ANIMAL HEALTH

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1994:

India on November 4 declared itself free of
plague, two months after a bubonic plague outbreak hit the
Beed district of Maharashtra state while pneumonic plague
broke out in the city of Surat. The last Beed case was
reported on October 2; the last Surat case was diagnosed
three weeks later. A bubonic plague outbreak possibly
related to the one in Beed raged on in Matabeleland
province, Zimbabwe, killing 21 people and afflicting more
than 200 by November 10. Dr. Lalit Dar and staff at the
India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi meanwhile
questioned whether the diseases in question really were
plague in a letter to The Lancet, a prestigious British med-
ical journal. They noted that while most of the victims had
plague-like symptoms, only 272 out of 6,000 reported cases
were unequivocally identified, and the death toll was unex-
pectedly low. “Even within families more than one case
was uncommon,” they wrote. “The diagnosis of plague
should definitely be confirmed by culture. Conditions that
need to be excluded are viral infections such as hantavirus
pulmonary syndrome, meliodisis and leptospirosis.” The
latter three diseases, like plague, are often spread by infect-
ed rodents and tend to follow flooding, which hit western
India just before the first plague cases occurred.

A one-year-old Swiss herding dog named
Bobby, reputedly one of just 20 in Canada, received life-
saving surgery for a heart defect on November 11 at the
Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon,
Saskatchewan. Picked up as a stray by the Calgary SPCA,
he was flown to Saskatoon courtesy of Canadian Airlines.
He’ll be put up for adoption in Saskatoon upon recovery.
Public officials used lethal injections to kill all
47 dogs and 23 cats in the northern Hungarian village of
Ricse on October 28, after a two-year-old boy and a 41-
year-old woman died of rabies contracted through cat bites.
Apparently none of the animals were vaccinated, and post-
exposure vaccine is also hard to come by in eastern Europe.
As many as 500 people sought post-exposure
rabies vaccination in late October after handling kittens at
the Concord Aquarium and Pet Center, of Concord, New
Hampshire. Owner Tim Jandebeur often accepted litters of
kittens from the general public, and let them roam loose in
the store. On September 19 he accepted three kittens from
the girlfriend of Concord resident James Robert, who found
a rabid raccoon on his property on October 11. The state
public health department tested the mother cat for rabies,
but made no effort to retrieve the kittens when she proved
negative. Unknown to health officials, all three kittens had
died soon after Jandebeur took them. On October 6,
Jandebeur sold another kitten to nursing student Denise
Wardell, 20, of nearby Penacook. That kitten fell ill two
and a half weeks later. Wardell took her to a veterinarian,
who prescribed antibiotics. Only after the kitten suffered
seizures and died on October 22 did the veterinarian recog-
nize rabies symptoms, soon confirmed by testing. Of the
37 kittens who were potentially exposed at the store, four
were still there, 23 were recovered, and four had died of
unknown causes. All those retrieved alive were euthanized
and tested for rabies, but there were apparently no other
confirmed cases. Jandebeur said each kitten was certified
healthy by a veterinarian prior to sale, but they weren’t vac-
cinated because the vaccinations aren’t considered safe for
kittens younger than 16 weeks of age.
Closed in June when founder Dr. Durland Fish
l e f t to take a job at Yale University, the Vector Ecology
Laboratory at the State University College in Purchase,
New York, is to reopen soon with $180,000 in funding
from the New York Department of Health. The lab, the
only one in New York that studies the ticks which spread
Lyme disease, had operated since 1985 on a combination of
federal and private funding secured by Fish, who will con-
tinue to oversee the operations.
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