Utah 12/31/13 ctvnews.ca: by Michelle L. Price – The mystery illness that has killed 27 bald eagles in Utah this month appears to be West Nile Virus, state officials said Tuesday. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said in a statement that laboratory tests done on some of the first birds found indicate they died from West Nile Virus. Since Dec. 1, officials have found the birds in northern and central Utah. All were either dead or were ill and later died during treatment. The eagles displayed similar symptoms, including head tremors, signs of seizures, weakness in legs and feet and a paralysis of the bird’s wings. Beyond the 27 that have died, officials said five eagles were being treated at a wildlife rehabilitation centre Tuesday. They appeared to be responding well to treatment, officials said. Utah wildlife officials aren’t sure how the eagles caught the virus, but they suspect the birds contracted it by eating Eared Grebes that were infected with the virus and died recently.
West Nile Virus, which is spread by mosquitoes, usually infects eagles and other birds during warmer months. Mark Hadley, a Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokesman, said the grebes, a duck-like aquatic bird, start arriving in Utah in October, when mosquitoes are still active. “It’s possible that those grebes got bit by mosquitoes after they got here when they arrived in the fall, and it just took a while for them to die.” The bald eagles began arriving in November and appeared to have died relatively quickly once they contracted the virus, Hadley said. About 750 to 1,200 bald eagles begin migrating to Utah each November and stay until March, officials said. During those winter months, the eagles get most of their food by eating dead animals, such as grebes.
Leslie McFarlane, a wildlife disease coordinator with DWR, said in a statement that there’s still a chance a few more eagles could die, but because the migration period for grebes is almost over, it’s likely that the risk to eagles will soon drop. The birds do not pose a risk to human health but people should not handle eagles if they find them, wildlife officials said. Hadley said that in the 17 years he’s been with DWR, he has never seen this many eagles die off, particularly in such a short period of time. – See http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/west-nile-virus-caused-27-bald-eagle-deaths-in-december-utah-wildlife-officials-1.1613441
Colorado 12/27/13 Douglas County: The town of Parker may be 20 miles from the foothills, but officials sent an e-mail to residents on Thursday warning that mountain lions have been sighted inside the town limits. It cautioned residents not to walk or hike alone, and to make sure children are within sight at all times. – For additional advice see http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/parker-issues-warning-after-mountain-lions-spotted
(See CHIKUNGUNYA virus spreads in the AMERICAS posted 12/15/13)
Caribbean Islands 12/30/13 cidrap.umn.edu: by Lisa Schnirring – Health officials are reporting a sharp rise in the number of patients sickened in a chikungunya fever outbreak centered on the Caribbean island of St. Martin, which may signal an increasing risk to the US mainland. On the French part of the island, where most of the infections have been reported, the number of confirmed cases has risen from 26 to 66, according to a Dec 28 update from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). In addition, health officials from the Netherlands have confirmed the first case on the Dutch side of St. Martin (Sint Maarten), and illnesses have been detected on two other nearby islands: three on Martinique and one on Guadeloupe, according to the ECDC report. Both of those islands are south and slightly east of St. Martin. The case in Guadeloupe represents the island’s first documented local chikungunya case, which was detected because of enhanced surveillance for the disease in all French Caribbean territories, the ECDC said. The patient is co-infected with dengue serotype 4 and had not recently traveled to another area where chikungunya exists. Meanwhile, health officials in the area are investigating a slew of suspected and probable cases. They include 167 suspected cases and 14 probable cases on the French side of St. Martin, and two patients have been hospitalized. Martinique has 27 suspected cases, and on the island of St. Barthelemy, 21 suspected cases are under investigation. The outbreak represents the first known indigenous transmission of chikungunya fever in the Americas. – For complete article and precautions see http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2013/12/caribbean-chikungunya-outbreak-grows-poses-threat-us
National 12/30/13 thehorse.com: by Amy Johnson, DVM – It is hard to get a roomful of people to agree on anything, but just about every veterinarian attending the Lyme disease table topic session at the 2013 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention, held Dec. 7-11 in Nashville, Tenn., agreed that more research is needed on this disease in horses. We do know that Lyme disease is an increasingly recognized problem in people living in areas where the causative organism, Borrelia burgdorferi, is endemic. These areas include the northeast and north-central United States. We also know that Borrelia is capable of infecting horses. Despite only a handful of published case reports describing clinical signs in infected horses, many practitioners in endemic areas are convinced that they see cases of Lyme disease in horses. The most common signs in these cases are behavior changes, lethargy or poor attitude, and change in gait/lameness. Uveitis (inflammation within the eye) and neuroborreliosis (neurologic disease due to Lyme disease) are occasionally seen as well. So if a horse is showing possible signs of Lyme disease, how can it be diagnosed? Several blood tests are available that will identify antibodies against Borrelia. The presence of antibodies (in an unvaccinated horse) indicates that the horse has been infected with Borrelia at some point in its life. The pattern of antibody production might help to ascertain whether infection is acute or chronic. However, more research is needed regarding patterns of antibody production in infected horses. – For complete article see http://www.thehorse.com/articles/33123/aaep-researchers-discuss-lyme-disease-in-horses
Florida 12/31/13 Hamilton County: A bobcat that attacked a dog in Jennings has tested positive for rabies. A Rabies Alert has been issued within the boundaries of CR 141 North, CR 143 North, and CR 146. – See http://www.suwanneedemocrat.com/jasper/x1956145775/Health-officials-in-Hamilton-County-issue-rabies-alert
Florida 12/30/13 Palm Beach County: Two raccoons that attacked dogs in West Palm Beach and Jupiter Farms last week have tested positive for rabies. And a third raccoon that attacked a dog near A1A in Tequesta over the weekend is presumed rabid. – See http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/two-raccoons-that-attacked-dogs-in-west-palm-beach/ncYDM/
Virginia 12/30/13 Prince William County: A domestic cat that appeared to be injured was picked up near Powells Landing Circle in Woodbridge on December 20th and has since tested positive for rabies. – See http://manassas.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/cat-with-rabies-found-in-prince-william-county