CANADA: ONTARIO scientists find most SQUIRRELS and MICE in Algonquin Provincial Park are infected with bacteria that causes Q-FEVER in HUMANS ~ ALBERTA farmers say WOLVES are slaughtering LIVESTOCK ~ WEST NILE VIRUS reports from ONTARIO (2) ~ WEST NILE VIRUS reports from IL, & MS ~ RABIES reports from GA, NY, RI, & VA.

Flying Squirrel. Photo by State of Indiana.


Ontario 07/03/12 News Release – A team of Laurentian University biology researchers has found significant evidence of the spread of the zoonotic bacterium Coxiella burnetii in wildlife in Algonquin Park. A zoonotic disease is one that can be transmitted to humans from animals. The C. burnetii bacterium causes Query fever or “Q-fever” in humans.  It was detected in 6 out of 7 species of wild rodents tested within the boundaries of Algonquin Park, including red squirrels, flying squirrels and deer mice.  It was also found in flying squirrels in the Peterborough area, indicating that the bacteria may be widespread among these animal populations in Ontario.

Researchers say Coxiella burnetii  is generally found on farms with small ruminants, but little is known about transmission of the bacteria from the natural environment.  The researchers, led by Canada Research Chair Dr. Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde of Laurentian University, say their findings suggest that some visitors to Algonquin Park could be at risk of infection. “The bacteria that cause Query fever can make humans quite sick, so this is an important finding,” said Dr. Schulte-Hostedde. “We’re still trying to learn how Coxiella burnetii  is maintained and spread in the natural environment.  We don’t know yet whether wild species are picking it up from domesticated animals, and we don’t know how it changes as it moves between species.  As we learn more about it, we’ll have a better understanding of the potential risk to human health.”

Dr. Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde

Dr. Schulte-Hostedde is Canada Research Chair in Applied Evolutionary Ecology at Laurentian University.  Among other areas of study, he has studied squirrel populations in Algonquin Park for more than 10 years. “We were certainly surprised to find such a high prevalence of Coxiella burnetii  in Algonquin, given the amount of human traffic in the area,” said Dr. Schulte-Hostedde.  “There are hundreds of thousands of visitors to this park in a year, so it’s good news that so far there are no confirmed reports of Q-fever traced back to the Park.” People diagnosed with Query fever are usually infected through contact with sheep, goats or cattle.  The resulting illness may cause fever, flu-like symptoms, and occasionally swelling of the lining of the heart and heart failure.  The last significant outbreak was in the Netherlands in 2007 and led to the infection of more than 2,000 people and the culling of thousands of goats. The results of the Laurentian research are being published in the latest issue of the scientific journal Zoonoses and Public Health.

Alberta 07/04/12 Farmers near Mayerthorpe are on high alert after wolves attacked animals in two separate incidents over the past two weeks. Three cows were slaughtered in one case; a mare and donkey were attacked in the other. The latter incident occurred earlier this month on Merle Arthur’s horse and mule farm near Mayerthorpe. The attack shocked him because donkeys usually keep wolves at bay. “If you or I were to run up and grab him by the hind leg, we wouldn’t wake up for about a week — if we woke up,” Arthur said. “So he would have put up an awful fight. It would have been more than one wolf. It would have been a pack of wolves that did this.” Arthur had to shoot the donkey because it was so badly injured.

Cattle farmers can get compensation, but Arthur won’t be able to claim anything for his donkey. “They’re not considered a specific meat-producing animal,” said local wildlife officer Greg Gilbertson. “So the program doesn’t cover those types of animals.” Arthur says the loss of his donkey will be a financial set-back as it was the only male he owned for breeding. “This is my living,” he said. “This is what I do and them wolves took a good part of it away.”

West Nile Virus (WNV):

Ontario 07/04/12 North York District, Toronto: Mosquitoes collected along Bayview Avenue, between York Mills Road and Lawrence Avenue East, have tested positive for WNV. – See–west-nile-virus-found-in-north-york

Ontario 07/04/12 Windsor: Health officials say a mosquito pool has tested positive for WNV. – See

West Nile Virus (WNV):

Illinois 07/04/12 Monmouth, Warren County: Health officials report WNV positive mosquitoes collected in a batch of insects on Monday. – See

Mississippi 07/04/12 Hancock County: The state’s health department has confirmed a second human case of WNV. Last year the state had 52 human cases and five deaths. – See


Georgia 07/04/12 Mitchell County: A fox that scratched a man’s arm when he tried to separate the animal from his pet dog has tested positive for rabies. – See

New York 07/03/12 Watertown, Jefferson County: An feral cat found in the East Hills Apartment area off Eastern Boulevard and described as an “orange tabby cat” has tested positive for rabies. –

Rhode Island 07/03/12 North Providence, Providence County: State health officials say a cat infected with rabies may have had contact with humans and other animals before it died. It is described as an adult gray short-haired cat with tiger stripes and roamed a neighborhood around Central Avenue. Anyone who believes they might have been exposed to the virus should seek medical advice immediately. – See

Virginia 07/04/12 Yorktown, York County: The Peninsula Health Department is looking for a Dachshund that bit a person in the Wolf Trap Park neighborhood on July 1. According to the Department, the victim will have to get a rabies vaccine if the dog is not found. If and when the dog is found, it will be placed in confinement for 10 days. Anyone who has seen a dog matching that description is asked to call Animal Control at 757-890-3601.


One response to “CANADA: ONTARIO scientists find most SQUIRRELS and MICE in Algonquin Provincial Park are infected with bacteria that causes Q-FEVER in HUMANS ~ ALBERTA farmers say WOLVES are slaughtering LIVESTOCK ~ WEST NILE VIRUS reports from ONTARIO (2) ~ WEST NILE VIRUS reports from IL, & MS ~ RABIES reports from GA, NY, RI, & VA.

  1. Hi there. Well, I took a few pictures of Red squirrels in Algonquin Park this past weekend, just reading your article is certainly food for thought! I live in Toronto, and earlier this year, my wife, Jean, and I were in Ireland where we came upon the rarely seen Red Squirrel. To us, they actually look somewhat like our American Red squirrels, like those I saw in Algonquin this past weekend, but boy, do they have long ears! We were shocked to learn that U.K. and Irish Red squirrels are contracting the pox virus from Grey squirrels, and dying. We have far to many Grey squirrels here at our feeders. But given all our time up north in Algonquin Park we have seen a few Red squirrels. We feel very lucky to have seen two Red squirrels in Ireland. We have posted some of our pictures and video of our Red squirrel sightings in Ireland, and Canada for anyone interested at:

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