NEW YORK ecologist says OPOSSUMS are very efficient TICK killers ~ TEXAS reports first case of HANTAVIRUS in 2014 ~ RABIES reports from CA, PAx2, VAx2 & CANADA: ONTARIO.

Opossum. Photo by Cody Pope. Wikimedia Commons.

Opossum. Photo by Cody Pope. Wikimedia Commons.

National 04/22/14 newstimes.com: by Robert Miller – At night, when you catch sight of an opossum in your car headlights, you are allowed to think, “That is one ugly little animal.” But what opossums lack in looks, they make up in originality. They’re America’s only babies-in-the pouch marsupial. They’re a southern species — proper name Virginia opossum — that’s adapted to New England winters. They’re one of the oldest species of mammal around, having waddled past dinosaurs. They eat grubs and insects and even mice, working over the environment like little vacuum cleaners. “They really eat whatever they find,” said Laura Simon, wildlife ecologist with the U.S. Humane Society. And they’re an animal whose first line of defense includes drooling and a wicked hissing snarl — a bluff — followed by fainting dead away and “playing possum.” “They are just interesting critters,” said Mark Clavette, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. And now ecologists have learned something else about opossums. They’re a sort of magnet when it comes to riding the world of black-legged ticks, which spread Lyme disease.

Dr. Richard Ostfeld.

Dr. Richard Ostfeld.

“Don’t hit opossums if they’ve playing dead in the road,” said Richard Ostfeld, of the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies in Millerton, N.Y. Ostfeld is forest ecologist and an expert on the environmental elements of infectious diseases like Lyme disease. Several years ago, scientists decided to learn about the part different mammals play in the spread of the ticks and the disease. They tested six species — white-footed mice, chipmunks, squirrels, opossums and veerys and catbirds — by capturing and caging them, and then exposing each test subject to 100 ticks. What they found, is that of the six, the opossums were remarkably good at getting rid of the ticks — much more so

Blacklegged Tick.

Blacklegged Tick.

that any of the others. “I had no suspicion they’d be such efficient tick-killing animals,” Ostfeld said. Indeed, among other opossum traits, there is this: They groom themselves fastidiously, like cats. If they find a tick, they lick it off and swallow it. (The research team on the project went through droppings to find this out. All praise to those who study possum poop.) Extrapolating from their findings, Ostfeld said, the team estimated that in one season, an opossum can kill about 5,000 ticks. – For complete article see http://www.newstimes.com/news/article/Robert-Miller-Opposums-killers-of-ticks-5413872.php

Hantavirus:

hantavirus1542Texas 04/13/14 Swisher County: Health officials have confirmed the state’s first case of hantavirus reported this year. The exposure is believed to have occurred in a rodent-infested barn when dust was stirred up. It was reported that the individual recovered. Hantavirus infection has a mortality rate of 38% according to the CDC. – See http://www.theglobaldispatch.com/texas-reports-first-hantavirus-case-of-2014-2014/

Rabies:

Author’s Note: Beginning with this post, Rabies Reports will be limited to those that are in some way unusual and/or of particular importance in terms of service to the general public.

Help_button_2California 04/19/14 Yolo County: Animal services officials seek the public’s help in finding a dog that bit a child in a park in Dunnigan. The incident occurred about 7:30 p.m. April 11. A 3-year-old child was with his mother in a park near the 29000 block of Main Street when the youngster attempted to approach a small dog running loose in the park and was bitten, according to county news release. The mother told animal services officials that she had not seen the dog in the area before and has not seen it since the child was bitten. Animal services employees also have been unable to find the animal. The dog was described as a small gray and white terrier type. The mother did not recall seeing a collar on the dog. Identifying the dog to verify current rabies vaccination could help spare the child post-exposure rabies treatment. Anyone with knowledge of the incident, or the location of dog or its owner, is asked to call the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office, Animal Services Section at (530) 668-5287, or email animal.bite@yolocounty.org. – See http://www.sacbee.com/2014/04/18/6336279/yolo-officials-seek-dog-that-bit.html

5731289-very-cute-child-with-a-cat-in-armsPennsylvania 04/22/14 Montgomery County: A stray cat found on East Fifth Avenue in Collegeville has tested positive for rabies. Anyone who has been bitten, scratched or had saliva exposure to a stray cat should seek medical advice and also call the Montgomery County Health Department at 610-278-5117. This is the third confirmed case of rabies in the county in 2014. – See http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140422/rabid-cat-found-in-collegeville

3610192083_22eaf9db7aPennsylvania 04/17/14 Lancaster County: A Penn Township woman is receiving post-exposure rabies treatments as a precaution after being bitten by a stray, black cat on April 16th in the 1000 block of White Oak Road in Manheim. The cat remains at large. – See http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/woman-undergoing-rabies-shots-after-being-bit-by-cat/article_ecc54d9e-c633-11e3-88e6-001a4bcf6878.html

400px-RK_0808_278_Marmota_monax_groundhog_ReinhardKraaschWCVirginia 04/15/14 Fairfax County: A groundhog that fought with a dog in the 900 block of Welham Green Road in Great Falls on April 6th has tested positive for rabies. The dog was quarantined. – See http://mclean.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/dog-quarantined-after-tangling-with-rabid-hedgehog-in-great-falls

Wildlife-GrayFoxVirginia 04/15/14 Newport News: A man in the city’s Lakeside neighborhood who was bitten by a fox on April 14th has begun post-exposure rabies treatments as a precaution. The fox bit into his arm and wouldn’t let go until he started slamming his pickup truck door on it. The fox was not captured and remains at large. – See http://www.wvec.com/news/Woman-bit-by-fox-in-Newport-News-255385821.html

Canada:

untitled (2)Ontario 04/15/14 Grey Bruce Health Unit: Officials are asking for your help in finding the owner of a dog involved in a biting incident in Walkerton. It happened last Friday morning, when a girl walking to school near the corner of Hinks Street and Johnstone Boulevard was bitten by a dog being walked by a man. The man kept on walking. The dog is described as medium-sized, mixed breed, with black and white markings. Staff of the Grey Bruce Health Unit need to confirm that the dog is not infected with rabies. By verifying the health of the dog, the victim can avoid receiving the post exposure rabies treatment. If you have any information related to this incident, you are asked to contact the Grey Bruce Health Unit at 519-376-9420. ­ – See http://www.bayshorebroadcasting.ca/news_item.php?NewsID=65460

 

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One response to “NEW YORK ecologist says OPOSSUMS are very efficient TICK killers ~ TEXAS reports first case of HANTAVIRUS in 2014 ~ RABIES reports from CA, PAx2, VAx2 & CANADA: ONTARIO.

  1. Cool info on the opossum & ticks. Everyone in my area finds any reason they can to kill them. I’ll let them know that their killing them all might be the reason for the rise in Lyme in this part of the country. I, however, find them to be remarkable animals, and “cute” in their own way. Ever see a mother opossum after she has been hauling around a pack of kids on her back for a month? They look like one of those rat-moles from the belly up, completely bald on her back from her kids tugging out all the hair. Gives a whole new picture to humans who complain that their kids are causing them to pull their hair out. In the opossum’s case, their kids actually DO pull their parents’ hair out until they are bald. 🙂

    Here’s a couple other interesting opossum links you might like to read. I’m surprised this isn’t in the main news for the last 2 years. I guess some drug-company is trying to synthesize it for greed-driven patent protections — as is all too typical these days.

    http://boingboing.net/2012/07/09/you-cannot-poison-an-opossum.html

    http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=s0104-79301999000100005&script=sci_arttext

    Fun anecdote: This happened during an extensive wildlife restoration project on my lands, when I tried to rear many species of native predators (of the few that were left) after a cat-infestation had annihilated them all by destroying all their foods, thinking I could combat that problem ecologically (it didn’t work, native predators evade any bold-patterned cats that go on to breed and then become the primary invasive species predator, starving out all native competing predators (an original discovery of mine)). One of the many injured or starving animals that came to my lands for some help was a blind and deaf raccoon. She had just got done eating and was taking her usual memorized path back home, up over my steps and down the other side of the porch. Unknown to her there was a giant opossum (which I called Bruno) that was just outside my door and in her way. The opossum, not knowing the raccoon was blind and deaf just stood its ground. The raccoon ran smack dab into the opossum. The opossum fainted dead-away and the blind and deaf raccoon scampered away from the scene of the crime. However … this LARGE opossum just happened to faint underneath the door-jamb of the screen door as I was opening it. It got itself wedged under the door. The more I tried to move the door the more the opossum played dead. So … I happened to have a pan of “critter-cake” in one hand (I was headed out to refill plates with “critter-cake”; a vitamin-fortified, protein filled, and enriched and dense cornbread I formulated for them all). I got the door open enough for me to get my arm around to the outside to where I could reach the nose of the “dead” opossum. I waved a piece of critter-cake underneath his nose and that quickly revived it. I think I’m the only person that ever got locked inside their own house by a playing-dead opossum. 🙂

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