From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1993:

A mystery hantavirus that killed 26 peopleear-
lier this year could spread across the U.S., the November 5
issue of Science warned. The Pulmonary Syndrome
Hantavirus, as it is now called, PSH for short, was traced
to deer mice after killing 19 people near the junction of
Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado––and deer
mice range over most of North America. Cases have now
been confirmed as far north as Montana and the Dakotas,
as far west as coastal California, and as far east as
Louisiana. The southwestern outbreak may have occurred
as result of heavy rains in early 1992 that produced a
bumper crop of pinon nuts and grasshoppers, both staple
foods for deer mice, whose population exploded. The
Centers for Disease Control suspects the outbreak was
detected only because so many cases appeared at once.

Others may have been lost among an estimated 50,000 to
150,000 unexplained respiratory fatalities per year, nation-
wide. There is evidence the PSH virus may have been in
California for at least a decade, and may have killed at
least one person as early as September 1990. It is related to
Asian and European hantaviruses that hit more than
200,000 people a year, more than half of them in China,
killing up to 20,000. On November 12 a team led by Dr.
Howard Levy of the University of New Mexico announced
they had isolated the hantavirus, the first step toward grow-
ing it in a culture and developing a vaccine for it.
Seventeen rabid deer were found in the
Adirondack region of New York during late summer and
early fall, prompting the state to warn hunters not to
remove antlers from the skulls of their kills to minimize the
risk of contact with potentially infected brain tissue. The
advisories ignored the risk inherent in hunting and trapping
raccoons, the primary rabies carriers in the region.
Officials blamed the rabies scare for a 15% drop in sales of
deer permits, including a 25% drop in September and
October, but credited rabies with boosting the wild turkey
population by killing 80% to 90% of the raccoons in the
area between New York City and Albany. Nest-raiding
raccoons are the turkeys’ primary predator. A pony mean-
while died of rabies on October 24 at a pumpkin farm in
Windsor, Connecticut, after having been petted and fed by
hundreds of children, most of whom couldn’t be identified.
An unidentified adenovirus is suspected of
killing several hundred mule deer fawns in both suburban
and remote mountain regions of northern California,
apparently spreading from Nevada County. Adenoviruses
are known to attack the young of several other mammal
species, but haven’t previously been found in deer.
Norman Vaughan, 88, a six-time Iditarod com-
petitor who mushed a dog team to the North Pole with
Admiral Richard Byrd in 1928, is training to race toward
the pole once again in an attempt to become the last person
to get there by dog sled before an international treaty ban-
ning dogs from the Arctic takes effect on April 1. The ban
is intended to protect seals from canine distemper, which
has devastated seals in the North Sea since 1988.
Only 283 cattle herds were quarantined due to
brucellosis outbreaks at the beginning of October, the
USDA says––the fewest ever. The USDA began a drive to
eradicate brucellosis in 1933, when one herd in 20 was
believed to be infected. By the late 1950s, 124,000 herds
were quarantined. Thirty-two states, the Virgin Islands,
and Puerto Rico are now certified brucellosis-free. The
USDA projects complete eradication circa October 1998.
Eight thousand German farmers blocked two
major autobahns south of Bremen on November 16 to
protest an order to kill 400,000 pigs to curb a swine fever
epidemic. Pork from infected animals may not be sold for
human consumption.
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