CDC advises U.S. blood supply vulnerable to BABESIA; Study finds new species of TICK-BORNE EHRLICHIOSIS; Florida confirms two more cases of WEST NILE VIRUS in Duval County; New York loses third HORSE to EASTERN EQUINE ENCEPHALITIS this year; FeederWatch says data shows WEST NILE VIRUS contributing to dramatic decline in HOUSE FINCH population; a WEST NILE VIRUS report from Georgia; and New York groups host presentations on LYME DISEASE. Canada: Two MOUNTAIN LIONS killed on B.C.’s Vancouver Island; and WEST NILE VIRUS reports from Ontario (2). Travel Warnings for Pakistan’s Punjab Province.

National 09/06/11 News Release – Babesia, a tick-borne parasite of red blood cells, is being transmitted through blood transfusions, according to results of a collaborative study, led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of data from the past three decades. Transfusion–associated cases of babesiosis have been increasingly recognized since 1979, the year the first known case occurred. The article about the study and an accompanying editorial appear today online in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In the report, CDC and collaborators describe 159 transfusion–related babesiosis cases that occurred during 1979–2009, most (77 percent) from 2000 to 2009. No Babesia test approved by the Food and Drug Administration is available for screening prospective blood donors, who can feel fine despite being infected.

Babesiosis is a potentially fatal but treatable complication of transfusion. Severe consequences, such as multi–organ failure and death, are most often seen in persons without a spleen, the elderly, and those with a weak immune system. The study authors say prevention strategies, including development of a screening test, are needed. Some manufacturers are working with investigators at blood establishments to develop FDA–approved tests for Babesia for donor–screening purposes. “We want clinicians to become more aware of babesiosis, including the small possibility of transmission via blood transfusion,” says Barbara Herwaldt, M.D., M.P.H., CDC medical epidemiologist, and lead author of the article. “If a patient develops unexplained fever or hemolytic anemia after a transfusion, babesiosis should be considered as a possible cause, regardless of the season or U.S. region.” Because babesiosis is spread most commonly by ticks, the risk of this disease is another reason for people to prevent tick bites. People who unknowingly become infected through the bite of a tiny tick (about the size of a poppy seed) can transmit the parasite via blood transfusion. Therefore, prevention of tickborne infection can help safeguard the blood supply.

Most U.S. tickborne Babesia cases have occurred in seven states in the Northeast and the upper Midwest (in parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin), particularly during the warm months of the year. However, transfusion–associated Babesia cases have been identified in 19 states and have occurred year–round. Dr. Herwaldt points out that even severe Babesia cases, not just cases that are asymptomatic or mild, are easily missed unless the diagnosis is considered. Even then, babesiosis often is mistakenly diagnosed as malaria, which also infects red blood cells. In January 2011, babesiosis became a nationally notifiable disease, which means state health departments are encouraged to share information about cases of babesiosis with CDC. More accurate information about tick-borne and transfusion–transmitted cases of babesiosis will help CDC and its partners, including the Food and Drug Administration, in their continued efforts to make the blood supply even safer.

Annals of Internal Medicine   Article:


See links below for two government–sponsored events that focused on improving blood safety from babesiosis risk.

Information on babesiosis:

Information on Babesia parasite:

Information on ticks:

Information on CDC role in monitoring blood safety:

Ixodes scapularis

National 09/06/11 New England Journal of Medicine 2011; 365: 422-429 ] August 4, 2011 — Preview – Ehrlichiosis is a clinically important, emerging zoonosis. Only Ehrlichia chaffeensis and E. ewingii have been thought to cause ehrlichiosis in humans in the United States. Patients with suspected ehrlichiosis routinely undergo testing to ensure proper diagnosis and to ascertain the cause. Lead investigator Bobbi S. Pritt, M.D., and others, used molecular methods, culturing, and serologic testing to diagnose and ascertain the cause of cases of ehrlichiosis. On testing, four cases of ehrlichiosis in Minnesota or Wisconsin were found not to be from E. chaffeensis or E. ewingii and instead to be caused by a newly discovered ehrlichia species. At least 17 of 697 Ixodes scapularis ticks collected in Minnesota or Wisconsin were positive for the same ehrlichia species. Genetic analyses revealed that this new ehrlichia species is closely related to E. muris. Conclusions: This study found a new ehrlichia species in Minnesota and Wisconsin and provides supportive clinical, epidemiologic, culture, DNA-sequence, and vector data. Physicians need to be aware of this newly discovered close relative of E. muris to ensure appropriate testing, treatment, and regional surveillance. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)  (For complete preview go to )

Florida 09/06/11 The Duval County Health Department has confirmed two more cases of West Nile virus in Jacksonville. The most recent cases involve a 53-year-old man and an 85-year-old man. Duval County has 11 confirmed cases this year. There has been one reported death associated with the virus. About one in 150 people infected with West Nile virus will develop severe illness. A 79-year-old woman was diagnosed with the mosquito-borne illness last week. Dr. Bob Harmon, of the Duval County Health Department, said statistics show that between 800 and 1,200 people have been bitten by infected mosquitoes in Duval County in recent weeks. He said 80 percent of those people will experience no symptoms at all, while 20 percent will have symptoms. Harmon said one out of 150 people can develop a serious neurological disease. “Ninety-nine percent of these cases are not the serious cases we are talking about,” Harmon said.

New York 09/06/11 A third horse in Oneida County has reportedly contracted eastern equine encephalitis. The horse, which is from the north Rome, Lee Center area, was euthanized last week after developing neurological symptoms, according to the Oneida County Health Department. Other horses that previously contracted the virus resided in Westmoreland and Camden. Health officials said they are waiting on laboratory results from two more cases they suspect may come back positive for EEE. The virus is spread through mosquito bites and can be fatal in horses. An animal that survives can be left with impairments and neurological problems, often requiring that the animal be put down, according to health officials. This year, Oswego County has reported five cases of EEE in horses and a human case that resulted in the death of a five-year-old girl. Herkimer County is also investigating a possible EEE death involving a dog. The Oneida County Health Department is asking people to reduce their expose to EEE by limiting outdoor activity at dusk and dawn and by wearing long sleeves and pants.

National 09/05/11 FeederWatch data show that House Finch populations have declined dramatically since the mid-1990s, and recent research from California suggests that West Nile virus may be contributing to the declines.

House finch

Researchers Anne Pellegrini and colleagues reported on the survival rates of House Finches in Sacramento County before and after the arrival of West Nile virus in the area. The researchers took blood samples from wild House Finches and tested mosquitoes (the primary vector for the virus) for infection in order to pinpoint the arrival of the disease. They first detected infected mosquitoes in the county in late 2004. Before the virus arrived, annual survival for House Finches from 2001-2004 was approximately 0.59 (meaning that 59% of birds would survive from one year to the next, on average). Following the arrival of West Nile virus, annual survival probabilities dropped to 0.47 from 2005-2008. The researchers concluded that West Nile virus was contributing to further population declines in House Finches in their area. (For complete article go to )

Fulton County

Georgia 09/04/11 by Jean Ross – The Georgia Department of Public Health has notified the Fulton County Department of Health Services that 20 mosquito pools have tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). A mosquito “pool” refers to a collection of mosquitoes from a particular area that is tested for the virus. The affected areas are the Greensferry Combined Sewer Overflow, Whitter Mill Park, Frankie Allen Park, 1388 West Avenue, the Atlanta Mounted Police Station, Tanyard Creek Combined Sewer Overflow, and H.J.C. Bowden Senior Multi-purpose Center in East Point. For more information about West Nile Virus and prevention methods, call the Mosquito Hotline: 404-730-5296 or contact the Fulton County Department of Health Services, Division of Environmental Health at (404) 613-1301 or online at

New York 09/05/11 by Eric Rutlante – The Capital Region Chapter of the Empire State Lyme Disease Association is sponsoring a public presentation entitled “Lions and Tigers and Borrelia Burgdorferi…! What Every Family Needs to Know About Lyme Disease” by Albany pediatrician, Dr. Kari W. Bovenzi, on Monday, September 19, from 6:30 -8:30 pm at the Redeemer Church,183 Schoolhouse Rd., Albany, NY. Dr. Bovenzi’s presentation will explain the reasons why families need to be well informed about Lyme disease, and she will focus on what both children and adults need to know and to look for as we go into the fall season. Ticks are very active at this time of year, and with the leaf litter that fall brings, heightened awareness and caution are urged. Dr. Bovenzi will assess such topics as how to prevent Lyme disease; how to recognize the most common symptoms of Lyme disease; how to recognize the less common symptoms of the disease, both in children and in adults; when to seek medical attention; and what treatments are available for both children and adults. Dr. Bovenzi will discuss some of the unique challenges inherent in diagnosing children, and she will discuss some of the common misdiagnoses that often send parents and doctors on a frustrating, demoralizing, and expensive journey looking for medical solutions.

Dr. Kari W. Bovenzi

Lyme Disease is now endemic in the Capital Region. It is a highly complex disease transmitted through the bite of a tick that that is often never even seen. Ticks transmit not only Lyme disease, but other co-infections, such as babesia, bartonella, and ehrichia as well. Dr. Bovenzi will also explain these co-infections. All these co-infections are being reported in the Capital District, and they are appearing in both children and adults from nearly all areas of the eastern US, the Capital Region included. Dr. Bovenzi has been a practicing pediatrician in the region for 17 years. With ever increasing incidences of Lyme disease appearing in her practice, Dr. Bovenzi undertook advanced training in the fields of diagnosing and treating Lyme disease in children with some of the country’s leading experts in the field. Her clinical experience with the disease and its treatment can provide helpful information to both practitioners and the general public. The presentation is free and open to the public.

New York 09/05/11 SUNY Adirondack’s Science and Health Science Divisions will co-sponsor a presentation on the difficulties of Lyme disease testing at 7 p.m. on Sept. 14. The presentation will be in the Scoville Learning Center auditorium on the Queensbury campus. Guest speaker Robert Giguere will speak on “Variations in Laboratory Tests for Lyme Disease.” Giguere represents a leading Lyme-disease-specializing medical lab, IGeneX Inc., located in Palo Alto, Calif. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The presentation is free and the public is invited. Giguere’s presentation “balances good science with good humor to help his audience understand the challenges in dealing with Lyme disease,” the college said in a press release. “Testing for the disease is often tricky and different labs handle the procedure differently. Results are often not accurate or inconclusive.” “Giguere will present information on the various reasons why testing procedures can be problematic as well as new information that can help medical professionals better evaluate test results regardless of the testing labs,” the college said.


British Columbia 09/06/11 Two cougars were shot and killed on Vancouver Island over the long weekend after being spotted near areas where people were camping or swimming. An 18-month-old female cougar was killed in Goldstream Provincial Park Monday morning, while another, thought to be about two years old, was shot in Parksville on Saturday morning near an oceanfront resort. Both killings come after another cougar, not yet found, attacked an 18-month-old boy Aug. 29 at Swim Beach, in the Kennedy Lake day-use area of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, about 16 kilometres east of Ucluelet. (For complete article go to )

Ontario 09/06/11 News Release – A mosquito pool in the City of North Bay has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). This is the first mosquito pool in the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit area to test positive for the virus. Surveillance will be done by health unit staff to determine whether subsequent mosquito pools in the surrounding area are carrying the virus. The risk of acquiring WNV continues to remain low in the NBPSDHU area. For more information, call the Health Unit at 705-474-1400 or 1-800-563-2808, or .

Ontario 09/06/11 Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) warns residents to be aware of the threat of West Nile virus (WNV). A dead crow recently found in Guelph tested positive for the virus, which is spread to humans through mosquito bites. “The positive result is a reminder for residents,” Shawn Zentner, health protection manager for WDGPH, said in a news release. “Taking precautions to limit mosquito bites and minimize mosquito breeding sites are still important even at this time of year.”

Travel Warnings:

Pakistan 09/05/11 Lahore – A total of 1,400 cases of dengue fever so far in Lahore alone. District administrations across Punjab have failed to curb the quickly spreading dengue epidemic as the deadly fever has gripped all major cities of Punjab, with 174 new cases reported on Monday, Pakistan Today has learnt. Increasing number of cases across all big cities of Punjab enervates the claims of the provincial government, especially health EDOs, about preparedness to cope with the dengue virus. The number of patients affected with any of the four kinds of dengue virus is on the rise in other cities of the province as well, with Lahore on top, which has induced panic in the public. According to statistics provided by the Health Department, during the recent outbreak of the disease as many as 1,400 cases of dengue were reported in Lahore, while Faisalabad is the second worst-hit city with 52 cases, followed by Multan with 26. Fourteen cases have surfaced in Sheikhupura, 11 in Nankana Sahib and 5 in Chakwal.


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