Minnesota budget deal paves way for Gray Wolf hunting; New Mexico game commission supports recommendation to end Wolf trapping ban; Drought conditions in Arkansas driving Feral Hogs into residential neighborhoods; ten rabid Bats collected in California’s Moorpark College area; Israeli firm signs passive Rabies vaccine partnership deal in U.S.; Washington DOH confirms Yakima man’s death caused by Hantavirus; Georgia investigates possible human case of West Nile Virus; Rabies reports from Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia; West Nile Virus reports from Pennsylvania, and Virginia; and Follow-up reports from California (3 boys who found a rabid Bat have been located), Colorado (Coyote they believe bit 2-year-old toddler has been killed), and North Carolina (Fox that attacked two women was rabid).

Photo by Reron. Wikimedia Commons.

Minnesota 07/19/11 startribune.com: by Josephine Marcotty – The gray wolf in Minnesota could go from endangered to hunted in just a year or two under an environmental bill that is part of the deal struck between Gov. Mark Dayton and top Republican legislators. The bill states that once the Great Lakes wolf is taken off the federal endangered species list, which is expected later this year, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) can establish a hunting season. It’s a marked change from the state’s previous wolf management plan, which called for a five-year moratorium on hunting after delisting. Hunting advocates say it will help reduce conflicts around the increasing number of wolf attacks on livestock and dogs. At the same time, experts say the swift transition from protected species to human prey will not harm the wolf’s survival if a hunting season is well-managed. “The [wolves] have surpassed every benchmark of recovery,” said Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. “It’s way past time.” Still, an official with the national environmental group that has opposed the delisting said it’s a bad sign that the Legislature is interfering even before the wolf is delisted. (For complete article go to http://www.startribune.com/sports/outdoors/125862968.html )

New Mexico 07/21/11 therepublic.com: by Susan Montoya Bryan – State game commissioners on Thursday approved a recommendation from wildlife managers to end a trapping ban in southwestern New Mexico, where federal officials have been working to reintroduce the Mexican gray wolf. The commission voted unanimously in favor of the state Game and Fish Department’s proposal during a meeting in Clayton. The vote disappointed conservationists, who had sent thousands of emails and letters to the commissioners in recent weeks to support keeping the ban in place. Regulated furbearer trapping on the Gila and Apache national forests was banned last summer by former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, a supporter of the wolf reintroduction effort. The commission extended the ban last fall, giving researchers more time to study the risks of trapping and snaring to wolves. The researchers are done with their work but a report summarizing their findings has yet to be made public, and conservation groups have accused the Game and Fish Department of colluding with trapping and livestock groups to influence the commission’s decision-making process. Despite a public records request, the conservationists claim the agency has refused to provide information related to meetings the department allegedly held with industry groups on the trapping issue. (For complete article go to http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/8aece8609a4e4ab8bca7bd0e5f317e31/NM–Trapping-Ban/ )

Arkansas 07/20/11 reuters.com: by Suzi Parker – Rural Arkansans are seeing Razorback red as feral hogs are destroying yards, wreaking havoc on gardens and leaving behind their waste. A far cry from the storied team of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, these destructive wild hogs have become a scourge for even the most forgiving Razorbacks fans. Extreme drought conditions in Arkansas, especially in the state’s southern region, are prompting razorbacks to venture closer to houses and humans as they forage for food and water, state agriculture analysts said. “It’s a terrible problem that brings with it destruction and disease,” said David Goad, chief of the Bureau of Wildlife for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Descended from escaped domesticated pigs, the hogs can weigh up to 300 pounds – a formidable enemy for a homeowner just trying to protect their sunflowers.

Three weeks ago, June Moody, who lives near the Arkansas-Texas state line, woke up to discover a large part of her yard ruined. “These hogs were digging 20 feet away right under my bedroom window and I didn’t even hear them,” Moody said. “When I went out to get in my car the next morning, it looked like a bulldozer had been down my yard.” Moody said her neighbor estimated there may have been more than 30 hogs – also known as Russian or European wild boars – in her yard that night. That doesn’t surprise Goad. “Animals are very mobile, and they aren’t going to stay someplace and starve,” Goad said. “They are going to hit the road and find something to eat.”

Goad said the hogs are now in two-thirds of Arkansas counties. People are also trapping hogs from other states and releasing them in Arkansas to hunt them, Goad said. Feral hogs carry many diseases but two critical ones are swine brucellosis and pseudorabies, a swine virus not linked to rabies. If the wild hogs infiltrate domestic pigs, the diseases can spread and even affect humans, he said. The commission is attempting to eradicate hogs by shooting the ones on their wildlife management lands. Goad encourages private land owners also to trap and kill them. Arkansas allows the hunting of wild hogs day or night on private land. “If you see one, kill it,” he said.

The hogs can ruin crops, kill turkey and deer and root out bird eggs. Goad said hogs have eaten entire rows of corn, which results in costly replanting for farmers. They will also devour acorns, a main staple of a deer’s diet, and are often caught pillaging deer feeders. “A hog will eat any stinking thing it can get its teeth into,” Goad said. Feral hogs can be eaten themselves but 7 to 9 percent of them carry disease. Goad said that people should always wear protective gloves and eyewear when handling and dressing hogs. The meat must be cooked thoroughly before eating. According to Jaret Rushing, an extension agent for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, feral hogs can produce two litters of piglets every 12 to 15 months and are mature at eight months. Such quick reproduction creates an inexhaustible problem for Arkansas and many other southeastern states. “We have declared war on them, trapping and killing them as fast as we can, but we are losing the battle,” Rushing said.

California 07/20/11 vcstar.com: by Michele Willer-Allred – Ten bats recently found in Moorpark have tested positive for rabies, Ventura County health officials confirmed Wednesday. The bats were collected from several homes in a neighborhood next to Moorpark College. John Brand, the city’s senior management analyst, said about a dozen bats were collected over a period of two months in four homes. Bats also have been seen around a fifth property, which has a pool. “More bats are being found, so the numbers are in flux,” Brand said. Ten of the bats collected have tested positive for rabies in the past 68 days, said Dr. Robert Levin, county public health officer. Levin said Ventura County does get some rabid bats, but only eight to 12 test positive per year. Finding 10 testing positive in a two-month period in a small area of the county is troublesome, he said. “It’s a higher number than usual. I am concerned about it,” Levin said. Brand said city officials have canvassed the neighborhood and notified homeowners about bats.

At issue is whether removing bats from homes is a homeowner responsibility or something the city must handle because it’s a public health issue. City officials are currently discussing the situation. Ventura County is not the only county in California dealing with rabid bats. Last month, Orange County health officials issued a warning after multiple dead bats were found in Laguna Niguel Regional Park and one tested positive for rabies. Orange County health officials only announce their discoveries if bats are found in a public area. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 21 bats with rabies were found there last year, more than double the average number of 10. So far in 2011 in Los Angeles, 11 rabid animals, all bats, have been detected.

Levin said he doesn’t know why so many bats are testing positive for rabies, but he speculated there are just more bats this year because of heavy winter rains. More rain might have increased the number of bugs, which bats like to eat, he said. Levin said it is important that residents understand the potential dangers bats pose to themselves and pets. Anyone who sees a bat should not touch or handle it, he said, because rabies can be transmitted through bat saliva. One person exposed to a bat in Moorpark is being treated with a series of vaccinations to prevent rabies. Anyone bitten by a bat should immediately seek medical attention, he said. Rabies can kill within days. Levin said pets should have up-to-date rabies vaccinations and should not have contact with bats. “Unfortunately, (vaccinating animals against rabies) is not done as much as it should be,” Levin said. According to the California Department of Fish and Game website, bats are common in California, with 24 species found in the state. They are considered important to the ecosystem. Bats found in homes are usually roosting, and property owners may legally remove them from property when they are damaging it. Poisons or fumigants are illegal under both state and federal law. Betsy Bolster, a state Fish and Game Department environmental scientist, said rabid bats take a paralytic form and will rest on the ground. If a bat is found on the ground, it is important not to pick it up. Instead, with gloved hands, isolate the bat with a box or coffee can and call the county health department or animal control office immediately, she said.

National 07/20/11 globes.co.il: by Hillel Koren – Kamada Ltd. (TASE: KMDA) yesterday signed an exclusive strategic cooperation agreement to develop and market its passive rabies vaccine KamRAB in the US. The company did not disclose the identity of its partner, saying only that it is a multinational company that develops drugs based on human plasma with sales in 40 countries, including the US and in Europe.  Kamada’s partner will bear the full cost of the Phase III clinical trial of KamRAB on the basis of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved protocols. The partner will also bear the full marketing and sales cost of the vaccine in the US, assuming it is approved by the FDA. The partner’s subsidiary will supply the hyper-immune plasma needed to produce the vaccine.  Kamada granted its partner six years marketing exclusivity to KamRAB from the date it is approved by the FDA, assuming this happens, and has an option to extend the exclusivity by two years. The partner undertakes to buy a minimum quantity of KamRAB during the contract period.  Kamada and its partner plan to conduct the Phase III trial as soon as possible, for which Kamada will allocate the necessary quantities of KamRAB.  Kamada has been marketing KamRAB in Israel and other countries since 2003, and is seeking to license it in additional countries. It notes that 15 million people are exposed to rabies worldwide every year, and tens of thousands of people die of it.

Kamada CEO David Tzur

Kamada CEO David Tzur said that the new strategic agreement would enable Kamada to sell KamRAB in the important US market, where it will benefit from high profit margins. He added that this widens the company’s products offering in the US market, where its flagship product, Glassia (its intravenous AAT treatment for congenital emphysema), has had tens of millions of dollars in sales.  Kamada’s share price rose 2.6% by midday today to NIS 226.74, giving a market cap of NIS 718 million.

Washington 07/21/11 yakimahealthdistrict.org: Press Release – The Yakima Health District (YHD) has received confirmation from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the death earlier this month of a Yakima County man in his 50s was caused by hantavirus. This is the first hantavirus death in Washington State since 2009 and the first case reported in the state for 2011. Because hantavirus is fatal in about one of every three cases, YHD is encouraging residents to take simple precautions to prevent exposure to this rare but life-threatening infection. YHD Health Officer, Dr. Christopher Spitters offers, “We extend our condolences to the family of this man. This rare and unfortunate event that led to his demise is a reminder of the importance of taking steps to maintain sanitation in general, to avoid rodent infestation in particular, and to exercise caution when encountering or cleaning up rodent infested areas.”

Georgia 07/21/11 wtoc.com: A possible case of West Nile Virus in a human in Chatham County is currently being investigated by the Chatham County Health Department. Preliminary tests have come in, but CCHD is waiting for the results of follow up testing which is required to confirm the diagnosis. West Nile Virus is going around among the mosquito population in the state and in Chatham County. If results are positive in this case, it would be Chatham County’s first West Nile case in a human since 2006. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says West Nile cases have fallen dramatically nationwide in the past decade. There were 14 infections reported in Georgia last year.

Illinois 07/20/11 go.com: Officials in Will County say tests on a bat found there have confirmed the animal had rabies. In a news release, the Will County Animal Control office says the bat was found outside the kitchen window of a residence in Homer Glen last week. The animal was sent to the Illinois Department of Public Health, which conducted tests that confirmed it had rabies. Will County officials say there is no indication that the bat had contact with any people or with a pet.

Maryland 07/20/11 carrollcountytimes.com: by Alisha George – The Carroll County Health Department is looking for a dog that bit a person at Deer Park in Smallwood July 17. The dog is described as being white and small-sized, according to a Health Department press release. If the dog is not found and verified to be in good health by July 26, it is likely that the victim of the attack will be treated with a series of post-exposure rabies shots. Those with information that may help locate the dog or its owner are asked to contact the Health Department at 410-876-1884 or the Humane Society of Carroll County at 410-848-4810.

New Jersey 07/20/11 centraljersey.com: by Lea Kahn – A raccoon that was found wandering in the area of Melvina Drive and Edith Drive Friday night, in the Lawrenceville Greene neighborhood, has been determined to have rabies, according to the Lawrence Township Health Department. Township officials are asking residents who may have come into contact with the raccoon within the past 14 days to contact the Health Department. The advisory also extends to residents’ pets that may have come into contact with the raccoon. Police were called around 8:30 p.m. to investigate what appeared to be a sick animal, township officials said. The police officer knew something was wrong with the raccoon and destroyed it. The raccoon was tested for rabies, and the result was positive.  For more information, contact the Lawrence Township Health Department at 609-844-7089. The office is open weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Pennsylvania 07/21/11 fultoncountynews.com: by Chanin Rotz-Mountz – For the second time this month, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has confirmed a case of rabies here in Fulton County. Wildlife Conservation Officer Kevin Mountz with the Pennsylvania Game Commission received notice Friday from the Department of Agriculture that a fox involved in a fight with a dog just outside McConnellsburg Borough was infected with the rabies virus.

South Carolina 07/20/11 wjbf.com: The South Carolina Department of Health and Environtal Control (DHEC) tells WJBF News Channel 6 an Aiken County woman is under the care of a physician after being bitten by a bat that tested positive for rabies. “The lady thought she was picking up a leaf out of a College Acres swimming pool,” said Sue Ferguson, of DHEC’s Bureau of Environmental Health. “It turns out it was a bat that then bit the lady on the finger.” “In cases like this, people know when they have been bitten by a bat,” Ferguson said. “However, bats have small teeth that may leave marks not easily seen, and some situations require that you seek medical advice even in the absence of an obvious bite wound. For example, if you awaken and find a bat in your room or if you see a bat in the room of an unattended child, or near a mentally impaired or intoxicated person, seek medical advice and have the bat tested.” According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of the recent human rabies cases in the U.S. have been caused by rabies virus from bats. This is the sixth confirmed rabid animal in Aiken County in 2011. Last year, there were no rabid animals confirmed in the county. In 2010, there were 106 confirmed cases of rabies in animals in South Carolina. So far this year, there have been 55 confirmed cases in animals in the state. For more information about rabies, see DHEC’s webpage, or contact DHEC’s Aiken County Environmental Health Office (803) 642-1637. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s webpage about rabies can be found here.

Texas 07/19/11 theeagle: College Station police are trying to find the owner of a small white fluffy dog with a pinkish-colored ear after it bit a woman in the area of Brentwood Street and Pine Ridge Drive. Authorities said the incident happened at about noon Tuesday when the dog — the breed wasn’t known — jumped up and bit the woman on her left calf. The victim didn’t get any information from the dog’s owner because she was unaware of the rabies guideline set forth by the State of Texas. The owner is described as a Hispanic female wearing a camouflage tank-top and blue jeans. Animal Control is asking for help from the public to locate the dog so rabies exposure to the victim can be ruled out. Once found, the dog will need to be observed for 10 days from the time of the bite for signs of rabies infection. Anyone with information is asked to call 979-764-3600.

Virginia 07/20/11 wpcva.com: Raccoons that tested positive for rabies have been found in the Crestview Lane and Yorkshire Drive neighborhoods of Pittsylvania County. For more information, contact Pittsylvania County Health Department at (434) 432-7232 ext. 260.

Pennsylvania 07/21/11 yourmonroeville.com: by Kyle Lawson – A mosquito sample collected last week near Saunders Station Road tested positive for the West Nile virus. The wetlands near Saunders Station Road provide an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes, and it’s possible that traces of the virus could spread to other parts of Monroeville, said Bob Todaro, entomologist for the Allegheny County Health Department, which released the report last week.  Saunders Station was treated in April for nuisance mosquitoes, but not culex mosquitoes, which most commonly carry the virus, Todaro said.

Virginia 07/2011 pwc.gov.org: Press Release – Mosquitoes collected on July 8, 2011 by the Prince William Mosquito Control Program have tested positive for the West Nile Virus (WNV), marking the first reported activity of the virus in the County for the 2011 season. Positive mosquitoes have been collected from test areas in northern Woodbridge, Lake Ridge area. Mosquito testing is used to determine periods of greater risk of contracting West Nile Virus. The Prince William Mosquito Control Program performed an intensive treatment in the vicinity of the positive mosquito pools so as to kill adult mosquitoes and breeding larvae in residential areas. The Prince William Mosquito Control Program will continue to monitor the area and possibly conduct an adulticide spray based on future trap numbers.

Follow-up Reports:

California 07/20/11 nctimes.com: by Edward Sifuentes – Three boys who earlier this month found a bat in Vista that later tested positive for rabies were not exposed to the disease, according to county health officials. The three boys, ranging in age from 12 to 15 years old, brought the live bat to a Vista Petco store on July 10. The bat later died and tested positive for the disease, health officials said. Authorities were looking for the boys to make sure they did not come into contact with rabies. They were identified on Monday by another youth who had seen them with the bat prior to bringing it to the store. The witness called county health officials after hearing about the case in the media. “We have interviewed the boys extensively and confirmed that they did not touch the bat,” said Dr. Eric McDonald, deputy county Public Health Officer. The boys’ own doctors will make a final recommendation about whether the boys will receive any preventative treatments, McDonald said. (See California post for July 18, 2011)

Colorado 07/21/11 9news.com: by Blair Shiff – The coyote who bit a 2-year-old Colorado boy earlier this week was put down by wildlife officers this morning.  The boy was walking with his dad when the attack occurred on a trail near Highway 7 and Sheridan Boulevard in Broomfield. The boy was treated for puncture wounds and released.  The coyote was found in the same area where the boy was bitten but authorities said that they are not certain that the animal they killed was the same that bit the boy.  The coyote will be tested for illness, and officials are looking for signs to explain the attack.

North Carolina 07/21/11 fayobserver.com: A red fox that attacked two women outside their home on Tuesday morning has tested positive for rabies, according to Al Carter, director of Moore County Animal Control. The results came back from a laboratory Wednesday afternoon showing the fox was rabid when it attacked Virginia Lee Clayton, 48, and her 80-year-old mother, Martha Swaringen, on Chancery Lane. The fox lunged at Clayton’s leg about 6:40 a.m. Tuesday after she saw the fox in her yard and turned to go back inside her home. Swaringen, hearing her screams, came to her daughter’s aide with a shovel, which she used to beat back the fox. The fox was trapped in a garbage can until animal control officers arrived and shot it. Both women were treated at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital and began a series of rabies shots. Now, they’ll have to go back for a few more sets of shots. Carter said the shots are very effective, and the women should be fine. The fox is the fourth confirmed case of rabies in Moore County this year, he said. (See North Carolina post for 07/20/11)


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