From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1994:

Rabies update
New Hampshire state veterinarian
Clifford McGinniss warned January
15––after a rabid kitten was found in a
Merrimack College dormitory––that feral cats
must be exterminated to protect Hampton
Beach visitors. Disagreeing, Hampton Beach
is pursung a $24,000 cat control plan combin-
ing catch-and-kill with selective neuter/
release. The plan is also opposed by New
Hampshire SPCA executive director Bonnie
Roberts, who told the Boston Globe that the
feral cats “are going to tangle with rabid ani-
mals and spread the disease.” In fact, rabies
vaccination is a prerequisite of the Hampton
Beach plan, and of all properly managed
neuter/release programs. There are no reports
on record of any cat in any recognized
neuter/release program anywhere ever con-
tracting rabies, while several neuter/release
programs including one coordinated in 1991-
1992 by ANIMAL PEOPLE publisher Kim
Bartlett have been credited by public safety
officials with creating an immunized barrier
between rabid wildlife and family pets.

Rabies panic grew in midwinter
after ponies proved infected in Londonderry,
New Hampshire, and Hartford, New York,
obliging many children to take postexposure
treatments. Media accounts repeatedly inaccu-
rately linked the July death of upstate New
York resident Kelly Ahrendt, 11, to raccoon
rabies, which reached the area two years ago;
as reported in the October ANIMAL PEO-
PLE, Ahrendt actually died from silverhaired
bat rabies, endemic in local bats for decades.
Raccoon rabies did spread 25 to 40 miles far-
ther north and east within New York state last
year, health officials announced January 24.
A record 2,746 rabid animals were found,
partly because the state is now doing more
testing. Raccoon rabies is expected to hit
Buffalo and Rochester later this year––and
after reaching Ohio last year, could quickly
cross into the canine population as result of a
proposed amendment to state hunting laws that
would allow coonhunters to chase raccoons
with dogs even outside the coonhunting sea-
son. Ironically, the amendment is billed as a
rabies control measure.
A rare form of coyote rabies previ-
ously found only in south Texas dogs and coy-
otes was discovered in a dog in mid-January at
a 250-acre chase pen operated by Howard
Compton of Brantley, Alabama. Hunters pay
Compton to set their dogs on rabbits, foxes,
and coyotes at the pen. The state Department
of Conservation and Natural Resources
ordered Compton to kill all 10 foxes and 24
coyotes in his possession, at least one of
whom reputedly came from south Texas, and
at deadline were trying to find all the hunters
whose packs had pursued the animals.
“Indiscriminate destruction of
street dogs as practiced over the last five
decades has failed miserably to control the
population of stray dogs and ever-increasing
number of rabid dogbites,” the Animal
Welfare Board of India magazine A n i m a l
Citizen recently editorialized. “Fifty percent
of rabies cases are caused by bites of pet ani-
mals.” Meanwhile, “besides providing com-
panionship and security to the poor,” the edi-
torial continued, “the community dogs and
cats have the added role of scavenging the
city’s garbage, and keep in check the popula-
tion of rodents. There will always be a need
for such service, and it will be necessary to
have some community dogs and cats in every
area.” Citing the examples of Spain and Hong
Kong, which have eliminated rabies by replac-
ing dog-killing with a canine version of
neuter/release, Animal Citizen urged the
national rabies control program to join the
AWBI in adopting a similar approach. Rabies
kills about 15,000 Indians per year. The gov-
ernment now operates 30 mobile “rabies con-
trol units,” whose job is killing strays, and
has announced plans to add 30 more.
Other epidemics
Agriculture Canada in December
ordered the slaughter of all cattle imported
from the British Isles during the past 12
years, after a cow on a farm in central Alberta
was found to have bovine spongiform
encephalopathy, a.k.a. mad cow disease. First
diagnosed in Britain in 1986, the brain-
destroying parasitic illness has cost British
farmers an estimated $500 million, killing
13,000 cattle while 115,000 more have been
slaughtered under orders in a thus far futile bid
to keep it from spreading. Canada and most
European nations cut off imports of British
cattle in 1990. The Canadian mandate cov-
ered 334 cows and bulls on 21 farms––mostly
breeding stock valued at far above the $2,000
ceiling on reimbursement. At least four farm-
ers challenged the slaughter order in court,
including Gordon Kohl, of Georgeville,
Quebec, a retired lawyer whose Highland
bull, Gilles Budhe, was already among the
best-known residents of the small community.
The CDCP confirmed January 10
that the rodent-borne hantavirus responsible
for 32 deaths in 14 western states has infected
a man who lives near Redlands, Florida––
three states east of the next nearest known
case, in Louisiana. The find implies that the
hantavirus has spread across the e south, leav-
ing only the northeast with no detected cases.
Canine distemper is epidemic in
raccoons around Lake Tahoe, California,
according to the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care res-
cue group, having apparently infected rac-
coons via an infected dog who attacked a rac-
coon in the Tahoe Keys area last May or June.
Australia and New Zealand are
reportedly close to releasing Rabbit
Hemorrhagic Disease into their huge feral
rabbit populations, hoping to reduce the
impact of competition from rabbits on native
burrowing mammals. RHD, first discovered
in China in 1984, appeared in Spain and
Czechoslovakia four years later. It reputedly
kills rabbits within 60 hours of infection, usu-
ally without causing apparent suffering. It is
seen as a replacement for myxomatosis, a rab-
bit disease released in 1951 to which the rab-
bits of Australia and New Zealand have
become genetically resistant.
The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention warned January 3 that mis-
diagnosis of Lyme disease followed by pro-
longed intravenous antibiotic treatment can be
as debilitating as Lyme itself. This combina-
tion of circumstance was said to have cost 14
children their gallbladders and caused 22 chil-
dren to suffer blood infections at the Jersey
Shore Medical Center alone.
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