Monthly Archives: July 2010

West Nile Virus reports from Arizona, California (3), Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, New York (3), North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

The following bird species have been reported to CDC's West Nile Virus avian mortality database from 1999-present. The Common Nighthawk above. Others below individually identified.

Arizona 07/27/10 by Holiday Moore – Phoenix – The number of mosquitoes in the Valley that carry the deadly West Nile virus has doubled since this time last year, according to the Maricopa County Department of Environmental Services.   And, they’re multiplying fast, said the department’s John Townsend.  The Culex mosquito is the one that carries West Nile virus.  Mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile have been found all over the Valley, Townsend said.  “It runs the gamut from a tract home neighborhood to farming and flood irrigation to horse properties.”  Culex mosquitoes are not the ones you see at dawn and dusk, he said.  “They’re active at nighttime, after the sun goes down, at 9, 10, 11 o’clock at night.”  The Culex breeds in murky swimming pools, dog dishes and kiddie pools. If water stands for more than five days, chances are the Culex is breeding there, said Townsend.  “Within about five and a-half to seven days, they can go from an egg to an adult and then they’re out trying to find their blood milk,” he said.  Maricopa County vector control has been spraying for the Cutex mosquito across the Valley, from Gilbert to Peoria.  The county has had 10 cases of West Nile virus this year, most of them in the East Valley, including a woman who died in early July.

California 07/28/10 Five mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus in western San Bernardino County, prompting a warning to residents to protect themselves from bites.  Three of the samples were collected in Ontario, one in Rancho Cucamonga and one in Chino Hills. The mosquitoes were collected on July 12 and 19 by the West Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District.  “This warm weather, coupled with early rainfall and increased backyard (i.e. neglected swimming pools) sources, are prime conditions for mosquitoes to thrive. … West Nile virus is not going away,” said Dr. Min-Lee Cheng, district manager, in a news release.  Statewide, five human cases have been reported, in Stanislaus, Fresno and Kern counties. Last year at this time, only one case had been reported. 07/28/10 CBS47 talked with the first person in Fresno County to be infected with the West Nile virus this year.  Lorelei Wolfe started feeling sick a few weeks ago suffered from a fever and lots of aches and pains.  Wolfe went to the hospital twice in an attempt to get well with no luck.  Days later and still suffering, Wolfe got some helpful advice from a friend. “Fortunately I have a friend who works for the Mosquito Abatement District and she called me and told me that I needed to have a West Nile virus test, so I called my regular physician and went to the lab and got tested.”  Wolfe says the test results just came back on Monday and they were positive for the virus.  Wolfe is Fresno County’s first human case of the West Nile virus this year.  There were 13 cases of the West Nile virus in 2009, including one fatality.

Western Tanager.


California 07/27/10 by C. Johnson – The discovery of more West Nile virus-infected mosquitos and dead birds in parts of Sacramento and Placer counties means there will be more aerial spraying to help eradicate the virus.  According to the California West Nile virus website,  there have been four confirmed human cases of the virus in 2010, three of them in Stanislaus County and the other from Kern County.

Colorado 07/28/10 Mosquitoes from one trap in southeast Fort Collins have tested positive for West Nile virus, according to officials at the Larimer County Department of Health and

Mountain Bluebird.

Environment. The mosquitoes were collected July 19–23.   “The numbers of Culex mosquitoes, the kind that carry West Nile virus, are increasing rapidly in this hot weather,” said Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, director of the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment.   “It’s already been a week since many of those mosquitoes were trapped, so it’s likely that the number of infected mosquitoes has risen since then,” LeBailly added. “Especially for the next six weeks, it’s very important to wear repellent between dusk and dawn, when Culex mosquitoes are most active.” 07/27/10 Three mosquito pools in Skokie have tested positive for West Nile Virus, according to the village’s health department.   So far, no human cases of the virus have been reported in Skokie this year, according to the release.  This year, West Nile-infected mosquitoes have been found in 11 counties statewide, including Cook.   In suburban Cook County, in addition to Skokie, infected mosquitoes or birds have been found in Evanston, Oak Lawn and Northbrook.   However, no human cases of illness relating to West Nile have been detected in the city or elsewhere in Illinois this year.


Maryland 07/28/10 Although the number of West Nile virus cases has sharply declined since its peak in 2003, scientists are asking the public to remain vigilant as ongoing regional testing

Baltimore Oriole

shows the virus is still a threat.  Dan Schamberger, environmental specialist with the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Mosquito Control Section, said the area is seeing unusually low mosquito population numbers; however, there is still evidence of viral transmission.  The program, Schamberger said, has several surveillance traps set up throughout the state, and samples are sent weekly to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in Baltimore.  “So far, we’ve had one pool of mosquitoes from Anne Arundel County test positive for (WNV),” he said. “There are no positive cases on the Eastern Shore but surrounding states, such as Pennsylvania and Virginia, have detected the virus.”  In Delaware, the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Mosquito Control Section detected its first positive WNV case of the year Thursday at a Wilmington monitoring station.

New York 07/28/10 Nassau County Department of Health has reported its first confirmed case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Nassau County this year. It is important to keep up your guard against mosquitoes and the viruses they carry. To date seven mosquito pools have tested positive for West Nile Virus.  Nassau County Departments of Health and Public Works will continue their mosquito control efforts by inspecting breeding sites and when necessary, applying larvicide. Mosquito surveillance will continue at 42 trap sites located throughout the county.

New York 07/27/10 The New York State Department of Health notified Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS) Commissioner James L. Tomarken that eight mosquito samples, including two collected in Huntington, have been confirmed as testing positive for West Nile virus. The

Eastern Screech Owl

samples were collected on July 13.  West Nile virus, first detected in Suffolk County in 1999 and again each year thereafter through 2010, is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. No humans, horses or birds have tested positive for West Nile Virus in Suffolk this year. However, a New Hyde Park resident was recently reported as the first individual in the state to contract the West Nile infection.

New York 07/27/10 Buffalo – Erie County Health Commissioner Anthony Billittier is calling for increased awareness after a poll of mosquitoes have tested positive for the West Nile Virus.  The positive test came from a pool of mosquitoes captured by the CDC at Sprague Brook Park in the Town of Concord, New York.

North Dakota 07/28/10 Bismark – North Dakota has a second confirmed human case of West Nile virus.  The state health department on Wednesday said the Ward County boy was not hospitalized.  West Nile virus was first identified in North Dakota in 2002.  Since then, nearly 1,300 human cases of the mosquito-borne illness have been reported.  Last year, there was only one confirmed case in the state.  The highest human case total in North Dakota was 617, seven years ago.

Tennessee 07/27/10 by Shane Myers – Memphis – The Tennessee Department

Tennessee Warbler

of Health Laboratory in Nashville has identified mosquito specimens from Shelby County that tested positive for the West Nile Virus. The specimen pool of mosquitoes was collected on July 19th, 20th and 22nd in the 38018, 38104, 38115, 38117, 38127, 38135, and 38141 zip codes of Shelby County. These positive pools indicate that West Nile Virus is present in the County.

Texas 07/27/10 Houston – When the rain clouds roll through, so too do waves of mosquitoes… nothing uncommon says Dr. Bueno with the Harris County mosquito control.  “When we get these rains, it triggers the eggs to hatch and they develop in the water and then they come off.”  These are likely the mosquitoes you are swatting at the second you step outside, but its a second wave of mosquitoes that concerns those who know the insects best… “these are the ones that carry the West Nile Virus.”  Dr. Bueno is referring to the southern house mosquito.. they thrive on the calm after the storm, making their homes in the left over standing water. “Those are the ones that we monitor every week, we’ll go out and set traps”  So far, 23 mosquito samples, positive for the West Nile Virus, have shown up….”Expect more in August because usually, July, August and September is when we start to see increased activity.”

Virginia 07/27/10 by La Tosha Headley – The city of Alexandria has acquired some

Virginia Rail

neighbors that have done anything but give a friendly welcome to the community.  This sudden stir has caused the Environmental Health Division to take action. In the city of Alexandria Mosquito collections for testing have shown that some results came out positive for the mosquito borne disease known as West Nile Virus.  Fortunately there has been no human case of this virus this year but we still need to help out the community so that there continues to be no case of this virus.

Rabies reports from California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia (2).

California 07/28/10 by Pat Brennan – The Orange County Health Care Agency says rabid bats have been found in Newport Beach and Orange — and urged anyone who might have made contact with bats in either city to call health care officials immediately.  Rabies virus was picked up in tests of two bat carcasses, health care officials said. The virus can be fatal to humans if not treated, and people can be infected if bitten, a statement from the agency said Wednesday.  Health Care officials are especially worried about anyone who might have touched a bat before 6 p.m. Monday near the bike trail at University Drive and Jamboree Road in Newport Beach, or before 3:30 p.m. near the Bank of America at 2680 N. Tustin Ave. in Orange.  The two dead bats that tested positive were found at those two points, although the agency does not know if anyone was exposed to the bats, said spokeswoman Deanne Thompson.

Florida 07/28/10 Melbourne – Health officials in Brevard County issued a rabies warning for a Melbourne neighborhood.  Authorities said a raccoon found on Trimble Road tested positive for the disease on Tuesday.  Officials with the Brevard County Health Department said rabies can be fatal to humans if it’s not treated in time. Anyone who has been exposed to stray animals or believes their pet was exposed should contact Animal Services at 321-633-2024.

Illinois 07/28/10 Zion – Lake County Health Department officials announced Tuesday that a 10th bat has tested positive for rabies this summer and continued to caution residents to avoid contact with the animals.  “Because the bat was found in the room where the resident was sleeping, we have advised the resident to receive treatment as a precaution since there is the possibility that the bat could have bitten him in his sleep,” said Health Department Executive Director Irene Pierce.  To date, rabid bats have been found in Beach Park, Grayslake, Fox Lake, Lake Villa, Third Lake, Long Grove, Waukegan (3) and Zion.  In 2009, nine bats tested positive for rabies in Lake County.

Louisiana 07/28/10  by Bruce Schultz – Louisiana horse owners are being urged to get their animals vaccinated for rabies.  A horse in Jefferson Davis Parish was recently diagnosed with rabies, said Christine Navarre, LSU AgCenter Extension veterinarian.  In addition, a dog in Lafayette Parish was diagnosed with the disease this year. Two skunks were also found to have the disease, one in Lafayette Parish and the other in St. Martin Parish.  “Rabies is endemic in Louisiana,” Navarre said.

New Jersey 07/27/10 by Jaime Marine – Pittsgrove Township — Health officials have confirmed a fourth case of rabies in Salem County this year. The incident happened on July 16, according to the Salem County Health Department on Tuesday.  The infected animal was a raccoon in Pittsgrove Township. A man, according to the county health department, observed a raccoon acting strangely in his backyard in the middle of the day.  He shot the animal with a pellet gun and called animal control to send the raccoon for testing, according to a news release issued by the county health department. The raccoon tested positive for rabies. Health department officials said this case serves as a reminder to the community to be cautious of wild animals.

Ohio 07/27/10  Health officials in Delaware County are warning pet owners to make sure their pets’ rabies vaccinations are up to date after a third rabid bat was found.  The bat was found in Genoa Township in Delaware County, near Westerville, according to the Delaware County General Health District.   Two other rabid bats were discovered about two months ago in Galena and northern Radnor Township.   Area residents are urged to make sure that their pets are vaccinated against rabies, and to be on the lookout for dead bats and wild animals displaying unusual behavior.   The rabid bats found along State Route 203 north of Radnor and Columbus Street in Galena were the first confirmed in Delaware County this year.   Five were found in the county in each of the last two years.   The Ohio Department of Health reported that a total of 43 rabid bats were found in Ohio last year.  No human rabies infections have been confirmed here for many years.

Tennessee 07/28/10 Knoxville – Knox County health officials have set up a three-day hotline for people who may have had exposure to a bat with rabies found on the UT Medical Center campus.  The bat was found in a courtyard area on Saturday, July 24 between the Boling Pavilion and Graduate School of Medicine building.  No human exposures have been reported.  However, if you were in that area before 5:00 p.m. that day and had contact with a bat, please call the Knox County Health Department at 865-215-5555 to find out if you may need rabies post-exposure vaccine.

Texas 07/28/10 An increase in the number of rabies in domestic animals has caused the Bell County Public Health District to release a rabies alert for all of Bell County.  The increase in rabies is being seen in unvaccinated cats and can occur in rural, suburban and urban settings. Rabies is endemic in wild animals in Central Texas.  The Texas Department of Health Services determined there have been five animal rabies suspects that have tested positive for rabies through July 21, 2010. Three of the cases were in unvaccinated cats; The other two were skunks.

Vermont 07/26/10 Bennington  – Vermont officials said an attack on an 8-year-old boy was the sixth by rabid gray foxes in the state this year.  Officials said Rimmele Wood was playing in his family’s yard in Bennington on July 11 when a fox appeared and bit him on the leg.  The boy’s father, Ned Wood, told the Bennington Banner that he had to kill the fox with an ax to free his son.  The fox tested positive for rabies. Father and son are receiving treatment.  Robert Johnson, the state public health veterinarian, said there are usually just a few fox attacks every year, but that the high rate this year is alarming.

Virginia 07/27/10 Thomas Jefferson Health District (TJHD) officials say the number of animals positively confirmed with rabies locally has increased 67% over the same time period last year. TJHD covers the jurisdictions of Charlottesville, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson.  Between January and July of 2010, 15 animals were positively identified as having rabies, as compared to 9 animals during the same time period in 2009.   “Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the nervous system and is deadly if not treated in time,” said TJHD Environmental Health Manager Jeffrey McDaniel. “The increase in the number of animals with rabies is a public health concern, especially due to the number of humans and domestic animals potentially exposed.”   Since January of this year, TJHD has followed up on 14 humans, 10 dogs and one cat known to have been in contact with an animal that tested positive for rabies.

Virginia 07/27/10 Accomack — Recent attacks by rabid foxes near the towns of Bloxom and Onley are reminders that residents must all keep a heightened sense of awareness regarding this deadly disease, authorities say.  So far this year there have been eight laboratory confirmed cases of rabies on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, the Eastern Shore Health District is reporting.  Seven of these cases were in Accomack, near the towns of Bloxom, Hallwood, Melfa, and Onley. In Northampton County there has been one case this year near the town of Franktown.  Rabies is now endemic in our raccoon population with spillover into other species. High risk species include raccoons, foxes, skunks, cats, and bats.

Dengue fever report from Florida. Eastern Equine Encephalitis reports from Florida (2), Massachusetts, and Michigan.

Florida 07/22/10  by Marc Valero – Sebring – The summertime annoyance of biting mosquitoes has increasingly become a concern in Florida with one death and a number of cases of mosquito-borne illnesses. Statewide one county is under an “alert” and 11 counties an “advisory” for mosquito-borne illness. No mosquito-related illnesses have been reported in Highlands County, but cases of eastern equine encephalitis and dengue fever have occurred recently in Central Florida. A woman in northern Hillsborough County died this month from eastern equine encephalitis, the Hillsborough County Health Department said Tuesday. This is the first death in the state from the disease since 2008. The Florida Department of Health reports five cases of dengue fever in Central Florida: one in Seminole, two in Orange, one in Marion and one in Osceola counties. This year, 17 cases of dengue have been reported in Key West, according to the FDOH. The last outbreak in the state was in 1934. There have been no reported cases of dengue fever, West Nile Virus nor eastern equine encephalitis in Highlands County, Leona Braithwaite, Highlands County Health Department epidemiologist, said Wednesday. It’s considered an outbreak in Monroe County, she said.

Florida 07/23/10 by Heather Biance – A family member has confirmed for WCTV that the man who died from EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalitis) in Sopchoppy, Florida this month was James Henry Burge, JR.   James who also went by J.B. passed away on July 10th at a Tallahassee hospital.   Family members say he was an avid outdoorsman and was a retired postal worker.

Massachusetts 07/24/10  by Elizabeth Cooney – The death of a horse infected with Eastern equine encephalitis could signal a severe year for the disease, which is spread by mosquitoes and can be lethal to humans, public health officials warned yesterday.  A 7-month-old stallion in Middleborough was euthanized Wednesday, a day after showing symptoms. The state Department of Public Health confirmed the infection yesterday as Eastern equine encephalitis.  A horse also died of the disease last September, although there were no human cases last year.  A horse death this early in the season, combined with early evidence of infected mosquitoes, raises the level of concern, said state epidemiologist Dr. Alfred DeMaria. There were 13 human cases and six deaths from 2004 through 2006 and one case in 2007-2008.  “We are seeing early indicators that lead us to believe this may be a bad EEE year,’’ he said in a statement. “Evidence of EEE-infected mosquitoes and a horse with EEE this early in the season is similar to what we saw in 2006, and we had five human cases that year. We urge people to take this seriously and do what they need to do to protect themselves and their families.’’

Michigan 07/26/10  Lansing – Michigan authorities say a viral brain disease that can kill humans has been confirmed in three horses this year in the state.  Mosquitoes can spread eastern equine encephalitis to horses and humans, and authorities say people should use repellant or stay out of areas with heavy mosquito infestations. The departments of Community Health and Agriculture said today that Michigan State University confirms a 3-month-old filly from Calhoun County and a 12-month-old male from Barry County tested positive for the illness.  One other horse case was confirmed last week in Cass County.  The state says there are several horses in Cass County “highly suspect” for the disease.

NEWLY DISCOVERED HEPATITIS C-RELATED VIRUS FOUND IN BATS: Wildlife Trust Scientist Employs Advanced Genetic Sequencing to Uncover New Pathogen.

NEW YORK – July 12, 2010 – Wildlife Trust, the global conservation health organization, announced the discovery of a previously unknown pathogen that may offer insight into the origins of the Hepatitis C virus.  The virus, tentatively named GBV-D is related to a group of GB viruses, previously only known to occur in monkeys and humans.  Dr. Jonathan Epstein, Associate Vice President of Conservation Medicine Programs at Wildlife Trust, reveals in a paper published in PLoS Pathogens that the new viral discovery is part of a large family of viruses, called Flaviviridae, which includes the Hepatitis C virus, GB viruses and others. Viral hepatitis affects more than 500 million people worldwide and is the leading cause of liver failure and liver cancer.

Wildlife Trust scientists are actively surveying wildlife species, such as bats, for viruses that may threaten human health in key regions all over the world that are highly vulnerable to disease emergence. The team was actively testing bats for the deadly Nipah virus that infects and kills people each year in Bangladesh. It is estimated that infectious diseases lead to 13 million human fatalities per year. Additionally, over three-quarters of emerging infectious diseases are a result of zoonotic pathogens.

Bangladesh is a notable emerging disease hot spot due to its dense population and the close association between wildlife and humans. Scientists tested 100 giant fruit bats, Pteropus giganteus, in the Faridpur region of the country.  “Bangladesh is densely populated and large colonies of bats roost in close proximity to people.  We know from studying Nipah virus that bat viruses can be transmitted to people through food-borne pathways,” said Dr. Jonathan Epstein.  

Bats are known to be the reservoir for many zoonotic viruses including rabies, Ebola, Marburg, Hendra, Nipah, and SARS.  Wildlife Trust is working to predict and prevent emerging diseases by actively testing wildlife in critical hot spots around the world. “The Indian subcontinent and South Asia are areas where we are ardently working to identify the next possible pandemic disease,” stated Dr. Peter Daszak, President of Wildlife Trust.  

In the lab, the bat blood samples were analyzed using high-throughput pyrosequencing – an emerging platform for DNA analysis. The technology has helped scientists improve genomic sequencing and enabled Dr. Epstein to discover the new GBV-D virus. “It’s essential to understand if and how viruses are being transmitted from animals to people in an outbreak setting such as SARS, but it’s equally important to identify the natural reservoir of the virus, which may not be directly infecting people, to ensure that more outbreaks don’t happen in the future,” said Dr. Epstein. “With our preliminary research it’s too early to tell if GBV-D could cause disease in human populations our next steps will require testing people that come in contact with these bats to gauge possible infections.”

Contact Info: Anthony M. Ramos
Wildlife Trust
Tel: 212.380.4469 or 914.787.9631

Rabies reports from Florida, Georgia (2), Illinois, Iowa, New Jersey, and New York.

Florida 07/22/10 A domestic cat that bit and scratched an elderly woman in Allentown on July 16 has tested positive for the rabies virus.  Santa Rosa County Animal Control officers and the Sheriff’s Office have been going door to door in the Penton Road area, notifying residents of the infection and asking those with pets for proof of current vaccination.

Georgia 07/22/10 Gainesville – The 9th case of rabies this year has been reported in Hall County.  This one, like many of the others, was reported in North Hall in the Oliver Crest Road area.  Officials with Hall County Animal Services said a dog came in contact with a raccoon in the area Monday.  It was then shipped to the Georgia Public Health Lab where it tested positive for the disease.

Georgia 07/22/10 by Sheila A. Marshall – Officials have confirmed that a rabid fox has been killed in Spalding County.  According to Spalding County Interim Assistant County Manager Virginia Martin, the animal was reported to authorities Saturday, July 10.  “There was a call into 911 that reported a fight between a dog and a fox,” Martin said, adding that the incident occurred on Moreland Road.   She said that by the time Animal Control officers responded to the scene, the dog’s owner had shot and killed the fox.  “Animal Control collected the animal and sent it for testing, which is standard procedure,” Martin said. “We got the report Thursday afternoon that the fox was rabid.”  The dog involved in the fight is now being treated for rabies.

Illinois 07/22/10 by Jane Michaels – Seven rabid bats have been found in La Grange and LaGrange Park, according to Cook County health officials. The bats were found in homes and yards, not forest preserves, said Amy Poore, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Health Department.   “At this time last year, there were only three bats in all of Cook County. Now there’s 10,” Poore said. “That’s an increase here in a concentrated area, and the state has seen an increase as well.”  Health experts haven’t determined the cause of the rabies increase.   “Why there are more now we really don’t know,” Poore said. “There are just natural fluctuations.”   Poore cautioned area residents to watch for abnormal behavior from bats, such as seeing them during the day or flying low to the ground, as indicators of rabies.   “It’s always safer to assume you should never touch a bat,” Poore said. “If a bat is inside your house, trap it in a room and call the local animal control. If it’s on the ground, don’t assume that it’s dead and approach it.”

Iowa 07/21/10 A northwest Iowa family is getting a lesson in the dangers of trying to make wild animals pets. The family found a baby skunk and brought it home to raise as a pet. Iowa Department of Public Health state medical director, Patricia Quinlisk, says the animal became sick and tested positive for rabies, and now the family has to be treated.  Quinlisk says all five members of the family have to get rabies shots, and the family dog, which was not vaccinated for rabies, will have to be put down or quarantined for six months. Some visitors to the family will also have to get rabies shots

New Jersey 07/21/10 by Brent Johnson – Edison – A raccoon captured in Edison this week is the 13th animal to test positive for rabies in Middlesex County this year, health officials said yesterday.  An unidentified resident of Dobson Road in South Edison spotted the raccoon wandering through his neighborhood Monday night and called authorities, saying the animal looked sick. Township animal control officers captured the raccoon, which had slipped underneath a shed, said Jay Elliot, Edison’s health director.  The township sent the animal to the state health laboratory for testing, and results came back yesterday that it tested positive for rabies.

New York 07/22/10 Rome –  At least three persons, two of them children, were exposed to a kitten that tested positive for rabies and are now undergoing Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), Dr. Gayle Jones, Oneida County Director of Health said.  The incident occurred on North George Street in the City of Rome and health officials are concerned that the infected kitten may be one of a litter of several that could pose a health threat to others who come into contact with them. The rabid kitten was taken to the Rome Humane Society, possibly exposing personnel to the deadly virus.   “This incident underscores the importance of avoiding contact with all stray and feral animals,” Jones said. She continued, “there is no way of knowing if a strange animal may be infected, as was the case with this kitten, or has had rabies vaccinations. If contact is made with an animal that’s not known to us, the risk of infection with the virus exists and there would be no way of verifying that the animal is free of disease, should it run away. And the location of this incident, the heart of the city, demonstrates the fact that you need not be in the ‘great outdoors’ to encounter a rabid animal.”   According to the health department, the kitten was found in a neighborhood where there is a feral cat population that is fed by some residents living in the area.

West Nile Virus reports from Colorado, Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania (2). Eastern Equine Encephalitis reports from Florida (2). Highlands J Virus report from Florida. And Dengue fever report from Florida.

More bird species that have been reported to CDC's West Nile Virus avian mortality database. Depicted above is the Acorn Woodpecker. Others are identified below.

Colorado 07/21/10 by Joe Rubino – A pool of 65 mosquitoes found in a pond at Longmont’s Jim Hamm Nature Area has tested positive for West Nile Virus, Boulder County Public Health officials said today.  Colorado Mosquito Control, an outside contractor employed by the county, collected the sample and will be spraying for mosquitoes in the Jim Hamm area this afternoon.  Chana Goussetis, Boulder County Public Health spokeswoman, said that mid-July is typically the time when her office begins to see people exhibiting illness resulting from West Nile Virus.  “It’s just a reminder that West Nile is still a risk,” Goussetis said. “We’re going to see more positives as the summer progresses.”  There were 12 human cases of West Nile Virus reported in Boulder County last year. None were fatal.

Florida 07/21/10 This is to advise that there has been increased mosquito-borne disease activity in areas of Jackson County. Three horses around the County have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) with the most recent one being located on Custis St. Southwest of Marianna.  The risk of transmission to humans has increased.

Florida 07/20/10 by Gary Taylor – Mosquitoes and the viruses they carry are prompting concerns across Central Florida this

Great Blue Heron

summer.  Lake, Osceola and Polk counties are under advisories after various mosquito-borne diseases have been detected in the environment.  No human cases contracted locally have been reported in Metro Orlando. But the warning signs, an uptick in animal infections and horse deaths, prompted officials to step up sprayings and issue reminders for people to take precautions against bites.  “We are always at risk for mosquito-borne diseases each and every year,” said Dain Weister, an Orange County Health Department spokesman.  So far this year, at least 50 horses in 21 counties have posted positive for mosquito-borne Eastern equine encephalitis.  Most have died or been euthanized, including eight in Osceola and two in Volusia, state health officials said.  More than a dozen sentinel chickens each in Orange and Volusia counties and one in Seminole have tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis. Three chickens in Orange have tested positive for West Nile virus. Ten of the chickens in Orange have tested positive for Highlands J virus, which is similar to Eastern equine encephalitis but is rarely seen in humans or horses.  Health officials also keep track of mosquito-borne diseases that people bring to Central Florida from somewhere else.  Orange last week confirmed that three people been diagnosed with mosquito-transmitted dengue fever after they were bitten by infected mosquitoes outside the U.S.  Marion County reported one such case.  Weister said health officials are concerned about the possibility of dengue in the wild in South Florida spreading north.  Through the end of last week, Florida reported 17 confirmed cases of dengue fever, all acquired in the Key West area.
New York 07/21/10 Health officials say a 66-year-old Long Island resident has the first confirmed case of West Nile virus in New York state this year.  Officials in Nassau County say the woman became ill on July 5. She is recovering at her New Hyde Park home.  Her symptoms included headache, weakness, fever and blurry vision.  So far this year, seven mosquito pools have tested positive for West Nile in Nassau County.  No confirmed human cases have been reported in New York City. But the city’s Health Department has found mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

 Pennsylvania 07/21/10 by David Bruce – A dead crow

Mountain Bluebird

found in North East Township on July 15 has tested positive for West Nile virus.  It is the first case reported in Erie County in 2010.  The last human case of West Nile in Erie County was reported in 2004.   Erie County Department of Health officials will trap mosquitoes where the dead crow was found beginning Thursday.

Pennsylvania 07/21/10 by Ad Crable – Officials have found biting mosquitoes infected with West Nile Virus in

Red Tailed Hawk

four spots in southern Lancaster city.  According to Matt Mercer, Lancaster County’s West Nile Virus coordinator, these areas with trees will likely receive “surgical” spraying with a low-volume insecticide next week: South Broad Street, Millport Road near South Duke Street, Hazel Street at Prince Street, and the Second Street-Coral Street area.  In addition to biting mosquitoes with West Nile Virus, five dead or obviously sick hawks had been found in the area.

Ohio reports human death due to LaCrosse Encephalitis. Also West Nile Virus reports from California, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York (6), Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

A few of the 326 bird species that have been reported to CDC's West Nile Virus avian mortality database from 1999-present. The Cinnamon Teal above. Others are identified individually below.

California 07/18/10 Los Angeles – Two Stanislaus County women infected with the West Nile virus are the first confirmed human cases in California this year.  The California Department of Public Health said Friday that the women were identified after donating blood and a routine screening discovered the illness. Both developed symptoms, but are recovering without hospitalization.

Indiana 07/19/10 A sample of mosquitoes collected in

Bullock's Oriole

the 1800 block of Laverne Avenue has tested positive for the West Nile virus, city-county health officials said today.  Vector control crews plan to spray beginning about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, weather permitting, in a half-mile radius around where the sample was collected, the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health said in a statement.

Louisiana 07/19/10 by Benjamin Alexander-Bloch – Typical for mid July, the first signs this year of West Nile virus in St. Tammany

American White Pelican

Parish were found Friday.  The St. Tammany Mosquito Abatement District is scheduled to begin aerial spraying tonight and Tuesday evening in the east Pearl River and Lacombe area. Both positive locations already were treated Friday night by truck spraying.  Three out of 111 mosquito samples Friday tested positive, with two involving southern house mosquitoes in the Lacombe area and the other involving marsh breeding mosquitoes from the east Pear River area. The three samples are the first to test positive out of 952 samples tested this year in St. Tammany Parish.  A sample contains up to 50 mosquitoes, which are grouped and tested as a single unit.  Last week, state officials announced the first Louisiana person infected this year by the West Nile virus, with tests confirming that an East Baton Rouge Parish resident has the least serious form of the potentially deadly condition, despite displaying no symptoms.  In July 2009, two Covington area residents contracted the illness. During the final week of July 2009, nearly one-third of the 61 mosquito samples in the parish had the virus.  About 90 percent of the people who contract West Nile will never experience any symptoms and likely will never know they have the disease. Nearly all the rest will suffer from West Nile fever, which has symptoms similar to the flu and is not typically diagnosed as West Nile.  Only about 1 percent of patients who contract West Nile will develop the neuroinvasive form of the disease that can result in brain or spinal swelling leading to permanent damage or death. People who are at least 65 years old are the most likely to suffer complications.

Massachusetts 07/17/10 by Sasha Brown-Worsham – The West Nile Virus has been found in a sampling of Arlington mosquitoes. 

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

The Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health confirmed this week that the mosquito-spread illness, which can lead to a host of potential complications, was found in a collection taken from the Arlington Heights section of town.  “This is typically found every year,” said Christine Connolly, the director of health and human services in Arlington, adding that though West Nile has been found every summer for the past 10 years, this is “a bit earlier than we expected.  The Massachusetts Department of Health gathered the samples on July 14, tested them and informed the town of the findings on July 16.

Mississippi 07/19/10 The first positive test for West Nile virus in Mississippi during the current season has been found in a mosquito sample in Madison County.  The state health department says it will be conducting regular testing across the state during the mosquito season months of July through September.  Only one positive human case has been reported so far this in Mississippi. That was discovered in February in Coahoma County.

New York 07/19/10 No human cases of West Nile virus have been detected in New York City, but city officials say the number of

American Coot

mosquitoes carrying the virus is unusually high.  The city health department has issued an alert to medical providers throughout the city to be on the lookout for possible cases of West Nile virus.

New York 07/19/10 by Jane Lerner – Ramapo – The Rockland Department of Health has collected its first mosquito infected with the West Nile virus, health officials said this morning.  The mosquito was found in a sample collected by the Rockland Department of Health somewhere in Ramapo during the week of June 28, according to Brian Hunderfund, director of mosquito control for the county.  “This is the earliest isolation that we have ever identified since we have been collecting samples,” he said. “Others have suggested that this will be a very active year due to the hot and dry conditions.”  So far this year, all of the other 110 mosquito samples collected and sent to the state for testing have been negative, he said.

New York 07/18/10 Hauppauge – Suffolk County

Hooded Merganser

Department of Health Services (SCDHS) Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken, announced that the New York State Department of Health confirmed today that seven mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus. Six samples of Culex pipiens-restuans collected on July 7 tested positive for West Nile virus. The locations are as follows: one sample from Heckscher State Park in East Islip, two samples from Belmont Lake State Park in North Babylon, and one each from locations in West Babylon, North Lindenhurst and Holtsville. An additional sample of Culex pipiens-restuans collected on July 8 in Deer Park also tested positive for West Nile virus. A total of eight mosquito samples collected in Suffolk County this season have tested positive for the virus.

New York 07/17/10 The city Health Department, citing an unusually high number of mosquitoes testing positive for the West Nile virus, will spray the pesticide Anvil from trucks in affected Staten Island communities next week.   Some of the first mosquitoes to test positive this year turned up in Grasmere and Dongan Hills. No cases in humans have been reported.

New York 07/16/10 Syracuse  — Onondaga County Health Commissioner Cynthia Morrow announced Friday that the New

Baltimore Oriole

York State Health Department laboratory has reported finding evidence of West Nile virus in Onondaga County.  The finding was in a mosquito pool collected at Onondaga Lake Park on July 8, 2010 and sent to the New York State laboratory for testing.  This is the first finding of West Nile virus in Onondaga County this year.  There have been no human cases of West Nile virus reported in Onondaga County.

Ohio 07/19/10 by Cheryl Powell – A northern Summit County resident died this month from an extremely rare viral disease transmitted by mosquitos.  According to the Summit County Health District, the unidentified person contracted LaCrosse encephalitis. The inflammation of the brain can result in seizures, coma, paralysis and, in extreme cases, death.  The last time a Summit County resident was diagnosed with the mosquito-borne illness was in 1998.  Each year, about 80 to 100 cases of LaCrosse encephalitis are reported nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  ”Any death is tragic,” said Dr. Marguerite Erme, the Summit County Health District’s medical director. ”But the fact that this was rare gives people a reminder that they still need to do that mosquito prevention.”  West Nile virus, another disease transmitted by mosquitos, hasn’t been reported in humans in Summit County since 2002. As a result, Erme said, some people might be more lax about their efforts to prevent mosquito bites.

Pennsylvania 07/20/10 West Nile virus is back in the Keystone state and so far the bulk of it is right here in Central and

Blue Eared Pheasant

Southeastern PA. Local counties are doing their best to keep mosquitoes under control, but most are doing it with scaled back budgets.  Traps are set up throughout the state to catch mosquitoes and test them for diseases. Lebanon County just had it’s first positive west nile case from a Campbelltown location. It’s one of the areas the Lebanon County West Nile Virus Program is focusing on but with a 15 percent cut in state funding, they’re forced to do more with less. Educator Philip Hall says, “When people call in with a complaint, we can’t always get to it right away. Usually we have to say we’re going to be in that area next week or in 2 weeks.”

Virginia 07/17/10 by Barbara Maxwell – The Alexandria Health Department reports that mosquito collections in 4200 block of Eisenhower Ave, the Cameron Knoll Community, and Angel Park have tested positive for the West Nile Virus. This is the first reported activity of the virus in Alexandria this season.

Sentinel chickens on front line of disease control.

Rooster #397 stirs in his cage next to hen #392 Monday morning, August 10, 2009. The sentinel chickens have their blood drawn every two weeks to be tested for Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus. (Stephanie Oberlander | The Virginian-Pilot)

By Lia Russell
The Virginian-Pilot

He is an unsung hero.  Few even know of the existence of his noble profession.  But over the past nine years, this self-sacrificing sentinel and his predecessors have helped protect Norfolk against viral disease.  Occasionally, he faces predatory enemies, yet his feathers remain largely unruffled.  Considering the dangerous nature of his work – two fellow sentinels lost their lives in the line of duty this year – his pay is chicken-feed.  Cryptically known only as “397,” the single, young male may be virtuous, but he is also quite cocky.

 He spends much of his day strutting about, puffing himself up, squawking his opinions and shamelessly flirting with the three ladies who are his constant companions and fellow sentinels.  A cross between James Bond and Foghorn Leghorn, 397 is one of 13 city of Norfolk employees who work for little more than cornmeal and fresh water.  He and his companions, 392, 358 and 393, are 5-month-old white leghorn chickens – sentinel chickens – who, along with nine others, live outdoors in three different locations throughout the city, exposed to mosquitoes – and to the illnesses they may carry.

(Stephanie Oberlander | The Virginian-Pilot)

Every two weeks, Vector Control staff draws blood from each “sentinel” and tests it for the presence of antibodies to eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus.  Positive tests mean increased inspections and mosquito control measures.  The use of sentinel chickens is not unique to Norfolk. With the exception of Portsmouth, all South Hampton Roads cities, as well as many municipalities around the country, use chickens in their efforts to monitor and control insect-borne illnesses.

 “They’re just one of several tools we use in combating disease,” said environmental health specialist Penny Smelser.  Why chickens?  “They’re low maintenance, easy to handle and cheap,” Smelser said.  While 397 may be insulted by that description, he usually offers little resistance when environmental health assistant Francis Smyth plucks him from his cage, lifts his wing and holds him down while Smelser draws one-half cubic centimeter of blood.

“Surprisingly, the roosters are more cooperative than the hens,” Smelser said. “They also have bigger veins, so it’s easier to draw blood. We like the boys.”  An added benefit to using chickens as sentinels is that they usually do not get sick from mosquito-borne diseases.  “But if they test positive, they are euthanized to avoid cross-contamination of other chickens,” Smelser said.

Staff also traps mosquitoes throughout the city and analyzes the types and numbers found to determine the magnitude of each year’s population and where to concentrate treatment efforts.  The most effective control method is larvicide, essentially mosquito birth control, placed in areas where they breed, such as ditches, storm drains and other areas where standing water accumulates.

Insecticide spraying is helpful in controlling already-hatched adult populations.  Smelser said that heavy rainfall in Norfolk since May has contributed to creating a mosquito population about twice as great as last year’s.  Aggressive monitoring and control measures will continue through the end of October at which time the service of 397 and his plucky pals will unceremoniously end in euthanasia.

Smelser and Smyth said they regret the need to euthanize the chickens. The policy, they explained, is set by Norfolk’s Department of Public Health.  Suffolk, which also used to euthanize its sentinel chickens, started sending them to the Chocowinity Chicken Sanctuary in North Carolina last year, sparing their lives, said Debbie George, spokesperson for Suffolk.  Chesapeake offers their retired sentinels to local citizens, who care for them and enjoy the benefit of the hens’ egg-laying.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis reports from Alabama, Florida (2), Louisiana, and Massachusetts. Also West Nile Virus reports from Louisiana and Massachusetts.


Sentinel Chickens in Orlando, Florida

Alabama 07/15/10 by Cassandra Andrews – Mobile – Sentinel chickens in two Mobile area locations have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, according to Dr. Bernard Eichold, Mobile County’s Health Officer. The chickens were in Chickasabogue Park (ZIP Code 36610) and Wilmer (ZIP Code 36587). The Mobile County Health Department’s Vector Control Department monitors encephalitis in sentinel poultry flocks strategically placed throughout the county to detect the presence of viruses carried by mosquitoes.

Florida 07/18/10 Tallahassee – North Florida health departments are urging residents to take precautions against mosquito-borne illnesses.  The Florida Health Department says cases of eastern equine encephalitis have been confirmed in sentinel chickens in Leon County.

Florida 07/13/10 The Okeechobee County Health Department says two horses have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Officials say this represents an increased activity of the mosquito-borne illness this summer. 

Louisiana 07/14/10 Baton Rouge – State agriculture officials say a three-year-old mare in St. James Parish was euthanized after tests found Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus in the animal.  Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain says the Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Baton Rouge confirmed the diseases in the horse on July 12.

Massachusetts 07/17/10 Halifax – More mosquitoes with eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) have been found in Plymouth County.  This time they were found in Halifax.  Earlier this week, mosquito samples from Lakeville tested positive for EEE.  Also this week the Department of Health confirmed that West Nile Virus was found in more mosquitoes.  The latest sample was collected in Arlington Heights in Middlesex County.  There was one human case of EEE in Massachusetts in 2008.  From 2004 to 2006 there were 13 cases and six deaths.  There have been 10 human cases of West Nile Virus in Massachusetts in the past five years.

Taking the “wild” in wildlife seriously.

National 07/13/10 by Jane Brody – Burgeoning populations of wild animals in cities and suburbs throughout the country may thrill folks who rarely, if ever, see such creatures outside a zoo or museum, but these animals can wreak havoc on human health and safety.

Wildlife experts say that human activities, as well as groups that oppose culling troublesome animals, are directly or indirectly responsible for many of the risks to people. To save life and limb, it pays to know what is out there and how to reduce the chances of hazardous encounters with wildlife in our midst.


At least six coyotes have found their way into New York City this year, including one that crossed the Hudson via the Holland Tunnel. The animals move easily into residential areas along travel corridors like greenways, power lines and train tracks, according to Paul D. Curtis, a wildlife specialist at Cornell University who studies human-wildlife interactions and ways to minimize their negative consequences.  Although coyotes are rarely a threat to people, Curtis says in an interview that they can be aggressive when breeding and rearing pups.

In separate instances recently, two young girls, ages 6 and 3, were attacked by coyotes in their Rye, N.Y., backyards. Small children have been attacked in Los Angeles and Arizona, Curtis says, and small dogs everywhere are at risk, even when on a leash.

Canada goose

In January 2009, a flock of Canada geese got sucked into the two jet engines of a loaded US Airways flight and forced an emergency landing in the Hudson, a stone’s throw from Manhattan. The resident population of urban and suburban geese has soared to more than 4 million of these 10-pound birds, each of which deposits a pound of slippery excrement a day, often on park paths, golf courses and athletic fields.

Raccoons, the most adaptable of urban wildlife, rummage through trash cans, snack on pet foods left outside and occasionally break into homes, where they can cause serious destruction in search of food.  The animals may bite when cornered. But their main risk to humans and pets is rabies. There are now rabid raccoons in many areas east of Ohio, including Central Park and Nassau County, N.Y., where wildlife experts are studying novel ways to get them vaccinated.

White-tailed deer wander fearlessly into suburban yards and fields, munching on crops and ornamental plantings, spreading dreaded ticks that cause Lyme disease. A hungry deer consumes 6 to 8 pounds of vegetation a day, often with little respect for lists of deer-resistant plants.  Deer kill far more people each year than do alligators, and cause more than 1.5 million car accidents a year.

You need not have seen black bears roaming around Woodstock, N.Y., in April to know that they had ended their hibernation. Overturned garbage cans, with their nonedible contents strewn over lawns and roadsides, were a dead giveaway.


Heading the list of negative human behaviors is feeding wild animals, directly or unintentionally. Providing food can cause them to lose their fear of people and bring potentially aggressive quick-footed creatures, like coyotes, bears and raccoons, much too close to potential prey, like children and pets.  Edible garbage should not be left outside in unsecured containers where bears and raccoons can forage. Garbage should be placed in metal cans with tight-fitting lids and enclosed in a bin or attached to a solid object.

Composting food items is also a bad idea, unless it is done behind a fence that can keep out bears and raccoons. Otherwise, limit compost to nonfood items like leaves.

Pets should be fed indoors; never leave pet food outside. Curtis recommends taking down bird feeders in summer (bears love bird food) and picking up fruit that drops from trees.

Make sure your chimney has a cap; raccoons without a tree den will use chimneys to raise their young.

You can keep out skunks by sealing off openings under porches, decks and crawl spaces.

Unless your property is surrounded by a tall fence, try planting only what deer dislike — plants that are bitter, pungent, toxic or prickly, like rosemary, chives, daffodils, boxwood, barberry, juniper and other evergreens, though a very hungry deer will eat almost anything. Keep bird feeders out of a deer’s reach.

Unless you have a large or aggressive dog that lives outdoors, vegetable gardens should be fenced to keep deer out. Use chicken wire buried a foot below ground level to deter rabbits and small rodents.

Deer repellents do help, if sprayed often on vulnerable plants. I’ve had luck with a smelly — to deer, at least — fertilizer called Milorganite, made from human waste, sprinkled on the soil around ornamental plantings.

To reduce the ever-growing population of urban and suburban geese, biologists have demonstrated that removing the eggs and nests of locally breeding birds encourages them to find other residences more hospitable than local parks. Other control efforts, like harassing geese with border collies, firecrackers, remote-controlled boats, high-powered lasers and strobe lights, have not worked unless they were done daily, Curtis says.

Curtis urged prompt reporting of any raccoon acting abnormally, like foraging during the day, coming close to people or walking with an odd gait.

Localities that have experimented with culling deer and bears have demonstrated a significant reduction in motor vehicle accidents and fatalities caused by these animals.

Hunting, the main deer-control technique of decades past, has declined dramatically. However, states that encourage the killing of does have found that it can control the deer population better than the killing of bucks.

Jane Brody writes about health for The New York Times.