Scientists trying to decode WOLF howls ~ More DENGUE FEVER cases in FLORIDA ~ EEE & WNV reports from LA, MD, MA, NE, & VT ~ RABIES reports from IL, ME, NJ, OH, SC, WI, & CANADA: AB.

Photo by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Photo by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Global 08/22/13 by Virginia Morell – A wolf’s howl is one of the most iconic sounds of nature, yet biologists aren’t sure why the animals do it. They’re not even sure if wolves howl voluntarily or if it’s some sort of reflex, perhaps caused by stress. Now, scientists working with captive North American timber wolves in Austria report that they’ve solved part of the mystery. Almost 50 years ago, wildlife biologists suggested that a wolf’s howls were a way of reestablishing contact with other pack members after the animals became separated, which often happens during hunts. Yet, observers of captive wolves have also noted that the pattern of howls differs depending on the size of the pack and whether the dominant, breeding wolf is present, suggesting that the canids’ calls are not necessarily automatic responses.

Dr. Friederike Range

Dr. Friederike Range

Friederike Range, a cognitive ethologist at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, was in a unique position to explore the conundrum. Since 2008, she and her colleagues have hand-raised nine wolves at the Wolf Science Center in Ernstbrunn, which she co-directs. “We started taking our wolves for walks when they were 6 weeks old, and as soon as we took one out, the others would start to howl,” she says. “So immediately we became interested in why they howl.” Although the center’s wolves don’t hunt, they do howl differently in different situations, Range says. “So we also wanted to understand these variations in their howling.” The scientists have divided the wolves at the center into two packs. Range and her colleagues first determined each wolf’s position within the dominance hierarchy in its pack and the animals’ logo499gf9e8social relationships. The captive wolves do not have families as wild wolves do, and so they form hierarchies. “They have obvious, preferred partners that they play with, groom, and lie close to when sleeping,” Range says. The scientists then took each wolf out for three 45-minute walks, spread over several weeks. They removed the wolves in random order, so that the animals could not predict which one in their pack was going to leave. The researchers also set up a control situation by placing each of the wolves in an adjoining holding area again on three occasions for 45 minutes each time. The rest of the pack could not see the wolf in this area, but because he or she was nearby in a familiar place, there was no need for the animals to communicate.

WSC-final kleinIn almost all cases, the pack began to howl within the first 20 minutes after a member was led away on a walk, Range says. But the one out for a stroll usually did not return the call. Those left behind howled in 26 of the 27 walking trials, but only two times during the control trials. The scientists kept careful track of which wolves were actually howling. Overall, the animals did most of their yodeling when the pack’s dominant member went for a walk. Individual wolves also howled more when the wolf that was led away was his or her preferred pal—which means that the wolves aren’t simply howling because others are. “It’s not a contagious response,” Range says. “Social relationships are very important to them, and the howling patterns reflect that.” – For audio and complete article see

Dengue Fever:

indexh458f5Florida 08/23/13 FL Health Miami-Dade County: Health officials issued a Mosquitoborne Illness Advisory today for the county after the first locally acquired Dengue Fever case this year was confirmed in an 18-year-old male. – See

NewBannerf78f89b78Florida 08/22/13 FL Health Martin County: Officials have announced that a fourth case of locally acquired dengue fever has been confirmed in the Rio neighborhood of Jensen Beach. Last week, three cases were confirmed: two in Martin County and one in St. Lucie County. – See

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) & West Nile Virus (WNV):

LA-DHHLouisiana 08/23/13 LA Dept of Public Health: Officials confirmed that are 4 new human cases of WNV were reported this week bringing the total number of human cases in the state to 13 so far this year. The new infections include 2 cases of neuro-invasive disease, both in Ouachita Parish, and 2 asymptomatic cases, 1 each in Ouachita and Vernon parishes.

10258tgt87g84fMaryland 08/23/13 MD Dept of Health: Officials announced today that three human cases of WNV have been confirmed in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. These are the first human cases of WNV reported in the state this year. The virus has also been detected in mosquito pools collected in Montgomery and Worcester counties. – See

imagesd5d84bMassachusetts 08/22/13 Boston Public Health Commission: Officials announced today that mosquitoes trapped in Fenway, West Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain have tested positive for WNV for the first time this year. Mosquito pools in Hyde Park and Roslindale tested positive for the virus earlier this summer. No human cases of WNV have been reported this year. – See

NEdhhs_blueNebraska 08/21/13 NE Dept of Health: Eleven human cases of WNV have been reported this summer (14 as of Aug 22) including 3 patients who were hospitalized. Seventy-five mosquito pools in 14 counties have also tested positive for the virus including Adams, Chase, Dawes, Dawson, Dixon, Garden, Garfield, Hall, Lincoln, Madison, Phelps, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan and Webster. – A map of human cases is available at See

VT-DH_logo_vert_356Vermont 08/23/13 VT Dept of Health: Officials announced today that mosquitoes in Sudbury have tested positive for EEE for the first time this year. Mosquitoes in Whiting tested positive for the virus earlier this month. WNV has been found this year in mosquitoes trapped in Leicester, Whiting, Pittsford, Brandon, Shoreham and Fairfax. – See


grounded%20batIllinois 08/21/13 Kane County: A bat found in the yard of a Batavia resident has tested positive for rabies. – See

raccoon_cat_doorMaine 08/23/13 Kennebec County: A raccoon that went into a home on Main Street in Monmouth last Sunday and killed a cat has tested positive for rabies. The raccoon is believed to have entered the home through a pet door. – See

Rabies group 2New Jersey 08/22/13 Cumberland County: Four separate incidents were reported last week involving a rabid animal. The first and second involved a raccoon and a bat, respectively, and two dogs belonging to Millville residents. The third was a skunk that fought with a dog in Upper Deerfield. And the fourth was a fox that attacked a Downe Township resident working in the yard. All four of the wild animals tested positive for rabies. – See

schd4985Ohio 08/23/13 Summit County: An oral rabies baiting operation will take place in the communities of Boston Heights, Hudson (north of state Route 303), Macedonia, Northfield Center, Northfield Village, Reminderville, Sagamore Hills, Twinsburg and Twinsburg Township. The operation is scheduled to continue through September 13th in response to raccoons and skunks testing positive for rabies. – See

rabidcatSouth Carolina 08/22/13 Horry County: A cat that bit a Conway area woman has tested positive for rabies. – See

flying batWisconsin 08/23/13 Rock County: Two rabid bats have been found in the county within the past week. The first was found in the Footville area, and the second in downtown Janesville. Both bats tested positive for rabies. – See


sidebar_RabiesAlertAlberta 08/24/13 A 5-month-old puppy in Calgary is the first dog to test positive for rabies for years. The puppy, which came from Nunavut, had to be euthanized. – See


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