National 01/17/13 usnews.com: by Serena Gordon, HealthDay Reporter – Although still rare, the extremely serious disease known as Eastern equine encephalitis may be affecting more people than before. In a recent review of two epidemics of Eastern equine encephalitis since the mid-2000s, researchers found 15 cases of the mosquito-borne illness among children in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Normally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention records about five to 10 cases a year nationwide. “This virus is rare, but it’s among the world’s most dangerous viruses, and it’s in your own backyard,” said lead review author Dr. Asim Ahmed, an infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital Boston.
In 2012 alone, Massachusetts had seven documented cases of Eastern equine encephalitis, which is the highest number of infections reported since 1956. What’s more, the first human case ever in Vermont was reported in 2012. And, public health surveillance indicates that the virus that causes Eastern equine encephalitis may now have traveled as far north as Maine and Nova Scotia, Canada. Results of the review are published in the February issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. – For complete article see http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2013/01/17/cases-of-rare-but-deadly-encephalitis-rising-among-kids-report-finds
National 01/16/13 bostonglobe.com: by Beth Daley – Researchers have discovered a new human disease in the Northeast transmitted by the same common deer tick that can infect people with Lyme disease. The bacterial illness causes flu-like symptoms, the researchers from Tufts, Yale, and other institutions reported Wednesday, but they also described the case of an 80-year-old woman who became confused and withdrawn, lost weight, and developed hearing difficulty and a wobbly gait. The woman, from New Jersey, recovered after receiving antibiotics. Researchers estimate that 1 percent of the population in areas where Lyme is widespread — such as western Massachusetts and Cape Cod and the Islands — may be infected by the new bacteria, which can be transmitted by the tick when it is as small as a poppy seed. Lyme disease is thought to be 7 to 10 times more prevalent in these areas.
The discovery, disclosed in a paper and letter in the New England Journal of Medicine, marks the fifth human illness spread by deer ticks in the region, highlighting growing concerns about the threat posed by ticks and the burgeoning population of their hosts — deer. The disease is so new it remains unnamed and there is no readily-available test for doctors to screen for it, although some are being developed. “It was right under our nose the whole time,’’ said Sam Telford, a professor at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine who studies tick-borne diseases, and one of the authors on the paper about the elderly woman. He said the bacterium, known as Borrelia miyamotoi, has been known to exist in deer ticks for about decade. But it was not believed to cause human illness until researchers last year linked it to 46 sick people in Russia, some with relapsing fevers. One scientist said the new disease might be the cause of unexplained symptoms, from fatigue to cognitive decline, in some people who believe they have Lyme but do not test positive for that bacteria. – For complete article see http://bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/2013/01/16/new-illness-transmitted-same-tick-that-carries-lyme-discovered-northeast/LLAaJjOaFjJT18QEeUYdeN/story.html
Global 01/16/13 nbcnews.com: by Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters – Dengue is the world’s fastest-spreading tropical disease and represents a “pandemic threat”, infecting an estimated 50 million people across all continents, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday. Transmitted by the bite of female mosquitoes, the disease is occurring more widely due to increased movement of people and goods – including carrier objects such as bamboo plants and used tires – as well as floods linked to climate change, the United Nations agency said. The viral disease, which affected only a handful of areas in the 1950s, is now present in more than 125 countries – significantly more than malaria, historically the most notorious mosquito-borne disease. The most advanced vaccine against dengue is only 30 percent effective, trials last year showed.
“In 2012, dengue ranked as the fastest spreading vector-borne viral disease with an epidemic potential in the world, registering a 30-fold increase in disease incidence over the past 50 years,” the WHO said in a statement. Late last year, Europe suffered its first sustained outbreak since the 1920s, with 2,000 people infected on the Portuguese Atlantic island of Madeira. Worldwide, 2 million cases of dengue are reported each year by 100 countries, mainly in Asia, Africa and Latin America, causing 5,000 to 6,000 deaths, said Dr. Raman Velayudhan, a specialist at the WHO’s control of neglected tropical diseases department. But the true number is far higher as the disease has spread exponentially and is now present on all continents, he said. “The WHO estimates that on average about 50 million cases occur every year. This is a very conservative estimate,” Velayudhan told Reuters, adding that some independent studies put the figure at 100 million. – For complete article see http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/16/16547799-who-dengue-is-fastest-spreading-tropical-disease?lite
Connecticut 01/17/13 New London County: Health officials confirmed Wednesday that a raccoon captured in Groton in the vicinity of Fishtown Road has tested positive for rabies. – See http://groton.patch.com/articles/raccoon-in-groton-tests-positive-for-rabies
New York 01/17/13 St. Lawrence County: During the last few weeks a raccoon captured in the vicinity of Castle Drive in Potsdam, and a skunk captured in Lisbon have both tested positive for rabies. – See http://northcountrynow.com/news/animals-captured-lisbon-potsdam-test-positive-rabies-076510
North Carolina 01/17/13 Orange County: A black and white Lamancha goat kept near Brookhollow and Bane roads in Efland has tested positive for rabies. – See http://www.wral.com/first-positive-rabies-test-for-2013/11994585/
Rhode Island 01/17/13 Washington County: A person that was bitten by a raccoon in an unprovoked attacked on Monday night is being treated for possible exposure to rabies. The incident occurred on Heritage Road in North Kingstown. Attempts to capture the raccoon failed and the animal remains at large however, if it was infected with rabies it may now be dead. Always seek immediate medical advice if a person or a pet is exposed to a raccoon whether alive or dead. – See http://www.jamestownpress.com/news/2013-01-17/News/Possible_rabies_case_after_raccoon_attack.html
Virginia 01/17/13 Norfolk: A raccoon that was killed by two dogs in the 3700 block of Wedgefield Avenue in the Ingleside section of the city has tested positive for rabies. – See http://www.wavy.com/dpp/news/local_news/norfolk/deceased-raccoon-had-rabies
Manitoba 01/17/13 Winnipeg: A skunk that attacked and bit a family’s pet dog recently has tested positive for rabies. – See http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/story/2013/01/17/mb-rabies-pets-winnipeg.html