Coyote reports from California (2); a Rabies report from Florida; a team of scientists from Singapore and France announce a breakthrough in the fight against Chikungunya Fever; and a Travel Warning for Queensland, Australia.

Coyote. Photo by Astronomo. Wikipedia Commons.

California 02/22/11 by Marisa Agha – Arcadia – Bob Harbicht had pulled into his driveway in this Los Angeles suburb about 11 p.m. one night when he saw a coyote coming from his yard and headed his way.  The animal slowly trotted by, turning its head to look at Harbicht. The two were at eye level, just 2 feet apart. Then the coyote headed toward the street, and Harbicht drove into his garage. Such proximity is rare, but this wild member of the canine family is at the center of a debate in suburban Los Angeles that mirrors differing views on wildlife – whether to trap them or learn to live with them.  The California native is often seen in the northern part of the state, but about 90 percent of the sightings of coyotes perceived as threats and reported to the state’s Department of Fish and Game are in Southern California, according to department spokesman Andrew Hughan. Coyotes like the warm weather there and have easier access to populated areas, he said. In Arcadia, city officials reinstated its coyote-trapping program in August after residents complained about the animals becoming bolder, roaming yards, and attacking cats and dogs.  “The major concern was that there were coyotes who seemed to have lost their fear of man,” said Harbicht, a member of Arcadia’s City Council. “Frankly, it was people pleading for help. They made a very compelling case. They were afraid in their own neighborhoods.” The decision to trap coyotes – Harbicht said the city wanted to get rid of a few “rogue” ones – drew protesters from outside the city, which has caught 20 of the animals. The City Council voted unanimously Jan. 18 to suspend the trapping program. Harbicht said he believes the trapping and educational efforts were successful, because complaints were fewer and the number being caught dropped. City figures show that trapping yielded two coyotes in December, down from its peak of six in September. But many wildlife experts argue that trapping programs do not accomplish what trappers or the cities who hire them intend. “If it worked, we wouldn’t have coyotes,” said Greg Randall, a wildlife specialist for the city of Los Angeles, where the number of coyotes is estimated at somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000. (For complete article go to )

California 02/21/11 by Will Frampton – Valley Springs – Residents of a rural neighborhood in Calaveras County said they are concerned about a higher frequency of coyote appearances and attacks on household animals in recent months.  “They really hoot and howl (at night),” said Dorothy Rodriguez of the coyotes. “It’s very disturbing because it sounds like its right there at your door.”  Rodriguez said she lost two of her cats in recent months when they went outside, and was certain they were snatched up by coyotes in the area.  “I’m seeing them go back and forth all the time,” Rodriguez said.  Other residents have taken to firing shotguns at night to keep the animals away.  “They get their guns, and some shoot ’em up in the air,” said Rodriguez of her neighbors.  “Yeah, you do hear the guns periodically,” said her neighbor Denise Hunter.  Rodriguez said she built a fence around her house after her two cats went missing, and her remaining cats now spend most of their outdoors time inside the fenced-in area.

Florida 02/21/11 Jacksonville – A rabid raccoon has caused a rabies alert throughout a large area of Mandarin.  The alert was issued this afternoon by the Duval County Health Department.  The area is bordered by San Jose Boulevard at Claire Lane on the north, Julington Creek at Longview Drive South on the south, Hood Landing Road at Old St. Augustine Road on the east, and Orange Picker Road at Brady Road on the west.  Until the alert expires May 14, pet owners need to make sure all pets are vaccinated, and the health department recommends confining animals.  Report any stray animals to Animal Care and Protective Services at 904-630-2489.

Global 02/17/11 The Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN), an institute of the Agency of Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and VIVALIS (NYSE Euronext: VLS), a French biopharmaceutical company, has announced the discovery of two new fully human monoclonal antibodies which could battle Chikungunya, a disease that currently has no available vaccine or specific treatment. The international team of scientists, coordinated by Dr Lucile Warter of SIgN, has published their groundbreaking discovery in the Journal of Immunology.   Chikungunya is prevalent in Africa, South Asia, and South-East Asia and is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, the same mosquito that spreads dengue fever. In Singapore alone, over 1000 Chikungunya cases were reported over the period 2008-2010. (For complete article go to )

Travel Warnings:

Australia 02/22/11 by Kristy Sexton-McGrath and Kirsty Nancarrow – A dengue fever outbreak in far north Queensland is worsening, with nearly 40 people diagnosed with the mosquito-borne disease.  A total of 31 people have been diagnosed with type-two dengue at East Innisfail, south of Cairns, and another eight have type-four.  Queensland Health says the outbreak has so far managed to stay contained to East Innisfail.  It is warning residents to use surface spray and mosquito coils around the house and to check yards for mosquito breeding sites.  The Mayor of the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, Bill Shannon, says it is distributing free insect repellent to try to stop the outbreak spreading.  “It’s an issue every wet season and it has been in Cairns and Townsville and Innisfail for the last several years,” he said.  “In this particular case it’s a big worry to us because people are out and about moving after work and before work, for example doing some gardening, putting it out into the street.  “It’s at morning and at night, dawn and dusk when the problems with the mosquitoes are at their worst.”


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