National 08/08/16 seeker.com: Authors of a new study took a closer look at a puzzling circumstance in Georgia: low rates of human infection with the West Nile virus (WNV), even as about a third of Atlanta’s birds carry the disease. The same situation — many infected birds, not so many infected people — applied to the broader American southeast, a team of researchers from Emory University, Texas A&M, the University of Georgia and Georgia’s department of transportation noted. Indeed, they said, Georgia’s WNV infection rate, over the last 15 years, was only about 3 people per 100,000.
To try to shed light on the discrepancy, the scientists spent three years testing birds and mosquitoes for WNV in Atlanta, analyzing the blood of the insects to determine on which birds they had fed. The scientists were keeping a sharp eye for the number of American robin infections. They consider that species a “super spreader” of WNV, for its capacity to store enough of the virus in its blood to pass along to other mosquitoes. While robins were certainly carriers, the researchers found a twist in the tale, one concerning a favorite of backyard birders everywhere: the cardinal.
“What we found is that, for some unknown reason, around the middle of July, mosquitoes in Atlanta seem to decide that they have had their fill of robins and they switch to feeding on cardinals,” said the study’s lead author, Rebecca Levine, in a statement. “But cardinals, even though they can be infected with West Nile virus, are much less likely to have enough virus circulating in their blood to transmit the disease back to feeding mosquitoes,” said Levine, now with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but at Emory University during the research. “That is why we called them ‘super suppressors’.” . . . But, her team’s findings don’t suggest cardinals are a magic red bullet against WNV, Levine said. The birds might not have the same roles elsewhere, depending on the local ecosystems in which they live. Findings from the study have just been published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. – For complete article see http://www.seeker.com/cardinals-super-suppressors-of-west-nile-virus-1964581023.html
West Nile Virus (WNV):
California 08/05/16 mercurynews.com: by Tracy Seipel – California public health officials on Friday said that an elderly Sacramento County resident is the state’s first confirmed death from West Nile virus this year. No other information about the victim was provided. susceptible, as this unfortunate fatality illustrates,” Dr. Karen Smith, director of the California Department of Public Health and the state’s health officer, said in a statement. “West Nile virus activity in the state is increasing, so I urge Californians to take every possible precaution to protect themselves against mosquito bites.” The state reported 53 deaths from West Nile virus in 2015, the most since California began recording West Nile cases in 2003. – For complete article see http://www.mercurynews.com/health/ci_30210998/sacramento-county-senior-citizen-is-californias-first-west
Texas 08/09/16 nbcdfw.com: Dallas County health officials confirm the first death related to West Nile virus for the 2016 season in North Texas. The victim – a person in their 60s – lived in the 75006 ZIP code in Carrollton and was previously diagnosed with the West Nile neuroinvasive disease, officials said in a press release Monday afternoon. – See http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/health/Dallas-County-Confirms-First-West-Nile-Virus-Death-of-2016-389529131.html
Puerto Rico 08/05/16 npr.org: by Jason Beaubien – The Zika virus outbreak in Puerto Rico is expanding rapidly. Recently, the island has been reporting more than a thousand new cases of Zika each week. The situation is expected to get worse before it gets better. “We are right now probably in the month or 6 weeks of peak transmission,” saysTyler Sharp the lead epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Zika operation in Puerto Rico. Previous outbreaks of dengue fever and chikungunya, which are transmitted by the same mosquito as Zika, Aedes aegypti, suggest the hot, wet summer months in Puerto Rico now are just right for Zika to flourish, Sharp says. “The more rains you get, the more mosquitoes you get. The more mosquitoes, the higher the rate of transmission,” he says. “And also the mosquitoes like warmer temperatures and are able to replicate the virus more efficiently at at least slightly higher temperatures.” He calls August in Puerto Rico the “Goldilocks zone” for Zika virus replication. The island has already had more than 8,000 confirmed cases of Zika. The CDC predicts that by the end of the year, 20 percent to 25 percent of the roughly 3.5 million people on the island could be infected with the virus. – For complete article see http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/08/05/488864340/zika-cases-surge-in-puerto-rico-as-mosquitoes-flourish
Utah 08/09/16 utahcountyonline.org: Media Release – Utah County Health Department (UCHD) officials are investigating the death of a female Utah County resident related to hantavirus. The female was between the ages of 18 – 44, from Utah County, and had no other apparent health issues. This is the second death related to hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in the state in 2016, and tenth case since 2006. Hantavirus infection is a virus transmitted by infected rodents through fresh urine, droppings or saliva. The main way the virus is spread to people is when they breathe in the air contaminated with the virus. Other transmissions can include an infected rodent biting a person, touching objects or eating food contaminated with rodent urine, droppings, or saliva from an infected rodent. – For complete release see http://www.utahcountyonline.org/dept2/health/UtahCountyHantavirusDeath2016Aug9.pdf
Pennsylvania 08/05/16 wearecentralpa.com: A cat in Huntingdon County has tested positive for Rabies. We’re told a family in who lives on Metztown Road in Brady Township took their unvaccinated farm cat to a veterinary clinic after they say it started to act restless and panting. The veterinary told them to keep the cat contained, but the next day the cat escaped the enclosure they had it in and bit a child. At that point the cat was euthanized and submitted for rabies tests. They came back positive. Several people are receiving post exposure treatment for rabies. – See http://www.wearecentralpa.com/news/cat-tests-positive-for-rabies
South Carolina 08/05/16 wyff4.com/ : At least five people were potentially exposed to rabies by a puppy that tested positive for the disease in Chesnee, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today. The puppy was a Germany Shepherd-mix puppy that was being sold at Burr’s Trading Post on Old Stage Road, June 20 from an individual not affiliated with the store. The puppy began to show neurological symptoms at the end of July, and was submitted to DHEC’s laboratory for testing on Aug. 1. DHEC said several other puppies were for sale. DHEC recommends that anyone who obtained or was exposed to a puppy there around this time should watch the animal for signs and symptoms of rabies and immediately seek veterinary care if the animal becomes ill. – See http://www.wyff4.com/news/upstate-dog-potentially-exposes-at-least-5-people-to-rabies-dhec-says/41072124