Animal health

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1995:

Rabies roundup
A four-year-old girl from Centralia, Washington, on
March 16 became the first person to die of rabies in that state since
1939. Relatives found and killed a bat in her bedroom in February, but
did not report the incident to anyone until after she was hospitalized with
depression, constant drooling, and seizures. She lapsed into a terminal
coma on March 9.
Texas during the second week in February began airdrop-
ping 850,000 dog biscuits laden with the new oral rabies vaccine
over an area the size of Maryland, Delaware, and Rhode Island
combined, to stop an outbreak of canine rabies in coyotes and foxes
before it spreads from the southern end of the state to San Antonio. The
$1.9 million project is the biggest test of the oral vaccine on wildlife yet.

Since 1988, 530 cases of rabies have been reported in Texas, including
two human fatalities. The most recent victim, Rolando Bazan, 14,
slipped into a coma on November 14 after telling his mother he felt “sad
all over.” How he was exposed is unknown. Also to halt the spread of
rabies, the Texas Board of Health recently imposed a statewide quaran-
tine on the export of “potentially infected” animals. “We know that
South Texas coyotes have been shipped out-of-state to stock hunting
clubs,” said Health Commissioner Dr. David Smith. “And just this
week we learned that two of four foxes shipped from Texas to
Montana,” an officially rabies-free state, “have been confirmed with
rabies.” Under fire from irate hunters, Smith pointed out that similar
translocations of rabid raccoons from Florida to West Virginia in 1977
resulted in a raccoon rabies epizootic still raging from North Carolina to
Vermont, and as far west as Ohio.
Cumberland County, North Carolina, declared a rabies
emergency on March 9, authorizing sheriff’s deputies to begin a house-
to-house search for unvaccinated animals. Eight rabid animals had been
found in the preceding week. The county already had a third of the 150
rabies cases reported in the state last year.
Other zoonotic diseases
The Ontario public health ministry has discovered deadly
hantaviruses in mice trapped last summer in Algonquin Park, 120
miles northeast of Toronto. Hantaviruses have already caused two
human fatalities in Canada––one in British Columbia and one in
Alberta––as well as about 40 fatalities in the U.S. since 1993, when they
were first identified in North America. They have now appeared in vir-
tually all parts of the U.S. and Canada, though the majority of cases are
still in the Southwest.
Alarmed by the discovery that about 25% of the pigeon pop-
ulation in Venice, Italy, carry diseases transmissible to humans, the
city council is considering either a ban on birdseed sales or the use of
contraceptive-laced birdseed.
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