want to jeopardize our deer herd at all. Second, people in Alabama are not used to seeing an animal of this size on our state’s roads. Something that big could be a public hazard that we want to remove.” There is no CWD test for live animals, so once it was killed, the hybrid’s head was removed and sent for testing while the carcass was buried, Marks said. Kevin Dodd, Alabama’s assistant chief of enforcement said since state regulations only mention deer in regard to seasons and bag limits, hunters who happen to encounter a non-native species such as the sika deer shot by a bowhunter in Jackson County on Monday or even an elk are within their rights to legally kill it.

Sika Deer Stag.

“If they happen to see a sika or an elk, it’s fair game as far as the law’s concerned,” Dodd said. “Shoot it, drag it to the truck and have it packaged at the processor.” As an example, Dodd said a hunter legally killed what he thought was the biggest whitetail doe of his life near Tuscaloosa last year. The animal turned out to be a cow elk that had escaped from an enclosure and that was twice as big as the average whitetail female.

West Virginia 11/04/11 News Release – The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) has confirmed with officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) that at least two elk, including one adult bull and one cow, have escaped from a captive cervid facility (deer and elk farms) in Greene County, Pa. Greene County shares a common border with Marshall, Wetzel and Monongalia counties in West Virginia. The elk escaped from a captive cervid facility located approximately three miles from the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border. The PDA regulates captive cervid facilities in Pennsylvania. A representative of the agency was unaware if the recent escaped elk were tagged. The WVDNR regulates captive cervid facilities in West Virginia. In West Virginia, all captive cervids in breeding facilities must be ear-tagged, and there are currently no reported elk escapes from any facility in West Virginia. A bull elk has been seen recently in Wetzel County, W.Va., according to WVDNR officials. There have been no reports of cow elk sightings in either Wetzel County, W.Va., or Greene County, Pa. No free-ranging wild elk live within 150 miles of Wetzel County. The elk sighted in Wetzel County is likely the escaped animal from the captive facility in Pennsylvania.

White-tailed buck with CWD.

Contact between escaped captive deer or elk and free-ranging white-tailed deer increases the risk of disease transmission from the captive animals to the native herd, according WVDNR biologists. The movement and/or escape of captive deer and elk increases this risk of contact and are one of the many possible modes of transmission for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from captive cervids to free-ranging white-tailed deer. “Monitoring and protecting West Virginia’s deer herd from CWD and other diseases is crucial to West Virginia’s economy and its natural resources,” said WVDNR Director Frank Jezioro. WVDNR advises residents in Marshall, Wetzel and Monongalia counties to contact the Farmington District Office at 304-825-6787 if they see an elk in these counties. Hunters are reminded that it is illegal to harvest any free-ranging elk in West Virginia.

Deer Mouse.

Wyoming 11/03/11 News Release – A Carbon County man’s late October death was due to Hantavirus, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. Dr. Tracy Murphy, state epidemiologist with the Wyoming Department of Health, said rodent exposure is a very real risk factor for the disease. “Rodent infestation in and around the home and in outbuildings such as barns is the primary risk for Hantavirus exposure,” he said. Infected rodents shed the virus through urine, droppings and saliva. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is transmitted to humans when dried, contaminated materials are disturbed. “Typically in these cases, humans become infected by breathing in the infectious aerosols that result,” Murphy said. Nine HPS cases have been reported to the Wyoming Department of Health since 2000. Two unrelated 2008 cases in Carbon County resulted in death. In Wyoming, the deer mouse is the primary carrier of Hantavirus. – For hints on how to avoid Hantavirus infection see

Illinois 11/04/11 Aurora, Kane County: Local officials warn area pet owners of a recent series of coyote attacks. See

Kansas 11/03/11 Leavenworth, Leavenworth County: Residents express concern about growing coyote population and city officials consider adding them to an ordinance that allows bow hunting for deer within city limits. See

Illinois 11/03/11 St. Charles, Kane County: A 63-year-old woman recently became the county’s first case of West Nile Virus this year. The state has reported 30 human cases of the virus so far this year, including several fatalities. See

New York 11/04/11 Suffolk County: Health officials confirmed two human cases of West Nile Virus this week; one in Islip and the other in Huntington, bringing the county’s total number of human cases to three this year. See

CDC Reports:

 CDC MMWR Summary for Week ending October 29, 2011:

Published November 4, 2011 / 60(43); 1496-1509

Anaplasmosis . . . 7 . . . New York (2), Oklahoma, Vermont, Virginia (3),

Babesiosis . . . 3 . . . New York (3),

Ehrlichiosis . . . 6 . . . Florida, Maryland, New York, North Carolina (2), Tennessee,

Giardiasis . . . 183 . . . Alabama (3), Arizona (3), Arkansas (5), California (33), Colorado (16), Florida (22), Idaho (4), Iowa (2), Louisiana, Maine (3), Maryland (4), Michigan (7), Missouri (8), Montana, Nebraska (3),  New York (26), Ohio (12), Oregon, Pennsylvania (7), South Carolina (2), Vermont (5), Virginia (3), Washington (12),

Lyme Disease . . .  358 . . . Connecticut, Delaware (3), Florida (6), Idaho, Maryland (12), New Jersey (86), New York (102), North Dakota,  Pennsylvania (116), Vermont (2),  Virginia (22), Washington (6),

Q Fever (Chronic) . . . 1 . . . Maine, 

Rabies (Animal) . . . 26 . . . Arkansas (2), Nebraska (2), New York (5), North Dakota (2), Ohio, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Vermont, Virginia (11),

Spotted Fever (Probable) . . . 9 . . . Arkansas (2), Florida, Indiana, Tennessee (2), Virginia (3),

Tularemia . . . 2 . . . Washington (2).

Florida CHILD attacked by RACCOON and bitten eight times ~ RABIES reports from Georgia, New Jersey, Texas, & Virginia ~ WEST NILE VIRUS reports from Indiana, Texas, & Wisconsin ~ Books of Note: The Viral Storm ~ CDC Reports: CDC issues new Compendium of Animal RABIES Prevention and Control, 2011.

Raccoon. Photo by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Florida 11/02/11 from article by Jennifer Edwards – A 9-year-old was attacked by a raccoon and bitten eight times on the campus of Florida’s School for the Deaf and the Blind. The raccoon was not caught but the girl was vaccinated for rabies as a precaution. See

Georgia 11/03/11 Hartwell, Hart County: Several Hartwell Elementary School students are being treated after touching a dead bat on the school grounds. The bat was tested for rabies, but as it had deteriorated significantly the results were considered inconclusive. See

New Jersey 11/02/11 Absecon, Atlantic County: A raccoon removed from a local residence tested positive for rabies. This is the 12th case of rabies in the county this year; eight of them raccoons. See

Texas 11/02/11 Wood County: A skunk that wandered into a family’s yard and fought with their three dogs has tested positive for rabies. See

Virginia 11/02/11 Gate City, Scott County: A skunk killed by three dogs in the Yuma community has tested positive for rabies. See          

Indiana 11/02/11 Whiting, Lake County: Former Hammond police chief Frank DuPey, 78, has died from complications of West Nile Virus. See

Texas 111/02/11 Montgomery County: Health officials have confirmed a new case of human West Nile Virus. It is the third case in the county this year. Statewide, 26 cases have been reported by the Texas Department of State Health Services in 2011. See

Wisconsin 11/03/11 Polk County Health Department: A dead crow found in the Amery area has tested positive for West Nile Virus. See

Books of Note:

California 10/25/11 News Release –

In his new book, Nathan Wolfe, a professor of Biology at Stanford University, chronicles the changes in human behavior that have shaped our experience with pandemics and he ultimately provides a vision for predicting and preventing future outbreaks. Wolfe’s firsthand knowledge from over a decade of virus hunting is woven throughout the book. His early work in Cameroon, in west-central Africa, sent him to villages where the inhabitants relied on wild game, or bushmeat, for protein. When hunters contact animal fluids during butchering, it makes them especially vulnerable to hosting novel bugs. Many viruses, like HIV and influenza, jumped to humans from other animals.

Hunters are important allies for studying emerging disease. By enlisting them to collect thousands of blood samples, Wolfe and his colleagues found unique forms of viruses, including retroviruses like HIV. Since then, Wolfe and his team have established the Cameroon monitoring system in countries throughout the world, including China, Southeast Asia and other parts of central Africa. While viruses may emerge from far-flung places, Wolfe emphasizes that modern transportation networks help microbes spread faster than ever. For that reason, Wolfe says The Viral Storm is written “for anyone who rides the subway, or takes an airplane, or kisses their children goodbye on their way off to school.” The global connectivity that helps viruses spread also makes them easier to track. Wolfe is also the founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Global Viral Forecasting Initiative, which works in 20 countries trying to find potential pandemics. A digital surveillance team monitors chatter on hundreds of websites, looking for the signal of a threatening outbreak in online noise. By combining technology with boots-on-the-ground natural science, GVFI aims to catch viruses before they become world travelers.

“In the last chapter of the book I portray a fictional scenario for the future of how I hope that we’ll address some of these pandemics,” Wolfe said. “I think the exciting thing about GVFI is that we’re really working on a daily basis to move that towards a reality.” To predict and prevent the next pandemic, GVFI will rely equally on hunters in Africa and analysts crunching data in California. “Whether it’s epidemiology or virology or computer science, we bring all of those to bear to find the best solutions to addressing these problems,” Wolfe said. Wolfe wants to confine images of plague-racing vaccine developers to movies like Contagion. “Historically, the way we’ve focused on disease control when it comes to pandemics is very much a reactive, responsive approach,” he said. “I think now we’ve crossed the threshold into having a lot of organizations and governments that now recognize that prediction is important.” According to Wolfe, stopping deadly bugs before they spread also depends on how individuals think about pandemics. In The Viral Storm, he talks about “risk literacy,” referring to the ability to compare and interpret relative risks. “I think there is a real importance for people to understand the nature of these risks,” Wolfe said. “And while we may not perceive them in the way that we perceive more visually traumatic risks like hurricanes and earthquakes, they represent, in many ways, more profound threats.”

CDC Reports:

National 11/04/11 Summary – Rabies has one of the highest case-fatality ratios of any infectious disease. This report provides recommendations for public health officials, veterinarians, animal control officials, and other parties engaged in rabies prevention and control activities and should serve as the basis for standardizing procedures among jurisdictions. The recommendations regarding domestic animal vaccination, management of animals exposed to rabies, and management of animals that bite humans are the core elements of animal rabies control and human rabies prevention. These updated 2011 guidelines include the national case definition for animal rabies and clarify the role of the CDC rabies laboratory in providing confirmatory testing of suspect animals. The table of rabies vaccines licensed and marketed in the United States has been updated, and additional references have been included to provide scientific support for information in this report. – National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, Inc. (NASPHV), Recommendations and Reports November 4, 2011 / 60(RR06); 1-14. – For complete report see

Lone GRAY WOLF in Oregon travels 300 miles crossing Cascades looking for mate and new territory ~ North Carolina confirms FERAL CAT and RACCOON test positive for RABIES.

Gray Wolf. Photo by Quarti. Wikimedia Commons.

Oregon 11/02/11 by Amelia Templeton – Biologists tracking a gray wolf from Northeastern Oregon say it has traveled more than 300 miles. The wolf crossed the Cascades and showed up in southwest Oregon not far from Crater Lake. It’s the first confirmed gray wolf in Western Oregon since the species was deliberately exterminated in the 1940s. The animal is code-named “Oregon-7.” It wears a GPS collar that sends data about its location several times a day. John Stephenson is a federal wolf biologist.

He says in the past, he’s found tracks in the snow in the Oregon cascades he thinks were left by a wolf. But he’s never been able to confirm a sighting. Stephenson says there’s a chance the collared wolf will help reveal a few more. “They’re dispersing to find a new territory but they’re also a pack animal so they’re also searching for a mate. We’ll see if they find one or not. They would be more effective at finding a lone wolf out there on the landscape than we’re able to do,” he said. Two wolf packs have recently established themselves in the Cascades in Washington State. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is evaluating whether wolves in western Oregon and Washington are a distinct population. The service should reach a decision early next year. Read more on this and other environmental stories at EarthFix.

North Carolina 11/01/11 Raleigh, Wake County: A feral cat that interacted with two people near the Meadow Ridge subdivision has tested positive for rabies. See

North Carolina 11/01/11 Durham County: Fourth rabies case this year confirmed in a raccoon involved in fight with pet dog. See

Florida officials say FERAL HOGS now inhabit all 67 of the state’s counties and may exceed one million in number ~ FERAL CATS with RABIES reported in California, & Georgia ~ Canada: Ontario town official warns PET owners of COYOTES on the prowl.

Feral hog. Photo credit: University of Florida.

Florida 11/01/11 by Jim Waymer – Wild hogs have been rooting for grubs, mole crickets and other creepy crawlies in the Suntree area, horrifying homeowners who cherish well-manicured yards. “They rip up the lawns. They’re going down about a foot or two feet,” said Edward Mangold, secretary of Waterford Pointe subdivision’s homeowners association. The 70-home subdivision in Suntree had to pay about $1,000 so far to have hogs trapped, he said. The slovenly pigs leave deep puddles and angry homeowners behind. “The just excavate the whole thing out,” Mangold said. The total number of trapped hogs rose to 19 this morning, when Melbourne trapper James Dean caught two more near the Waterford Pointe golf course. Other wild hogs have been trapped this month on Suntree Country Club’s Challenge golf course. Mangold suspects more are still on the loose.

Trappers say this is the wild hogs’ most active, hungriest time of the year. Heavy rains are driving them to higher ground, where they rip up yards and drive landscapers nuts. “We’re starting to get into the winter, so the pigs are fattening up right now,” said Dean. In June, hogs invaded Suntree and Grant-Valkaria. That time, a lagging wet season caused forest wetlands to recede, leaving lawn sprinklers as the pigs’ long-lost moisture source that lured them to their staple diet — insects they gobble up from damp soil. This time, recent rains flooded low-lying forests and drove hogs out to higher ground on greens, fairways and backyards. “I’ve actually had my traps underwater,” Dean said. He also uses pit bulls and other dogs to capture hogs. A dog rigged with a GPS device chases the pigs down, barking when it finds them. Then Dean releases a catch-dog fitted with a Kevlar vest for protection to hold the pig to the ground until Dean can arrive to hog tie the beast.

Most of Florida’s hogs live west of Lake Okeechobee, trappers say, but their range is expanding. Wild hogs may have been introduced by Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto as early as 1539. They now inhabit all 67 Florida counties and may exceed 1 million individual animals, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. – For complete article see|topnews|text|Home

California 11/01/11 Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County: Feral cat found on Las Palmas Drive tested positive for rabies. See

Georgia 10/31/11 Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County: Rabies alert issued after feral cat tested positive for the virus. See


Ontario 11/01/11 Benmiller, Huron County: Animal Control officer cautions area pet owners that a coyote attacked and nearly killed a dog last week. See

Delaware Division of Public Health program indicates the PIT BULL is most aggressive DOG breed in the state ~ Wyoming ELK HUNTER attacked by GRIZZLY in Grand Teton National Park ~ Scientists identify FUNGUS that causes BAT disease known as WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME.

Pit Bull. PD. Wikimedia Commons.

Delaware 10/30/11 by Esteban Parra – In Wilmington, it’s not uncommon for residents to be armed when they walk their dogs. Some carry large sticks. Others make sure to have flashlights. For Ken Swann, it’s bear spray — a substance similar to pepper spray that can shoot farther and is more potent. “I will not give up this park,” Swann said about Wilmington’s Canby Park, where he walks his red poodle, Gimli, and Hobbit, his bichon frise. “We kowtowed to them before. We’re not doing it again, and there are a whole lot of people out here that are refusing to give back the park.” Swann and the others say they carry their weapons not to protect themselves from muggers but from pit bulls whose numbers police say have increased in the city, the only municipality in the state with a law regulating how the breed is handled by owners while outdoors.

The increase in the number of pit bulls running freely also motivated police to more actively enforce the legislation that was enacted more than a decade ago. So far, police — who have teamed with animal control from the Delaware Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for 64 hours since Sept. 15 — have seized 39 pit bulls. Most of the seizures occurred because officers saw people walking dogs that were not muzzled or on a leash as required by the law.

The law was enacted in 2000 to curb problems that Wilmington residents were having with the breed, including dog fighting, dogs that needed to be shot after they threatened neighborhoods and children being attacked as they waited for school buses. In one case, it took 300 stitches to reattach a 4-year-old boy’s ear after a pit bull ripped it off. At that time, problems with pit bulls accounted for at least one-fourth of all animal complaints in Wilmington in the three years before the law was enacted — far more than for any other type of animal. SPCA officers — accompanied by Wilmington police officers — began searching for pit bulls throughout Wilmington and confiscating unregistered dogs anywhere they were found, including in yards and with their owners. Eleven pit bulls were seized in the first few hours of the law’s enforcement on July 25, 2000.


The pit bull breed has the highest number of bites reported for the last four years, according to the Delaware Division of Public Health’s rabies program. The data include all bites reported to the division, not just bite cases in which rabies prophylaxis was provided.


Total dog bites 1,353

Unknown 236

Pit bulls 235

Labs 124

German shepherds 113

Mixed breeds 65


Total dog bites 1,248

Unknown 237

Pit bulls 216

Labs 117

German shepherds 86

Mixed breeds 65


Total dog bites 1,381

Pit bulls 301

Unknown 206

Labs 124

German shepherds 101

Jack Russell terriers 53

2011 (as of Thursday)

Total dog bites 1,174

Pit bulls 251

Unknown 205

Labs 114

German shepherds 101

Mixed breeds 47

Wyoming 10/31/11 A hunter who was attacked by a bear while hunting in Grand Teton National Park was in good condition on Monday. Park officials said Timothy Hix, 32, of Jackson, was expected to be released from St. John’s Medical Center later in the day. Hix told rangers that he surprised what he believed was a grizzly bear about five to 10 yards away south of Glacier View overlook on Sunday. He said the bear ran at him but he wasn’t able to grab his pepper spray, so he dropped to the ground, covered his head and remained still. “He reported that the bear bit him a couple times and might have swiped him,” park spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles said Monday. Park officials said rangers believe the attack was a surprise encounter with a lone grizzly bear but noted that the investigation was still continuing. Grand Teton’s annual elk hunting program began Oct. 8. Hix hadn’t killed any elk before encountering the bear. The hunter responded appropriately to the attack, Anzelmo-Sarles said. “Sounds like he was doing everything right,” she said. “We want to commend him for doing the homework ahead of time.” Grizzlies killed two people in nearby Yellowstone National Park last summer. There have been six bear attacks in the history of Grand Teton National Park, but none have been fatal.

National 10/26/11 News Release by David Tenenbaum – Scientists have proven that the fungus Geomyces destructans causes white-nose syndrome, a fast-spreading and highly lethal disease of bats. Research published in the journal Nature provides the first direct evidence that this fungus is responsible for a disease that is decimating bats in North America.

Research at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and other institutions, showed that 100 percent of healthy little brown bats exposed to G. destructans developed white-nose syndrome while hibernating in captivity.

Little Brown Bat

White-nose syndrome is a skin infection that often begins around the muzzle, but the exact mechanism of mortality is unknown. “By identifying the causative agent of white-nose syndrome, this study provides information that is critical for developing management strategies to preserve vulnerable bat populations and the ecosystem services that they provide in the U.S. and Canada,” says study author David Blehert, a microbiologist at the Wildlife Health Center, and a honorary fellow at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UW–Madison.

Dr. David Blehert

Insect-eating bats provide ecological services that are estimated to save the U.S. agricultural industry billions of dollars each year in insect-control expenses. (Bats also eat untold numbers of insects that carry West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Dengue  and many other pathogens that pose a threat to animal, including human, life.) However, U.S. bat populations have been declining at an alarming rate since 2006, when white-nose syndrome first appeared in New York State. Since then, the fungus has spread southward and westward and has now been found in 16 states and four Canadian provinces.

Bat declines in the Northeast, the most severely affected region in the United States, have already exceeded 80 percent. G. destructans has reached Indiana and Ontario, Canada, and could shortly arrive in Wisconsin according to Jeffrey Lorch, a graduate student in the UW-Madison Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Center, who constributed to the study. Confirming G. destructans as the cause of white-nose syndrome could not only support research into various disease management strategies for bats, Lorch added, but also aid those trying to predict how fast and far it will spread. The results could further help explain why G. destructans is deadly to bats in North America, but not to bats in Europe. – For complete news release see

Atlanta attracting the BEARS but they’re not in town for a game ~ Missouri asking HUNTERS to help monitor DEER for CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE ~ Texas town reports six MOUNTAIN LION sightings in a week ~ a RABIES report from North Carolina ~ CDC Reports: ZOONOTIC DISEASE summary for week ending October 22, 2011.

Black bear in dumpster trash. Photo by Mass. Wildlife.

Georgia 10/21/11 by David Ibata – State wildlife biologists say black bears like the one that made himself at home this summer in the northern Perimeter area could be finding suburban Atlanta a nice, cozy place to settle down. So far, there are anecdotal signs pointing to the beginnings of a year-around bear presence in the suburbs. “We’re seeing indicators that it’s happening here and there,” Adam Hammond, wildlife biologist for the state Department of Natural Resources, told the AJC in a phone interview. “Every piece of information we collect about bears points to the same thing, that their population has grown tremendously” in the North Georgia mountains, Hammond said — and with that comes pressure on younger animals to migrate south. One ursine in particular became a local celebrity, sighted by police and residents in August in Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Johns Creek and unincorporated Fulton County near Roswell. Authorities speculated the bear had wandered in from the west, following the Chattahoochee River upstream. Eventually, they said, the animal would return to its home territory in the mountains. Maybe he did; sightings fell off after the first week in September. And maybe he didn’t.

DNR estimates that Georgia is home to at least 5,100 bears. About 4,000 live in North Georgia, up from roughly 1,200 four to five years ago, Hammond said. Researchers say the animals are expanding nationwide, and have shown up in such other areas as Birmingham and Tulsa, Okla. Locally, they’ve been sighted across the northern tier of suburbs, in such counties as Cobb, Cherokee, Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett. “If you’re somewhere around Canton or the north side of Atlanta, you’re more likely to have bears than the south side [of the region],” Hammond said. “But there’s really nowhere in the state where I would be surprised to see a bear.”

Why the boom in bruins? No one knows for certain, but it’s possibly because the animals aren’t as widely hunted as they once were. There was bear poaching, and many property owners considered the animals varmints and shot them whenever they encountered them, but both forms of killing have declined. The animals can be taken legally in Georgia during bear season, but legal hunting hasn’t kept pace. So, rapid population growth is putting pressure on young male bears. Kicked out of their dens in their second year by their mothers, and possibly pushed out of the North Georgia mountains by older dominant males, youngsters may be seeking new territory to the south. And to a bear, the Atlanta area is a big all-you-can-eat buffet of bird seed, pet food and garbage. “That’s one of the biggest problems with bears in metro area,” Hammond said. “If we get a bear in the mountains getting into someone’s trash … usually we can deal with it by getting residents to remove food sources.” “But in the metro area, with people and pets and houses and bird feeders, there’s just so much there, it’s just an endless supply of food.”

So how can people tell if there’s a bear out there taking up permanent residence? “This time of the year, if there are bears hanging out in the metro area, chances are they live there,” Hammond said. Another tip-off, he said, would be a known den site — none have been reported yet in the metro area — “or if people see sows (female bears) with cubs in the spring.” There has never been an unprovoked bear attack on a human in Georgia. But danger could arise if bears become accustomed to humans supplying them with food. “The best thing people can do is just basically allow the bear to remain wild,” Hammond said. “Don’t do anything to tame the bears. Don’t feed the bears on purpose. Don’t allow the bears to continually get into your garbage or bird feeders.” “Bears have an innate fear of people, but over time with food, they can lose that fear, and that’s not a good thing for the bear or for people. You just need to respect them and give them their space.”

Missouri 10/28/11 News Release – As part of its ongoing efforts to monitor free-ranging deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD), the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is asking hunters for help. Hunters who harvest adult deer in Linn, Macon and parts of Adair, Chariton, Randolph and Sullivan counties during the early youth portion and first two weekends of the November firearms portion are being asked to take their deer to the a roadside collection site for tissue sampling. For dates and locations see

Texas 10/28/11 Lorenzo, Crosby County: Six mountain lion sightings reported in the past week, including one from Lorenzo Police Chief Henry Benitez, and another from Police Officer Daniel Patterson. See

North Carolina 10/28/11 Morehead City, Cartaret County: Several dogs quarantined after bitten by raccoon that tested positive for rabies. See

CDC Reports:

CDC MMWR Summary for Week ending October 22, 2011:

Published October 28, 2011 / 60(42); 1461-1474

Anaplasmosis . . . 11 . . . Arkansas, Florida, New York (9),  

Babesiosis . . .  . . . New York (8), Pennsylvania,

Ehrlichiosis . . . 4 . . . Maryland, New York, Tennessee, Virginia,

Giardiasis . . . 207 . . . Arizona, Arkansas (2), California (24), Colorado (21), Florida (35), Georgia (4), Idaho (3), Iowa (2), Louisiana, Maine (5), Maryland (2), Missouri (8), Montana, Nebraska,  New York (49), North Dakota, Ohio (19), Oregon (5), Pennsylvania (14), South Carolina (4), Virginia, Washington (4),

HME/HGE Undetermined . . . 2 . . . Indiana (2),   

Lyme Disease . . .  311 . . . California, Delaware (5), Florida, Maryland (17), Michigan,  New Jersey (71), New York (80), North Carolina (3),  North Dakota (9),  Pennsylvania (112), Vermont (4),  Virginia (2), West Virginia (5),

Q Fever (Acute) . . . 1 . . . Michigan,

Rabies (Animal) . . . 31 . . . Alabama, California (2), Kansas, Maine, New York (8), Ohio, Puerto Rico (2), Virginia (13), West Virginia (2),

Spotted Fever (Confirmed) . . . 1 . . . South Carolina,

Spotted Fever (Probable) . . . 14 . . . Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee (2), Virginia (4), West Virginia,

Trichinosis . . . 1 . . . California.

Wisconsin deer HUNTER in tree stand attacked by BLACK BEAR sow with four cubs ~ Colorado officers kill two MOUNTAIN LIONS with taste for exotic LIVESTOCK ~ Montanan kills MOUNTAIN LION with taste for local PETS ~ DC & New Hampshire officials report unconfirmed MOUNTAIN LION sightings ~ Massachusetts PET killed by two COYOTES ~ Florida health officials say there’s a RABIES epidemic in Bay County ~ RABIES reports from Georgia, & North Carolina ~ California TICKS test positive for TULAREMIA ~ Interview: National RV Parks interview with Jerry Genesio ~ Follow-Up Reports: Chicago area SKUNK population at record high ~ Travel Warnings: First ever outbreak of DENGUE FEVER in the Marshall Islands.

Black Bear. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.

Wisconsin 10/27/11 by Dave Orrick – A Wisconsin deer hunter was recovering at home Thursday after a bear attacked her this week in Polk County. Lisa Lang, 28, of Clam Falls was bitten in the leg when the bear climbed 20 feet to her tree stand Tuesday. Lang escaped when the bear retreated, but her wound required 40 stitches. Bear attacks are rare, but this one featured such uncommon circumstances that several black bear experts said they couldn’t recall any quite like it. Lang said she was bow hunting about 6 p.m. on the edge of a freshly mowed, family-owned cornfield. A deer decoy was about 20 yards in front of her. Her husband, Jeff, was about 120 yards away in a tree stand across the field. Lang said she saw a mother bear and four cubs enter the field some 70 yards to the side. “The cubs were all playing, just moving along, and then when they got close to the decoy, they sort of got spooked or something,” she said. “I started hearing different noises and growling.” Lang said she didn’t think the bears were aware of her. “I think if they didn’t get startled by the decoy, none of this would’ve happened,” she said. The Langs said they believe they had seen the family of bears in the past several years but never had any problems. One of the cubs bolted from the decoy – and up a tree just a few yards from Lang’s stand. “He was eye level with me,” she said. “Then the sow came over and spotted me.” She and her husband estimated the bear to be more than 400 pounds. – For complete article see

Colorado 10/27/11 by Jessi Marlatt –  One llama and one alpaca have been killed by mountain lions outside of Ridgway in the past month. Both attacks occurred during the night, and both lions have been exterminated due to their desire for something a little less gamey. “Mountain lion attacks on livestock in Western Colorado are extremely rare,” said Joe Lewandowski, spokesperson for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, “and attacks on people here are exceedingly rare. Typically they eat deer, and there are plenty of them around.” Both attacks occurred at different properties near the intersection of County Road 1 and County Road 24. According to Lewandowski, before now, there had not been an attack on livestock by a mountain lion in the area for nearly 10 years. Currently, researchers have radio collars on 25 mountain lions in the area. “We don’t know how many lions are out there… because they are very hard to count,” said Lewandowski, “but killing these two cats does not endanger their population.” Both cats were young adults, roughly two years old, one female and one male. “This is very rare,” said Lewandowski, “but people still need to watch their pets and their livestock.” – For complete article see

Montana 10/27/11 by Melanie Crowson – A 6’8” long, 4-year-old male mountain lion that was working its way through the pet menu in a neighborhood near Plains was shot last weekend with permission from a state game warden. The big cat had set up housekeeping in tall grass just 30 feet from one family’s back porch where he may have been bedding down for much of the summer. See

District of Columbia 10/28/11 McLean Gardens, Northwest Washington: Resident reports mountain lion sighting near Glover Archibald Park, but National Park Service officers are skeptical. See

New Hampshire 10/28/11 Keene, Cheshire County: N.H. Fish and Game is investigating a claim that a mountain lion was spotted in the Monadnock Region last week. A photo of the cat has been given to F&W but they haven’t been able to confirm exactly where the photo was taken. See

Massachusetts 10/28/22 Falmouth, Barnstable County: Pet spaniel dies following attack by two coyotes. See

Florida 10/27/11 by Chris Segal – The Bay County Health Department has extended the rabies alert to include all of Bay County for 60 days and with the leading number of rabies cases in the state, county health Administrator Doug Kent called rabies an epidemic Thursday. From Springfield to Panama City Beach, seven wild animals, including feral cats, raccoons and a bat, have tested positive for rabies. On Tuesday a bat found in the area of Bay Point and a raccoon found near Springfield Elementary School both tested positive for rabies. “This is something we do not see very often,” Kent said. “We have seven different animals that have tested positive for rabies and in the wild animal kingdom this is spreading at a high rate. These animals are now coming into the cities and living areas from the surrounding areas.” In the past two weeks there have been two daytime raccoon-dog conflicts in a neighborhood off Laird Street near Panama City Beach. The raccoons have not been located, but they are suspected of being rabid. On average there are one or two animals that test positive for rabies annually, Kent said. “If you witness something unusual with an animal, if they are acting sluggish, aggressive or different, call Bay County Animal Control,” Kent said. NOTE: If bitten or scratched by an animal, report the injury to the Bay County Health Department at 872-4720, ext. 1125. If the animal is a stray or wild, contact the Bay County Animal Control at 248-6030 and report the location of the animal. – For complete article see

Georgia 10/27/11 Sandy Cross, Franklin County: At least three dogs have been attacked this week by skunks believed to have rabies. See

North Carolina 10/27/11 Marion, McDowell County: “Strange-acting raccoon” shot by local police tested positive for rabies. See

Dog tick

California 10/28/11 Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, San Diego County: Officials confirm ticks collected last week in Lopez Canyon tested positive for tularemia. See


National 10/28/11 National RV Parks interview with Jerry Genesio about pathogens commonly found in nature that everyone should be familiar with, especially campers, hikers, wildlife professionals, and others who work and/or play in the great North American outdoors. The National RV Parks website is a place where RV campers can read interviews with various people about topics of particular interest to them. See

 Follow-Up Reports:

(See September 29, 2011: Chicago wildlife pros trapping hundreds of SKUNKS)

Illinois 19/27/11 by Madhu Krishnamurthy – Wildlife experts say the skunk population in the six-county suburban region is at a record high largely because skunks have few natural predators thanks to their pungent defense mechanism, and there has not been a widespread disease outbreak killing off large numbers of the population in recent years. More than 700 skunks have been trapped to date this year as they scour neighborhoods in search of beetle grubs, berries and other delicacies. Experts say it’s nothing to cause alarm as nature will eventually exert its own population control — skunks typically succumb to an airborne virus known as distemper that also can affect unvaccinated pets.

One skunk hot spot is Des Plaines. Sightings are up significantly and trappings have doubled over the previous year, officials said. The city, unlike many of its neighbors, runs its own animal control program. While it budgeted a little more than $3,000 for skunk removal, this year the city already has spent more than $4,500, Police Chief Jim Prandini said. “It’s a banner year for them,” Prandini said. “Current protocol is to have our animal control inspector offer a cage” so residents can trap the skunks, which then are turned over to ABC Wildlife of Arlington Heights. “We are one of the few towns that still provide a service to handle the problem,” Prandini said. “We’re looking to hopefully speed up the process, get outside animal control vendors involved to reduce some of the work” for city employees.

ABC Wildlife destroys skunks in accordance with state law. Captured skunks cannot be released because they have a higher than average rabies occurrence, officials said. The agency works directly with residents and municipalities throughout the six-county region servicing more than 100 homes a day with traps. In 2010, ABC Wildlife trapped 563 skunks. So far this year, the company has caught 735 skunks. “What keeps their population in check is the control of their food source and disease,” said Rebecca Fyffe, a state-certified wildlife biologist and wildlife educator for ABC Wildlife. Skunks’ preferred snack in preparation for winter is the beetle grub — a high-fat, protein-rich food similar in its nutritional makeup to pine nuts. Fyffe said often, when residents call suspecting moles wrecking their yard, it’s actually skunks digging conical holes in search of grubs. Though skunks troll for food throughout the year, the digging gets more prevalent right before winter months when skunks hole up in dens. – For complete article see

Travel Warnings:

Marshall Islands 10/28/11 & For the first time, the Republic of the Marshall Islands is reporting an outbreak of dengue fever. The cases have been seen almost exclusively in the capital, Majuro. The Ministry of Health is advising all residents of the Marshall Islands on mosquito avoidance measures. There have been as many as 60 confirmed cases of the disease reported in a matter of 48 hours. The rapid rise in the number of cases has prompted authorities to request aid from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.