From ANIMAL PEOPLE, Jan/Feb 1995:

Rabies roundup

Because continued funding for an
experimental raccoon rabies oral vaccina-
tion program begun last spring hasn’t been
approved on schedule by the Massachusetts
legislature, the Tufts University School of
Veterinary Medicine may be obliged to lay off
project coordinator Allyson Robbins on
December 31, dean Franklin Loew told ANI-
MAL PEOPLE on December 23. It also
won’t be able to order the vaccination baits in
time to be sure of having them on hand at the
optimum time to use them, when mothers
come out of their dens with newly ambulatory
babies. The initial oral vaccination budget
came from a dormant Food and Agriculture
Department fund set up to fight equine
encephalitis. However, while the vaccination
work was underway, trying to keep raccoon
rabies off Cape Cod as a demonstration of its
effectiveness, equine encephalitis reappeared
in Massachusetts, and the Food and

Agriculture Department reclaimed the special
fund for 1995. That leaves the oral vaccina-
tion project in need of a special allocation to
finish the three-year project. Governor
William Weld is believed to favor releasing
the funds, in part because the $200,000
involved is a fraction of the cost of handling
even one rabies outbreak that spreads to
humans. A pet shop outbreak in New
Hampshire two months ago has already cost
more than $1 million just for giving 500 peo-
ple post-exposure vaccinations. Massa-
chusetts residents may urge prompt continua-
tion of funding via their state legislators and
the state Department of Health infectious dis-
eases unit: 617-522-3700.
Toronto, meanwhile, is going
into the second year of a conventional live-
trap-and-inject raccoon rabies vaccination
program, patterned after successful past
efforts. City medical officer Dr. Perry
Kendall thinks animal control officers will be
able to treat about 800 of the city’s 1,000 to
2,000 raccoons, at cost of $49,000 per year.
The injected vaccinations will be replaced
with use of the oral vaccine as soon as it
becomes available in Canada, Kendall says.
There were four confirmed
human rabies deaths in the U.S. during
1994. The first was a 40-year-old man who
died June 21 in Miami after apparently con-
tracting the disease in Haiti. The second, a
24-year-old woman, died in Shelby,
Alabama, during October from apparent com-
plications of pregnancy. An autopsy found
she had contracted the silverhaired bat strain
of rabies. On November 23, a 43-year-old
woman died of rabies in Knoxville; a resident
of the village of Westal, she was known as a
dog and cat rescuer, but also turned out to
have had the silverhaired bat strain, probably
contracted about three months earlier.
Silverhaired bat rabies has now caused seven
of the last nine bat-related rabies deaths in the
U.S. The November 31 rabies death of a 14-
year-old boy in Edinburg, Texas, is still
under investigation.
“Amendments made to the Texas
Veterinary Licensing Act last year relating
to client confidentiality have jeopardized the
licensing and rabies control programs of
Texas municipalities and counties,” Fort
Worth Animal Control Administrator Dr.
James Agyemang and assistant city attorney
Kathryn Hansen charge in the
November/December edition of the National
Animal Control Association newsletter. This
is because vets are no longer allowed to share
vaccination records with law enforcement,
without a release from the animal owner.
To encourage rabies vaccination
compliance, Fair Haven, Vermont, now
bills residents for rabies testing if their unvac-
cinated animals bite anyone.
Other diseases
The source of the hantavirus that
killed Brown University student David
Rosenberg, 22, last January 20, has been
identified as a whitefooted mouse, a species
common throughout the east. Rosenberg
might have been infected either in Rhode
Island or on Long Island, New York. Deer
mice were the carriers of the previous 95
known human hantavirus cases, including 50
fatalities since May 1993. “The risk of acquir-
ing this kind of infection is extraordinarily
low,” said National Institutes of Health inves-
tigator Dr. Richard Yanagihara, “but it does
bring to mind that there are many other rodents
out there harboring lethal viruses.”
The North Carolina Veterinary
Medical Association is encouraging members
to cut their neutering fees by 20% for two
months in either February or September to help
fight pet overpopulation.
Autopsies of the brains of nearly
400 British-born cattle killed by Agriculture
Canada during the past two years haven’t found
a trace of bovine spongiform encephalopathy,
officials have admitted. The killing, ordered
after one BSE case was found near Red Deer,
Alberta, in December 1992, has cost taxpay-
ers $800,000 and the Canadian Cattleman’s
Association, which has compensated breeders
for lost stock, $400,000. The one survivor of
the massacre is Gille Buide, a 14-year-old
Highland bull belonging to Gordon Kohl, of
Georgeville, Quebec––one of Canada’s top
environmental lawyers, who is still fighting in
court for the bull’s life.
Thirty-one Ohioans are believed to
have contracted salmonellosis from handling
pet reptiles in the past 18 months, according to
state department of health epidemiologist Ellen
Peterson, including 18 people whose cases
have been confirmed. Twelve victims were
hospitalized, and in three cases the disease
evolved into meningitis, but all survived.
Twenty residents of Cajamarca
province in Peru reportedly developed bubon-
ic plague in late November, amid heavy rat
infestation. Plague was believed to have been
eradicated from Peru. There was no known
connection between the Peruvian outbreak and
other recent outbreaks in India and Africa.
MedImmune Inc. and the
University of Texas announced on December
7 that they have successfully altered a tubercu-
losis vaccine to prevent the development of
Lyme disease in laboratory mice. The vaccine,
administered as a nasal spray, is intended for
eventual sale to humans. A vaccine to prevent
Lyme disease in dogs is already on the market.
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