Alaska 09/21/12 chicagotribune.com: by Yereth Rosen – Malaria is infecting birds as far north as Alaska’s interior, and a rapidly warming climate may be the reason the mosquito-borne disease appears to be advancing northward, a new study shows. It is the first time scientists have detected the transmission of avian malaria in local birds at such far-north latitudes anywhere in North America, said the study, published on Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS One. “We now have shown that malaria is being transmitted in Alaska,” said Ravinder Sehgal, a San Francisco State University biologist and a lead researcher on the project. While tropical birds that migrate to Alaska in the summer are known to carry the disease, there had never been any documented cases of it spreading to non-migratory Alaska birds or birds newly hatched in Alaska that had not yet flown south, Sehgal said.
Longer periods of warm weather in the summer may be allowing the malaria parasite to thrive in Alaska and be transmitted by mosquitoes, Sehgal said. “The question was, how far north is it getting, and is it going to get to birds that have never expressed it?” he said. The study notes that temperatures have been increasing in the Arctic at almost twice the average global rate, and that the warming climate has changed vegetation in the far north. The study evaluated blood samples taken last year from birds in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Coldfoot, a community north of the Arctic Circle. The researchers found avian malaria in resident and hatch-year birds in Anchorage and Fairbanks, though not as far north as Coldfoot.
Of 676 birds tested, 7.2 percent were found to be infected. Some of the hardest-hit birds were black-capped chickadees, Sehgal said. Of the black-capped chickadees tested in Anchorage, about 30 percent were infected. Further studies are underway to try to determine what type of mosquito might be spreading the disease, Sehgal said. It is unclear what effect avian malaria might have on the Alaska birds. For some species elsewhere, malaria transmissions are devastating, Sehgal said. Penguins, which have no natural defenses against malaria, die when they are infected in zoos, he said. Malaria also has seriously damaged bird populations in Hawaii, where non-native mosquitoes have been introduced to the habitat. But Alaskans need not fear for their health, Sehgal said. The study detected only avian malaria, which is different from the type of malaria that afflicts mammals. “Certainly, it is not going to spread to humans,” he said.
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease:
Indiana 09/21/12 indystar.com: by Ryan Sabalow – A virus plaguing the state’s whitetail deer herds likely has spread to more than 40 Indiana counties, including Marion. But biologists say hunters and outdoor enthusiasts shouldn’t be worried about catching the disease. Biologists at the Department of Natural Resources this week received lab test results confirming their suspicions that the state’s deer have increasingly been dying from epizootic hemorrhagic disease. The tests confirmed the virus in the bodies of dead wild whitetail in LaGrange, Miami, Morgan and Sullivan counties. Captive deer at farms in Adams, Marshall, Putnam and Vanderburgh counties also had it. Biologists say dead deer in more than three dozen other counties also likely succumbed to the disease, though lab testing hasn’t been done in those cases. Deer that have the disease often appear lethargic and obviously sickly. They can have blue-tinted tongues and eyes, open sores on their tongues and mouths and their hooves can start to fall off. Feverish, they often head toward water to try to cool their overheated bodies. But some deer can carry the virus and never get sick. Others, says Brian MacGowan, an extension wildlife specialist at Purdue University, can have symptoms but not die. The disease doesn’t spread from deer to deer. Rather, MacGowan says, small biting insects called midges carry the virus. The virus is an almost yearly occurrence, but drought years — like the one Indiana just went through — often spawn larger outbreaks. Typically, the virus stops spreading after the first frosts of the season kills off the midges. – For complete article see http://www.indystar.com/article/20120921/NEWS/209210352/Virus-confirmed-Indiana-deer-poses-no-danger-hunters-officials-say
Illinois 09/22/12 DuPage County: by Sarah Small – Two small dogs were attacked by a pack of coyotes Thursday night in Wheaton, and while one is injured but recovering, the second has gone missing, according to reports. Jake, a 12-year old silky terrier, and Floyd, a 15-month old Yorkshire terrier, were surrounded by between four and six coyotes in their backyard on Mohican Drive, near Herrick Lake in the Arrowhead Estates neighborhood, according to their owner Sue Reid. Jake was bit several times by the coyotes, but rescued by Reid. When she ran outside to break up the fight, Floyd was missing. – See http://www.mysuburbanlife.com/lisle/news/police_and_fire/x1217098945/One-dog-injured-one-missing-following-coyote-attack-in-Wheaton
British Columbia 09/22/12 ctvnews.ca: A Kamloops man is warning people to lock up their garbage and not to feed animals after he was attacked by a coyote while riding his bike earlier this week. Mark Dal Ponte was riding his bike home from work Sunday night when noticed he was being chased by a coyote. “We’d seen the coyote around before,” said Dal Ponte. “I was joking with some coworkers that it was going to chase me home because I smelled like fried chicken and, sure enough, ten minutes later there he was.” He said the coyote bumped into him, forcing him to jump off his bike. Then the animal nipped around his heels and he managed to scare off the attacker by kicking at it. A short time after, it returned. “I got my bike between me and the coyote and kept kicking and hollering and throwing rocks,” said Dal Ponte. Eventually the coyote left permanently and a large male coyote in the area was destroyed by conservation officers. Experts said it is rare for coyotes to go after people. If they do it is usually a small child and Dal Ponte is six feet, two inches tall. Dal Ponte said people need to lock up their garbage and not feed animals, so such attacks don’t happen again.
West Nile Virus (WNV):
California 09/23/12 San Bernadino County: Health officials confirm one new human case of WNV in Chino and two others pending in the surrounding area. – See http://www.championnewspapers.com/articles/2012/09/23/news/doc505ce03e4c434408823707.txt
Massachusetts 09/22/12 Essex County: A mosquito trapped near Chebacco Lake on the east end of town in Hamilton has tested positive for WNV. – See http://hamilton-wenham.patch.com/articles/west-nile-found-in-mosquito-near-chebacco-lake-more-spraying-planned
Rhode Island 09/22/12 Providence County: State health officials have confirmed that a man in his 20s from the city of Providence has been diagnosed with WNV-related meningitis. – See http://woonsocket.patch.com/articles/health-department-reports-providence-county-west-nile-virus-infection
Connecticut 09/22/12 New Haven County: A raccoon that tore through a screen door, forced its way inside a home, and attacked a dog on Friday in the Governor’s Hill Road vicinity of Oxford has tested positive for rabies. – See http://oxford-ct.patch.com/articles/oxford-urged-to-beware-after-rabid-raccoon-attacks-dog
Maryland 09/21/12 Worcester County: A groundhog (aka woodchuck) found in the Ann Drive neighborhood of Berlin has tested positive for rabies. This is the 15th case of rabies confirmed in the county this year. – See http://www.delmarvanow.com/article/20120922/NEWS/309220013/Rabid-groundhog-found-Berlin-neighborhood