New study strengthens assumption that Armadillos can infect humans with Leprosy. Rabid Bobcat attacks dogs at Arizona campground. Researchers report Ticks spreading Rickettsia parkeri throughout southeastern Virginia. Rabies reports from Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Coyote reports from Illinois, and South Carolina. A Fox report from Oklahoma. Canada: A Coyote report from British Columbia.

Nine-banded Armadillo. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

National 04/28/11 by Nathan Seppa – People infected with leprosy in the United States often have the same previously unknown strain of the microbe Mycobacterium leprae that is also carried by armadillos. Though it’s been known for decades that armadillos can harbor leprosy, also called Hansen’s disease, the discovery of the overlapping strain strengthens the long-held assumption that armadillos can infect people directly. Researchers report in the April 28 New England Journal of Medicine that many infected people in the Deep South contracted leprosy while close to home—not in some exotic locale where the disease is more common. The only possible infectious agents would be an armadillo or person. Some of the infected people had even handled armadillos, the only animal known to harbor leprosy. The findings all point to animal-to-person spread. “It’s still not a smoking gun, but it’s getting awfully close,” says James Loughry, a zoologist and armadillo expert at Valdosta State University in Georgia who wasn’t involved in this project. “It’s hard to imagine that it’s not being transmitted from armadillos to humans.”

Dr. Richard Truman

Richard Truman, a microbiologist at the Na­tional Hansen’s Dis­ease Pro­gram and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and his colleagues compared bacterial samples from 50 patients in Louisiana and from 33 infected wild armadillos from five southern states. A highly specific strain of the bacterium showed up in 28 of the 33 animals and in 22 of 29 patients who had never lived outside the United States and Mexico. Interviews with 15 of the leprosy patients further revealed that eight had had direct contact with armadillos. Loughry says roughly 6 to 10 percent of armadillos he has tested in Alabama and Mississippi have leprosy. Other studies place the rate as high as 20 percent in the wild. There are many kinds of armadillos in Latin America, including the nine-banded armadillo—the only one found in the United States—but it’s not known if the other types contract leprosy.

Since John James Audubon and John Bachman recorded in the 1840s that armadillos lived in southern Texas, mainly near the lower Rio Grande, nine-banded armadillos have expanded their range to much of the Deep South and northward to the southern tip of Illinois. It remains unclear how an armadillo would transmit leprosy. Truman speculates close contact is required. “Actual causality is difficult to confirm,” he says. It’s also not clear whether armadillos, which get sick from leprosy, are infectious during the long incubation period preceding symptoms. But it’s well-known that leprosy spreads among people. And the limited exposure people have to armadillos means that some person-to-person transmission must be happening in southern states where cases show up, Truman says.

Leprosy remains very rare in the United States, with about 150 new cases each year, says James Krahenbuhl, director of the Na­tional Hansen’s Dis­ease Pro­gram. “Public education can actually decrease disease risk by limiting contacts [with armadillos] and increasing awareness among physicians in these locations,” he says. The disease is curable, but can require more than a year of antibiotics.

Arizona 04/26/11 by Cara Liu – Mesa – Arizona Game and Fish officials confirmed a bobcat that attacked a couple of dogs at a campground has tested positive for rabies. The incident happened last Thursday at Seven Springs Campground near Bartlett Lake. Officials said the campers reported that the bobcat wandered into their campsite, then got into a fight with two of their dogs. One of the campers got in the middle of it to separate the animals and then shot and killed the bobcat. Two campers were either bitten or scratched in the scuffle, though it’s uncertain whether the injuries were caused by the bobcat or the dogs. They have been advised to get rabies shots. Signs have been posted at the campsite alerting campers to the rabid bobcat incident. Officials warned anyone camping in the area should pay close attention to any wild animals that are behaving oddly, especially if they appear to have lost their fear of humans.

Virginia May 2011 In a study published in the May 2011 issue of CDC-EID, lead researcher Dr. Chelsea L. Wright of Old Dominion University in Virginia reports evidence that Amblyomma maculatum tick populations are well established in southeastern Virginia.  Her study found that 43.1% of the adult Gulf Coast ticks collected in the summer of 2010 carried Rickettsia parkeri, suggesting that persons living in or visiting southeastern Virginia are at risk for infection with this pathogen. Infection with R. parkeri can be considered an emerging infectious disease, referred to as R. parkeri rickettsiosis, American Boutonneuse fever, and Tidewater spotted fever.

Gulf Coast ticks. Female & Male.

Twenty-two cases have been reported mainly in the southern U.S. since 2002.  In the U.S., A. maculatum (family Ixodidae) ticks, commonly referred to as Gulf Coast ticks, are the only known natural vector of R. parkeri.  This vector has been reported in 12 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. (For complete article published in CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 17, No. 5-May 2011 go to )

Colorado 04/28/11 by Pam Zubeck – Six skunks infected with rabies have been reported here this year, El Paso County Public Health reports today in a press release. “Based on the locations of where these rabid skunks are being found, we know rabies is being detected in both rural and urban parts of the county. We strongly encourage the public in all the cities and towns within El Paso County to stay alert and take precautions to prevent rabies. These rabid skunks have been aggressive and have injured dogs and livestock,” said Kandi Buckland, R. N., M.P.A., executive director of El Paso County Public Health.

Illinois 04/27/11 by Sue Ter Maat – Two coyotes killed a Brussels griffon after the 10-pound dog escaped from its fenced-in yard in Highland Park to confront them, police said. The incident happened the evening of April 13, in the 2100 block of Magnolia Lane. The pet’s owner heard a commotion in the backyard, where two Brussels griffons and a 60-pound dog were playing. It appears that one of the Brussels griffons — a toy breed, noted for its excellent watchdog abilities — scurried under the fence to go after two coyotes on the other side, said Deputy Police Chief David Schwarz. “The dog went after the coyotes,” Schwarz said. “The coyotes responded.” The resident saw the coyotes attack the dog before one of them carried it away in its mouth. The resident found the injured dog about two blocks away where the coyote had dropped it. Still alive, it was taken to an emergency veterinarian hospital where it died, Schwarz said. The family declined to comment. It’s not the first time that coyotes have attacked Highland Park dogs, but it is the first fatality in recent years, Schwarz said. On Dec. 29, Highland Park’s Jessica Ludevall told police her Brittany spaniel mix, B.B., received a one-inch gash on top of her head after tangling with coyotes. She said two coyotes had chased after both of her dogs that had been strolling off their leashes on the beach with her. Similar to the attack on the Brussels griffon, Ludevall’s dogs, B.B. and Taj, a Rhodesian ridgeback, had at first chased after coyotes that they’d spotted before the coyotes turned on them. The attack on Ludevall’s dogs was one of two such coyote incidents that occurred within days of each other, police said. In the second incident, a woman reported that she was followed by a coyote while she was walking her dog near the corner of Roger Williams Avenue and Sheridan Road. As a result, police warned Highland Park residents living in the southeast part of the city to be on the lookout for coyotes. More coyote incidents like those in Highland Park appear to be on the rise, especially in northeastern Illinois, said Bob Bluett, a wildlife biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. During the past few years, there’s been a steady increase in the number of coyotes removed from areas in Illinois where they had been causing trouble. Last year coyote captures jumped 21 percent statewide — from 679 in 2008, to 820 coyotes in 2009. Of the 2009 total, 480 came from northeastern Illinois. The year before, just 399 were captured in the region, Bluett said. Due to the latest attack, Highland Park police are encouraging residents to fortify their fences to keep their dogs in and to walk dogs on leashes instead of letting them run free, Schwarz said. “Dogs tend to defend their families and properties,” Schwarz said. “We don’t want them to take on coyotes.”

Oklahoma 04/27/11 A four-legged citizen of Tulsa came out for a stroll Wednesday afternoon. Red fox are common to the area – but not as commonly seen during the day, according to Jean Letcher, manager of Tulsa’s Animal Welfare Department. “They live in a lot of the wooded areas and neighborhoods throughout the city,” Letcher said. “We consider them indigenous wildlife, and we don’t try to trap or control them.” If anything, they’re a beneficial member of the community, she said. “They hunt small rodents and help keep the ecosystem in place.” The red fox romping in a neighborhood just north of the Fairgrounds ran by a Calico cat without either animal reacting to the other. Fox don’t go through the trash like raccoons or stray dogs, and rarely carry disease, the Animal Control manager said. “There can be rabies in fox just like raccoons or other wildlife,” Letcher said. “We have not had a problem here.” If citizens see a fox displaying signs of rabies, they should certainly keep away and notify animal control. Fox are generally seen at dusk or dawn as they mostly roam at night. They don’t have much fear of humans from afar but will run if approached, Letcher noted. “They can fend for themselves,” she said. “They may partake of an outside cat’s food, but you’ll never know they were there.”

Pennsylvania 04/28/11 A raccoon in Ferguson Township that fought with a dog tested positive for rabies, according to the state Department of Agriculture. According to the department, the raccoon went into a yard on Monday. The dog it fought with was vaccinated and is being quarantined on the owner’s property for 90 days.

 South Carolina 04/27/11 South Carolina legislators are making what’s already an open season to kill coyotes even more liberal. The Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a bill to let the state’s Department of Natural Resources issue more permits that allow a wider variety of weapons to be used to kill coyotes at night. Hunters routinely kill coyotes during the state’s open season now while hunting other game. Coyotes are having an impact on the state’s deer population. A three-year study by the Department of Natural Resources shows coyotes are responsible for most of the deaths of fawns. (Note: The article did not explain what “a wider variety of weapons” means, but the legislation approved by the state Senate appears to allow the use of lights while hunting coyotes at night, and it appears that there would be no closed season on hunting coyotes with weapons. The bill must also be approved by the state House.)

Texas 04/27/11 Burnet officials are concerned that for the fifth time in two months, rabid animals were found in the city of Burnet. This exceeds all of Burnet County for 2010 in which, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, five animals, four bats and a fox, were found to be rabid. On Wednesday, April 27, Burnet Police received confirmation from the Texas Department of Zoonosis that a raccoon that was taken by Burnet Police on Friday, and a skunk that was taken on Saturday were both found to be infected with rabies. Since early March, four skunks and a raccoon have been seized and confirmed to have rabies. “This is a very serious issue,” said Police Chief, Paul Nelson, “we want to be sure everyone knows not to approach any animal that is acting strangely, day or night.” The affected animals were found in different areas of the city and citizens are warned that they can appear anywhere. The two most recent animals were found on North Hill Street in the northwest quadrant of the city and at a residence on Leffingwell Lane in the southeast area of the city. Residents are strongly encouraged to have their pets vaccinated against rabies as soon as possible. The Burnet Animal Control Officer, Kim Wilson, warns the public that anyone seeing an animal acting strangely, whether that animal is a wild animal or a pet, should immediately contact the Animal Control Officer (ACO) at (512)756-8080, the Burnet Police Department at (512)756-6404, or in the event of an aggressive animal, they should call 911.


British Columbia 04/27/11 They’ve been reported all around Kelowna. They’ve come in search for food, mates and shelter, and they may never leave. Danielle Macdonald spotted a coyote near Pearson Road Elementary in Rutland. “I was very surprised to see it there, especially with all the noise and people around, it seemed out of place,” says Macdonald. Macdonald says there are many children who live in the area and while she was watching the predator it was watching the playground. Conservation Officer Terry Myroniuk says the handful of canids that have not been chased out by now are likely going to stick around. “It’s quite feasible that those animals won’t necessarily settle down (return to the wild),” says Myroniuk. Coyotes adapt quickly to what’s around them, even if it’s in an urban landscape, it becomes their new environment, says Myroniuk. “Once they get habituated it’s really no different than the wild. The habituated coyote will go down the street near downtown Kelowna with little fear of retribution and it becomes an extension of what a pristine habitat would be in their eyes.” Myroniuk does say coyotes in outlying areas are more likely to return to the wild, but several ‘trouble coyotes’ will likely make the streets their new home. “It’s probably a few problem animals that are generating most of our complaints and most of our problems.” Rutland, the lower mission and downtown each have one or more troublesome coyotes, says Myroniuk. “There’s really nothing that can be done to reverse that behavior, it’s learned.” While the coyotes have killed several dogs and numerous cats, Myroniuk says that the number of complaints is dwindling as people get used to their presence. “We can’t say it enough: people are really inviting them into our neighbourhoods by tolerance. Don’t welcome them into our residential environments by feeding them and leaving out attractants. When it comes to the reactive measures, where we already have habituated animals like we do in certain parts of Kelowna, what we’d encourage the public to do is call Conservation at 1-877-952-7277 immediately.” As for why the coyotes are in town to begin with, he says it is likely a combination of two factors: the lack of domestic rabbits as a food source and tougher firearm restrictions for farmers and orchardists in outlying areas. “In Rutland and toward Enterprise Way there was a fairly good population of domestic rabbits that would have probably been readily available. And I think in the past, a lot of the problem animals were removed by farmers in the outlying areas before they got to town. Freak accidents with vehicles is the only thing checking their population right now,” says the conservation officer.


One response to “New study strengthens assumption that Armadillos can infect humans with Leprosy. Rabid Bobcat attacks dogs at Arizona campground. Researchers report Ticks spreading Rickettsia parkeri throughout southeastern Virginia. Rabies reports from Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Coyote reports from Illinois, and South Carolina. A Fox report from Oklahoma. Canada: A Coyote report from British Columbia.

  1. MALC is working for elimination of Leprosy in Pakistan, TB and Blindness control and Community Development for the last 54 years.

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