Reports of two fatal West Nile Virus cases from California and Texas; report of a fatal Hantavirus case from Colorado; and Rabies reports from Illinois, Massachusetts, and West Virginia.

2009 West Nile virus activity as reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

California 11/16/10 by Blair Tellers – The sudden death of a 63-year-old man left a Morgan Hill family heartbroken, but determined to carry out his insistent warnings.  “All the time my husband was in the hospital, he kept saying, ‘I can’t believe one mosquito did this to me. Spread the word. Tell people to be careful.’ And that’s what we want do,” said Carol Walsh, 63.   She recalls the sequence of events preceding her husband’s crippling battle with West Nile Virus that ended Nov. 5 – a battle that rendered him almost completely paralyzed.  “It took his calves,” she said. “Then he lost his arm … It took his muscles. It took his lungs.”   Her voice echoes with lingering traces of frustration and disbelief.  Mike and Carol Walsh lived in Morgan Hill for 15 years before moving to Madera-County in December 2000.  It was late July when Walsh developed what he thought to be a severe flu, or aggressive case of strep throat. His entire body ached and he had unexplainable muscle pains in his calves, thighs and lower back.  The discomfort became such that Walsh’s wife took him to the doctor on a Sunday. Tests revealed Walsh had contracted an aggressive form of neuroinvasive West Nile virus, which causes swelling of the brain and spinal cord, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.  For humans, there have been 60 neuroinvasive and 36 non-neuroinvasive disease cases and two reported deaths as of Nov. 9 in the state of California, according to the CDC.

Colorado 10/31/10 Mancos – A 35-year-old part-time construction

Deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention photo.

worker who died suddenly earlier this month had contracted hantavirus, a disease spread through dust particles containing contaminated feces or urine of deer mice.  State health veterinarian Elisabeth Lawaczeck told the Durango Herald the Mancos man traveled in several places where he could have encountered contaminated dust. Lawaczeck says test Friday confirmed the disease and now they’re trying to pin down exactly where he got it.  The last death in Montezuma County in southwest Colorado happened in 1993, when the then mysterious disease was first identified in the Four Corners area.  Nearby La Plata County has had three deaths since 1993.

Illinois 11/16/10 There have been an unusually high number of rabid bats in suburban Cook County this year.  The county health department said there have been at least 10 reports, seven of which were found in the LaGrange area.  The Daily Herald reports that the latest discovery was made last week in Mount Prospect.  Construction workers at the not-yet-open Bar Louie on Rand Road found the bat inside the building and notified wildlife control.  The bat was caught and later confirmed to have rabies.

Massachusetts 11/16/10 by Lori Stabile – Warren – Town officials are warning residents to be on the lookout for rabid animals after a rabid raccoon scratched a man and his dog recently in the area of Comins Pond.   The raccoon tested positive for rabies on Nov. 5, according to the Board of Health. There also was another sighting of a raccoon acting strangely in that area, according to officials.   Board of Selectmen Chairman Robert K. Downing said the public should be cautious of any wild animal acting out of character, such as being friendly or aggressive. Downing said pets should be kept on a leash outdoors, and also should be up-to-date on their vaccinations. He said any confrontations with wild animals acting suspiciously should be reported to the Police Department at (413) 436-9595 as soon as possible after an incident occurs.

Texas 11/15/10 by Diana Washington Valdez – A 60-year-old man who lived in the Northeast died from complications caused by the West Nile virus, the City of El Paso Department of Public Health reported Monday.  The man was diagnosed with the illness in September and died recently, officials said. He is the second El Pasoan to die this year after being exposed to the virus.  “As a department we continually work to prevent this kind of tragedy,” said Michael Hill, the city’s public health director. “We will continue our efforts in disease prevention and educating the public in order to prevent more loss in our community.”  This year, 27 people were infected with the virus, which is transmitted by mosquito bites.

West Virginia 11/16/10 The Mercer County Health Department officials were notified today that a cat that bit and scratched several people in Princeton has tested positive for rabies.  The incident was reported Nov. 12 in the vicinity of Southview Drive and South Shadowood Lane in Princeton, said Melody Rickman, RN, BSN. A long haired, solid  black cat bit or scratched several people in that area. They are now receiving post exposure rabies vaccine.  People who believe they may be touched the cat or were bitten or scratched by it should contact the Mercer County Health Department at 304-324-8367.


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