ANIMAL HEALTH

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1994:

Zoonosis
The politics of rabies took a twist
on April 1 when in all seriousness Patricia
Munoz, public health director for
Washington County, New York, told the
county public health committee that she need-
ed an infectious disease control nurse on her
staff to handle the growing rabies-related
caseload. The Washington County public
health department handled about 500 more
cases of all types during the first three months
of 1994, including 16 cases of possible expo-
sure to rabid animals. Munoz got the com-
mittee to recommend the hiring, then dis-
closed that the nurse would also handle
hepatitis and salmonella cases, both of which
are far more numerous.

Effective upon approval by the
Ohio Wildlife Council on April 7, the Ohio
Division of Wildlife requires nuisance
wildlife trappers to kill all furbearers they
capture alive, to prevent the spread of rabies.
The Ohio Wildlife Control Association
fought the new rule because “safe, approved
drugs for euthanizing animals are impossible
to obtain outside of the medical professions,
shooting or clubbing animals is unacceptable
to most customers and illegal in most cities,
and the Ohio EPA has already stated that nui-
sance trappers must send carcasses to an
approved landfill or an incinerator even
though most landfills will not accept animal
carcasses,” according to president Michael J.
Dwyer. Many nuisance trappers may have
been more concerned, however, about losing
revenue from selling live-trapped raccoons to
coonhunting clubs. Ohio coonhunting clubs
have been buying as many as 40,000 live-
trapped raccoons and other animals per year.
Skunk rabies has appeared in
Will County, Illinois, and canine rabies
has been discovered in Morehouse Parish,
Louisiana . Both areas had been rabies-free
for several decades. The Louisiana case may
be related to outbreaks in fox and coyote
chase-pens elsewhere in the state, which
have been tentatively linked to rabid animals
translocated from Texas.
Vermont officials are repeating
warnings that all livestock should be vacci-
nated, following the discovery of a rabid
horse near the town of Holland. The horse
was apparently bitten by a fox, about two
weeks after a fox killed the owners’ cat inside
the horse barn.
Connaught Laboratories has
begun field-testing a Lyme disease vaccine
on about 8,000 human volunteers in New
York and Connecticut. If all goes well, the
vaccine may be on the market by 1996.
but the risk is still low: just 15 people have
been infected via cats since 1977, when the
first such case was recorded, and only two
were infected by cats in 1993, when there
were seven bubonic plague cases in the entire
U.S. The risk is confined to the 13 western-
most states of the continental 48, where
bubonic plague is endemic at low levels in
fleas carried by the deer mouse, rock squirrel,
and prairie dog. Canines can also transmit
bubonic plague, but have higher resistance to
the infection than cats.
The CDCP also announced that as
with bubonic plague, fleas are apparently the
primary carriers of cat scratch fever.
Blood samples taken from more
than 60 people and 100 rodents in New
York and Rhode Island have been unable to
identify the source of the hantavirus, believed
to have been transmited via dust from dried
rodent feces, which killed Rhode Island
School of Design student David Rosenberg,
22, on January 20. A similar hantavirus has
afflicted more than 60 people in 17 states,
killing 27. The cases have occurred mostly in
the Southwest, but have also popped up along
the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast.
Australian researchers contribut-
ing to The Annals of Internal Medicine have
reported nine cases of the hookworm A .
Caninum causing severe intestinal disease in
humans; three victims required surgery. The
common canine hookworm was not previous-
ly believed to be transmitted to humans. All
of the human victims owned dogs.
Epidemiology
An outbreak of equine influenza
ravaging China since May 1993, the worst
outbreak in 45 years, has hit 1.5 million hors-
es, killing 30,000. Trying to stop the spread
of the disease, the Chinese ministry for agri-
culture in late March imposed quarantines
that virtually ban horsetrading and traffic in
horse products.
Busch Gardens, in Tampa,
Florida, lost 11 antelope to Johne’s disease
in late March––a hard-to-diagnose bacterial
infection usually found in dairy cattle. Busch
Gardens houses more than 3,300 animals of
330 species. Officials don’t yet know how the
antelope were infected or have any idea how
many other animals may be involved.
The arrival of spring has slowed
the spread of a duck virus enteritis out-
b r e a k in the Finger Lakes region of New
York, as flocks are more widely dispersed.
The outbreak has killed about 4,100 water-
fowl, mainly black ducks, a color morph of
mallards. Wildlife officials feared the whole
Atlantic flyway could become infected via
migratory birds who stop to feed in the Finger
Lakes.
The European Union ruled
March 29 that measures to control the
spread of bovine spongiform encephalitis,
a.k.a. mad cow disease, are sufficient, and
that there is no risk of the disease infecting
humans. German health minister Horst
Seehofer, unconvinced, said he would con-
sider imposing national restrictions to prevent
the sale of beef from infected cattle.
Services for the deaf
Sheldon Rubin, DVM, of Blum
Animal Hospital in Chicago has reportedly
become the first veterinarian in Illinois to
install special equipment to aid communica-
tion with the deaf. Rubin is scheduled to
speak at a May 6 press conference called by
Lair Scott of the Chicago-based Modern
Animal News service to publicize an alleged
lack of services for the deaf in animal protec-
tion and the animal care industry. Scott
acknowledges the attention given to hearing
dogs recently, who are typically small mixed
breeds rescued from shelters and trained by
volunteers, but argues that additional services
are necessary.
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