Aggressive MOUNTAIN LION prompts shut-down of CALIFORNIA park ~ ZIKA VIRUS spreading rapidly across PUERTO RICO ~ NANTUCKET residents consider genetically engineered MICE to halt spread of LYME DISEASE ~ HANTAVIRUS claims life of UTAH man ~ NEVADA confirms PLAGUE found at public campground ~ COLORADO confirms FERAL CAT found with BUBONIC PLAGUE.

Mountain-Lion-2-SW

California 06/07/16 mercurynews.com: by Marisa Kendall – Santa Clara County deputies found themselves in an unusual standoff Saturday — instead of waiting for a criminal to emerge from a hideout, they were waiting for a mountain lion to come down from a tree. The Sheriff’s Office evacuated McClellan Ranch Preserve as a precaution after a mountain lion growled at children in the park and then ran up a tree, said Captain Rick Sung. Experts from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife who also responded decided against tranquilizing and relocating the animal. Instead, they waited for the cougar to come down and leave of its own accord — which it did, without incident, after night fell. Sung said he was “very concerned” about the mountain lion’s presence, based on a report from a park visitor that it had behaved aggressively toward local children. The animal was camped out in the branches of a tree near McClellan Road and Club House Lane, across the street from a residential neighborhood. “We had a lot of deputies pretty much surrounding the park area just to make sure our residents are safe,” he said. Sung said there were several hundred children in the park with their families when it was evacuated. While the Sheriff’s Office occasionally receives calls about mountain lion sightings, Sung said it’s rare to hear of an animal displaying aggression. “Usually what it is, is people will see it and the mountain lion will just walk away,” he said. There have been 14 reported mountain lion attacks in California since 1986, including three fatal attacks, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. A 6-year-old boy was attacked near the Picchetti Winery in Cupertino in 2014 and survived. – For video and complete article see http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_29981034/mountain-lion-prompts-park-evacuation-near-cupertino

Zika Virus –

dt_160309_puerto_rico_map_zika_mosquito_800x600Puerto Rico 06/08/16 wsj.com: by Betsy McKay – The Zika virus is creeping north toward the continental U.S., and Alberto de la Vega has started to detect its signs. In ultrasounds he gives pregnant women who are infected with the virus in this American territory, he has seen a 22-week-old fetus with serious brain damage and two others with stunted growth. He is bracing for more. “If you ask me in a month,” says Dr. de la Vega, an obstetrician-gynecologist and chief of a high-risk-pregnancy unit at the capital’s University Hospital, “we may have 10 times the detection rate.” Zika has blanketed three-quarters of this lush island over the past six months, say health authorities, who expect it to keep spreading now that it is prime mosquito season. More than 1,350 people have tested positive for Zika since the beginning of the epidemic here, including 168 pregnant women. One patient died. Thousands more are likely infected without symptoms, health authorities say. Puerto Rico’s battle with Zika is giving local and U.S. health authorities a rare chance to better understand the disease as it makes its relentless march across the Americas. The island has advantages over Latin American and Caribbean nations that lack its modern medical system. It has strong public-health surveillance and anticipated Zika’s arrival, unlike Brazil, where the virus spread unnoticed for months. – For complete article see http://www.wsj.com/articles/zika-swamps-embattled-puerto-rico-1465395531

Lyme Disease –

Tick-Infested-Area-500Massachusetts 06/07/16 statnews.com: by Ike Swetlitz – Nantucket – This exclusive summer playground could become the site of an unprecedented experiment to combat Lyme disease by releasing genetically modified mice on the island. Nantucket boasts some of the highest Lyme infection rates in the country, and the idea unveiled Monday would involve modifying the genes of tens of thousands of mice to keep them from spreading the Lyme bacterium to ticks, which in turn infect people. Any release is years away, but an MIT professor presented the idea to the Nantucket board of health and an audience of about 20 residents and scientists, who were broadly favorable. If the project is realized, it might be the first release into the wild of animals modified with the cutting-edge gene-editing technique CRISPR. Other types of gene-editing have been used, for instance, to make farmed salmon grow faster and to make disease-carrying mosquitoes unable to reproduce. “This is something new,” said Kevin Esvelt, assistant professor at the MIT Media Lab and the project’s organizer. “We are considering deliberate alteration of the local environment.” Lyme disease is a significant problem for residents of Nantucket: The island had the highest rate of Lyme of any county in the US from 1992 to 2001, and finished in third place from 2002 to 2006, according to government data. – For complete article see https://www.statnews.com/2016/06/07/nantucket-lyme-genetic-engineering/

Hantavirus –

892008Utah 06/02/16 sltrib.com: by Bob Mims – State health officials say that a Utah man died after exposure to hantavirus last month. Medical privacy policies prohibited release of the man’s identity, but Utah Department of Health spokesman Tom Hudachko did confirm Thursday that the victim was between the ages of 45 and 64, and that he died in late May. “I can’t provide anything more specific than that,” he said. “We’ve worked with the family to provide information on how to safely clean rodent droppings from properties they frequent.” Rats, mice, and other burrowing and nesting rodents are known to carry the deadly disease, which can be spread to humans through contact with the animals’ urine, saliva, or feces. Hudachko said his agency now has recorded six hantavirus-related fatalities in Utah since 2009. – See http://www.sltrib.com/news/3959672-155/state-health-officials-confirm-may-hantavirus

Bubonic Plague –

Nevada 06/08/16 http://myfox8.com/: A flea from a yellow chipmunk in the Lake Tahoe area tested positive for plagueUSA Today reports. On Tuesday, the Lake Tahoe Basin Unit of the Forest Service, El Dorado County, Calif., officials and the California Department of Public Health reported they confirmed the presence of plague in the flea taken from Fallen Leaf Campground. The campground is about a quarter mile north of Fallen Leaf Lake in South Lake Tahoe. – For complete article see http://myfox8.com/2016/06/08/bubonic-plague-detected-at-lake-tahoe-area-campground/

2006-06jun-tigger-plus-mouse2Colorado 06/02/16 nbc11news.com:  The Delta County Health Department is warning residents of plague after a feral cat tested positive for the disease over the Memorial Day weekend. Health officials said the cat was found on Hanson Road near Cedaredge, then taken to Surface Creek Veterinary Center where it tested positive for plague before being euthanized. Officials said this is the first plague activity detected this season. “Plague is commonly transmitted by fleas, so taking steps to avoid fleas will help prevent spread of the disease,” said Ken Nordstrom, Delta County Health Department Environmental Health Director. – See http://www.nbc11news.com/content/news/Plague-found-in-Delta-County-health-officials-say-381664391.html

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