Researchers find temperature fluctuations play a major role in transmission of Dengue Fever; New Mexico reports three cases of Bubonic Plague this year; a Coyote bites a 2-year-old girl in Arizona; Randolph County, West Virginia, is placing a bounty on Coyotes; a Coyote report from Illinois; and Rabies reports from Maine, and Massachusetts. Canada: a Coyote report and a Rabies report from Ontario.


(Apparently, is having a problem with image uploads. For some reason, the program won’t allow me to place images wherever I want to within the body of the post. More images will be added to this post, and existing images placement may be fine tuned, as soon as the problem is fixed. )

Global 04/18/11 Daily temperature fluctuations, not just high temperatures, play a significant role in the transmission of dengue, a deadly mosquito-borne disease that strikes millions of people in tropical and subtropical countries, according to ground-breaking research led by French, Thailand and U.S. scientists and conceived by medical entomologist Thomas Scott of the University of California, Davis.  “The size and pattern of fluctuations in daily temperature have a large effect on pathogens transmitted by mosquitoes,” said lead author Louis Lambrechts of the Institut Pasteur, France, who did postdoctoral research in the Scott lab.

                                                Dr. Thomas Scott

The influence of average temperatures on dengue virus transmission has longbeen known–the higher the temperature, the more efficient the virus transmission—but this is the first study linking temperature fluctuations to the transmission of the disease. The research findings, published today (April 18, 2011) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, help explain why dengue increases during certain times of the year in “tropical areas where mosquito-borne diseases inflict an enormous burden on human health,” Scott said.

                                           Dr. Louis Lambrechts

Dengue, transmitted by the daybiting Aedes aegypti mosquito, globally infects 50 to 100 million people yearly. At risk are some 2.5 to 3 billion people, primarily in tropical and sub-tropical countries. The most severe form of the disease, dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF), strikes half a million a year and kills an estimated 5 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lambrechts and Scott described the findings as “exciting” because they provide a new and more biological compelling explanation for seasonal forcing in dengue; that is, increased number of dengue cases during the same time each year. Better understanding of seasonal changes in temperature fluctuations should lead to improved surveillance and prevention, they said.

The research was inspired from temperature profiles recorded in rural Thai villages near Mae Sot, Tak Province, where all four virus serotypes of dengue are prevalent. Dengue is endemic to Thailand. The researchers investigated the effect of realistic temperature profiles (cooler temperatures at night and warmer temperatures during the day) on the capacity of mosquitoes to transmit dengue virus. “We found that the range of temperature fluctuations was inversely related to vector susceptibility to virus infection and vector survival,” Lambrechts said.

Scott said the study helps to explain a long-standing enigma: “What are the underlying causes of seasonal fluctuations in dengue incidence?” Experiments showed that mosquitoes die faster and are less susceptible to virus infection under large temperature swings, which is typical of the low dengue season, than under moderate temperature variation, which is typical of the high dengue season. In the past, researchers used only constant temperatures, not short-term fluctuations, in experimental studies.

Scott, a noted dengue expert whose goal is to save lives through research, surveillance and implementation of disease prevention strategies, has a longstanding interest in the factors that drive seasonal and annual fluctuations in diseases caused by mosquito-transmitted pathogens. “Traditional explanations for the seasonal increase in dengue are not consistent with my experience in Thailand, Peru, and Puerto Rico,” Scott said. During his post-doctoral training with professor Scott, Lambrechts performed a large experiment and then confirmed those results with a different experimental system at the Institut Pasteur where he is now setting up his own research team. 

More information: The PNAS-published research, titled “Impact of Daily Temperature Fluctuations on Dengue Virus Transmission by Aedes aegypti,” involved collaborations with the laboratories of Laura Kramer (Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health in Slingerlands, N.Y.) and Matthew Thomas (Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Department of Entomology at Pennsylvania State University). The paper is available at http://www.pnas.or … ull.pdf+html

New Mexico 04/19/11 by Ryan Boetel – Three New Mexico pets were diagnosed with the bubonic plaguethis year, and although the same disease killed millions of Europeans in the 1300s, health officials say the bacterial disease today can be treated with antibiotics.  About 10-20 Americans are diagnosed with plague each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Left untreated, the disease can have a 90-percent mortality rate. The survival rate is about 85 percent with antibiotics, according to the CDC.

                                     Xenopsylla cheopis. A plague carrying flea.

Northern New Mexico is often the most active plague site in the country, as it accounts for about half of America’s plague diagnoses, according to the New Mexico health department. There were 262 confirmed human plague cases in New Mexico dating back to 1949; 34 of the infections resulted in death, according to health department statistics. In 2009, six New Mexicans in Bernalillo, Santa Fe and Sandoval counties contracted the disease. An 8-year-old boy from Santa Fe County died from the plague, said Dr. Paul Ettestad, the public health veterinarian for the health department. A San Juan County person was diagnosed with the plague in 2007, which was the last time the plague was found inside the county, he said. “Nobody knows for sure why” New Mexico is the most active plague state, he said. “There are some theories that the Four Corners area has a lot of variation of rodents and fleas so the plague is able to maintain itself.”

According to the CDC’s website, American Indians, especially Navajos, are the most at-risk group for contracting the disease. Northeastern Arizona and southern Colorado are also active areas for plague, Ettestad said. There is another plague site in northern California, southern Oregon and western Nevada. Two dogs and a cat were infected with plague this year. The dogs were in Santa Fe County and the cat was in Rio Arriba County near Abiquiu.

Plague is a bacterial disease transported by fleas. It can be transferred to humans by way of pets that came into contact with an infected rodent, Dr. Francine Olmstead, the medical director at New Mexico Travel Health, said. “The fleas house the bacteria,” she said. “If people don’t keep their animals treated to prevent fleas it puts them at risk.” The incubation period is 2-6 days. The symptoms are fever, chills and painful, swollen lymphnodes, Olmstead said. Plague can progress to life-threatening septicemia or pneumonia. The best ways to avoid getting plague are to treat pets for fleas, keep woodpiles and garbage where rodents may linger 100 feet away from houses, and to monitor pets for fevers or severe drops in energy, Olmstead said.

Health officials say a widespread plague epidemic is unlikely because it can be successfully treated with antibiotics and because doctors in plague sites are aware of the disease. Most New Mexico plague cases happen in summer months. About 80 percent of New Mexicans who suffered from plague were infected between May and September, according to health department statistics. Virginia Jim, an animal control officer in Farmington, said animal control recently started to see the usual increase in calls for service during warm-weather months. Several residents on the east side of Farmington started calling about unwanted prairie dogs last week. Prairie dogs are one of the rodents known to transport plague-infected fleas. Plague is “something that’s rare but it’s something people should take caution to so they can reduce their risk,” Ettestad said. “We do have years where we have 10 or more cases and we do occasionally have fatalities, so it’s not something you want to take lightly.”

Arizona 04/20/11 by Cara Liu – Phoenix – A 2-year-old girl has started rabies shots after a coyote bit her at a Phoenix park.  The incident happened late Friday night at the Cave Creek Recreation Area near 23rd Avenue and Thunderbird Road. The park is located in the middle of the city near a wash and a golf course. Steve Hohn said he was at the park when he saw a coyote trot out into the playground and nip the little girl on the back.  “It appeared to single out and target this little girl,” said Hohn. “It was very scary.” Hohn said he’d seen coyotes in the park before.  “There’d been a coyote that when people were barbecuing — it would steal stuff right off the barbecue,” said Hohn.  People yelled and threw things, but the coyote didn’t seem to be afraid, he said.  “I felt sorry for the little girl. She was terrified, as was everyone on the playground,” said Hohn.  Arizona Game and Fish officers responded to the scene Friday night.  “Because attacks from wild animals are so unusual, we take them very seriously,” said Randy Babb, of Arizona Game and Fish Department.  Babb said the bite was minor, but because the coyote broke skin, the child had to get rabies shots. He said it is rare for coyotes here in the Valley to carry rabies or bite humans.  “It was very unusual and it was seemingly unprovoked. Heaven knows what was going on inside that coyote’s head. We have no idea what that was all about. It was an odd behavior,” said Babb.  Wildlife officers have trapped and euthanized six coyotes in the area since Friday night.  The coyotes are being tested for rabies. Due to the number of animals trapped, it may take about a week before health officials have all of the results.

West Virginia 04/20/11 by Carra Higgins – Excerpts – “Randolph County’s coyote population has caused at least $44,000 in damage to local farmers’ livestock during the past year. Now, with a little help from the Randolph County Commission, the Randolph County Farm Bureau will be able to offer an incentive for helping decreasing the damages to lambs, goats and chickens. Julie Dean, on behalf of the Randolph County Farm Bureau, explained to commissioners Tuesday that members of the organization plan to begin a bounty program for coyote kills.

‘Coyotes are viewed as an unspoken nuisance that’s growing,’ Dean said. ‘There’s no season on coyotes, therefore there’s no revenue from tags.’ She added that Randolph County farmers are able to receive reimbursements for livestock loss by a bear or dog, but nothing is (in) place for coyotes.” “To ensure the pilot program begins, commissioners voted to contribute $2,000 toward the bounty program, Dean says members of the Randolph County Farm Bureau will contribute up to $2,000 to the bounty fund, also. Of the approximate $4,000 that will be available, the farm bureau plans to use 90 percent for bounty payments and 10 percent for advertising and public education. The bounty will be offered until funding runs out.” (For complete article go to )

Illinois 04/19/11 by Hal Conick – As a result of sightings in the past few years, the city of St. Charles issued a press release this week warning residents to be aware of coyotes. The release said coyote attacks against humans are rare, but warns that they may also go after house pets. City officials suggest that residents keep dogs on a leash and bring cats inside at night.

Maine 04/20/11 by Mary Standard – Buckfield – Town Manager Glen Holmes informed selectmen and the public Tuesday night that in the last 30 to 45 days, two local pets have had encounters with rabid skunks. “I contacted the center for disease control and they said we should get the word out to the public,” he said. Holmes said the CDC advised that if anyone sees any animal that seems to be acting strange to call the animal control officer and keep pets inside.  He said one pet had to be destroyed and one was in quarantine.

Massachusetts 04/19/11 by Laura Pedulli – On April 6, the Mattapoisett Police received two calls five minutes apart from Mattapoisett residents who spotted foxes at Bay Club and at Eldorado Drive. According to Bay Club General Manager Craig Fleming, the police and animal control departments quickly responded to the scene and shot the animal, which showed symptoms of carrying rabies. Natural Resources Officer Kathy Massey confirmed the shooting of the other rabid fox at Eldorado drive. “It doesn’t happen a whole lot,” said Ms. Massey regarding rabid fox sightings. “The fox [at the Bay Club] came after the deputy, and we had to shoot that one in a woman’s backyard. This one was definitely rabid. It was under the car, trying to get to the deputy,” she said.


Ontario 04/20/11 by Parvaneh Pessian – Whitby – Tanya Braham won’t be walking her dogs late at night anymore after coming across a pack of coyotes not far from her home near Thickson and Rossland roads. The Whitby resident says she normally walks her two Labrador retrievers earlier in the night, around 10 p.m., but opted for a midnight stroll a couple of weeks ago after arriving home from work later than usual. “It was quiet; it’s actually nice to walk when it’s like that,” says Ms. Braham. It wasn’t long before the silence was broken by what she describes as “screeching sounds” coming from a nearby field. “(My dogs) knew something was wrong because they actually were pulling me once the noises started to get louder but I waited until I got closer to the houses and then I started running.” When she turned to look back at one point, she says, there were at least 10 coyotes huddled together. Recently, there has been a growing number of complaints from Whitby residents regarding coyote sightings across the community. Last month, Durham Regional Police said a man reported seeing a coyote snatch his small dog from his front lawn in the Dundas Street and Nichol Avenue area. But short of advising people to walk their pets in the evening or early morning and carry a whistle to scare away animals, police have little power in the matter. “They said to me that there’s nothing they can do, that we’ve taken over (the coyotes’) habitat and that we’re going to have to learn to deal with it,” says Ms. Braham. Another resident, Carol Reynolds of Scott Street in Whitby, tried calling the local animal control after seeing a dozen coyotes on her front lawn about three weeks ago.                                                                       (For complete article go to )

Ontario 04/19/11 by Daryl Morris – Owen Sound – The Grey-Bruce Health Unit is looking for the owner of a small dog that bit a boy. The incident happened on Monday, April 11th, around the area of 14th Street West and 4th Avenue West. Rabies Program Manager Angela Newman says it was a small, white dog, possibly a Jack Russell terrier, being walked by a woman. She says they need to eliminate the possibility of the dog having rabies. If not, she says they have to start a round of treatment on the boy, and they’d prefer not to do it. Newman says it’s not a pleasant experience to receive a series of needles and it will take about month to complete the treatment. She’s hoping the owner of the dog will be in contact so they can determine whether the canine has been vaccinated. She says the owner can call the Health Unit. Newman stresses they’re not looking to bring charges or take the animal away, they just want to have a conversation.


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