Ticks are killing Moose in New Hampshire; University of Tennessee taking part in interregional Deer Tick study; North Carolina study reports on Bartonella bacteria in Feral Pig blood; New Mexico reports a case of human Plague; and Georgia confirms West Nile Virus infection in Horse. Travel Warnings for Malaysia.

Wading moose. Courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

New Hampshire 05/09/11 sentinelsource.com: by Kyle Jarvis – This is shaping up to be the year of the tick, a fatal development for some animals. In some parts of the Granite State, moose are dropping dead, and not because of what’s often called “moose sickness,” a neurological disorder brought on by a parasitic worm that affects the moose’s ability to function normally. What’s killing them now is anemia — a lack of healthy red blood cells — the result of winter tick infestation. “It takes a lot of blood out of the moose,” said Ted W. Walski, a wildlife biologist for N.H. Fish and Game in Keene. “Particularly, the 1-year-olds (and younger moose) don’t have the blood volume or body size (to cope with tick infestations), which makes them more susceptible to things like pneumonia.”

As one might imagine, it takes a lot of winter ticks to take down a moose. “In a regular year, you can have up to 30,000 ticks on a single moose (in a given season),” said Kristine M. Rines, the moose project leader for Fish and Game in New Hampton. “In a bad year, like it’s shaping up to be this year, you can have up to 150,000 ticks per moose in late winter/early spring.” Rines said part of the problem for moose is they haven’t had the luxury of evolving over many generations to deal with ticks, the way deer have. “The white-tailed deer have a tendency to groom them off immediately,” she said. “But it takes thousands of years for that kind of change in attitude, so the moose ignore them because they’re not sure what’s going on.” (For complete article go to http://www.sentinelsource.com/features/environment/a-tiny-enemy-vampiric-ticks-are-draining-region-s-moose/article_aea682c1-c3e5-56a1-aad1-2973e12cd6c0.html )

Tennessee05/08/11 knoxnews.com: by Morgan Simmons – Excerpts – “The University of Tennessee is taking part in a $2.5 million study aimed at shedding new light on the blacklegged tick, the parasite responsible for spreading Lyme disease. The project marks the first time scientists have taken a systematic, region wide look at the blacklegged tick – also called the deer tick– to determine how factors like climate and tick genetics affect the bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi) that causes the disease. For decades Lyme disease has been associated with the Northeast region of the U.S., where blacklegged ticks are common. Evidence indicates that the ticks are

Deer tick

spreading to new regions of the country, and researchers want to know what this means for the future of this tick-borne malady that so far has eluded all efforts to find a cure or even a reliable diagnostic test. In addition to UT, Michigan State University, the University of Montreal, the University of Rhode Island, Hofstra University and Georgia Southern University are participating in the four-year study. Funding for the project comes from the National Science Foundation. UT field crews will conduct surveys for ticks in Tennessee, Florida and Alabama. Overall, the study, which just entered its second year, will examine 12 sites throughout a region stretching from Massachusetts to Georgia and Minnesota to Mississippi. One question researchers hope to answer is why Lyme disease is comparatively rare in the South considering that blacklegged ticks are found in Southern states as well as the northern U.S.”

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the most-frequently reported tick-borne illness in Tennessee, with Tennessee ranking as one the top five states for the transmission of the disease, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. Tennessee also is one of the leading states for cases of ehrlichiosis, a relatively under-recognized tick-borne disease that health officials say is on the rise.” (For complete article go to http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/may/08/050811ticks/  )

North  Carolina May 2011 cdc.gov: In a study published in the May 2011 issue of CDC-EID, lead researcher Adam W. Beard of North Carolina State University reports that hunters and butchers in the southeastern United States exposed to large quantities of feral pig blood may be at risk for transmission of Bartonella bacteria through cuts or scratches, which has occurred with other zoonotic pig pathogens such as Brucella suisAnother potential implication of the study involves the possible transmission of Bartonella bacteria from feral to domesticated pigs.  Bartonella are intravascular, gram-negative bacteria that infect a diverse array of wild and domestic animals.  (For complete report of study published in CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 17, No. 5-May 2011 go to http://www.cdc.gov/eid/content/17/5/893.htm?source=govdelivery )

New Mexico 05/03/11 state.nm.us: New Mexico Department of Health –  The New Mexico Department of Health has confirmed a case of septicemic plague in a 49-year-old man from San Juan County. The patient has been hospitalized and is recovering. This is the first case of plague confirmed in New Mexico this year and the first case in a San Juan County resident since 1999.  The department will conduct an environmental investigation at the man’s residence to determine if there is any ongoing risk to people.  “The winter and spring precipitation has allowed both rodents and their fleas to survive and multiply,” said Paul Ettestad, public health veterinarian at the Department of Health. “With higher rodent and flea populations everyone needs to take precautions to avoid rodents and their burrows, especially as people and their pets become more active outside.” There were eight human cases of plague in 2006 in New Mexico with three fatalities. Five cases were from Bernalillo County and one each from Santa Fe, San Miguel, and Torrance counties. Four human plague cases occurred in New Mexico in 2005. There were no human plague cases in New Mexico in 2004.

Georgia 05/06/11 romenews-tribune.com: Georgia’s first case of West Nile Virus (WNV) has been confirmed in a horse in Southeast Georgia. The Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH), Division of Public Health (DPH) recommends that Georgians protect themselves from mosquitoes and remove any standing water from their property. “While this is a non-human case, we recognize that the mosquito and tick season is starting earlier than in previous years,” said Dr. Anil T. Mangla, program director of Infectious Disease & Immunization and acting state epidemiologist for DCH. “It is very wise for residents to take precautions to minimize their risk of exposure to arthropod-born diseases, protecting themselves from mosquitoes and ticks.”

Travel Warning:

Malaysia 05/05/11 yahoo.com: Bernama – A total of 362 cases of dengue fever with one death were reported during the week between last April 24 and 30. Health director-general, Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman, said the fatal case involved a 48-year-old man who died due to dengue shock syndrome a week after being infected by the disease. “The victim, a salesman in Selangor, also had hypertension and was also a hepatitis B carrier,” he said in a statement here today. Dr Hasan said that generally, the number of fatalities due to dengue had dropped with only 12 cases this year so far, from 56 cases during the corresponding period last year. He said there were two dengue hot spots identified last week and the localities were the Sri Cempaka Apartment, Section 16 Bandar Bangi, in Hulu Langat and the Las Palmas Apartment, Bandar Country Homes, in Gombak. On Chikungunya, he said no new case was reported during the week between April 24 and 30. So far, 14 Chikungunya cases have been reported this year, a drop of 97 per cent from 541 cases reported during the same period last year, he added.

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