Infectious Disease doctor says Spelunkers risk exposure to Histoplasmosis, Rabies, and other zoonoses; New Jersey woman dies from bite by rabid dog in Haiti; two North Carolina women attacked by Fox; Wisconsin DNR seeks public input on future of CWD-tainted deer farm; and Rabies reports from Connecticut, and North Carolina. Canada: Lyme Disease report from Alberta.

Spelunkers. Photo by Kevin Stanway. PD. Wikimedia Commons.

Global 07/20/11 by Danielle Venton – Like all sports that appeal to the extreme set, caving is risky. Beyond slips, falls and scrapes, spelunkers chance a host of rare, nasty diseases from cave critters. Typical threats are histoplasmosis, rabies, leptospirosis and tick-borne relapsing fever. Though most underground explorers understand the need for good ropes and headlamps, fewer think about the diseases they can catch beneath the surface, said Ricardo Pereira Igreja, a doctor and professor of infectious disease in Brazil. “People all over the world now are exploring caves for the nature and ecology. For some it’s very spiritual,” said Igreja, of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. “I think that’s good, but it does come with some threat.” For a casual tourist, like the 500,000 annual visitors to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, walking through a cave is essentially as safe as walking down the street. It is the sport cavers, those who crawl through muck and mud into little-explored crevices, that must protect themselves from things living on bats, rodents, ticks and other bugs, Igreja said. Igreja surveys the classic and emerging cave-borne diseases in the June 10 Wilderness and Environmental Medicine. We’ve collected a gallery of the offending cave fauna, along with tips about how to keep sickness away next time you’re slithering among the stalagmites. Note: None of these diseases are exclusive to caves. Strange bugs can strike almost anywhere. (For complete article go to )

New Jersey 07/20/11 Press Release – A 73-year-old woman who tested positive for rabies after being bitten by a dog in her native Haiti in April died today at Overlook Medical Center in Summit. The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are working with Overlook Medical Center and the Westfield Regional Health Department to assess the level of exposure among the patient’s family, health care workers at the hospital and other possible contacts. The woman developed neurological symptoms on June 25 while visiting family in Union County. She had been hospitalized at Overlook since July 2 and could have been infectious as of June 11.

Rabid dog foaming at mouth. Courtesy CDC.

The CDC notified the state and the hospital’s Infection Prevention Department Monday, July 18 that the woman was positive for rabies. Additional CDC testing confirmed today that the patient was infected with a rabies strain related to a strain in an individual infected in Haiti several years ago. An assessment is being made of health care workers who may have come in contact with the patients, as well as to assess their level of exposure and the need for post-exposure treatment.

The last case of rabies infection in New Jersey was in 1997 when a Warren County man died after removing several bats from his home. The man did not seek medical attention or notify public health officials that he had been either bitten or scratched. Prompt medical attention may have saved his life.  Prior to that, the most recent human rabies case in New Jersey was in 1971. In 2010, there was one human rabies case in Louisiana and it was attributed to exposure in Mexico.  In 2009, there were four human cases diagnosed in the US; one diagnosed in Virginia was attributed to a dog bite that occurred in India.  The other three were bat exposures in Texas, Indiana, and Michigan.  For more information about rabies, please visit: )

North Carolina 07/20/11 A fox attacked two Aberdeen women Tuesday morning, and Moore County animal control officers had to kill the animal, authorities said. The fox was sent to a lab for tests to determine if it had rabies. Lee Clayton was walking outside her home on Chancery Lane at about 6:40 a.m. when she noticed the fox, which she said she had seen around the area a few times before. Then, she said, the animal lunged at her. Her 80-year-old mother, Martha Swaringen, heard her cries and came outside to beat the fox off her daughter with a shovel. “I was trying to hit his head without hitting Lee,” Swaringen said. The fox bit her on the foot. When animal control officers arrived, they shot the animal. Clayton got nine stitches in her leg and her mother got three in the foot. Both women had to get a series of rabies shots. Al Carter, director of Moore County Animal Control, said test results are expected by noon Wednesday. He said the county sends an average of six specimens a month to a lab for testing. So far this year, two captured raccoons and a skunk have tested positive for rabies.

Deer farming.

Wisconsin 07/18/11 Press Release – Neighbors and others interested in the deer farm formerly known as Buckhorn Flats are invited to a public meeting on the future of the property, now owned by the state Department of Natural Resources. The open house meeting will run 6-8 p.m. Thursday, July 28, in the auditorium at the Almond-Bancroft School at 1336 Elm Street in Almond. Background on the property, now called the Almond Deer Farm, will be provided, and the public is invited to ask questions and offer input on the management of the site. The first case of CWD, or chronic wasting disease, among Wisconsin farm-raised deer was discovered on this property in September 2002.

Almond, Wisconsin.

CWD, which affects deer and elk, is a contagious and always fatal brain disease for which there is no cure. The discovery of CWD on this property led to the depopulation of the entire deer herd on the farm. In the end, 82 of the deer killed and removed tested positive for CWD. This is an 80 percent infection rate, the highest rate of CWD infection recorded in North America, and possibly in the world. The property is located along the east side of 3rd Street, about one mile north and west of the Village of Almond in Portage County. The DNR purchased the 80-acre property this past spring for $465,000. There are 25 acres of cropland and 55 acres of woodland. About 65 acres are fenced, the area previously used as a deer farm. The property includes a single-family residence and a storage shed located outside of the fence.

Deer with Chronic Wasting Disease

Research indicates prions, proteins associated with the disease, can persist in soil for a minimum of three years and perhaps much longer. Prions that cause scrapie, a CWD-like disease in sheep and goats, have remained available and infectious for up to 16 years. DNR officials believe there is an unacceptable risk that CWD prions would infect wild white-tailed deer around this site if the fences would be removed. Since the previous owners were selling the property, and there is no continuing obligation to maintain the fence, wildlife officials concluded the best available option was to acquire the property. Similar, if less acute, concerns exist for all nine deer farms in Wisconsin that have tested positive for CWD. Because the question of how long a contaminated site is a risk to deer is of national and international interest there will be a number of opportunities for research at the Almond farm. Plans include building a second fence, if funding is available, to provide a secondary barrier and further reduce the risk of disease transmission to the wild deer herd. In addition, DNR officials must decide whether to maintain ownership of the house and lot.  The primary reason for DNR purchase of the property is to ensure that the deer fence remains intact, preventing wild deer from accessing the property and becoming infected. The DNR has an ethical and financial responsibility to maintain the fences until science offers a solution for assessing the risk or remediating the site. The fence will be inspected frequently.

Connecticut 07/19/11 by John Davisson – Darien Police are searching for the owner of a stray dog recently recovered in the area of Silver Lakes Drive. The dog is described as a male doberman mix (or possibly a mini pinscher) between 1 and 3 years of age. The animal is black and tan in color and weighs about 20 pounds. “At this time, we are unable to locate the owner as no one has contacted us to claim it,” Capt. Fred Komm said in an email. “We have also checked with surrounding towns with negative results.” Komm said that it’s particularly important to find the owner because an officer was bitten by the dog while placing it in a cage, and authorities need to determine if the animal is up to date on its rabies vaccinations. “Time is of the essence,” Komm said. Anyone with information about the dog is asked to contact the Darien Police Department at 203-662-5300.

North Carolina 07/19/11 by Kelly Twedell – The State Public Health Lab in Raleigh on Tuesday confirmed a case of rabies in Cumberland County. The rabid bat was picked up by Animal Control at the 1400 block of Woodland Drive, off of Westmont Drive in the Haymount area. Residents in the affected area should remain alert for sick or abnormal behavior in wildlife. Officials will be in the vicinity to alert residents of the hazard.


Deer tick carries Lyme Disease

Alberta 07/19/11 by Jamie Komarnicki – The province is warning Albertans to guard against Lyme disease after five ticks were found this year carrying the Lyme bacteria. The ticks, which tested positive for Lyme disease bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, were found on four dogs and a cat. The animals live in the Calgary and Edmonton area. “Lyme disease can be a serious condition if it’s not detected early and is left untreated,” said Dr. Andre Corriveau, Alberta’s chief medical office of health, in a news release. Prevention is the best defence against the disease, Corriveau noted. Covering up outdoors and using insect repellent help protect agaisnt the infected ticks. From 1989 to 2008, there were 20 cases of human Lyme disease reported in Alberta. Most of the cases were linked to travel in the U.S. or Europe. Health officials haven’t confirmed whether Alberta has an established population of the affected ticks. Lyme disease is recognized in humans as a circular, red rash starting at the tick bite three to 30 days after the bit occurs. The disease is linked to neurological and muscular problems, and the most serious cases can lead to recurrent meningitis, heart problems and arthritis.


One response to “Infectious Disease doctor says Spelunkers risk exposure to Histoplasmosis, Rabies, and other zoonoses; New Jersey woman dies from bite by rabid dog in Haiti; two North Carolina women attacked by Fox; Wisconsin DNR seeks public input on future of CWD-tainted deer farm; and Rabies reports from Connecticut, and North Carolina. Canada: Lyme Disease report from Alberta.

  1. For more info and data on the connection between common chronic diseases and microbes, see here:

    List of viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites and other microbes or pathogens linked or causally-connected to common human diseases

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