Mad Polar Bear thought to be rabid charges into northern Canadian town; North Carolina bio-tech company develops new approach to creating vaccines for insect-borne diseases; British bio-tech company stirs controversy by developing genetically modified mosquito to wipe out those that carry Dengue and other lethal diseases; federal funds for Minnesota’s Wolf Control Program drying up; Wyoming and feds agree “in principle” on Wolf Control Program; another Mainer reports Mountain Lion sighting; Florida man attacked by rabid Bobcat; West Nile Virus reports from Illinois, New York, and Ohio; and Rabies reports from Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, New York (2), North Carolina (2), Pennsylvania (2), Virginia, and Wisconsin. Canada: Coyote report from Alberta, and a Rabies report from Saskatchewan. Travel Warnings for India, the Maldives, and Swaziland.

Polar Bear. Photo by Alan Wilson. Wikimedia Commons.

Manitoba 07/06/11 A rampaging polar bear bounded through backyards and patios in the northern Manitoba town of Churchill, then headed downtown, where it stomped a truck and banged its head against the windows of the health center before conservation officers could shoot and kill it, the CBC reported Wednesday. Conservation officer Bob Windsor said he had never seen a polar bear act so aggressively. It will be tested for rabies, which could explain its behavior. Churchill, on the shore of Hudson Bay, is known for its polar bear population and bear-spotting tours there are popular with tourists.

The CBC said Monday’s bear blowup began when the animal turned on a man taking photographs on the beach, forcing him to hide behind rocks while the bear paced nearby. Windsor and his partner set off some noisemakers known as “bear bangers,” which confused the bear enough to allow the man to escape. But the bear, who first tried to attack the officers’ truck, next headed into town, racing through backyards before heading into the downtown area. “I drove up to it and it attacked the truck again,” Windsor told the CBC. “I wasn’t able to back out of the way quick enough and this time it caught up to the front of the truck and reared up and kind of stomped the front of the hood with its front paws.” From there, it began pushing its head against windows at the health center. Windsor finally managed to lure the bear into a clear area where his partner shot it.

Global 07/07/ A technology breakthrough that could have a major impact in the development of vaccines to preventive insect-borne diseases has been published in the June edition of Virology Journal ( ). The technology developed by Arbovax creates virus host-range mutations that will reproduce in insect cells while being severely restricted in their ability to reproduce in mammalian cells. Pre-clinical animal experiments have shown that this approach can be used to create immunity to insect-borne viral diseases such as Dengue Fever. Modifications to the virus are hidden from the immune system and so produce strong immunity in the absence of disease. The virus can also be grown in a very cost-effective manner in an insect cell reactor. Arbovax expects to be initiating human clinical trials of its Dengue vaccine by the end of 2012. Over 2/5 of the world‘s population is threatened by insect borne viral diseases and this technology will form the basis for a vaccine platform against many of those diseases. “These are very promising results, a major step forward in the fight to stop the spread of insect-borne diseases. We are very excited to have then published by such a well-respected journal in the field of virology,” said CEO Malcolm Thomas, “and we are currently preparing several other papers for publication in the near future.”

About the company: Arbovax, Inc. is an early stage biotechnology company based in Raleigh NC, developing a novel and innovative technology to facilitate the development of vaccines against insect-borne viruses.

Drs. Raquel Hernandez & Dennis Brown

The core technology, developed by Dr. Dennis Brown and Dr. Raquel Hernandez of NC State University, provides a platform that offers improved vaccine technology in a cost effective manner targeting a portfolio of arthropod-borne diseases that includes Dengue Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, West Nile, Chikungunya and Yellow Fever. Arbovax’s initial focus, Dengue Fever, is ranked second only to Malaria by the World Health Organization for its devastating global impact.

Global 07/07/11 NPR’s All Things Considered on Tuesday examined the efforts of the British company Oxitec to develop a genetically modified mosquito meant to wipe out wild populations of the insects, which carry potentially lethal diseases such as dengue. Genetically modified male mosquitoes are released into the wild to breed with females, and their offspring are designed to die. “Field trials in the Cayman Islands last year appeared to show it works.

Dr. Luke Alphey

Oxitec released its genetically modified males, and, [Oxitec Chief Scientific Officer Luke] Alphey says, the population dropped by a whopping 80 percent,” NPR reports. However, some are opposed to the possible unintended consequences of releasing genetically modified insects into the wild, and regulators worldwide “are struggling to come up with rules and safeguards,” according to NPR.

Minnesota 07/07/ by Stephanie Hemphill – A federally funded program that controls predatory wolves in northern Minnesota will soon be out of money, putting livestock and pets at risk. When farmers can prove a wolf killed their animals, they call Wildlife Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Trappers come out to the farm, set traps, and kill the wolves they catch. The money for the trapping program — about $500,000 a year — has long come from Congressional earmarks. But last spring, Congress voted to eliminate earmarks. As a result, in mid-July, the state will no longer have money to hire the trappers. Not being able to rely on them will pose a hardship for cattle ranchers like Neil Radaich. During calving season, Radaich and his father drive several times daily out to the far end of a pasture in Goodland, Minn., to check on cows and calves. (For complete article go to )

Wyoming 07/07/11 by Jeremy Pelzer – Wyoming and the federal government have reached “an agreement in principle” on a deal to remove the state’s roughly 340 wolves from the endangered species list and put them under state control. Following a meeting at the Wyoming State Capitol on Thursday, Gov. Matt Mead, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said they hoped to reach a deal by the end of the month and ratify it by the end of September.

Wyoming has been fighting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for years to accept the state’s wolf management plan, which allows unregulated killing of the animals in all but the northwest corner of the state. Fish and Wildlife, on the other hand, wants wolves to be classified as “trophy game” throughout the state, meaning they could only be hunted with a license. The three said they agreed on a deal under which Wyoming would be required to maintain 100 wolves, including 10 breeding pairs, outside Yellowstone National Park. That’s about a third of current wolf numbers outside Yellowstone, Mead said. They also agreed in principle on creating a wolf “flex area” in Sublette and Lincoln counties, in which wolves would be protected only during the winter months. Working out exactly where the “flex area” boundaries will be is the primary sticking point remaining in negotiations, Mead said. Mead said he now will shop around two different flex-area boundary proposals to “stakeholders” – including ranchers and agricultural groups that have long opposed wolves.

In April, Congress voted to delist wolves in five other western states, though not Wyoming. Salazar and Ashe met with Mead at the insistence of U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who demanded it as a precondition to lifting a month-long hold on Ashe’s nomination as Fish and Wildlife director. Ashe was confirmed by the Senate to the post last Thursday; a few days after Barrasso lifted his hold.

Maine 07/06/11 While driving southbound along I-295 near exit 28 in Brunswick, on July 4th, Dianne Hersey sighted what she believes was a cougar. “The color was tan, it looked like it had leapord-like black spots, and I estimate it to be at least two feet high.  The legs seemed to be thin, and the face was definitely the face of a big cat.  It ran onto the highway from the left side, then it saw the traffic coming at it, and it turned around, and ran off the highway again the same way it had run onto the highway.  It’s a wonder it wasn’t hit by a car. I live in Presque Isle, and I was on a trip to Portland to see the fireworks on July 4th when I saw this cougar.  There was a car ahead of me, but the cougar stopped in the left lane, facing the traffic for an instant, then turned around and took off for the side of the highway.  I’ve seen cats that big before, but it was always in a zoo.  It was so agile.”

Florida 07/07/11 Paul Brock, 71, was at a friend’s house Friday (July 1) cutting fresh cabbage when he had an unpleasant surprise. “All of a sudden I heard a growl, and then I heard another growl. I thought it was a dog,” said Brock. But it wasn’t a dog. It was this bobcat looking for a fight. The cat launched at Brock with full force. “He leaped right on top of my head with his front feet. His left paw went in the head and his right paw went on my cheek,” said Brock. Brock’s friend shot and killed the bobcat during the attack, and test results from an autopsy on the bobcat confirmed that it was infected with rabies. Brock is expected to be alright as long as he completes the four-shot regiment to ward off the rabies infection.

Illinois 07/07/11 by Claudia Lenart – Burr Ridge reports that mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus have been discovered in Evergreen Park and Oswego. Health officials advise residents to take precautions to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and to use mosquito repellant.

New York 07/07/11 by Windsor Genova – New York City’s Health Department announced Thursday that mosquitoes collected from Eltingville, Staten Island tested positive from the West Nile virus. No cases of infection were reported but the department advised the public to take precautions with the virus’ return to the city.

Ohio 07/07/11 West Nile virus infected mosquitoes have been detected in traps in Richland County according to public health officials at the Mansfield-Ontario-Richland County Health Department. “We have a positive West Nile virus detection from mosquitoes caught in a trap in Washington Township,” said Matthew Work, Director of Environmental Health at the Mansfield/Ontario/Richland County Health Department. “To be very clear, this is not a case of human infection but a positive reading of mosquitoes carrying the virus that could infect humans.”

Florida 07/06/11 by Bryan Anderson – The Holmes County Health Department is warning residents to watch out for potentially rabid animals, and they said the drought could be causing the disease to spread. Holmes County Health Officials have confirmed two rabies cases in the past two weeks. They’re hoping an advisory to residents will prevent any more. “Two positive results out in the county. One was a raccoon, one was a feral cat,” said Holmes County Environmental Manager Jackie Parker. The Jackson County Health Department has had four rabies cases in the past three months. Health officials ask you to report any suspicious-acting animals to your local health department.

Georgia 07/06/11 by Elizabeth Melville – A Newnan man continues to receive rabies treatments after he was bitten by a confirmed rabid fox on June 30 in the Bridgewater subdivision off Shenandoah Boulevard. Kenny Ruddy was at home working in the garage around 4:30 p.m. on June 30 when he had the run-in with the diseased fox, according to Ruddy’s wife, Linda. In addition to a bite on his hand, Kenny suffered a scratch on his leg. He visited the ER and immediately began his series of rabies immunizations. He was also given a tetanus shot. “He’s doing okay — he feels achy, but he’s fine,” said Linda. Kenny will have to receive rabies shots for nearly a month following the bite. Kenny turned the fox over to Coweta Animal Hospital for rabies testing. According to Linda, testing was conducted in Atlanta on Friday and they got the word Friday afternoon that the specimen tested positive for rabies.

Idaho 07/07/11 Press Release – A bat from southeast Idaho tested positive for rabies last week, prompting public health officials to warn people throughout the state to take precautions around bats and make sure that their dogs, cats, and horses are adequately vaccinated against rabies. This is the first report of a rabid bat in the State this summer.

Michigan 07/07/11 The Livingston County Department of Public Health received a report this week of a fox found in Green Oak Township that may have rabies. Officials say the fox was discovered acting strangely on Wednesday afternoon in an area just east of US-23 on the north end of Whitmore Lake. Anyone who may have been exposed to a fox within the last two weeks is asked to contact the Livingston County Department of Public Health at (517) 552-6882.

New York 07/07/11 Sullivan County’s Commissioner of Public Safety, Richard Martinkovic tells us that authorities were contacted after a fox had been bothering people during the daytime at a camp located on White Lake Turnpike. The Town of Bethel Constable was called and found out from the people at the camp that there was an animal that was not acting right. The constable in turn called for an animal control officer, who arrived and set up several cages to trap the animal. The fox was trapped on Tuesday afternoon at 4:00PM. It was then killed, and its head was sent for lab-testing. The results returned on Thursday that the fox was infected with rabies.

New York 07/07/11 by Emily Lenihan – As a follow-up to our warning of last week about possible rabid animals on Tonawanda Island in the City of North Tonawanda, it is noted that the NYSDOH Wadsworth Rabies Laboratory has confirmed that rabies was NOT present in the two woodchucks tested.

North Carolina 07/07/11 A dead bat found outside a home in Fayetteville is being considered as a case of rabies. Test results on the bat, which was found in the Lake Point Place subdivision, were inconclusive, according to Cumberland County officials. But because state health officials reported the results were unsatisfactory, it is being treated as a positive case, the sixth in the county so far this year. The bat was picked up on July 1 by Animal Control officers outside a home on the 1900 block of Wordsworth Drive, off Green Meadow. Health officials will alert nearby residents, who should remain alert for sick or abnormal acting wildlife. Anyone bitten or scratched by an animal should wash the wound under running water for at least 10 minutes with lots of soap, seek medical advice and notify Animal Control at 321-6852.

North Carolina 07/06/11 The second case of rabies in eastern Haywood County in less than a week has been confirmed, marking the fourth case so far this year in the same general area of the county. Two cases were in skunks and two were in raccoons. Before this year, only five cases of rabies had been confirmed in Haywood County since 2006. In the most recent incident, a Canton area resident discovered a skunk in their barn, exhibiting unusual behaviour. According to the incident report, the skunk was off balance and falling down. The skunk was killed and sent to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services laboratory, where it tested positive. Also last week, a group of hunting dogs got into a fight with the raccoon. The raccoon was killed and the owner of the dogs reported the incident. Tests on the raccoon came back positive.

Pennsylvania 07/07/11 A raccoon that was seen drooling and falling to the ground on the Penn State campus has tested positive for rabies. According to the state Department of Agriculture, the raccoon was seen wandering around the central part of campus on June 30. It had trouble walking, was falling to the ground and running into things and appeared to be drooling. Campus police shot the raccoon and submitted it to Penn State’s Animal Diagnostic Lab for rabies testing. According to the department, there was no known contact between the raccoon and people or domestic animals. The raccoon brings the number of diagnosed rabies cases in Centre County this year to eight, which is more than all of 2010 when there were five cases in the entire year. Most recently, a rabid raccoon was seen on June 27 in a tree in Gregg Township vocalizing, then later fighting with a vaccinated dog. That raccoon was shot and submitted for rabies testing, and the dog is being quarantined on the owner’s property for 90 days.

Pennsylvania 07/06/11 The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is trying to identify a dog and its owner to determine if a person bitten by the dog will need rabies treatment. The department said in a news release that a person was bitten while trying to pet the dog Friday between 10:30 and 11 a.m. at the Sheetz on East King Street. The owner is described as a bald, white male between 40 and 45 years old. The dog is described as large with black, seemingly matted fur, possibly an Airdale mix breed. Anyone with information should contact Dog Warden Georgia Martin at 762-9794.

Virginia 07/07/11 Two more cases of suspected rabies have popped up in our area. In Henry County, an adult cat around Spruce Pine Lane reportedly bit three people. Officials found the gray, tan and white cat dead on Sunday and it did have rabies. And in Botetourt County, a red fox attacked and bit a person on Mount Pleasant Church Road. That fox has not been found so officials do not know if it’s rabid. If you came in contact with either of these animals, contact your local Health Department.

Wisconsin 07/06/11 The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department is looking for any information as to the owner and identity of a dog that bit a child while the child was riding his bike on the bike path under the Seymour Cray Boulevard just outside the city limits of Chippewa Falls. On Monday about 11 a.m. three male subjects were along the river with their dogs and one of the dogs described as a heavy set furry German Sheppard approached the bike riders and bit a 10-year-old boy. The status of the shots for the dog is needed in order to prevent the child from undergoing a series of shots for rabies. If any information about the dog or the dog owner is know they are asked to contact the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department.


Alberta 07/06/11 Fish and Wildlife officers are still investigating a reported coyote attack near the Scenic dog run Tuesday night. A man walking his dog claims to have seen up to 20 of the animals and ended up with a bite mark on his leg. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development Spokesman Dave Ealey tells CJOC News that coyotes are especially territorial when pups are with them. He says a large pack of coyotes consists of seven or eight animals, adding it’s possible for people to misjudge numbers in low-light conditions. Ealy also says it’s possible the coyotes felt threatened by the man’s dog. If you come across coyotes, Ealey suggests backing away slowly and making yourself seem as large as possible.

Saskatchewan 07/06/11 A Martensville veterinary clinic says it has been advised by provincial agriculture officials that rabies has been detected in three big brown bats that were tested in May and June. Bat experts note it is an unusual number of bats to test positive for rabies in such a short time. “It is quite uncommon for this to happen,” Mark Brigham, the head of the biology department at the University of Regina, told CBC News Wednesday. Brigham said in a normal year Saskatchewan can expect a total of three to eight cases. While unusual, Brigham quickly added that the Martensville numbers are no cause for alarm even though rabies is a serious disease. “Rabies is incredibly dangerous,” Brigham said, but people should not assume that all bats have rabies. He did, however, sound a note of caution to people who encounter a bat. Brigham said rabies will produce paralysis in an animal and if one should spot a bat on the ground, it should be left alone. “The potential is that animal might be sick,” he said. “For heaven’s sake, don’t touch it.” Brigham said the advice can be applied to any wild animal. He said an injured or sick animal may resort to biting to defend itself, and rabies is transmitted from mammal to mammal through saliva. “Any mammal that is behaving strangely, don’t go near it. Don’t touch it,” he said. “The likelihood, in most cases, that the animal does have rabies is very low. But why take the chance?” Martensville is about 15 kilometres north of Saskatoon.

Travel Warnings:

India 07/07/11 by Pushpa Narayan – Chennai — At least 20 people have died of rabies at the Government General Hospital in the city in the last six months. Last month, three died of the virus, spread through dog bites. The increasing number of such deaths is worrying public health workers, who are coming together on July 9 to debate the topic, ‘Why should anyone die of rabies in the 21 century?’ The conference, organised by the Association for Prevention and Control of Rabies in India, will discuss strategies to eliminate rabies by 2020. “One big reason for rabies still being around is the lack of transparency and also severe underreporting of deaths, “said former director of public health Dr S Elango. For instance, though the records at the general hospital alone point to 12 deaths in 2010 and 13 deaths in 2009, none of these were recorded in the national registry. In 2009, Tamil Nadu recorded three deaths against 263 across the country and in 2010 it recorded two deaths against 162 nationally (source: National Health Profile 2010). “Had we reported all deaths, there would have been pressure on the civic authorities to initiate action. That would have pushed us to a stage where we can eliminate the disease. Instead, we choose to bury deaths under the carpet, “said Dr Elango. The Government General Hospital reported two rabies deaths each in April and May this year.

Maldives 07/07/11 by Neil Merrett – Hospitals in the capital have said they continue to screen significant numbers of patients for dengue fever, yet claim that the situation remains “stable” as authorities raise fears that an ongoing outbreak of the virus may be more persistent than originally thought. As officials today confirmed that a 41 year old man from Addu Atoll had become the eighth person to have died during the latest dengue outbreak, health care representatives in the capital have said that they remain “busy” dealing with cases and had not yet seen significant declines in patients coming through their doors suspected of contracting the virus. After declaring this week that the current outbreak of the virus around Male’ and several islands was being treated as an “epidemic”, the government has since established a task force to try and coordinate its ministries, the military and NGOs in preventing further spreads of dengue. (For complete article go to )

Swaziland 07/06/11 by Samkelo Ngwenya – The circulating news about rabies outbreak in Mbabane is true, the Minister of Agriculture Clement Dlamini has confirmed. A fortnight ago this newspaper reported that there was a dog in Fonteyn that was suspected to be carrying the deadly disease. As a result, the dog had its head cut and taken to the laboratory for diagnosis. The severed head tested positive. Four cases of rabies have been diagnosed so far. Dlamini confirmed that there are two cases of rabid dogs that have been found positive in Mbabane. On the other hand, another dog at Siphocosini has been diagnosed with rabies. The minister said there was also a case in Mayiwane after a pig was bitten by dogs. The pig contracted rabies after the bite.


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