HEALTH ALERT – California’s Los Angeles County updates WEST NILE VIRUS levels to EPIDEMIC levels; Mississippi confirms WEST NILE VIRUS to blame for one new death and five other new human infections; Washington officials close OYSTER harvest in some areas; Virginia HORSE with WEST NILE VIRUS put down; Missouri landowner kills MOUNTAIN LION; and a WEST NILE VIRUS report from Tennessee. Canada: BC wildlife officer confirms MOUNTAIN LION killed two SHEEP in Erickson; and police in Battlefords, Sask., believe MOUNTAIN LION injured two HORSES. Travel Warnings for The Bahamas.

California 09/06/11 the-signal.com: by Cory Minderhout – Three more mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus in the Santa Clarita Valley, a vector control official said Tuesday. “We’re seeing levels of West Nile virus in birds and mosquito equal to 2004 and 2008,” Brown said. Two mosquito samples were found in Newhall and one was found in Canyon Country, said Crystal Brown, a public information officer for the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District. The mosquito samples were collected from vector control traps in August, Brown said. West Nile virus has been updated to epidemic levels in Los Angeles County, Brown said. The virus was first introduced to Los Angeles County in 2003, Brown said. So far this year, 128 birds, eight humans, one horse, 284 mosquito samples and 14 chickens have been found infected with West Nile virus in L.A. County, according to a California Department of Public Health website. Officials declined to say which areas of the county the infected people lived. This year is being considered an epidemic year because the virus levels are the same as they were in 2004 and 2008, which were the highest reported years for L.A. County, Brown said.(For complete article go to http://www.the-signal.com/section/36/article/50655/ )

Mississippi 09/07/11 wlox.com: The Mississippi State Department of Health has confirmed one new death in Pearl River County related to the West Nile Virus. There are also new reports of five people infected with the virus in Madison, Pearl River, Tate and Washington Counties. The two newly reported Pearl River County cases became ill sometime in late July through early August but were just recently determined to be positive for WNV after consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The other three cases became ill in mid-August. So far this year, cases have been confirmed in Coahoma, Forrest (three), Hinds (four), Jones (three), Madison, Pearl River (six), and one case each in: Rankin, Tallahatchie, Tate, Wayne, and Washington counties. Two deaths have been confirmed in Jones and Pearl River counties. In 2010, Mississippi had eight WNV cases and no deaths.

Washington 09/07/11 wa.gov: News Release – Several people who ate raw oysters from the Samish Bay and Hood Canal areas got sick from a naturally-occurring bacteria called Vibrio parahaemolyticus.

Oyster harvesting at Washington's Dosewallips State Park

Cooking shellfish thoroughly prevents vibriosis illness and is especially important during the summer months when warm temperatures and low tides allow the bacteria to thrive. State health officials close a shellfish growing area when there are four or more sporadic illnesses in a specific area; this recently happened in Samish Bay and in Hood Canal 5, which runs from Clark Creek (about a mile north of Hoodsport) north to Cummings Pointe. Oyster harvest in both areas has been closed by the state Department of Health to reduce exposure to Vibrio bacteria. There have been other vibriosis cases identified this summer, scattered around the state’s growing areas. Typically, Washington sees about 50 cases of vibriosis a year. More information, including maps of the affected areas, is available on the agency’s website (http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/sf/default-sf.htm). It’s important to remember that just because an area doesn’t appear to be closed because of Vibrio parahaemolyticus, it may be closed for marine biotoxins. Check our biotoxin Web page http://ww4.doh.wa.gov/gis/mogifs/biotoxin.htm  to make sure an area you wish to harvest in is free from marine biotoxins.

Virginia 09/07/11 necn.com: A horse in Clarke County has been euthanized after testing positive for equine West Nile virus, Virginia’s first reported case this year. The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said Tuesday that the horse was euthanized Aug. 31, one day after it started showing symptoms of the illness. The horse had been vaccinated for the virus, but was due for a booster in September.

Missouri 09/06/11 mo.gov: Posted by Joe Jerek – A landowner in Texas County shot a mountain lion on Sept. 5 after encountering it on his property. The landowner then called Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) regional offices to report the incident. Shannon County Conservation Agent Justin Emery responded to the incident and conducted an investigation. Emery found no grounds for charges at this time. Although mountain lions are protected by law, Missouri’s Wildlife Code does allow people to protect themselves and their property if they feel threatened. MDC took possession of the sub-adult male mountain lion, which will be used for educational purposes and DNA testing.

The incident occurred approximately three miles from where a Shannon County landowner’s trail camera captured an image of a mountain lion on July 29. In a separate sighting, an Oregon County landowner captured an image on his trail camera of a mountain lion on Aug. 23 northeast of Alton. MDC Biologist Jeff Beringer, who is a member of MDC’s Mountain Lion Response Team, says that widely scattered mountain lion sightings have been confirmed in Missouri and likely will continue. Evidence to date indicates these animals are dispersing from other states to the west of Missouri. The most extreme evidence of this dispersal occurred in early 2011 when a mountain lion that was killed in Connecticut was genetically traced to South Dakota. MDC has no confirmed evidence of a breeding population in Missouri. MDC receives many reports each year from people who believe they have seen mountain lions. “We encourage these reports, but we can only confirm those for which there is physical evidence such as hair, scat, footprints, photos, video, a dead cougar or prey showing evidence of mountain-lion attack,” says Beringer. Reports of sightings can be sent to mountain.lion@mdc.mo.gov, or by contacting Beringer at 573-882-9909, ext. 3211, Rex Martensen at 573-522-4115, ext. 3147, or Shawn Gruber at 573-522-4115, ext. 3262. Beringer adds that mountain lions are naturally shy of humans and generally pose little danger to people, even in states with thriving breeding populations. For more information, visit http://www.mdc.mo.gov and search “mountain lion.”

Knox County

Tennessee 09/07/11 volunteertv.com: Knox County Health Department (KCHD) has received another lab report confirming the presence of West Nile Virus (WNV) in mosquitoes in the Milligan Street area of East Knox County near the zoo. Following national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocol, the affected area will be sprayed to reduce the mosquito population and the risk of further WNV spread. Spraying is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 8 from 9 p.m. to midnight. The spray area will include all areas east of North Cherry Street, north of Magnolia Avenue, west of North Beaman Street and South of I-40. Also included are Lakeside and Kirkwood Streets and American Avenue. Follow-up spraying will be on Thursday, Sept. 22 if weather allows.

Canada:

British Columbia 09/07/11 bclocalnews.com: by Lorne Eckeresley – A cougar attack in Erickson that left two sheep dead on Monday should serve as a reminder that cougars, like grizzly bears, are all around us, Sgt. Arnold Deboon of the BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) said on Tuesday. “It was probably a predator passing through the area,” Deboon said, referring to Monday’s incident. “People don’t realize how often they are probably close to cougars — they are very stealthy.” A live trap has been set up in an effort to catch the offending cat, but Deboon said other options are limited. “We can’t set up other types of traps because the Erickson area has lots of pets,” he said. “And, in this hot, dry weather we have only a short period in which to get tracking hounds on the scent. Unless the ground is damp, the cougar scent dissipates within an hour. … “Cougar populations further out in the wild seem to be healthy and there would be little incentive for those animals to get close to human settlements. The ones that live closer to populated areas are probably motivated by the small huckleberry crop this year.” Because cougars can roam in large areas, conservation officers don’t normally take action for a single sighting, other than to add it to their information base. “If cougars linger, though, we try to get the hounds out,” he said. Timeliness of reporting is critical, he said. Cougar sightings should be reported immediately by calling 1-877-952-7277.

Saskatchewan 09/07/11 winnipegfreepress.com: Police are urging people to be cautious following a possible cougar attack on horses just outside a Saskatchewan community. Battlefords RCMP say they were called to an acreage where two horses had long scrapes along their backs, sides and legs. The owner of the horses indicated that he had seen what appeared to be a cougar in the area. Another witness also saw what appeared to be a wildcat around the same time. Police say it’s been the only sighting and alleged attack so far. They are advising residents to travel in groups, supervise pets and children and report any sightings to the detachment.

Travel Warnings:

The Bahamas 09/08/11 thenassauguardian.com: by Krystel Rolle – There are as many as 10 cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever in The Bahamas, deputy chief medical officer Delon Brennen has revealed. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is the most dangerous strain of the vector-borne disease and can be fatal. However, Dr. Brennen noted that the cases of hemorrhagic fever are few compared to the more than 3,500 cases of dengue fever that were confirmed in recent weeks. (For complete article go to http://www.thenassauguardian.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=12673&Itemid=27 )

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