Category Archives: USDA Alert

Wildlife officers in Colorado believe they have killed a Black Bear responsible for mauling two campers; USDA issues alert for Horses from four Mexican states; Virginia’s ticks and the diseases they carry; California health lab confirms Hantavirus in Deer Mouse and Vole; Ohio confirms two human cases of La Crosse Encephalitis; Rabies reports from AR, CO, ME, NM, OR, TX, VT, & WV; and West Nile Virus reports from AZ, CA, IL, MA (2), and WA. Canada: Horse in Ontario tests positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

Black bear at campground picnic table. Courtesy National Park Service.

Colorado 08/21/11 by Colorado Division of Wildlife – A bear suspected of injuring two campers at separate campsites this past Friday and Saturday morning was successfully tracked and killed at approximately 7 a.m. Sunday morning by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers, with the assistance of a specialist with the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program and employees of the U. S. Forest Service. Based on the location, behavior and description of the black bear given by campers involved in the incidents, wildlife officers are confident that they tracked down the bear responsible for attacking two campers while they slept in their tents at the Maroon Bells-Snowmass wilderness area. The bear bit both victims, causing minor injuries to the leg of one camper at Crater Lake and substantial injuries to the leg of another camper in the nearby Minnehaha Gulch area. “We were very careful to make sure we got the right bear,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Perry Will. Because the two incidents were in the same area and had similar characteristics, Will believes only one bear was involved in these attacks. “With the removal of this bear, camping in this area is safer today, but there are other bears out there and people need to take precautions when they camp anywhere in Colorado,” cautioned Will. “Bears are intelligent and once they find food at one camp, they’ll look for food at other camps. These incidents should serve to remind people how serious irresponsible camping practices can be.”

In Saturday morning’s incident, the injured camper reported having an empty bag of freeze-dried food inside a backpack in his tent. However, the campers involved in Friday morning’s incident indicated that they had followed all recommended food storage practices, but still became a target of the aggressive bear. Wildlife managers suspect that due to poor practices by previous campers in the area, the bear had learned that tents were an easy source of food. “Overall, camping in Colorado remains safe and fun, and incidents like this remain very rare,” Will added. “If you follow a few simple rules, you will likely have an enjoyable camping experience.” The bear will be tested for rabies and necropsied as part of the investigation.

Head pressing by horse.

National 08/19/11 Due to recent cases of Venezuelan equine encephalitis in Southern Mexico, horse owners and veterinarians are encouraged to be alert to any clinical signs of illness that could indicate VEE, a non-contagious viral infection of horses and other equids that can cause a severe and often fatal encephalitis/encephalomyelitis, which is defined as an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. VEE is typically found in Central and South America, but due to the recent case of a horse that died of VEE in Southern Mexico, the United States Department of Agriculture issued an import alert for four states in Mexico. Effective immediately, and until further notice, horses and other equids from the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Tabasco, and Chiapas or that have transited through these states are required to undergo a seven-day quarantine and observation for VEE in a vector-proof (double-screened) quarantine facility, rather than the standard 3-day quarantine prior to entry into the U.S. Clinical signs of VEE include moderate to high fever, depression, lack of appetite, cranial nerve deficits (facial paralysis, tongue weakness, difficulty swallowing), behavioral changes (aggression, self-mutilation, or drowsiness), gait abnormalities, or severe central nervous system signs, such as head-pressing, circling, blindness and seizures. VEE is usually transmitted by mosquitoes. People may also be infected by mosquitos, but horse-to-horse and horse-to-human transmission is uncommon. VEE is highly pathogenic in horses. It can also cause illness in humans. Vaccination may interfere with testing for the disease, so veterinarians need to weigh the potential risks and benefits of vaccinating an individual horse that might be tested for export. “There have been no reported cases of VEE in recent years in Texas. However, our close proximity to Mexico means that we will be keeping a close eye on any cases across the border and determining whether any further regulatory action will be needed,” said Dr. Andy Schwartz, TAHC state epidemiologist. “

Lone Star tick

Virginia 08/20/11 by Keith Walker – So far this year in Prince William County, there have been four confirmed cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, said David Gaines, the state public health entomologist. So far this year, 11 cases of the fever have been reported in Fairfax County. Other diseases carried by ticks that cause symptoms similar to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever include ehrlichiosis, which is caused by a bacteria called ehrlicia, and anaplasmosis, which is cause by bacteria anaplasma, Gaines said.

Blacklegged tick

The symptoms of all the diseases include fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting and muscle pain. “All three diseases are carried by different ticks,” Gaines said. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is carried by the American dog tick, ehrlichiosis is carried by the Lone Star tick, anaplasmosis carried by black-legged tick, Gaines said. “The black-legged tick carries Lyme disease,” he said.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is caused by a bacteria called rickettsia and is less common than the others. “Ehrlichiosis is probably as common or more common than Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Virginia,” Gaines said.  The most common tick in Virginia is the Lone Star tick, Gaines said.

Deer mouse

California 08/18/11 A deer mouse and a vole trapped during routine monitoring in Chula Vista tested positive for hantavirus, which can result in a potentially fatal respiratory disease, the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health reported Thursday. So far this year, 45 rodents infected with hantavirus have been found, according to the DEH. That compares with 21 infected rodents found all of last year. Officials think the increase is due to a larger rodent population caused by last winter’s rains.

Ohio 08/19/11 by Brian Gadd – The Zanesville-Muskingum County Health Department is taking steps to stamp out the spread of a severe central nervous system infection stemming from water-borne mosquitoes. Deputy Health Commissioner/Director of Environmental Health Mike Kirsch said he had been informed of a possible case of La Crosse Encephalitisand received confirmation on Aug. 1. Health Department NurseBetty Fisher said a second case was reported on Wednesday.  (Forcomplete article go to

Aedes aegypti Treehole mosquito

/20110819/NEWS01/110819011 )

Ohio 08/19/11 by Ken Robinson – The Medina County Health Department has received confirmation of a case of La Crosse Encephalitis (LCE) in the City of Wadsworth. LCE is a virus that is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes. In the U.S., LCE is not common as only about 80-100 cases are reported each year. Likewise, Ohio typically has few cases, and in 2011 to date, 5 human cases have been reported, all in the northeast Ohio area. The Wadsworth case is the first report of LCE in Medina County since 2005.

Arkansas 08/19/11 The Arkansas Department of Health is announcing that two bats have tested positive for rabies in Monroe County within the last two weeks. There have been no prior reports of rabies in bats from Monroe County since 1991. According to Health Department officials, one of the bats had contact with a person and the other with family pets. In 2010, Arkansas had 34 rabies positive animals, including 32 skunks, one bat and one dog. So far in 2011, the state has had 42 skunks and five bats test positive for rabies. However, these two bats are the first from Monroe County in more than 21 years.

Colorado 08/17/11 For the fifth time this year, a bat found in Jefferson County has tested positive for rabies, and this one turned up in an alarming location. A teacher trapped the bat in an otherwise empty classroom at Drake Middle School in Arvada Monday morning, after she made the startling discovery as she prepared for the first day of school next week. The bat is the 24th to test positive for the virus in Colorado this year.

Maine 08/20/11 by Tony Reaves – (A) fox that attacked Michael Grover in his yard Wednesday night has tested positive for rabies, he said Friday. Grover called the result “no big surprise.” After Grover ran over the fox with his truck and reported the attack, Game Warden Kris Barboza collected the animal’s corpse and sent it to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Augusta for testing. On Friday, Grover said he received a call confirming the fox was rabid. After the fox attack on Wednesday, Grover drove to Bridgton Hospital for treatment. The results mean Grover will have to go back to the hospital three more times for shots. Grover said the fox came out from under his porch at around 9 p.m. Wednesday and attacked his leg. He managed to fend it off and stopped its two attempts to get inside his house on Five Kezars Road in North Waterford, but the fox bit through his jeans and bloodied his leg. He and his wife, Karen, went to his truck to go to the hospital when the fox attacked again. He had to kick it away and finally ran over the fox while it was attacking his front tire, he said. Warden Barboza said it was the first rabid animal attack in the area he was aware of this year.

New Mexico 08/18/11 The New Mexico Department of Health is warning pet and livestock owners in Eddy County and the surrounding area to make sure their dogs, cats, horses and other valuable livestock are vaccinated against rabies after an unvaccinated horse near Artesia tested positive for the disease. The horse began showing signs of rabies two days before it was euthanized at a veterinary hospital. Family members and veterinary staff were exposed to the rabid horse’s infectious saliva. Three people in New Mexico and several veterinary staff in Texas have been identified who will need to receive rabies vaccines to prevent them from developing rabies. “Individuals exposed to the horse will need to receive treatment to prevent them from developing the disease. Vaccination of animals, including dogs, cats, horses and valuable livestock, is one of the most effective public health tools we have to prevent humans from being exposed to rabies,” said Department of Health cabinet secretary, Dr. Catherine Torres. Dr. Megin Nichols, one of the Department of Health’s public health veterinarians, noted that four skunks from Eddy County have been diagnosed with rabies this year. It is essential for pet owners to vaccinate their pets and to seek veterinary care if any of their pets become ill with the signs or symptoms consistent with rabies.

Oregon 08/19/11 A bat found here (Eagle Point) tested positive for rabies Wednesday, prompting warnings for people and pets to steer clear of bats, whether they are dead, dying or alive. The Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory at Oregon State University confirmed a positive for rabies in the bat. About 10 percent of the bats tested for rabies are positive. Health officials record an average of about 9 positive rabies tests in Oregon every year.

Texas 08/17/11 by Joe Gamm – Officials on Wednesday confirmed the seventh case of rabies found in Hale County this year. All rabies cases in Hale have been found in skunks, the Texas Department of State Health Services said. The latest case marks the 52nd case of rabies in the Texas Panhandle this year. James Alexander, a Canyon-based zoonosis veterinarian for Health Services, said officials verified 79 cases of rabies in 2005, a record for the Panhandle. Zoonosis is any infectious disease that can be transferred from an animal to a human. “This year we have been averaging 1.5 cases reported per week,” Alexander said in a news release. “If that rate of reporting holds up through the end of December we can expect about 79 to 80 cases for the year.” Alexander added that there have been 18 cases of rabid horses in Texas this year, a 50 percent increase over the record of 12, reached in 1998, 2004 and 2006.

Vermont 08/18/11 Vermont’s annual rabies bait drop starts next week. It’s in its 15th year. The state drops bait laced with rabies vaccine from the sky. The baits are also placed directly on the ground to try to stop the spread of rabies in the state. The Vermont Health Department says the baits can’t cause rabies and are not harmful to children or pets, but they should not be handled or disturbed. Baits found on a lawn or driveway should be picked up with a glove and thrown out. Last year there were 54 confirmed cases of rabies in Vermont. So far this year, there have been 16 confirmed cases. If you see an animal acting strangely, leave it alone and call the state’s Rabies Hotline at 1-800-4-RABIES.

West Virginia 08/18/11 West Virginia’s raccoon population will receive its annual dose of rabies vaccine in September. As in previous years, the vaccine will be dropped in a target area that covers a wide corridor through the central part of the state, extending from the northern panhandle to the southern coalfields. Aerial baiting is scheduled to begin Sept. 11 and conclude Sept. 18. Hand baiting with the block-type baits will begin in early September and continue until completed. Distribution of baits is weather-dependent and inclement weather may result in extended bait distributions.  (For complete article go to )

Yuma County

Arizona 08/19/11 washington

The Arizona Department of Health Services has confirmed the discovery of a positive West Nile virus mosquito pool in Yuma County.

Health officials say the pool testing positive was retrieved in the Betty’s Kitchen area of Mittry Lake.

California 08/19/11 by Rick Hurd – A mosquito carrying the West Nile virus was discovered in eastern Contra Costa County, marking the first time this year vector control officials have found such a sample in the county, a spokeswoman said Friday.

Contra Costa County

Workers collected the sample this week in the area of West Cypress Road and O’Hara Avenue, said Deborah Bass with the county Mosquito and Vector Control District. According to the district, 23 people in Contra Costa County have been diagnosed with West Nile virus since 2006, including two who died from the disease that year. In California overall there have been six deaths from the disease.

Illinois 08/19/11 An elderly Palatine man has been diagnosed as one of the first human cases of West Nile virus in the state in 2011, according to state health officials. The Cook County Department of Public Health reported a man in his 80s from Palatine became ill earlier this month, according to spokeswoman Amy Poore. The man remains hospitalized but is recovering, she said. The first human case was reported by the Franklin-Williamson Bi-County Health Department in downstate Marion, where a man in his 30s became ill in July. So far this year, 13 counties have reported mosquito batches, birds or a person testing positive for West Nile virus, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will counties. The first West Nile virus positive results this year were collected on June 8 from two birds from LaSalle County. Last year, 30 of the state’s 102 counties were found to have a bird, mosquito, horse or human case, the release said. A total of 61 human cases were reported in Illinois last year, the first on Aug. 31.

Massachusetts 08/20/11 by Brian Messenger – Mosquito control workers are expected to spray pesticide next week in Methuen, Haverhill and North Andover after mosquitoes in all three communities tested positive for West Nile virus. The test results were released by the state yesterday just two days after workers sprayed the pesticide Anvil in Andover to control the town’s mosquito population. Similar measures were taken in North Andover Aug. 9. (For complete article go to )

Massachusetts 08/20/11 by Jeff Fish – The West Nile virus was found in mosquitoes in Shrewsbury and Auburn this week, according to Public Health officials from both towns. The virus was detected in samples collected in both towns on Aug. 11. (For complete article go to )

Yakima County

Washington 08/19/11 News Release – A mosquito sample collected in Yakima County on Tuesday tested positive for West Nile virus providing the first sign that the virus is present in Washington this year. Monitoring and testing dead birds and mosquitoes has been ongoing around the state since June. In 2009, 38 people in Washington became sick from West Nile virus infections. Last year we had two human cases in the state.


Ontario 08/19/11 One horse in Stormont County has tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis. Because the virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, the Health Unit is issuing a reminder to everyone to take precautions against mosquito bites this summer.