Montana 01/17/15 missoulian.com: Scientists at Rocky Mountain Laboratories have discovered the Bitterroot Valley is home to a tick that carries the bacteria that causes relapsing fever. Relapsing fever is a treatable, acute, usually nonfatal disease that can make patients sick over and over again. If not treated, it can be fatal to the fetus of a pregnant woman. A paper about the Bitterroot tick was published recently in the scientific journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. The soft tick is different from the larger hard-shelled tick that causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. “You don’t pick them up while hiking through the woods,” Tom Schwan, a Rocky Mountain Laboratories entomologist. Schwan, who co-wrote the paper with a Missoula doctor, said the ticks feed much more quickly than the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever tick. “Most people don’t know when they’re being bitten by these ticks,” he said. He said chipmunks and squirrels are hosts to the tick.
In 2013, his team of scientists took blood samples from a chipmunk that was trapped near where a man got relapsing fever. The man was bitten by a soft tick while working in his woodpile. Schwan said that chipmunk was infected with the same bacteria that the man who fell ill was infected with. He said finding the infected chipmunk, plus infected ticks in the woodpile, explained how the man became sick with tick-borne relapsing fever. “This is an important bit of evidence to help in the future when people get infected with this disease, so they can get the proper diagnosis and prompt treatment with the appropriate antibiotics,” Schwan said. The scientist thinks these ticks may be fairly widespread in the valley. – For complete article see http://missoulian.com/news/local/tick-with-relapsing-fever-found-in-bitterroot-valley/article_678e09d4-5237-5f64-8995-fabc4c1c9a09.html
Puerto Rico 01/18/15 outbreaknewstoday.com: by Robert Herriman – The number of chikungunya cases reported in Puerto Rico from Nov. 26 to Dec. 23 is 431 suspected and 45 confirmed, according to the Departmento de Salud de Puerto Rico. Health officials do say that due to a delay in laboratory testing, the actual numbers may be higher for the period. This brings the cumulative total for 2014 on the Caribbean island to 25,234 suspected cases and 4,227 laboratory confirmed cases. In 2014, Puerto Rico has reported 10 deaths due to chikungunya infection. 31 cases have been seen due to travel. – See http://outbreaknewstoday.com/puerto-rico-chikungunya-death-toll-now-at-10-38236/
Texas 01/16/15 wfaa.com: by Janet St. James – Dallas County mosquito experts are already prepping dozens of traps specially designed to capture mosquitoes that spread the Chikungunya virus, or ChikV. “This has a lure inside that basically smells like human skin,” explains Dallas County Health and Human Services microbiologist Spencer Lockwood. People are like perfume to ChikV mosquitos. The county has purchased 30 traps for the fight against ChikV. Chikungunya is a virus passed to people by two species of mosquitoes: Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti. The infection is characterized by sudden onset of fever and severe joint pains. The most serious symptoms last from two to seven days, but patients have been known to experience joint pain for weeks or years after infection. So far, the infection is primarily spread in the Caribbean. The CDC confirms more than 2,340 cases of ChikV in the United States in the last year. However, eleven locally-transmitted cases have been reported from Florida. Health officials believe it’s only a matter of time until ChikV is transmitted locally in North Texas. So far, there have been 10 human cases diagnosed in Dallas County, all of them acquired during overseas travel. – For complete article see http://www.wfaa.com/story/news/health/2015/01/16/dallas-co-sets-mosquito-traps-for-fight-against-chikv/21886071/
Florida 01/17/15 Pasco County: A cat that was in contact with three individuals in the vicinity of New Port Richey Estates in New Port Richey has tested positive for rabies. A Rabies Alert has been issued for the area. – See http://www.wtsp.com/story/news/local/2015/01/17/rabies-alert-has-been-issued-for-pasco/21937279/
Georgia 01/16/15 Hall County: A stray cat that bit five people in Lula including three senior citizens, a woman and a 10-year-old boy has tested positive for rabies. – See http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/section/6/article/107251/
South Carolina 01/15/15 Oconee County: A puppy that was attacked by a skunk in Seneca several weeks ago has tested positive for rabies. The puppy was too young to be vaccinated against the virus and the skunk was not captured. Four people who were potentially exposed to the virus have been referred for treatment. – See http://www.independentmail.com/news/puppy-exposes-four-people-to-rabies-in-oconee-county_33915632
Wisconsin 01/16/15 Marathon County: Authorities are trying to track down a dog that bit a Wausau man Thursday so the man can avoid a series of painful rabies shots he will have to take unless the dog is verified to be rabies-free. The victim was walking near the intersection of West Campus Drive and North Third Avenue in Wausau at about 11 p.m. when the dog, possibly an American bulldog mix, bit him, according to a news release from the Marathon County Health Department. The dog was described as being dark-colored with a docked tail and no collar. The animal ran toward Benedictine Living Community after biting the man. Anyone with information about the dog or its owner is asked to contact the Health Department at 715-261-1908, Marathon County dispatch at 715-849-7785, or the Humane Society at 715-845-2810. – See http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/story/news/local/2015/01/16/health-department-seeking-dog-bit-man-thursday/21877235/