Tag Archives: Reptiles

Scientists say SWINE FLU H1N1 VIRUS that caused 2009 pandemic becoming resistant to treatment ~ Scientists discover VIRUS behind mystery HORSE disease ~ FDA warns of SALMONELLA from handling RODENTS, REPTILES, & AMPHIBIANS ~ FOLLOW-UP REPORT: Hundreds evaluated for RABIES exposure in 5 states after death of kidney recipient.

Piglet. Wikimedia Commons. PD.

Piglet. Wikimedia Commons. PD.

Global 03/18/13 independent.co.uk: by Michael McCarthy & Samantha Hunt – The virus responsible for the “swine flu” pandemic of 2009 is becoming increasingly resistant to the main drug used to treat it, new research has shown. An increasing number of cases of the virus, H1NI, are being found with developing resistance to oseltamivir – trade name Tamiflu – which was stockpiled in large amounts by Governments, including the British Government, when it was feared the new swine flu mutation would irresistibly sweep the world.

Dr Aeron Hurt, of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza

Dr Aeron Hurt, of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza

First detected in Mexico, the 2009 virus was a new strain of H1N1 – itself responsible for the disastrous flu pandemic of 1918 – which combined with a Eurasian pig flu virus to become newly potent. The resultant pandemic struck over 74 countries, and although deaths were initially assessed by the World Health Organisation at 18,500, the WHO later admitted this was probably a gross underestimate. A 2012 medical study by the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases suggested that in fact it may have caused the deaths of up to 579,000 people.

tamifluTamiflu, made by the giant Swiss pharmaceutical company, Hoffman-La Roche, was the main drug against the outbreak – but now Australian scientists are finding that it is encountering increased resistance. – For complete article see http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/virus-responsible-for-swine-flu-pandemic-becoming-increasingly-resistant-to-tamiflu-8539601.html

Mystery Horse Disease:

rinderp1Global 03/18/13 nature.com: by Ed Yong – For almost 100 years, veterinarians have puzzled over the cause of Theiler disease, a mysterious type of equine hepatitis that is linked to blood products and causes liver failure in up to 90% of afflicted animals. A team of US scientists has now discovered that the disease is caused by a virus that shares just 35% of its amino acid sequences with its closest-known relative. The team named it Theiler disease-associated virus (TDAV), and published the discovery in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Amy Kistler

Dr. Amy Kistler

Led by Amy Kistler at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Emeryville, California, the team responded to an outbreak of Theiler disease at a farm in which eight horses had suddenly developed hepatitis after being injected with an antitoxin to prevent them from developing botulism. The researchers used next-generation sequencing to analyse RNA samples from the antitoxin and from two of the horses, and assembled the complete genome of the new virus. The virus was found in every one of the eight horses, as well as in the animal (from a different farm) that was the source of the contaminated antitoxin. – For complete article see http://www.nature.com/news/distinctive-virus-behind-mystery-horse-disease-1.12624

Salmonella:

ISDH_salmonella-billboard_rdax_100Global 03/18/13 fda.gov: The Food and Drug Administration is giving consumers, especially reptile owners, tips on how to prevent Salmonella infection from handling feeder rodents and reptiles. Feeder rodents are mice and rats—both frozen and live—used to feed some reptiles, such as certain snakes and lizards, as well as some amphibians. People may become infected with Salmonella after handling feeder rodents, reptiles, or amphibians, surfaces that have been in contact with these animals, or the environment in which the animal lives. – For complete news release see http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/NewsEvents/CVMUpdates/ucm344344.htm?source=govdelivery

Follow-Up Report:

(See MARYLAND resident dies of RABIES posted 03/14/13, and Fatal HUMAN RABIES case in MARYLAND due to kidney transplant posted 03/17/13)

imagesCAAZ72UBMaryland 03/17/13 foxnews.com: Public health agencies in five states are assessing the rabies risk for hundreds of people who may have had close contact with an infected organ donor and four transplant recipients, one of whom died, officials said Saturday. About 200 medical workers, relatives and others were assessed for potential exposure in Maryland, where the man who received an infected kidney died, state veterinarian Katherine Feldman said. She said fewer than two dozen were urged to get the rabies vaccine as a preventive measure. In Florida, about 90 people were identified as potentially exposed, and three were offered the rabies vaccine as of Friday, state health department spokeswoman Ashley Carr said.

TAL06181Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said the only potential exposures there were people who worked with the patient or the transplanted organ. She said only the organ recipient is receiving rabies treatment. Health officials in Georgia and North Carolina are also involved in the epidemiological investigation prompted by the Maryland man’s death from rabies in late February, nearly 18 months after he got the kidney from a donor in Pensacola, Fla. However, officials in those states didn’t respond to requests from The Associated Press about the number of people they’re assessing.- For complete article see http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/03/17/hundreds-checked-for-rabies-after-transplant-death/

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BLACK BEAR in WISCONSIN picks interesting place to hibernate ~ Deadly RANAVIRUS spreading in TURTLE, TADPOLE, and SALAMANDER populations could affect BIRDS, REPTILES, RACCOONS and others in the food chain ~ PET DOG in OREGON euthanized after COYOTE attack.

Hibernating Black Bear Sow with Cubs. Photo by Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources.

Wisconsin 02/13/12 fox4kc.com: by Michelle Pekarsky – A black bear was discovered in an unusual place on Friday in Wisconsin– inside a drainage tunnel. Neighbors driving by spotted the 300-pound hibernating bear and stopped to take a look from a safe distance, although they zoomed their camera in close. Much to their surprise, they saw through their camera lens that the bear’s eyes were open and shining in the dark. Click here for pictures of the hibernating bear.

“While they’re hibernating they are not truly asleep,” said Courtney Schaefer with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “They can easily be woken up.” Schaefer, a wildlife biologist, says black bears are generally submissive and that it’s very unusual for them to attack anyone. Black bears hibernate four months out of the year. DNR officials say man-made objects like a culvert are not uncommon places for bears to settle in. “A lot of dens are quite obvious to the visible eye,” Schaefer said.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, the bear population in Missouri has been on the rise since the 1960s. For more on the Missouri Black Bear Project, click here. What do you do if you come across a hibernating bear? “It’s okay to take a look but again, exercise caution,” Schaefer warned. “Don’t allow the bear to feel it’s threatened…the bear will probably stay where it is.”

 National 02/12/12 washingtonpost.com: by Katherine Shaver – Maryland biologists study­ing box turtles rescued from the bulldozers on the Intercounty Connector construction site have made a grisly find: An alarming number of the tiny turtles later died, and biologists say their demise appears to be unrelated to the highway. Worse yet, the cause of their death — an animal disease called ranavirus taking root across the United States — also is believed to have killed nearly every tadpole and young salamander in the study area in Montgomery County’s North Branch Stream Valley Park since spring 2010.

The discoveries have alarmed state wildlife officials and biologists, who worry about how far ranavirus has spread, how widely it has affected the ecosystem, and how it apparently jumped between turtles — which are reptiles — and amphibians. If the virus spreads or goes unchecked for long, wildlife experts say, it could devastate some local populations of box turtles, frogs and salamanders. That loss, biologists say, would ripple along the food chain to other animals.

In all, 31 adult turtles were found dead near the ICC construction site between 2008 and 2011. Three had been hit by cars or construction equipment. The rest, apparently dead from illness, amounted to about one-quarter of the turtles monitored by Towson University researchers via radio transponders glued atop the tiny shells. Twenty-six of the deaths resulted from suspected or confirmed cases of ranavirus, which left some turtles gasping for breath as they gradually suffocated in their own mucus, researchers said. “Finding even one dead turtle is unusual,” said Richard Seigel, the Towson biology professor who led the ICC study. “Finding over 27 dead turtles in a two-to-three-year period was bizarre.”

Box turtles can live 50 years or more in the wild. The ability of their hard shells to withstand predators usually affords them a 98 percent survival rate from one year to the next before they die of old age, usually alone and undetected beneath brush, Seigel said. “This is a major concern to see these emerging pathogens,” he said.

Ecological implications

Dr. Richard Seigel

Experts on animal diseases say ranavirus, whose origin is unknown, has never been detected in humans, livestock or common household pets because it cannot survive in mammals’ relatively warm bodies. Its long-term effects on local turtles, frogs and salamanders are not yet known and will depend on how long the virus lingers, how far it spreads and how quickly surviving animals build up immunity, biologists said. But several wildlife experts said the disease’s short-term effects are probably affecting the food chain in the ICC study area between Muncaster Mill Road and Emory Lane, just west of Georgia Avenue in northern Silver Spring. The birds, snakes and raccoons that dine on salamanders and tadpoles have less food at their disposal, experts say. Meanwhile, the loss of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of tadpoles and salamander larvae wiped out in two consecutive breeding seasons has probably left far more of the insects that young salamanders and frogs eat. – For complete article go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/commuting/2012/02/01/gIQA5O0Z9Q_story.html

Oregon 02/13/12 Gresham, Multnomah County: Coyote releases pet dog but injuries prove fatal. See http://www.kval.com/news/local/Dog-dies-after-coyote-attack-in-Gresham-139186519.html

Bobcat seized from residence in Arizona; Guam officials may shoot stray Dogs; Canine pack that attacked Rhode Island teen may have been Coyotes; Texas development and Wildlife in conflict; Rabies reports from CT, MO, NH, PA(2), VA, & WV; & a Wolf report from OR. Canada: National vaccine recall. Travel Warnings for Sri Lanka & Uganda.

Bobcat. Photo by Len Blumin. Widimedia Commons.

Arizona 04/21/11 kingmandailyminer.com: Two Arizona Game and Fish Department officers recently seized a live bobcat from a residence west of Seligman. The violator was cited at the scene for possession of live wildlife, which, without the proper permit, is against the law in Arizona. Permits are never issued for people to keep wildlife as a pet. During the course of the contact, it became clear the violator had no control of the bobcat, which jumped on one officer three times and a second officer once. The second officer suffered a small scratch to the face, but it is unknown if it was caused by a tooth or claw. By law, the bobcat was seized. Due to the potential for rabies exposure, the animal was euthanized for testing. “It is unfortunate,” said Zen Mocarski, public information officer for the Game and Fish regional office in Kingman. “This cat would never have been returned to the wild because it has been clearly imprinted by humans. If it weren’t for the possibility of disease exposure, it might have been provided to a zoo or other wildlife facility.” The officer scratched by the bobcat has already started rabies treatment. Mocarski said the possibility of this animal testing positive for rabies is low, but the potential consequences if it tests positive are enormous for all those involved.

Guam 04/21/11 guampdn.com: by Oyaol Ngirairikl – With a stray animal population of 40,000, the community needs to start thinking about controlling the number of strays, officials said. At a round-table discussion at the Legislature yesterday, Vincent Salas, an animal control officer at the Department of Agriculture, said he agrees with Guam’s territorial veterinarian, Thomas Poole, that shooting dogs, particularly those that are feral, would help get the population to a more controllable number. He said feral dogs would be shot at fairly close range and only by qualified people. He didn’t say whether dogs would be rounded up and taken to a different location or shot where they’re found. Some people think many of the stray animals are non-threatening, but Salas has seen otherwise, he said. For example, several days ago, a stray dog tried to attack Salas after he responded to a call at the Department of Public Health and Social Services to remove the animal. Guam law allows the Guam Police Department, a mayor, or a person authorized by the Agriculture Department’s director to kill animals if they are attacking or are considered “an immediate menace” to anyone. (For complete article go to http://www.guampdn.com/article/20110422/NEWS01/104220303 )

Rhode Island 04/22/11 projo.com: A 19-year-old Cranston woman is receiving the rabies vaccine as a precaution, the state Department of Health reported. In early March, the woman was running on Pippin Orchard Road in western Cranston and was scratched and bitten by animals, said Annemarie Beardsworth, spokeswoman for the Department of Health. The woman reported she thought five or six dogs were chasing her, Beardsworth said, but when they got closer, thought they may have been coyotes.  “She did not have her glasses on,” Beardsworth said. A month later, on April 6, the woman reported the incident to a doctor at the Garden City Medical Treatment Center in Cranston. The police and Department of Health were promptly contacted. Because so much time had passed and the animals involved could not be located, Beardsworth said, the Department of Health exercised caution. “Because there were so many unknowns,” Beardsworth said, “we recommended and approved the rabies vaccination for this woman.”

Texas 04/22/11 kltv.com: by Bob Hallmark – Even in small communities, housing and urban development is moving into areas that were formerly occupied by its original inhabitants: Wildlife. Henderson animal control officers have trapped wildlife near or inside the city limits. “Oh yeah, we’ve seen bobcats, coyotes, foxes, skunks even wild hogs in residential areas,” says Henderson Animal Control Director Veronica Whittington. There have been some bizarre encounters. “Yesterday we have a lady walk out of her house and call us saying a snake fell right around her neck,” she says. And some very big escaped pets have been trapped, like a 12-foot python. Near homes and even schools, close encounters are becoming regular. “Just around our building we’ve seen raccoons, we’ve seen possums, wild hogs,” says Preschool Director Vickey Whitt. “A coyote jumped a fence and bit a woman’s dog on the nose, the coyote wouldn’t leave her yard now,” Whittington says. And there is a real danger. “Especially people who have small pets or small children. The diseases they can pass to your pets and to you, there’s a lot of diseases that can be passed on to humans,” says Whittington. Whittington says most of the encounters are easily explained, and are usually animals looking for food. But with East Texas having so much open, wooded country, animal control officers say we should no longer be surprised. “There’s a lot more wildlife inside the city limits than people think, because we have so much wooded area,” Veronica says. There have been no reports encounters of larger animals like cougars or bears. All wildlife trapped by Henderson Animal Control is re-located by Texas Parks and Wildlife agents.

Connecticut 04/22/11 theday.com: by Stephen Chupaska – East Lyme-Waterford Animal Control is asking residents in both towns to take precautions against coming in contact with rabid animals. Animal Control Officer Robert Yuchniuk said Thursday there have been reports of an ill raccoon in the Union Cemetery area along East Pattagansett Road in Niantic. Yuchniuk said there have been two positive tests for rabies in Waterford in the past month, and there has been an increase in the number of sightings and disposing of rabid animals. Anyone who sees an animal that appears aggressive, ill or without fear of larger animals or humans should call the animal control department at (860) 442-9451.

Missouri 04/22/11 newspressnow.com: by Kristin Hoppa – St. Joseph Animal Control and Rescue officials continued searching the Midtown area Friday for three pit bulls that attacked a woman earlier in the week. The department increased patrol routes in hopes of locating the owner of the dogs that attacked the 33-year-old woman Tuesday evening as she arrived at her cousin’s house, in the 1500 block of Sylvanie Street.  “I pulled up to the house and I saw the dogs acting very playfully, coming toward me,” she said. “They came up, kind of sniffing my legs and weaving in between my legs.” As she tried to avoid the animals, stepping to the side, one dog began nipping at her ankles. “Then one just latched on,” she said. “I fell down, another one bit my face and I just screamed and screamed and screamed.” A man in the neighborhood came to help the woman. Hearing the commotion, her cousin came outside and dragged her to safety. “The man had a bat, but I have no idea who he was,” the woman said. “He just came and chased the dogs off.” The woman’s cousin drove her to Heartland Regional Medical Center with several wounds, including a torn ear lobe, large bite to the face and puncture wounds to her face. She is undergoing rabies vaccinations and received 34 stitches. As of Friday afternoon, the pit bulls, described as one fawn, one blue and one dark-colored, had not been located. Mr. Smith said not all pit bulls are aggressive, but all animals hold the potential for aggression. Anyone with information on the pit bulls is being asked to call (816) 271-4877.

New Hampshire 04/21/11 concordmonitor.com: To the woman visiting the Wesley Church playground on Clinton Street last Sunday around 10:15 a.m. with a small blonde girl and large grayish dog: When your dog nipped at my son, contact was made and the skin was broken. No problem, except that all the medical and public health professionals are telling us that if we cannot identify the dog and make sure that it does not have rabies, which I expect it does not, then my boy needs a series of rabies shots. The shots are not as bad as in the past, but they are still to be avoided if possible. Please contact me or my wife Deborah at 892-0359 as soon as possible. If anyone else recognizes this person, please let us know. Most likely the owner of the dog is a resident in the college streets area. Benjamin Venator.

Oregon 04/22/11 hermistonherald.com: by Luke Hegdal – With the presence of wolves already documented in eastern Umatilla County, it was likely only a matter of time before wolf sightings near Hermiston began to be reported. Larry Weems, a self-described avid outdoorsman, reported seeing a large wolf near Cold Springs Reservoir, roughly eight miles east of Hermiston, on Wednesday, April 20.  Weems told the Hermiston Herald he had been driving on Kosmos Road early Wednesday morning when he spotted a large deer herd running as if spooked by something.  “I’ve seen other wolves,” Weems said. “But this was by far the biggest wolf I’ve ever seen. It was huge.”  According to Russ Morgan, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf coordinator, it’s not impossible that a wolf might show up in Hermiston. Morgan said a motivated wolf can travel as much as 100 miles in a single day, and he has documented lone wolf trips up to 30 miles. With confirmed wolf sightings in Umatilla County earlier this year, it could easily be possible for a wolf to trek as far west as Hermiston. “Wolves are a well-traveled animal,” Morgan said. “We’ve had  periodic reports all over eastern Oregon.” Morgan added that most reports turn out to be something other than wolves. “Most commonly it’s coyotes,” Morgan said, adding that he occasionally receives wolf sighting reports from downtown Portland that are usually coyotes. “There’s a lot of wolf-like dogs,” Morgan said. “That also makes it difficult.” While not discounting the possibility of a wolf so near Hermiston, Morgan said it was unlikely. Weems, however, was adamant that what he saw was, in fact, a wolf. “I got a real good look at him,” Weems said, describing the animal as roughly 40 inches tall at the shoulder. “I spend a lot of time outdoors. I know the difference between a wolf and a coyote. I’ve shot a lot of coyotes – but this was no coyote.”

Pennsylvania 04/23/11 patch.com: by Mike Jones – State and county authorities are searching for the owner of a black Labrador retriever that encountered a raccoon last week on the Panhandle Trail near McDonald. The raccoon tested positive for rabies Thursday after a game commission officer was called to trap the animal on the trail. Authorities from the state Department of Agriculture and Allegheny County Health Department are now looking for the owners of the black lab, which apparently fought with the raccoon Tuesday night, because the pet might be infected. Dave Zazac, a spokesman for the county Health Department, said a witness caught the “tail-end of the encounter” and called authorities to report the condition of the raccoon. The owner of the dog, however, left the scene because they appeared to be “shaken up.” “We have no idea where they are from,” Zazac said. He said it is important for the dog’s owners to contact the state or county immediately in case the pet is infected. If you know who owns this black lab, call the state Department of Agriculture at 724-443-1585 or the county Health Department at 412-687-2243. This is the second rabid raccoon reported in Allegheny County this year, county Health Director Bruce Dixon said.

Pennsylvania 04/22/11 timesonline.com: by Patrick O’Shea – A local resident has been bitten by a rabid dog in New Sewickley Township, the state Department of Agriculture reported. According to a March 31 report from the department’s Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services, an unvaccinated dog on Ziegler Road that had an encounter with a skunk four months ago abruptly exhibited signs of aggression last month against its owner. The dog was confined to a patio room, where it repeatedly threw itself against the glass door, and the owner was bitten while trying to intercede. The dog was euthanized and tested positive for rabies. The owner, who is not identified in the report, is receiving post-exposure rabies vaccinations. The rabid dog had been in contact with three other family dogs four days prior to displaying symptoms. According to the report, one dog with current vaccinations was placed under quarantine for 90 days. Another dog with expired vaccinations was placed under a 180-day quarantine, and a 3-month-old puppy that had never been vaccinated was euthanized. 410 animals were reported positive for rabies in 2010 in Pennsylvania. The breakdown: Raccoons, 217; Cats, 56; Skunks, 56; Bats, 28; Foxes, 25; Cattle, 7; Deer, 6; Groundhogs, 5; Horses, 5; Dogs, 4. Source: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

Virginia 04/22/11 wpcva.com: Pittsylvania County Health Department has issued three separate rabies alerts. A skunk found on Blackbird Place in Cascade tested positive for rabies, according to Kelly Waller, a senior environmental health specialist with the health department in Chatham.  In addition, rabid raccoons were found on Carriage Hill Drive in the Mount Cross community and Long View Road in Hurt, Waller said. For more information please contact the Pittsylvania Health Department at 432-7232, extension 260.

West Virginia 04/22/11 statejournal.com: The Preston County health department has reported a rabid raccoon in the Albright area, it hasn’t bit anyone but health officials are on the alert. The raccoon tested positive for the rabies virus after fighting with a person’s dog and killing it.  Preston County health officials say it’s the third case in the county in the last year. They say the number is unusually high for the county and that there’s been higher numbers of rabies cases all over the state. They say the high number of waterways and raccoons have contributed to that number in Preston County.

Canada:

National www.hc-sc.gc.ca: Health Canada – Important information regarding IXIARO® Japanese Encephalitis vaccine (inactivated, adsorbed), Lot JEV09L37C.  Intercell AG and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. (Novartis), in consultation with Health Canada, are advising people who were vaccinated with one or both doses of lot JEV09L37C of IXIARO® after December 23, 2010, that this specific lot may not provide full protection against Japanese Encephalitis. Therefore, lot JEV09L37C IXIARO® is being recalled in Canada.

  • Individuals who were vaccinated with a Japanese Encephalitis vaccine after December 23rd, 2010, should check if they were vaccinated with IXIARO® Lot JEV09L37C.
  • If so, they should return to their Health Care Professional to be re-vaccinated, if they are still at risk of exposure to Japanese Encephalitis.

Travel Warnings:

Sri Lanka 04/23/11 dailymirror.lk: Thirty-two dengue related deaths were reported during the first four months of this year, while 3,784 patients were reported. The epidemiology unit of the Health Ministry said that 716 patients were reported in April, 907 in January, 1,050 in February and 1,111 in March. The highest number of cases was reported from the Colombo District, where 1,273 patients and 12 deaths were reported. The dengue epidemic is on the rise, due to monsoonal rains, the unit said.

Uganda 04/22/11 monitor.co.ug: by Steven Ariong – Pokot pastoralists in Amudat are gripped with fear following an outbreak of rabies which is killing animals in the district. The disease, has reportedly killed six camels while several others have gone wild and are straying. Dr Michael Kasiro, the Amudat District veterinary officer, yesterday said a team of experts is on the ground to investigate the source of the disease. He expressed fear that the disease, which is currently in Loro Sub-county, could spread throughout the district if not well handled. “The disease started attacking a camel which later ran mad and it started jumping up and down, biting other animals, before it died. Unfortunately, we now suspect that many more animals have been infected,” Dr Kasiro said. He said the team, composed of the local staff, is now trying to kill all the animals that have gone wild so as to prevent the spread of the disease. Dr Kasiro added that the district is still grappling with the foot and mouth disease. “We are still stuck with foot and mouth disease. We have not yet finished with vaccination because we are waiting for more drugs,” he added.