West Nile Virus report from Florida, Hantavirus report from New Mexico, and Rabies reports from Massachusetts and Virginia (2).

Florida 01/11/11 myfoxorlando.com: The Brevard County Health Department says a Brevard County woman has tested positive for West Nile Virus.  Health officials say the 48-year-old woman, who has been in the hospital since October 11, 2010, displayed West Nile Virus symptoms which may include headache, fever, fatigue, dizziness, weakness and confusion. Doctors say she has shown some improvement but remains in ICU.

Massachusetts 01/11/11 boston.com: Amesbury residents are being told to be wary of wild animals after rabies was confirmed in a skunk spotted behaving oddly in town last week.  Jennifer Yim, the mayor’s chief of staff, says it’s important for pet owners to make sure all vaccinations are up to date and to limit their exposure to wild animals.  The skunk was spotted Friday in the Macy Terrace neighborhood near Amesbury Middle School.  Yim tells The Newburyport Daily News the skunk’s behavior and daytime sighting prompted concerned residents to contact authorities. The animal was caught by the animal control officer and sent for testing.  Yim says the neighborhood was canvassed and there is no evidence that the sick animal came in contact with humans.

New Mexico 01/10/11 kob.com: New Mexico health officials say a 51-year-old McKinley County woman is hospitalized in critical condition in Albuquerque with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.  The state Department of Health said Monday an investigation will be done to determine where she might have been exposed to the virus.  It’s the second hantavirus case this year. The first was confirmed last week in a man who also comes from McKinley County.  The Health Department’s public health veterinarian, Dr. Paul Ettestad, says hantavirus cases are not as common in the winter as they are in the spring and summer.  Hantavirus is contracted by breathing particles of rodent droppings, urine or saliva. Early symptoms include fever and muscle aches, a headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and a cough.

Virginia 01/11/11 virginia.gov: Due to recent cases of rabies in wildlife and domestic animals in southwest Virginia, Dr. Richard Wilkes, State Veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), is recommending that livestock owners consider discussing rabies vaccination and other management strategies with their large animal veterinarian. “The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) monitors rabies cases,” said Dr. Wilkes, “and they tell us that there appears to be increased incidence of rabies in livestock in the western part of the state. In Botetourt County, VDH has placed dairy cows on one dairy under observation for six months due to exposure to several rabid cats.” “Each year in Virginia, eight to ten cows and one or two horses are confirmed with rabies,” Dr. Julia Murphy, State Public Health Veterinarian with VDH said, “and occasionally rabies is confirmed in other livestock such as sheep.”  In addition to vaccination, farmers can take other protective measures for livestock. These include not adopting wild animals as family pets and being on the alert for wild animals that exhibit abnormal behavior. Farmers should report animals that exhibit rabies-like symptoms to their local health department as well as their veterinarian if the symptoms occur in their livestock. Symptoms may include aggressive, combative behavior and high sensitivity to touch and other kinds of stimulation. Less aggressive symptoms may include lethargy, weakness in one or more limbs and the inability to raise its head or make normal sounds because throat and neck muscles are paralyzed. Death generally occurs a few days after symptoms appear, usually from respiratory failure.

Virginia 01/11/11 roanoke.com: Botetourt County is not out of the woods yet where rabies is concerned. The latest statistics available are through Dec. 25, 2010. Another suspected skunk was killed on Breckinridge Mill Road over the past week end Jan. 8.  Allegheny Regional Health public relations representative Bobby Parker  released the following statistics. “Any one can keep up with the statistics,” said Parker. “Click “Rabies Statistics by Year” and select the year in question.”  As of Dec. 25, 2010 – the most recent information available – Botetourt County had 15 confirmed animal rabies cases: 1 cat, 1 fox, 3 raccoons, and 10 skunks.  There were 560 total animal rabies cases in VA in 2010.  And there were 550 total animal rabies cases in VA in 2009.  See http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/Epidemiology/DEE/Rabies/.


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