New Mexico man, 23, dies from Hantavirus infection; Florida’s Duval County confirms two human cases of West Nile Virus; Virginia woman attacked by Fox; Washington’s E. King County detects airborne Tularemia bacteria; Rabies reports from Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas; and West Nile Virus reports from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Follow-Up Reports on Alaska Grizzly attack this past weekend, and Arizona Black Bear attack in late June.

Deer Mouse. Courtesy National Park Service.

New Mexico 07/25/11 state.nm.us: The New Mexico Health Department announced today that a 23-year-old man from McKinley County has died from Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). This is the fourth case of HPS in New Mexico this year.  “People need to be very careful when they are involved in activities which may put them in contact with rodents or their droppings,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, the department’s state public health veterinarian.

McKinley County

“It is important to remember that the best defense against Hantavirus is to avoid disturbing areas of rodent infestation, including nests and droppings, and to air out cabins and sheds before entering them.”  People can become infected and develop disease from HPS when they breathe in aerosolized virus particles that have been transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings or saliva. The deer mouse is the main reservoir for the strain of Hantavirus that occurs in New Mexico, Sin Nombre virus.

Florida 07/26/11 news4jax.com: There will be more mosquito control trucks spraying insecticide beginning Tuesday after the Duval County Health Department confirmed two human cases of West Nile Virus in the area. The Health Department issued a mosquito-borne illness alert for Duval County after a 52-year-old woman and a 57-year-old man were hospitalized with the virus. Both are expected to recover. Health officials are alerting the public out of concern that additional residents will become ill. “We are targeting our spraying in the areas where we have been informed where there is a concern about West Nile,” said Richard Smith of Duval County Mosquito Control.

Duval County

“We have also done additional surveillance trapping in areas to get a baseline count of mosquitoes and species. And we are also going to increase inspections in those areas.” West Nile cases are relatively rare in northeast Florida. There was one case last year. One Jacksonville resident died of the virus in 2005. St. Johns County reported a West Nile death in 2003. Residents of Florida are encouraged to report dead birds via the website MyFWC.com/bird For more information on mosquito-borne illnesses, visit DOH’s Environmental Public Health website or call 904-253-1850.

Virginia 07/25/11 neweraprogress.com: by Dave Thompson – An Amherst County woman is undergoing rabies treatment after a fox attacked her Monday morning. The incident happened at a house off U.S. 60 in Pedlar before noon, while the woman set chairs on her deck, said Animal Control Officer Brian Tharpe. A fox charged toward her and jumped on her, he said. “She knocked it off of her, ended up knocking one of the chairs over and hitting it on the head,” Tharpe said. The fox bit the woman and barely broke the skin. By the time he and other animal control officials arrived to investigate, the fox had disappeared. “While I was talking to her and a family member,” Tharpe said, “the fox actually showed back up.” He said it approached the porch the way it had the first time.  Tharpe approached the house from the rear and shot the animal. The animal’s body was sent to the Virginia Department of Health, and will be tested at its Richmond facility,Tharpe said. Cases involving rabid animals in Lynchburg and the surrounding counties are on the rise. Through June 30, there have been 17 confirmed cases of rabies compared to 13 during the same period for the last two years, Tharpe said. Statewide, rabies cases also increased. As of July 16, there have been 330 confirmed cases, up from 286 for the same period in 2010. Last year, some 573 cases of rabies were confirmed; in 2009, 564 were confirmed.

Washington 07/26/11 issaquahpress.com: Monitors detected a bacteria capable of causing infectious tularemia in a daily air sample from East King County on Monday, but public health officials said the bacteria level is low, close to the detection limit and does not pose a threat. Officials said a later test detected none of the bacteria in the air. Since establishing a federal air-monitoring system in 2003, similar positive test results related to the naturally occurring bacteria have been common elsewhere in the United States. The bacteria detection Monday is the first time a sample in the Puget Sound area tested positive. The bacteria, Francisella tularensis,  is found throughout Washington and is commonly carried by rabbits, squirrels and other rodents. Tularemia rarely infects people. Only one to 10 human cases occur statewide in a typical year. The positive sample came from a filter collected Monday morning. Officials immediately collected a subsequent sample from the same station Monday evening. The sample did not detect any bacteria. State and local health and safety officials continue to monitor the situation. Officials said no signs of illnesses have been reported in the area. The air-monitoring system is called BioWatch, a federal program operating nationwide in major metropolitan areas. The program routinely collects and tests air samples for trace amounts of biologic material possibly related to intentional attacks or natural occurrences. The program includes several monitors in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, but officials withhold specific locations for security purposes.

Alabama 07/25/11 wsfa.com: by JoBeth Davis – Montgomery City Animal Control is setting traps near the area of Oakwood Cemetery after a fox captured there tested positive for rabies. According to the City of Montgomery the fox was trapped by the Montgomery Police Department Animal Control Bureau on Monday morning. The bureau is setting traps to capture the remaining foxes in that area and cautions the public to avoid any contact with foxes and other wild animals. Any individual who sights or encounters a fox in the city is asked to contact the Animal Control Bureau at 334-241-2970.

Tennessee 07/25/11 greenevillesun.com: County Animal Control is on the lookout for a black-and-white female cat that, well, bit the hand that fed it Friday morning.  Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Livingston said in a report that the “skinny” cat was hanging around the property of the 67-year-old victim, in the 100 block of Daniels Lane, Afton.  The man fed the feline and gave it water. The report said the victim walked to his garden to pick beans, followed by the cat, who proceeded to bite him on the right hand, breaking skin. The victim was given a rabies shot at the Laughlin Memorial Hospital emergency room. The cat, which was not wearing a collar or identifying tag, remains at large.

Texas 07/26/11 state.tx.us: Press Release – The Central Texas region is seeing a marked increase in animal rabies cases, particularly in skunks. For the first six months of this year there were 268 rabies cases compared to 109 during the same time frame last year (January to June 30, 2010). Similarly, the North Texas region is seeing an increase, with 151 cases in the first half of 2011 compared with 81 cases in the first half of last year. The state is seeing an overall increase in animal rabies cases as well. For the first six months of this year there were 591 animal rabies cases compared to 387 cases for the first six months of 2010. Bats and skunks are the most common animals found to have rabies in Texas.

Connecticut  07/26/11 ct.gov: Press Release – The State Mosquito Management Program today announced that mosquitoes trapped in Greenwich on July 13, 2011 tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). These results represent the first positive mosquitoes identified in Greenwich by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) this year. Additional mosquitoes trapped on July 14, 2011 in Bridgeport also tested positive. “We have seen a significant increase in the abundance of Culex mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus throughout the region,” said Dr. Theodore Andreadis, Chief Medical Entomologist, CAES. “With the recent heat wave we anticipate an accelerated build-up of virus activity in mosquitoes in the coming weeks.” In 2011, WNV-positive mosquitoes have been trapped in 3 municipalities; the first were trapped in Bridgeport on June 21st, the second in Orange on June 29th, the third on July 13th in Greenwich, and the fourth in Bridgeport on July 14th. No Connecticut residents have been identified with illnesses related to WNV infections this year.

Massachusetts 07/26/11 boston.com: by Jessica Bartlett – Mosquitoes with West Nile Virus have been found in Cohasset, prompting some South Shore communities, such as Scituate, to issue warnings for increased vigilance around mosquito protection. There is no specific treatment for West Nile, according to DPH fact sheets available on their website. However fatal cases of the virus are rare – between 2000 and 2010, 67 people reported WNV infections in Massachusetts. Six of those cases proved fatal.

Pennsylvania 07/25/11 cbslocal.com: Mosquito traps collected in Greenfield Park in West Chester Borough have tested positive for West Nile Virus, according to the Chester County Health Department. Officials say the heightened concern will most likely remain until mid-October. For more information visit www.chesco.org/health or call 610-344-6455.

Follow-Up Reports:

Alaska 07/26/11 pe.com: by Rachel D’Oro – Excerpts – “The four young students who were mauled by a grizzly in the Alaska wilderness were well prepared in their survival training but could not have avoided the encounter, outdoors experts said Tuesday. ‘I would call this incident a lightning bolt. It’s something that is highly unusual. It’s highly unfortunate, and they happened to be in a situation it sounds like with certain elements beyond their control,’ said Bill Mohrwinkel, co-owner of Fairbanks-based Arctic Wild and a former field instructor for National Outdoor Leadership School. The teens were nearing the end of a 30-day survival course for the Lander, Wyo.-based school when they suddenly came upon the bear near a river crossing on Saturday. The students, who were rescued early Sunday, were at a stage where they could try their skills without instructors.”

” Mohrwinkel said NOLS has an impeccable safety record. With their intensive training, the students who were attacked were more prepared than many people who travel in the Alaska’s backcountry, he said. The students said they were calling out to alert bears to their presence, but their voices might have been muffled by the river or a rock outcropping. The students did not have guns with them, because NOLS risk managers believe bear spray is the best way to guard against such an attack, Palmer said. ‘To expect someone to shoot a charging bear with one bullet is asking quite a bit,’ he said. ‘Bear spray puts out a fog that’s much more likely to hit a target.’ Guns can give a person a false sense of security, said Mohrwinkel, the Alaska wilderness guide. His company’s excursions often take a shotgun, but he tells his clients a gun should be a last resort. Alaska authorities said there are no plans to hunt down the grizzly because of the remote location in the Talkeetna Mountains north of Anchorage and the likelihood it was a mother protecting a cub. The condition of the most seriously injured teen Joshua Berg, 17, of New City, N.Y. has been upgraded to fair from serious at Providence Alaska Medical Center. A hospital spokeswoman said 17-year-old Sam Gottsegen of Denver remained in good condition. Noah Allaire, 16, of Albuquerque, N.M., and Victor Martin, 18, of Richmond, Calif., have been released from a hospital. Sixteen-year-old Sam Boas of Westport, Conn., who was with the group but not injured, said the experience will not stop him from returning to the wilderness.”  (For complete article go to http://www.pe.com/ap_news/California/US_Alaska_Bear_Maulings_586073C.shtml ) (See Alaska post for July 26, 2011)

Arizona 07/26/11 mercurynews.com: An Arizona woman attacked by a bear while walking her dog four weeks ago has died of complications from her injuries. Family members say 61-year-old Lana Hollingsworth, of Gilbert, died Monday at a Scottsdale hospital after undergoing numerous surgeries following the mauling on June 28. KTVK-TV reports doctors believe an unknown bacteria, possibly from the bear’s claws, sparked an infection that they could not control. The theory is that the rampant infection might have caused a hemorrhage. Hollingsworth’s son, Robert Oates, says the black bear essentially scalped his mother as she walked her dog outside her vacation home in Pinetop. The bear was raiding trashcans near the Pinetop Lakeside Country Club. Federal wildlife officials responded and used tracking dogs to find and kill the bear. (See Arizona post for July 1 & 5, 2011)

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