Tag Archives: Yellow fever

Researchers map MOSQUITOES that transmit ZIKA, CHIKUNGUNYA, DENGUE and YELLOW FEVER by U.S. county.

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Invasive MOSQUITO threatens southern CALIFORNIA with exotic viruses ~ CALIFORNIA county issues HANTAVIRUS ALERT ~ NEW HAMPSHIRE reports third HUMAN CASE of EASTERN EQUINE ENCEPHALITIS (EEE) and second EEE fatality ~ GEORGIAN scratched by RABID STRAY CAT.

Aedes Aegypti or Yellow Fever Mosquito. Courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Aedes Aegypti or Yellow Fever Mosquito. Courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture.

California 10/16/14 capitalpress.com: Officials have confirmed that the black-and-white striped Aedes aegypti or yellow fever mosquito was found last week in Commerce and Pico Rivera east of Los Angeles. Last year the species was found in other parts of the state including the Central Coast and Central Valley. The mosquito is aggressive, is active during daylight hours, and is capable of transmitting the yellow, dengue and chikungunya fever viruses, though none of these diseases have been reported in Los Angeles County. – See http://www.capitalpress.com/California/20141016/yellow-fever-mosquito-reaches-southern-california

HANTAVIRUS:

Deer mouse

Deer mouse

California 10/17/14 San Diego County News Center: Media Release – A North American deer mouse trapped in routine monitoring in a rural part of Fallbrook has tested positive for hantavirus, and County officials are reminding people to be careful if they ever have to clean up mice or rodent nests. The mouse was the seventh rodent caught this year in the county to test positive for hantavirus, a disease that can be fatal. People have very little chance of being exposed to hantavirus, despite the fact that it is common in San Diego County, as long as wild rodents stay in the wild and don’t get inside homes, garages, sheds and cabins. However, people can be exposed if they sweep or vacuum places where infected rodents have nested. That’s because hantavirus can be inhaled if people disturb areas where dust from infected rodents, dried saliva, urine or feces can be “kicked up” into the air. “The best way to protect yourself is to avoid exposure,” said County Department of Environmental Health Director Elizabeth Pozzebon. “But if you have to clean an area where rodents have been don’t sweep or vacuum. Use wet-cleaning methods.” – For complete article and precautions see http://www.countynewscenter.com/news/deer-mouse-fallbrook-tests-positive-hantavirus

EASTERN EQUINE ENCEPHALITIS (EEE):

eee-threat-249x187New Hampshire 10/15/14 NH Dept of Health: Media Release – Officials confirm the third human case of EEE in an adult resident of Manchester in Hillsborough County. The individual died in mid-September and is the second EEE-related fatality in the state so far this year. – See http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/media/pr/2014/10-oct/10152014eeecase.htm

RABIES:

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAGeorgia 10/17/14 Madison County: A stray cat that scratched the owner of property located in the 80 block of Gatewood Drive in Colbert on Oct. 4th has tested positive for rabies. – See http://www.madisonjournaltoday.com/archives/7241-Colbert-woman-scratched-by-rabid-cat.html

UC-DAVIS scientists find H1N1 INFLUENZA VIRUS in ELEPHANT SEALS ~ WHO warns world not prepared for massive INFLUENZA outbreak ~ WHO says single YELLOW FEVER shot is enough ~ RABIES reports from MO, NH, & VA.

Northern Elephant Seals. Photo by Mike Baird. Wikimedia Commons.

Northern Elephant Seals. Photo by Mike Baird. Wikimedia Commons.

California 05/15/13 ucdavis.edu: News Release – Scientists at the University of California, Davis, detected the H1N1 (2009) virus in free-ranging northern elephant seals off the central California coast a year after the human pandemic began, according to a study published today, May 15, in the journal PLOS ONE. It is the first report of that flu strain in any marine mammal. “We thought we might find influenza viruses, which have been found before in marine mammals, but we did not expect to find pandemic H1N1,” said lead author Tracey Goldstein, an associate professor with the UC Davis One Health Institute and Wildlife Health Center. “This shows influenza viruses can move among species.” UC Davis researchers have been studying flu viruses in wild birds and mammals since 2007 as part of the Centers of Excellence in Influenza Research and Surveillance program funded by National Institutes of Health. The goal of this research is to understand how viruses emerge and move among animals and people.

Dr. Tracey Goldstein of UC-Davis.

Dr. Tracey Goldstein of UC-Davis.

Between 2009 and 2011, the team of scientists tested nasal swabs from more than 900 marine mammals from 10 different species off the Pacific Coast from Alaska to California. They detected H1N1 infection in two northern elephant seals and antibodies to the virus in an additional 28 elephant seals, indicating more widespread exposure. Neither infected seal appeared to be ill, indicating marine mammals may be infected without showing clinical signs of illness. The findings are particularly pertinent to people who handle marine mammals, such as veterinarians and animal rescue and rehabilitation workers, Goldstein said. They are also a reminder of the importance of wearing personal protective gear when working around marine mammals, both to prevent workers’ exposure to diseases, as well as to prevent the transmission of human diseases to animals.

Photo courtesy of National Park Service.

Photo courtesy of National Park Service.

H1N1 originated in pigs. It emerged in humans in 2009, spreading worldwide as a pandemic. The World Health Organization now considers the H1N1 strain from 2009 to be under control, taking on the behavior of a seasonal virus. “H1N1 was circulating in humans in 2009,” said Goldstein. “The seals on land in early 2010 tested negative before they went to sea, but when they returned from sea in spring 2010, they tested positive. So the question is where did it come from?”  When elephant seals are at sea, they spend most of their time foraging in the northeast Pacific Ocean off the continental shelf, which makes direct contact with humans unlikely, the report said. The seals had been satellite tagged and tracked, so the researchers knew exactly where they had been and when they arrived on the coast. The first seal traveled from California on Feb. 11 to southeast Alaska to forage off the continental shelf, returning to Point Piedras Blancas near San Simeon, Calif., on April 24. The second seal left Ano Nuevo State Reserve in San Mateo County, Calif., on Feb. 8, traveling to the northeast Pacific and returning on May 5.  Infections in both seals were detected within days of their return to land. The report said exposure likely occurred in the seals before they reached land, either while at sea or upon entering the near-shore environment. – For complete release see http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10572

Influenza:

070203_bird_fluGlobal 05/21/13 Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly: by Jonathan Fowler (AFP) – The world is unprepared for a massive virus outbreak, the deputy chief of the World Health Organization warned Tuesday, amid fears that H7N9 bird flu striking China could morph into a form that spreads easily among people. Keiji Fukuda told delegates at a WHO meeting that despite efforts since an outbreak of another form of avian influenza, H1N1, in 2009-10, far more contingency planning was essential. “Even though work has been done since that time, the world is not ready for a large, severe outbreak,” Fukuda said. Rapid-reaction systems were crucial, given that health authorities’ efforts are already hampered by lack of knowledge about such diseases, he insisted. “When people get hit with an emerging disease, you can’t just go to a book and know what to do,” he said. According to the latest official data, H7N9 avian influenza has infected 130 people in China, and killed H7N935, since it was found in humans for the first time in March. It is one of a vast array of flu viruses carried by birds, the overwhelming majority of which pose little or no risk to humans. Experts are struggling to understand how it spread to people, amid fears that it could adapt into a form that can be transmitted easily from human to human.- For complete article see http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gA_WiUNz4DDakbWArFcltmTknupw?docId=CNG.945e0940b30f2076656a59b4ea8de2b5.231

Yellow Fever:

Yellow-feverGlobal 05/17/13 who.int: News Release – The yellow fever ‘booster’ vaccination given ten years after the initial vaccination is not necessary, according to WHO. An article published in WHO’s Weekly Epidemiological Record (WER) reveals that the Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunization (SAGE) has reviewed the latest evidence and concluded that a single dose of vaccination is sufficient to confer life-long immunity against yellow fever disease. Since yellow fever vaccination began in the 1930s, only 12 known cases of yellow fever post-vaccination have been identified, after 600 million doses have been dispensed. Evidence showed that among this small number of “vaccine failures”, all cases developed the disease within five years of vaccination. This demonstrates that immunity does not decrease with time. . . .

who-logoYellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes that is endemic to 44 countries in tropical areas of Africa and the Americas. Infection with the yellow fever virus causes varying degrees of disease, from mild symptoms to severe illness with bleeding and jaundice and fatal outcomes. There are an estimated 200 000 cases of yellow fever worldwide each year. About 15% of people infected with yellow fever progress to a severe form of the illness, and up to half of those will die, as there is no cure for yellow fever.  – For complete news release see http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2013/yellow_fever_20130517/en/index.html

Author’s Note: The yellow fever virus is an arbovirus of the flavivirus genus, and the mosquito is the primary vector. It carries the virus from one host to another, primarily between monkeys, from monkeys to humans, and from person to person. Several different species of the Aedes and Haemogogus mosquitoes transmit the virus. The mosquitoes either breed around houses (domestic), in the jungle (wild) or in both habitats (semi-domestic). – Source WHO Yellow Fever Fact Sheet  at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs100/en/index.html

Rabies:

g12c00 - CopyMissouri 05/20/13 Ozark County: Health officials have confirmed that two skunks captured in the county within the last month have tested positive for rabies. – See http://www.ozarkcountytimes.com/news/article_6539ffdc-c18e-11e2-974e-001a4bcf6878.html

450px-Treed_RaccoonsNew Hampshire 05/20/13 Grafton County: Two raccoons that were reported to be acting strangely in Hanover last week have tested positive for rabies. – See http://www.boston.com/news/local/new-hampshire/2013/05/20/raccoons-with-rabies-found-town/3DuImvKRJXhRGOw2iXy4PL/story.html

HelpVirginia 05/20/13 James City County: The Peninsula Health District is looking for a large grey dog, possibly a Rottweiler mix, that bit a child on May 9, 2013, near the intersection of Cardinal Court and The Maine W in James City County. Officials say if this dog is not found, the victim may have to undergo post exposure treatment (shots) for the prevention of rabies. Once found, the animal will not be taken away from its owner – only placed on an in-home confinement period of 10 days, officials say. Anyone who has seen an animal that fits this description in that area is asked to contact the Peninsula Health District – Williamsburg Environmental Health Office at (757) 603-4277. – See http://wtkr.com/2013/05/20/officials-search-for-dog-that-may-have-rabies-in-james-city-co/

CALIFORNIA preparing for TIGER MOSQUITO that carries DENGUE and other VIRUSES ~ EUROPEAN climate change favors MOSQUITO that carries DENGUE and other VIRUSES ~ TENNESSEE TICK season is early and ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER cases are up over 500% ~ FDA says CALIFORNIA case of MAD COW DISEASE under control ~ RABIES reports from FLORIDA(2), MASSACHUSETTS, NEW JERSEY, OKLAHOMA, & VIRGINIA.

Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopicts, beginning its blood-meal. Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.

California 04/25/12 peninsulapress.com: by Jessica Parks – Santa Clara County is urging residents to be on the lookout for an exotic, bloodthirsty tiger with a potentially lethal bite.  It was last seen in Los Angeles County on Dec. 28. Asian tiger mosquitoes are a much smaller threat than jungle cats and haven’t been linked to any human illnesses in California.  But officials aren’t taking any chances.  Once the species becomes established, it is very difficult to eradicate and can spread diseases such as chikungunya, dengue fever and encephalitis. The county is launching a public education campaign, asking residents to “be our eyes and ears,” said vector control chief Russ Parman, who will oversee the effort. The tiger mosquito is easily distinguished from common local species, due to its distinctive black body with white stripes and aggressive biting during daylight hours.  Parman’s office is also laying simple water traps across the county and using helicopters to locate stagnant pools of water where mosquitoes might be breeding.

The best way to eradicate invasive pests is to catch them early, before they can reproduce and branch out.  In early September, officials in Southern California began getting calls about strange-looking, day-biting mosquitoes east of downtown Los Angeles.  They went door-to-door and sprayed to suppress the insects, but “there were quite a few of them out there” and it’s impossible to know whether any larvae survived, said Kelly Middleton, a spokeswoman for the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District. With warm weather following recent rains, spring is a prime time for the invasive pest to reappear. – For complete article see http://peninsulapress.com/2012/04/25/invasive-mosquito-bites-like-a-tiger-looks-like-a-zebra/

Europe 04/25/12 iol.co.za: by SAPA – The climate in north-west Europe and the Balkans is becoming suitable for the Asian tiger mosquito, a disease-spreading invasive species, scientists said on Wednesday. The warning comes from scientists at the University of Liverpool, north-west England, who say the two regions have been having progressively milder winters and warmer summers. These temperate conditions favour the mosquito, which gained a foothold in Albania in 1979 and is now present in more than 15 countries on Europe’s southern rim. “Over the last two decades, climate conditions have become more suitable over central northwestern Europe – Benelux, western Germany – and the Balkans,” they said. At the same time, drier conditions in southern Spain have made that region less welcoming for the insect, they said.

Hemorrhagic Dengue Fever Victim.

The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), a native of tropical and subtropical areas of Southeast Asia, can transmit viruses that cause West Nile fever, yellow fever, dengue, St. Louis and Japanese encephalitis and other diseases. In 2005-6, it caused an epidemic of chikungunya, a disease that attacks the joints, on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion. A year later, it unleashed an outbreak of chikungunya in the Italian province of Ravenna. In 2010, it was fingered as a transmitter of dengue virus in France and Croatia. As of last December, the mosquito was present in more than 15 countries, from southern Spain to parts of Greece and Turkey, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Reporting in Britain’s Journal of the Royal Society Interface, the Liverpool team looked at European weather records for 1950-2009 and ran a widely-used computer model to simulate weather trends for 2030-2050. “Similar trends are likely in the future with an increased risk simulated over northern Europe and slightly decreased risk over southern Europe,” says the study. “These distribution shifts are related to wetter and warmer conditions favouring the overwintering of A. albopictus in the north, and drier and warmer summers that might limit its southward expansion.” The paper points out that weather alone does not mean the species will automatically spread there. It also notes that the study did not consider vegetation or soil types which also determine whether the mosquito would be able to breed there. In addition, cold snaps or hot, dry spells also help limit mosquito survival, and these too were not included in the investigation. In the mid-1960s, the Asian tiger mosquito was limited to some parts of Asia, India and a handful of Pacific islands. It has since spread to North and South America, the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East, as well as Europe, mainly by hitchhiking a ride in exported materials.

Tennessee 04/26/12 tn.gov: News Release – The Tennessee Department of Health is seeing significant increases in tick-borne illnesses this year following an unusually mild winter and spring. Cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever are up 533 percent compared to this time last year, according to Abelardo Moncayo, Ph.D., with the TDH Division of Communicable and Environmental Diseases and Emergency Preparedness. “We’ve documented 38 cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, compared with only six by the same time last year,” Moncayo said. “We are also seeing increased numbers of other tick-borne infections compared to last year. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the most serious tick-borne disease in the United States. Symptoms usually appear two to 14 days after a bite from an infected tick.

Petechial rash.

The disease often begins with sudden onset of fever and headache. Early symptoms may resemble other diseases and include nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, lack of appetite and severe headache. Later symptoms may include rash, abdominal pain, joint pain and diarrhea. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a serious illness that can be fatal if not treated correctly, even in previously healthy people. It and other tick-borne illnesses can have devastating effects, but are effectively treated with antibiotics. Persons with symptoms should see their medical provider for early diagnosis and treatment. – For tips on preventing tick bites see http://news.tn.gov/node/8734

California 04/26/12 fda.gov: News Release – This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed that a dairy cow in California tested positive for atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or “mad cow” disease). The USDA also confirmed the cow did not enter the animal feed or human food supply. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working with federal and state authorities to further investigate this case. The FDA is confident in the effectiveness of the existing animal feed safeguards designed to prevent the spread of BSE through feed. Although current science suggests that atypical cases of BSE, such as this one, are unlikely to be transmitted through animal feed, the FDA will work with the USDA to complete a thorough epidemiological investigation. Importantly, scientific research indicates that BSE cannot be transmitted in cow’s milk. – For more information see USDA’s Chief Veterinary Officer on the Recent BSE Case (aka Mad Cow)

Florida 04/25/12 North Fort Myers, Lee County: A horse that died from rabies last week presented the first confirmed case of the virus in the county in two years. – See http://www.nbc-2.com/story/17771201/rabies-case-discovered-in-lee-county

Florida 04/25/12 Merritt Island, Brevard County: A pet cat located at Banana River Drive that bit it’s owner has tested positive for rabies. It is most likely the cat contracted the disease from wild animal infected with the virus. – See http://cmacdonald.brevardtimes.com/2012/04/rabies-positive-cat-reported-on-merritt.html

Massachusetts 04/25/12 Wayland, Middlesex County: A raccoon found off Concord and Lincoln roads in North Wayland has tested positive for rabies. – See http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/newsnow/x1783291258/Raccoon-found-in-North-Wayland-tests-positive-for-rabies

New Jersey 04/25/12 New Milford, Bergen County: A raccoon that attacked a man near his Pine Street home last Friday has tested positive for rabies. The man was bitten on an arm and a leg. – See http://newmilford-nj.patch.com/articles/raccoon-that-attacked-man-on-pine-street-confirmed-rabid

Oklahoma 04/25/12 Shawnee, Pottawatomie County: In little more than a week Unity Health Center staff have seen 10 patients with possible rabies exposure, Kari Gilliam, a pharmacist at Unity, said. From January to March 31 there have been 21 cases of rabies statewide; there were 60 total in 2011. Seventy percent of the rabies cases are found in skunks, and then cattle, dogs, cats, horses and bats. – For complete article see http://www.news-star.com/news/x1783289868/Unity-has-seen-10-patients-with-possible-rabies-exposure

Virginia 04/25/12 Virginia Beach: A raccoon that bit a mechanic on the arm and shoulder while he was working under a truck was captured by Animal Control and has tested positive for rabies. The mechanic tried to escape but the raccoon jumped on his back and bit him several times. Officers believe someone is feeding feral cats in the area and the food has attracted raccoons. It’s possible that the feral cats have also been exposed to the virus. The incident occurred near Butternut Lane. – See http://www.wavy.com/dpp/news/local_news/va_beach/vb-man-bitten-by-rabid-raccoon

TEXAS woman reports prowling BOBCAT in Dallas suburb ~ OHIO town’s CATs being taken by COYOTES ~ HAWAII officials find discovery of Aedes aegypti MOSQUITO on OAHU troubling ~ FOLLOW-UP REPORTS: BEAR that bit FLORIDA woman has been euthanized ~ RABIES reports from CA, FL, GA, ME, NY, NC (2), & VA (2).

Bobcat. Courtesy National Park Service.

Texas 03/21/12 Frisco, Collin & Denton Counties: A resident of The Lakes neighborhood reported a bobcat prowling in her yard. Greg Carr, the city’s animal control officer, said the early and warmer spring has brought out a lot of bobcats and coyotes. He said he doesn’t know of any attacks in the area, but added it’s smart to be cautious. For complete article see http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2012/03/21/early-spring-brining-bobcats-into-frisco-subdivisions/#photo-1

Ohio 03/21/12 Newcomerstown, Tuscarawas County: Coyotes living in the woods near Cy Young Park are edging closer to homes in the area. A N. College Street resident recently witnessed two coyotes kill a black cat. See http://www.timesreporter.com/news/x738244732/Coyotes-edge-closer-to-homes

Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Hawaii 03/20/12 therepublic.com: The state Department of Health says a mosquito species capable of rapidly spreading dengue and yellow fever was found on Oahu for the first time in 60 years. The discovery was made at Honolulu International Airport. The department said Tuesday its vector control program identified the species on March 5. The department is calling on residents to remove standing water to reduce mosquito populations. The species Aedes aegypti was last found on Oahu in 1949. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s very difficult to control or eliminate the mosquito because it adapts to its environment. They rapidly bounce back after drought or mosquito extermination efforts. The mosquito’s eggs can survive without water for several months on the inner walls of containers.

Follow-Up Reports:

(March 17, 2012: FLORIDA woman bitten by BLACK BEAR.)

Florida 03/22/12 orlandosentinel.com: by Amy Pavuk – Excerpts . . “State wildlife officials captured and euthanized a bear Thursday that bit a woman at a Longwood apartment complex last week.” “On Thursday morning, the bear was in the dumpster at the apartment complex, and her 14-month-old cub was caught in a trap that was set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Officials used a tranquilizer gun to catch the mother bear, and later euthanized the animal, which is agency policy, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Joy Hill. ‘The bear has lost all fear of people. She has bitten somebody. This behavior would not change,’ Hill said. ‘We can’t risk her hurting anybody else. We can’t release her because she would pick up the same behavior somewhere else.’ Wildlife officials will place the cub in a captive situation, which could be a zoo or some other type of private habitat. But it’s too early to say exactly where the cub will go, Hill said.” – For complete article see http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-03-22/news/os-bear-bite-captured-longwood-20120322_1_cub-wildlife-conservation-commission-wildlife-officials

California 03/21/12 South Davis, Yolo County: Animal Services officials are looking for a large, brown Siamese-mix cat that bit a man earlier this week near M Street and Duke Drive to determine if the victim needs rabies post-exposure prophylactic treatment. See http://davis.patch.com/articles/yolo-sheriff-s-office-seeks-biting-cat

Florida 03/20/12 Bartow, Polk County: A raccoon killed by three stray dogs on the 5400 block of Flood Court has tested positive for rabies. The dogs have been quarantined. See http://www.theledger.com/article/20120320/NEWS/120329935

Georgia 03/21/12 Albany, Dougherty County: A fox that attacked a woman and her dog earlier this week in a mobile home community on Sylvester Road has tested positive for rabies. Police managed to track the animal and shot it. See http://www.walb.com/story/17212568/woman-attacked-by-fox

Maine 03/22/12 Kennebunk, York County: A raccoon found dead March 12th in a resident’s yard on Sea Road has tested positive for rabies. Three dogs were exposed but all were vaccinated. See http://www.seacoastonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120322/NEWS/203220352/-1/NEWSMAP

New York 03/22/12 West Elmira, Chemung County: Health officials are looking for a dog that bit a person on March 13th in the vicinity of West Water Street near Evergreen. The dog is described as a Golden Retriever and was being walked by a woman accompanied by another woman with two black Labs. If the dog is not found the victim will have to receive rabies post-exposure treatment. See http://www.the-leader.com/newsnow/x1581727061/Health-Department-seeking-dog-in-West-Elmira

North Carolina 03/20/12 Gumtree, Davidson County: A raccoon that fought with two vaccinated dogs was shot and has tested positive for rabies. The dogs received booster shots. There was no human exposure. See http://www.the-dispatch.com/article/20120320/News/303209994

North Carolina 03/22/12 Cary, Wake County: Three dogs were euthanized after one killed a raccoon that later tested positive for rabies. Police found the raccoon dead near Cary Glen Blvd. and Mintawood Court. See http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/03/21/1948951/three-cary-dogs-euthanized-after.html

Virginia 03/22/12 Naxera, Gloucester County: A raccoon shot earlier this week in the Lands End Road area has tested positive for rabies. See http://www.dailypress.com/news/gloucester-county/dp-nws-gloucester-rabid-raccoon-0323-20120322,0,6174942.story

Virginia 03/21/12 Pittsylvania County: A skunk captured in the Climax Road area has tested positive for rabies. This is the fifth rabies alert for the county in five weeks. See http://www.wset.com/story/17213599/another-rabies-warning-for-pittsylvania-county

FLORIDA zoo training FERAL CATS to protect exotic residents and visitors ~ MOUNTAIN LION report from CALIFORNIA ~ NIH scientists begin CHIKUNGUNYA VACCINE trial ~ TRAVEL WARNINGS for BRAZIL.

Florida 12/18/11 palmbeachdailynews.com: by Carolyn Susman — The next time you visit the Palm Beach Zoo, feel free to feed the ducks and the geese and to follow the roaming peacock around. But stay clear of Snuggle Cat. He’s working. Snuggle Cat is part of a unique experiment the zoo is conducting to reduce the number of feral cats that have invaded zoo property and that can pose a health threat to zoo animals. Shockingly, over the past years, there have been deaths at the zoo because of cat-borne illnesses such as toxoplasmosis that can cause fatal infections in kangaroos and wallabies. And the feline leukemia virus can threaten the health of jaguars, tigers and African servals. The problem even affected which zoo animals were brought in and how they were housed. “Decisions were made, that were big time, not to get new animals or create new exhibits,” said Dr. Michele Miller, director of conservation medicine for the zoo and a veterinarian. The problem was hard to control. “Being in the center of an urban park, we find that the feral cats wander in on their own or are dropped off,” says Miller. She says that two or three feral cats a week would show up on zoo grounds and later produce kittens. Zoo staff tried collecting the animals and relocating them to places like the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, but that became increasingly difficult. And it didn’t stop the ferals from invading.

About six months ago, a “team decision” was made to neuter a couple of these cats, treat them for illnesses, vaccinate them, and act toward them the way “a responsible pet owner would.” The object was to create “resident” cats that would view the zoo as their own territory and patrol it against the invasion of others, Miller explained. So far, it seems to be successful. “I do think it’s helping,” she said. “We’re not seeing other feral cats. We don’t have to deal with taking ferals where they might have to be destroyed or to be concerned that they have introduced diseases to staff or visitors.” Snuggle Cat is one of these new residents. He’s friendly, but signs are posted that caution against petting him or approaching him like a house cat. There’s always the possibility he might bite or nip a stranger. And having cats like Snuggle Cat around doesn’t slow the zoo’s strict approach to keeping its animals well.

The zoo staff works “very hard” to keep its animals healthy, Miller said, and the feral cats had presented a “very significant concern.” The zoo’s animals are vaccinated, but the shots are “not 100 percent effective.” So, removing a possible source of infection was extremely important. Miller is aware that treating feral cats this way is controversial. She knows that the trap, neuter, release approach can draw opposition — as it has in Palm Beach — because the cats can present a threat to native wildlife. Even house cats, though, can hunt for fun. Snuggle and the other patrol cats are “very well-fed” to prevent these instincts from over taking them, Miller points out, so Snuggle is often content to stretch out on the porch of the zoo’s cafe and take in the sun. “It’s an up-close and personal zoo,” Miller says with a smile. And Snuggle Cat helps it stay that way.

California 12/19/11 Altadena, Los Angeles County: Mountain lion sighting reported. See http://altadena.patch.com/articles/mountain-lion-spotted-on-lake-ave-sunday-morning
Global 12/20/11 nih.gov: News Release — An experimental vaccine to prevent chikungunya fever, a viral disease spread by certain species of mosquitoes, is being tested in a clinical trial conducted by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) scientists at the National Institutes of Health. The vaccine was developed by researchers at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center (VRC) using non-infectious virus-like particles to prompt an immune response. The trial is testing the vaccine’s safety and ability to elicit antibodies against chikungunya virus. It will enroll 25 healthy adults aged 18 to 50 years.

Chikungunya virus infection is generally not fatal but it can cause debilitating symptoms, most often fever, headache and severe joint pain. Symptoms usually subside in a few weeks but can last for months. The first cases of illness were reported in the early 1950s in east Africa. The disease is now endemic throughout much of Africa and parts of Asia. India, for example, has reported frequent outbreaks with significant public health impact, including a 2006 outbreak that lasted eight months and resulted in 1.25 million suspected cases of illness. Global travel and trade have increased the risk that the disease will spread. A 2007 outbreak of chikungunya fever in Italy prompted concern that the virus is becoming established in non-tropical settings and could pose a worldwide threat. There is no specific treatment for the illness and no vaccine to prevent it.

Dr. Gary Nabel

“A vaccine to prevent chikungunya fever, an emerging global health concern, would address an important need,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “If successful, this approach also might be used to develop vaccines against related mosquito-borne viruses, including those that cause Western, Eastern and Venezuelan equine encephalitis.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, human infections with these equine viruses are rare, but, in the case of Eastern equine encephalitis, more than 30 percent of infected people die and most of the survivors suffer serious neurological complications. In 2010, scientists led by VRC Director Gary Nabel, M.D., Ph.D, reported that rhesus monkeys inoculated with the virus-like particle chikungunya vaccine 15 weeks prior to virus exposure were completely shielded from infection. Monkey blood serum containing anti-chikungunya antibodies generated by the VLP vaccine also protected immune-deficient mice from becoming infected with chikungunya virus, the scientists showed.

Travel Warnings:

Brazil 12/19/11 CDC.gov: News Release — Yellow fever is a risk for travelers to most areas of Brazil, except coastal regions. During 2009, an outbreak of yellow fever, including a number of deaths, occurred in parts of southeastern Brazil that had not been affected by yellow fever for many years. In response, the Brazil Ministry of Health has gradually expanded the list of municipalities for which yellow fever vaccination is recommended in the four southeastern states of São Paulo, Paraná, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul.

Globally, yellow fever occurs in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America and is spread to people through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Symptoms can include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, backache, nausea, and vomiting.

Currently, Brazil and CDC recommend yellow fever vaccination for travelers to the following states:

  • All areas of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Distrito Federal (including the capital city of Brasília), Goiás, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, and Tocantins.
  • Other designated areas of the following states: Bahia, Paraná, Piauí, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and São Paulo. Vaccination is also recommended for travelers visiting Iguassu Falls.
  • Vaccination is NOT recommended for travel to the following coastal cities: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Salvador, Recife, and Fortaleza.

Brazil currently does not require yellow fever vaccination for entrance into the country. However, travelers are strongly urged to get the yellow fever vaccine before traveling to an area of Brazil with risk of yellow fever virus transmission.

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 azgfd.net: 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 pasadenastarnews.com: 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 genengnews.com: 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 the-signal.com: 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 nbc17.com: 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 boston.com: 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 http://www.mass.gov/dph/wnv. 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 ksdk.com: 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 ourmidland.cm: 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 www.co.midland.mi.us/mosquito  More information on Eastern equine encephalitis is available at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websitehttp://www.cdc.gov/EasternEquineEncephalitis/

Travel:

Cuba, Chile, and Uruguay 09/12/11 ahora.cu: 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.