Category Archives: Travel

Arizona announces Mexico to release five MEXICAN WOLVES near border; California inspector discovers potentially dangerous ASIAN TIGER MOSQUITOES in Los Angeles County; New Swiss firm will focus on antibodies that guard against RABIES, DENGUE, and other diseases; RABIES reports from California, & North Carolina; WEST NILE VIRUS reports from Massachusetts, & Missouri; and an EASTERN EQUINE ENCEPHALITIS report from Michigan. Travel: Cuba, Chile, and Uruguay praised by Pan-American Health Organization for DENGUE control.

Mexican Wolf. Photo by C. Morrison. Wikimedia Commons.

Arizona 09/12/11 News Release – The Arizona Game and Fish Department has been informed that Mexican authorities plan to release five Mexican wolves this month at an undisclosed ranch location in northeastern Sonora, Mexico.  While the department does not know the specific date or other details at this time, it has received indications that the wolves being released will be fitted with satellite tracking collars.  Game and Fish is currently considering what, if any, impacts this release might have on Arizona’s Mexican wolf conservation and stakeholders. The department will continue to monitor activities related to the planned release and will continue to inform constituents as information becomes available.  Arizona Game and Fish has been actively involved in the multi-partner effort reintroducing Mexican wolves to portions of their historical range in the east-central portion of the state for many years. In 1998, 11 captive-reared Mexican wolves were released into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA) in eastern Arizona. The current population was assessed to be around 50 animals during 2011 monitoring.  The Mexican wolf is considered endangered in the United States.

Asian Tiger Mosquito

California 09/13/11 by J.D. Velasco – An aggressive species of Asian mosquito known to transmit several dangerous diseases has been discovered in the San Gabriel Valley, pest control officials said Tuesday. Officials with the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District said mosquitoes found in the 11000 block of Dodson Street last week have been identified as Asian tiger mosquitoes, which have the potential to carry dengue fever, yellow fever and several encephalitis-causing viruses. None of the mosquitoes in El Monte have been found to carry any of those diseases. “At this point we haven’t identified any of these diseases we’re concerned about in L.A. County,” said Kelly Middleton, Vector Control District spokeswoman. Middleton said an inspector discovered the infestation during a routine call.  “We had a typical report of someone who was having problems with mosquito bites,” she said. While out in the field, the inspector swatted one of the insects and realized it was an Asian tiger mosquito, Middleton said.

The mosquitoes have not been seen in Southern California since 2001, when they were accidentally introduced in imported “Lucky Bamboo” plants. Middleton said it is not yet clear if the mosquitoes found in El Monte were reintroduced, or if they escaped efforts to eradicate the 2001 infestation. The tiny mosquitoes are marked with black and white stripes and are distinguished from other species of mosquitoes by being especially active during the day.  A campaign to spread information about the insect and eliminate the infestation is scheduled to begin this week. Crews will be going door-to-door in the neighborhood where the mosquitoes were discovered. Control operations, which include the use of pesticide fogs, will begin as soon as Friday. Residents will be given 24-hour notice before pesticide is used. In the meantime, officials recommend residents take steps to reduce the places where the mosquitoes can live and breed. Such measures include dumping out containers with standing water, disposing of unused tires that may collect water, and drilling drain holes in the bottom of tire swings and other play equipment that may collect water.  Anyone who believes they have seen or were bitten by one of these mosquitoes is asked to report it to vector control officials by calling 626-814-9466.

Global 09/12/11 Monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapeutics firm Humabs has been officially spun out from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Bellinzona, Switzerland. The new firm aims to exploit its antibody discovery platforms to generate a pipeline of fully human mAbs targeting infectious and inflammatory disease. Humabs was founded to further develop two antibody platforms aimed at rapidly and efficiently isolating high affinity, fully human mAbs from memory B cells and plasma cells. The platform involves the screening of cells from high responders to identify those that produce antibodies with unique specificity. Humab says the platforms have already generated a bank of over 500 antibody-producing cells.

IRB Director Dr. Antonio Lanzavecchia

The firm’s preclinical pipeline includes over 200 antibodies that have demonstrated strong efficacy both in vitro and in vivo against viruses including cytomegalovirus, HIV, influenza, Dengue virus, heptiatis B and C, and rabies. A paper published in Science last month by Humab researchers described the isolation of a neutralizing mAb, designated F16, which targets all 16 hemagglutinin subtypes of influenza A. Humab is currently in discussions with potential partners for F16 and has already licensed out its cytomegalovirus antibodies. Additional R&D collaborations with industry partners are in place. The firm has established its laboratories close to the IRB and will continue to maintain close links with the Institute to support its scientific expertise and access to facilities.

California 09/12/11 Two rabid bats were found at Santa Clarita Valley schools over the past few weeks, one found inside a restroom at College of the Canyons, public health officials and local school spokesmen confirmed Monday. The finds bring to 12 the number of rabid bats found in the Santa Clarita Valley in an upswing of the disease among the flying mammals this year. Three have been found at local schools. On Sept. 2, a woman found a bat in the women’s restroom at the College of the Canyons stadium, spokesman Bruce Battle said. The bat was alive, but did not come in contact with the woman, he said. She notified COC facilities, who then contacted Animal Control to pick up the bat. After testing, COC was contacted late last week and told that the bat found was rabid, Battle said. Another bat was recently found at Tesoro del Valle Elementary School in Saugus, Saugus Union School District board member Judy Umeck said today. The bat was found by the principal and a custodian on an outside a wall of the second story of the school about a week ago, she said. The two collected the bat with a box and contacted Animal Control to come pick it up. No children were present when the bat was found, she said. The school was told late Friday that the bat tested as rabid and school officials will notify parents tomorrow. Two weeks ago, a rabid bat was found at Meadows Elementary School, Superintendent Marc Winger said today. The bat was found before school hours, no students came into contact with it, and no one was bitten, he said. Twenty-seven rabid bats have been found in Los Angeles County this year. It’s the highest number of rabid bats ever found in a single year in L.A. County since the Health Department began keeping track in the 1960s, a county website said. Public health officials have not explained why rabies is on the increase among bats, but they have said their numbers are high in the SCV. In a normal year, eight to 10 rabid bats are found in L.A. County.

North Carolina 09/12/11 Cumberland County authorities are alerting residents in the Haymount area of a suspected case of rabies found last week. Animal Control picked up a bat on September 9 at General Lee Avenue in the Haymount area. The bat was sent to the State Lab in Raleigh for testing. The State Lab reported an “unsatisfactory result” of rabies. When tests are returned with unsatisfactory results, health officials treat the case as a positive result. Residents are advised to remain alert for sick or abnormal acting wildlife. This is the 15th case of rabies in Cumberland County since the beginning of 2011.

Massachusetts 09/13/11 by Justin Rice – The Massachusetts Department of Public Health detected West Nile Virus in mosquitoes collected from Salem, according to a press release on the city’s website. Last year, Salem had 3,558 mosquito samples tested for the virus with a total of 121 testing positive, according to the press release. Salem has not had any cases of humans being infected by West Nile virus. Information about West Nile and reports of the viruses activity in Massachusetts during 2011 can be found at Recorded information about West Nile is also available by calling the Public Health Information Line at 1-866-MASS-WNV (1-866-627-7968).

Jefferson County

Missouri 09/12/11 by Brandie Piper – The Jefferson County Health Department says mosquitoes tested in the southeastern portion of the county have tested positive for the West Nile Virus. The department tested mosquitoes after a 49-year-old man tested positive for the virus. He is suffering from a more severe form called West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease.

Michigan 09/13/11 the day. A fatal case of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in a horse from the Beaverton/Edenville area in Midland County has been identified by the Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health labs. Residents with questions about treatment schedules can call the news hotline at 832-NEWS (832-6397) or check the mosquito control website at  More information on Eastern equine encephalitis is available at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website


Cuba, Chile, and Uruguay 09/12/11 The Pan-American Health Organization acknowledged Cuba, Chile and Uruguay as the three countries in the region where dengue is not an endemic disease because of their healthcare systems and active community participation. Cuban health authorities say there are no cases of autochthonous dengue outbreaks, and 21 dengue cases reported had been brought into the country by travellers from countries where the disease is endemic. The patients were treated in a timely manner, they said. In addition to medical services for patients, Cuba has carried out epidemiological control and vector monitoring actions as stipulated by rapid-response programs for viral epidemics. Cuba has made the necessary investment to develop such actions systematically and with the participation of experts and technicians, Granma newspaper reported. Hygiene and epidemiology experts from the Public Health Ministry told reporters that nearly 26 transmissible diseases had been totally eliminated or were under control in Cuba. Malaria, cholera, West Nile virus, yellow fever, Chagas diseases, dengue, human rabies, typhoid, meningeal tuberculosis, measles, whooping cough, rubella, poliomyelitis and diphtheria are all controlled diseases. Also on the list are brucellosis, meningitis meningococcica BC, meningitis, pneumonia to Haemophilus Influenzae Type B, leptospirosis, Hepatitis B, mumps, post-mumps syndrome, adult tetanus, child AIDS and congenital syphilis.