FERAL CAT colonies present “perfect storm” of RABIES risk ~ WEST NILE VIRUS reports from California, Florida, Idaho, & Texas ~ an EASTERN EQUINE ENCEPHALITIS report from Massachusetts ~ and RABIES reports from Florida, Michigan, Texas, & Wisconsin ~ CDC Reports: ZOONOTIC DISEASE summary for week ending September 10, 2011.

Feral cat in Virginia. Photo by Stavrolo. Wikimedia Commons.

National 09/21/11 abcbirds.org: News Release – Feral cat colonies bring together a series of high risk elements that result in a ‘perfect storm’ of rabies exposure, according to Steve Holmer, senior policy analyst at American Bird Conservancy. Holmer’s assertion was part of his presentation, called “Managed Cat Colonies and Rabies,” that was one of 28 presentations aired in over 70 countries in connection with the second annual World Rabies Day International Webinar held September 21 and 22.

Managed cat colonies are becoming common in most major U.S. cities and are usually operated by volunteers who like to feed cats, relying on a scheme called Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR), whereby cats are trapped, neutered, and then returned to the outdoors. Unfortunately, these cats are often not vaccinated against rabies. Even when they are vaccinated when first trapped, re-trapping cats to revaccinate can be problematic as the cats become wary of the traps. There is also typically not the funding or infrastructure among the colony feeders to repeatedly re-trap cats to administer vaccines.

Peer reviewed studies have shown that over time, cat colonies increase in size, the result of the inability to neuter or spay all the cats and the dumping of unwanted cats at the colony sites by callous pet owners. The result is a large number of unvaccinated cats. “While cats make up a small percentage of rabies vectors, they are responsible for a disproportionate number of human exposures,” said Holmer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people are exposed to rabies due to close contact with domestic animals such as cats and dogs. Although dogs historically posed a greater rabies threat to humans, dog-related incidents have become less frequent in recent decades, dropping from 1,600 cases in 1958 to just 75 in 2008. Meanwhile, cases involving cats have increased over the same period with spikes of up to 300 cases in a single year. “Managed colonies teach feral cats to associate with humans, and while most people will not interact with wildlife, especially animals displaying erratic behavior, cats are perceived as domestic and approachable,” Holmer says.

When humans establish outdoor feeding stations for feral cats, they provide a catalyst for rabies transmission. Rabies is passed from the wildlife that is attracted to the food to the cats, and from the cats to people. According to the Center for Disease Control, cats are now the most common vector for the spread of rabies from a domestic species. In 2009 alone, there were seven accounts of rabid cats attacking people on the East Coast. As a rabies vector species, domestic cats pose a threat to human health that can be addressed by responsible pet ownership. “Managed feral cat colonies bring together all the elements necessary to create a perfect storm of risk: concentrated numbers of unvaccinated cats, wildlife vector species attracted to food sources provided for the cats, proximity to humans, and contact among all three of these groups. Feral cat colonies only strengthen the chain of rabies transmission,” Holmer said. “The increase in the cases of human rabies exposure from feral cats should be a concern to city and other government officials.

This problem will only get worse as managed feral cat colonies grow in number because half truths about their impacts and implications on local communities and the environment is accepted by decision makers who mistakenly believe they are receiving full disclosure,” said Holmer. In addition to posing a rabies risk, outdoor and feral cats that number at least 95 million animals in the United States, are responsible for killing an estimated 500 million birds annually in addition to scores of other small animals. Outdoor cats are responsible, in part or in whole, for the extinction of at least 33 species of birds.

 The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization which conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity in the bird conservation movement.

California 09/22/11 latimes.com: Ten more birds have tested positive for West Nile virus in the San Francisco Bay Area, Contra Costa vector control officials said this week. This brings the total number of birds found with West Nile virus in Contra Costa County to 25, said a spokeswoman for the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District. One bird was collected from Walnut Creek, two from Pleasant Hill, four from Concord, one from Lafayette and two from Brentwood in Contra Costa County. Dead bird reports are an important tool for West Nile virus detection, even if the bird is not picked up and tested, because it allows officials to locate West Nile hot spots, said Deborah Bass, public affairs manager for the Contra Costa district. “Our surveillance of the area coupled with the public reporting of dead birds has enabled us to locate these areas of higher risk of West Nile virus where we can concentrate our mosquito control efforts,” Bass said in a statement.

Great Egret, native to California's coast, is listed in CDC's West Nile Virus avian mortality database.

West Nile virus, a potentially fatal disease transmitted by mosquito bites, is also spreading in birds and mosquitoes in Los Angeles County, with recent activity in the San Fernando Valley, the eastern San Gabriel Valley and southeast L.A. County. Two dead virus-infected birds were found in Hacienda Heights and Winnetka, while two infected-mosquito samples were collected from Woodland Hills and Pico Rivera, according to the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District. Since August, West Nile virus has been found in Encino, Whittier, Long Beach, Cerritos, La Mirada, Glendale, Santa Fe Springs, Encino, Norwalk, Granada Hills, Downey, Newhall, La Habra Heights, Panorama City, Canyon Country, Reseda, South El Monte and Rowland Heights. California residents are urged to report dead birds to the West Nile Virus state hotline at (877) 968-2473. Reports also may be made online at www.westnile.ca.gov.

Florida 09/22/11 cbslocal.com: On Wednesday, the Miami-Dade County Health Department issued a mosquito-borne illness advisory after they confirmed that a 27-year-old man contracted West Nile virus in August from a mosquito bite; he’s since fully recovered. This was the 14th case of West Nile Virus in Florida this season and the first in Miami-Dade since 2009.

Idaho 09/22/11 boisestatepublicradio.org: by Scott Ki – Mosquitoes trapped in Gem County tested positive for the West Nile virus last month. Now, mosquitoes caught in Payette County harbor the disease. Mosquitoes trapped Monday in the Killebrew area between Payette and Fruitland are infected with West Nile.

Texas 09/21/11 kfoxtv.com: by Danielle Chavira – El Paso’s Department of Public Health confirmed the sixth West Nile virus case in El Paso on Wednesday. Officials announced that the person infected is a 72-year-old man who lives in the 79907 ZIP code. However, officials said the unusual dry weather has been a main reason why they have not seen as many cases for the year. “We want to make sure that the public does not interpret this as a sign that the threat of the disease no longer exists,” said Fernando Gonzalez, a lead epidemiologist at the Department of Public Health. . . . Residents can report mosquito breeding by calling the Environmental Services Department’s Vector Control Program at 915-599-6290.

Massachusetts 09/22/11 milforddailynews.com: The Mass. Dept. of Public Health (MDPH) confirmed that collections of mosquitoes from mosquito surveillance sites in the area towns of Medway and Sherborn have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Spraying of Holliston playground and playing fields is planned the evening of Sept. 22 after 8 p.m., weather permitting, to reduce populations of mosquitoes. This is the same type of spraying using the pesticide sumithrin that has been done in town for many years under resident’s request in targeted areas. Residents can call 508-393-3055 with any questions or concerns. Follow up spraying may occur if conditions warrant. The Central Mass. Mosquito Control Project will continue to test surveillance traps in Holliston. More information is available at: http://www.mass.gov/dph/wnv. Information about WNV and EEE is also available by calling the DPH recorded information line at 866-MASS-WNV (866-627-7968), or the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800. For more information, call CMMCP at 508-393-3055 or log on to our website at http://www.cmmcp.org.

Florida 09/21/11 newsherald.com: A rabies alert has been issued for Bay County for the Bayhead area of Youngstown. Six people are seeking medical treatment for rabies after a raccoon and stray cat in Bay County tested positive for the viral infection, according to Bay County Health officials. Four of the people exposed have had rabies vaccinations and the remaining two are seeking care, said Bay County Health Department Administrator Doug Kent. Multiple cats also have been exposed. This would make it the fourth animal to have been tested positive for rabies this year. To report an attack, you can call the Bay County Animal Control at 248-6030 or the Health Department at 872-4720. For more information, call the Bay County Health Department Rabies Control Officer at 850-872-4720 ext.1125.

Michigan 09/21/11 annarbor.com: by aula Gardner – An Ann Arbor veterinarian who’s tested hundreds of animals for rabies with zero positive results over the years got the opposite news on Tuesday after her own dog tangled with a skunk acting strangely. That skunk, county health officials confirmed, was infected with rabies. It’s the first skunk in Washtenaw County to be found with the fatal virus since 2005 and the fourth animal this year. In the most recent case, “there wasn’t human exposure,” said Susan Ringler-Cerniglia of the county’s public health department. The skunk was taken for rabies testing by Dr. Cathy Theisen after her dog, Sage, came upon it in their yard located on Arborview near the Miller Nature Area west of downtown.

Texas 09/22/11 sansabanews.com: Within the last two months (August through September 2011) several wild animals located within the city limits of San Saba were tested by the Department of State Health Services and found to be positive for rabies. Do not touch or handle wild animals, including: bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes or feral cats. San Saba Animal Control 325-372-DOGS (3647); San Saba City Hall 325-372-5144; San Saba Sheriff’s Office-325-372-5551; Texas Department of State Health Services-254-778-6744.

Wisconsin 09/21/11 wausaudailyherald.com: The Marathon County Health Department is looking for a dog that bit a woman Monday in Weston. The woman was bitten in the leg by a black, miniature pincher at the Green Acres Mobile Home Park, 4311 Schofield Ave., Michelle Schwoch, an environmental health sanitarian for the health department, said this morning. The dog got loose Tuesday and ran from the Weston home while health department officials investigated the dog bite, Schwoch said. The dog was not vaccinated for rabies and must be taken to the Humane Society of Marathon County as soon as possible to be tested for rabies. The woman who was bitten will have to go through a series of rabies shots if the dog is not found. Anyone with information about this dog should contact the health department at 715-261-1900, Marathon County Sheriff’s Department at 715-849-7785 or the Humane Society at 715-845-2810.

CDC Reports:

CDC MMWR Summary for Week ending September 10, 2011:

Published September 16, 2011 / 60(36); 1254-1267

Anaplasmosis . . . 9 . . . New York (9),

Babesiosis . . . 8 . . . New York (8),

Ehrlichiosis . . . 1 . . . New York,

Giardiasis . . . 199 . . . Arizona, Arkansas (5), California (15), Colorado (19), Florida (20), Georgia (4), Idaho (2), Iowa (6), Maine (7), Maryland (13), Michigan (4), Missouri (6), Montana (3), Nebraska (4), New York (28), Ohio (25), Oregon (6), Pennsylvania (6), South Carolina (3), Vermont (5), Washington (17),

HME/HGE Undetermined . . . 6 . . . Indiana, New York (2), Tennessee (3),

Lyme Disease . . .  280 . . . Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Maryland (5), Michigan, Montana (2), New Jersey (52), New York (115), North Carolina (2), Ohio, Pennsylvania (88), South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia (7),

Novel influenza A virus (H3N2) . . . 2 . . . Pennsylvania (2),

Q Fever (Acute) . . . 2 . . . California, Michigan,

Rabies (Animal) . . . 32 . . . Illinois (2), Kansas, Nebraska (3), New York (8), North Dakota (3), Ohio (6), Oregon, Virginia (8),

Spotted Fever (Confirmed) . . . 1 . . . South Carolina,

Spotted Fever (Probable) . . . 13 . . . Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri (2), North Carolina (5), Tennessee (2),


3 responses to “FERAL CAT colonies present “perfect storm” of RABIES risk ~ WEST NILE VIRUS reports from California, Florida, Idaho, & Texas ~ an EASTERN EQUINE ENCEPHALITIS report from Massachusetts ~ and RABIES reports from Florida, Michigan, Texas, & Wisconsin ~ CDC Reports: ZOONOTIC DISEASE summary for week ending September 10, 2011.

  1. I’ve been battling an invasive-species cat infestation on my land for 15 years. Only until recently, on advice of the sheriff to shoot them all, were they devastating all wildlife. Native prey became gutted and skinned suffering play-toys for these cats. Native predators all starved to death from cats destroying all their food sources. My lands were finally clear of all cats and NONE returned — that oft-spewed “vacuum effect” that cat-advocates claim is a bald-faced lie, NATIVE wildlife returned to replace them. After destroying them all I started to go online to see what others had to say about this issue and to offer my advice on how I managed to get rid of every last one of them.

    I found some surprising things about all the diseases these mangy invasive vermin are now spreading throughout the USA.

    The plague:

    Tularemia (rabbit-fever, transmissible to humans):

    Flea-borne Typhus:

    Along with the usual parasites they all carry, like hookworm — that shut down businesses in large parts of Miami:

    And perhaps the most insidious one of all, the common Toxoplasma gondii parasite that they spread through their feces into all other animals and even livestock. This is how it gets into meats and humans get it from undercooked meats, from cats roaming around stockyards and farms. This parasite not only changes the mind of the animal it invades,

    but can even kill you at any time during your life once you’ve been infected by it. It becomes a permanent lifetime parasite in your mind, ready to strike at any time that your immune system becomes compromised. It’s now being linked to the cause of autism, schizophrenia, and brain cancers. The weirdest part of all, its strange life cycle is meant to infect rodents. Any rodents infected with it lose their fear of cats and are actually attracted to cat urine.
    So even the often proclaimed use for cats to control rodents is now false. Cats actually attract rodents to your home, with their whole slew of flea-borne and other diseases.

    Rabies in stray and feral cats is just one of the concerns. And even having your cat vaccinated against rabies doesn’t prevent it from bringing in a mouthful or claws full of fresh rabies virus every day to you after you’ve let it out to go disembowel that rabid bat behind the garage or in the shrubs.

  2. Some further information to help you do the RIGHT thing. ALL the required laws that you need to deal with this problem are already in place and have been for decades most everywhere.

    Cats listed in THE TOP 100 WORST INVASIVE-SPECIES OF THE WORLD in the “Global Invasive-Species Database”: http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=24&fr=1&sts=sss

    Cats are _NOT_ exempt from invasive-species laws.

    IT IS YOUR CIVIC AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITY TO DESTROY ANY INVASIVE-SPECIES WHEN FOUND AWAY FROM SAFE CONFINEMENT AND OUT IN A NON-NATIVE HABITAT. In fact, it is against the law to NOT destroy an invasive-species on-sight. Since cats are genetically engineered through selective-breeding and no longer have ANY native habitat ANYWHERE on earth, these laws include cats. This is precisely how they are dealt with on my own land, destroyed by using any and all humane methods** (see note).

    For an example of how invasive-species laws are properly followed and enforced: It is highly illegal for a person to transport an African Cichlid fish species to just the other side the road if you catch one in the canals of the Everglades when fishing. THEY MUST BE DESTROYED ON-SIGHT. Yet Cichlids are often kept as pets, that’s how they wrongly got into the canals to begin with. There are hefty fines in place for anyone found transporting these invasive-species alive if caught in the wild. (Interestingly, these Cichlids are FAR FAR LESS damaging to the environment and all other native wildlife than ANY cat.)

    All of this much to the dismay of criminally irresponsible and psychotic cat-lovers who are desperately trying to raise these invasive-species cats to some absurd level of “Community Cats”. If they do that then I’ll just raise “Community Pet Piranha” and release them in all your lakes and pools, or “Community Pet Black-Mambas” and release them in all your backyards and parks, then claim the exact same protections for them as cat-advocates want for their invasive-species cats. It’d only be fair! Are you starting to see just how absurd and ludicrous these cat-advocates are yet?

    ** (Though to be perfectly honest, considering how cats cruelly torture and destroy all other animals by ripping the skins off of live animals or disemboweling them for slowly dying and twitching cats’ play-toys (not even using them for food), I’m not sure why cats should be given the privilege of a humane death. I’ve been drawn to many animal screams in my woods to find their cats shredding another animal to death; which I had to then quickly put that animal out of its misery, torment, and suffering caused by that cat. Lucky for those I found so fast from their screams. Other wildlife that I’d find days later had died a slow and agonizing death from wounds after being shredded by their cats. I guess I’m just more humane than all cat-lovers and their cats, that’s why their cats get shot and die instantly instead of equitably and justifiably tortured to death. If cat-advocates want REAL justice for their cats then any cat found outdoors would have to be cruelly tortured to death the same way their cats cruelly torture all other animals — something that I couldn’t do. Maybe that’s why TNR-advocates don’t mind that their cats slowly die of “attrition” — by disease, attacks, exposure, starvation, road-kill, etc., on ad-infinauseum.)

  3. Pingback: Feral Cats and their problems… | ProBest's Blog

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