ALASKA veterinarian says non-native DOG TICKS becoming major concern ~ HANTAVIRUS case confirmed in COLORADO ~ FLORIDA confirms HORSE positive for EEE ~ RABIES reports from COLORADO & IOWA.


Alaska 04/20/14 by Tim Mowry – When Linda Roberts told friends she was bitten by a tick while sleeping two years ago, they thought she was crazy. Everybody knows there aren’t any ticks in Alaska, they told her. When Roberts discovered a tick on her dog this week while giving it a bath, she felt vindicated. Disgusted, but vindicated. Roberts plucked the parasite off her dog, a little, white, fluffy American Eskimo named Angel, and put it in a Ziploc bag. The next day, she took it to Mt. McKinley Animal Hospital, where veterinarian Dr. Ben Kuhn confirmed that it was indeed a tick. “He was very surprised,” Roberts said of Kuhn’s reaction. “He’s been here for two years and hasn’t seen any sign of ticks.” Next, Roberts brought the tick in a baggie to the News-Miner. “This is news,” Roberts said, holding up a small Ziploc baggie with the tick, still alive, inside. “… I want to warn people what can happen to their pets.” Finally, Roberts took the tick to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office on College Road and showed it to veterinarian Dr. Kimberlee Beckmen.

Rabbit or Hare Tick

Rabbit or Hare Tick

The discovery wasn’t news to Beckmen, though. The sole veterinarian for ADFG, Beckmen is well aware there are ticks in Alaska and there always have been. Ticks on small mammals like snowshoe hares, squirrels, lemmings, voles and birds are endemic to Alaska, she said. “I’ve been working for the department for 12 years, and from day one, I’ve had ticks coming in,” Beckmen said. “We’ve always had ticks on wildlife.” As it turned out, Beckmen identified the tick Roberts plucked from her dog as haemahysalis leporispalustris, otherwise known as the common rabbit tick, or as it’s called in Alaska where there are no rabbits, the hare tick. It is one of only two ticks, the other being the squirrel tick, that is native to Alaska. Hare ticks are commonly found on snowshoe hares in the spring and can carry a flu-like disease called tularemia, which can be spread to dogs, cats and even humans via a scratch or saliva. Pretty much every spring, a handful of dogs and cats around Fairbanks

Squirrel Tick

Squirrel Tick

are infected with tularemia as a result of picking up or sniffing a snowshoe hare that’s infected, Beckmen said. “It’s kind of an annual thing,” Beckmen said. While hare ticks prefer snowshoe hares as hosts, it’s not uncommon to find them on dogs or cats. Squirrel ticks are even more common on pets in Alaska, Beckmen said. “If a hungry tick can’t find a hare or a squirrel to get on and a dog or cat comes by, it’s going to suck on whatever mammal it can get a hold of,” she said.


American Dog Tick

American Dog Tick

n the past three years, Beckmen has found at least two other types of ticks that have taken up residence in the Last Frontier and appear to be here to stay: the American dog tick and brown dog tick. Both ticks have been found on dogs or cats that have never left the state, a sign the parasitic arachnids can — and are — surviving in Alaska. “They’re established, they’re breeding and they’re staying here,” Beckmen said. That’s bad news for pet owners. Ticks can and do carry and transmit diseases from animals to humans. The most common are tularemia, Lyme disease, Q fever and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Currently, only tularemia and Q Fever are present in Alaska. Wildlife disease specialists also say the establishment of new ticks in Alaska poses a risk to all sorts of wildlife, from caribou to coyote to fox to moose to Sitka black-tailed deer to wolves. “It is a big concern because the populations of animals up here haven’t been exposed to these tick-borne diseases,” said Dr. Robert Gerlach, the state’s head veterinarian. “If we get a tick that comes up and now can survive in this environment, we can get disease spread in a wildlife or the human population we’re not used to, which could have drastic results. “Once you get a tick population started in a wildlife species, they continually spread disease through that wildlife population,” he said.

Brown Dog Tick

Brown Dog Tick

The two dog tick species found in Alaska were discovered as a result of a recent enhanced tick surveillance program by ADFG to look for moose winter tick, a serious threat to moose that has been found in the Yukon Territory. Using public service announcements and interdepartmental communication, Beckmen put word out to the public and to wildlife biologists around the state three years ago that she was looking for ticks. As a result, between June 2011 and October 2013 Beckmen collected 89 ticks representing 48 separate infestations.

Rocky Mountain Wood Tick

Rocky Mountain Wood Tick

The ticks came mostly from dogs, but also humans, cats, hares and marten. While no moose ticks were found, there were 10 cases of American dog ticks and 13 cases of brown dog ticks discovered on dogs or humans around the state, including Anchorage, Denali Park, Fairbanks, Juneau, Sitka, Valdez and Willow. One of the infestations involved a boarding kennel in Fairbanks — Beckmen declined to name it — that was, and still is, infested with brown dog ticks, which are the only tick in North America that lives indoors and are especially hard to eradicate, Beckmen said. Other cases involved houses that were infested with brown ticks. “We had one dog a person brought in that had 70 or 80 ticks,” she said. “The house is infested. There are ticks all over the pets and kids.”

Lone Star Tick

Lone Star Tick

In addition, specialists in a Georgia lab that Beckmen sent the tick specimens to identified two other non-native species of ticks found in Alaska — the Rocky Mountain wood tick was found on dogs in Anchorage and Sitka, while the lone star tick was found on dogs in Eagle River and Fairbanks. It’s just a matter of time and climate change before those ticks, and possibly others, gain a leg-hold in Alaska, Beckmen said. – For complete article see


Hantavirus2Colorado 04/22/14 by Travis Khachatoorian – A Garfield County resident is officially the first confirmed case of hantavirus in the area since 2012. There are very few details released on the confirmed case at this point. Officials haven’t released information on the status of the patient, or even what city the patient caught the virus in. “Usually what happens is you’re cleaning something, and the virus gets put into the air, and you breath it in, and you don’t really think much of it,” said immunization coordinator for Garfield County Danielle Yost. “Then usually anywhere from a couple days to a few weeks later you start getting flu like symptoms that rapidly deteriorate into the inability to breathe.” Symptoms include muscle aches, fatigue, high fever, dizziness, headaches, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain which can eventually lead to death. Garfield County officials are concerned enough to call for citizen precautions, especially since it’s the spring cleaning season. The county Public Health Department is warning all residents to know how to protect themselves from this potentially deadly disease. The virus is usually carried in the Western Slope by the deer mouse. Officials urge any resident’s cleaning out garages, or other areas with rodent droppings or urine, to not sweep the mess but rather pour a bleach and water mix over the affected area. Always wear protective gloves and scoop up the mess with a paper towel. The first case of the mysterious disease started back in 1993 in the four corners region of Colorado, and the hantavirus has now spread across the western hemisphere. The CDC reports a 36 percent mortality rate for those with the disease. “There is no vaccine, no medication for it, your body basically has to fight it off on its own,” said Yost.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE):

encephcycFlorida 04/23/14 Marion County: A horse stabled in the vicinity of Sparr has tested positive for infection with EEE. Area residents have been provided with tips and advice to protect them from the mosquitoes that spread the disease. – See


Colorado 04/23/14 Pueblo County: A Pueblo woman says a dog bit her at a local coffee shop and the dog’s owner vanished. The woman is now worried she might get sick with rabies. It happened on Sunday at the Starbucks off 4th Street, near Abriendo Avenue. Jane Garnett was enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend. She says when she came out of the Starbucks’ bathroom, she noticed two long haired dachshunds inside the store. She says they were both on leashes with a dark-haired woman and a young boy. Suddenly, one dog lashed at her. “They were just standing there in line, or around the line to get coffee and the dog bit at my pants and then bit at me in the café,” said Garnett. Garnett says when she tried confronting the woman, she vanished. Garnett says the bite made her bleed. “I feel like she should have stayed around to see how I was or whether I needed her information. I feel like she should have taken more responsibility for it,” said Garnett. Garnett says she’s now worried she could get rabies. “I hope the woman comes forward and tells me or not if the dog has been vaccinated.” The Pueblo County Health Department and Animal Services are working together to find out who the dog owner is. Garnett just wants to know if the dog is current on its vaccinations. If you know who the dog owner is, you’re encouraged to contact either agency. The Health Department says rabies symptoms most often develop between one to three months after the person is infected. We also spoke to road_sign_need_helpStarbucks. They say they only allow service dogs inside the store. – For photos see

Iowa 04/24/14 Scott County: Ten-year-old Annalee Bargmann may have to get rabies shots now after she was bit by a dog. The young girl was playing with a tennis ball Tuesday evening, April 22, 2014, near Garfield Elementary School in Davenport, Iowa, when she dropped the ball.  When she reached down to pick up the ball, a dog ran to the end of its retractable leash and bit Annalee on the leg. No one noticed she was bit until after she left the fields, because she hid the bite mark under a blanket. She said she loves animals and didn’t want to get the dog in trouble. She later told her grandmother about the incident, and her grandma called Annalee’s parents. “We immediately started looking around the park for a person matching the description,” said Annalee’s mother, Christina Bargmann. “We took her to the doctor the next day and she had a tetanus shot, but they told us she would have to get the rabies vaccination to be safe.” The dog that bit Anna was described as a rust-colored Dachshund.  The dog’s owner was described as heavy-set man in his 30s or 40s, with dark brown hair. He also may have had a small, white fluffy dog with him as well. If the family doesn’t hear from the dog owner by Friday, they will have to take Annalee to get rabies vaccinations. They ask anyone who has information on the dog and it’s owner to please contact Davenport Animal Control at 563-388-6655. – For video see


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