Thursday, July 12, 2018

PRO/AH/EDR> Rabies (40): Americas (USA), bat (KS), fox (AL) comment

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International Society for Infectious Diseases

[1] Kansas, bat
[2] Alabama, fox, comments

[1] Kansas, bat
Date: Tue 10 Jul 2018, 7:39 AM
Source: Shawnee Mission Post [edited]

The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment says a bat
brought to its lab has tested positive for rabies. The bat was found
alive inside a Johnson County home by the home's residents. JCDHE
recommended the bat be tested because the residents could not confirm
that they had not been exposed to the animal.

"We recommend that bats and other animals be tested for rabies when
there is a known exposure such as a bite, scratch or abrasion or if
the bat was found in a bedroom while people were sleeping since they
might be unaware that a bite occurred," said JCDHE's Jenny Dunlay.
"Testing bats and other animals after a possible exposure can
determine if rabies prophylaxis (shots) is necessary."

It's not the 1st time in recent history a bat in the county has tested
positive for the disease. The county found a rabies-positive bat here
in October [2016]. And while it's been 50 years since a human rabies
case has been recorded in Kansas, a Missouri man died of rabies in
September [2014].

After announcing the positive test result from the bat, JCDHE reminded
homeowners to have their pets vaccinated for the disease, as well as
how to respond if you encounter bats in the area. "Do NOT touch bats -
living or dead - with bare hands," the department wrote on Twitter.
"If you/your pet come into contact with a #bat (living or dead), call
animal control or a pest company to have bat removed and tested for

JCDHE says it has not determined the species of the bat at this time.
As a matter of policy, the department will not announce the location
where the rabies-positive bat was found within the county.

[Byline: Jay Senter]

Communicated by:

[2] Alabama, fox, comments
Date: Wed 11 Jul 2018, 7:03 AM
Source: [edited]

Mike Niemeyer is not often the guy who is bitten by a wild animal.
Normally, he's the one called to someone's property to catch it. But
last month, while trying to retrieve a gray fox underneath a sink
inside a Fairhope house, Niemeyer was bitten on the foot. Fortunately,
he was wearing a boot. "I had to choke it to get off my foot," said
Niemeyer, of Wildlife Solutions, the Fairhope company that handles
animal control calls for wildlife retrieval in Baldwin County.

The biting occurred [13 Jun 2018], and was one of 6 such incidents in
Alabama so far this year [2018] resulting in a positive rabies test of
a fox carrying the fatal virus. Half of the positive tests came out of
Baldwin County, and all of those have occurred since May [2018]. The
fox troubles are generating media attention and striking fear and
uncertainty in Alabama's fastest-growing county, where new
subdivisions are sprouting up next to wooded areas that have long been
homes for wild creatures.

The fox attacks are also confounding experts and police. Niemeyer said
he's getting "3 to 4 calls a day" from the public. "I'll be honest,
it's weird when you're getting reports of foxes acting crazy," said
Niemeyer, adding that the reports stretch along the coast from Ocean
Springs, Mississippi, to Pensacola, Florida. "It's something new."

Robertsdale police handled the most recent incident, on [Sun 8 Jun
2018] afternoon, when a fox bit a disabled man who sat on his porch,
then charged after people at a public park. Police Lt. Anthony Dobson
said, "It's the 1st time I've ever had to deal with this in more than
20 years of law enforcement."

State wildlife experts are urging calm. They want to remind people to
stay away from wild animals, keep domestic pet food stored, and to
make sure that their own pet dogs and cats are vaccinated. "With all
sincerity we, the No. 1 thing we want to do is protect the public,"
said Dr. Dee Jones, the state public health veterinarian. "But No. 2,
we don't want someone to overly endanger a fox either. That's a tricky
balance in trying to get people to vaccinate their animals and not go
around killing the foxes. "If the animal is diseased, it needs to be
done away with. But I don't know if these animals are diseased. We
don't want a bounty put on foxes if they aren't diseased."

Jones said that while there has been rabies detected in some of the
foxes, not all of them are carriers of the virus. In some cases, the
foxes will display erratic behavior that, instead of rabies, can be
another disease - such as canine distemper, which is not dangerous to
humans. "The clinical signs are the same," said Jones. "Raccoon
distemper and fox distemper will stay in it species and not be a
public health risk like rabies is. They are both viruses and will
cause neurological symptoms and most likely will result in a death,
although rabies are 100 percent fatal in animals. Rabies is very much
a public risk."

Even when a fox bites, it doesn't mean that it's a rabies transmitter.
That was the case in Geneva County late last month [June 2018] after a
Slocomb man was bitten on his forearm. The rabies test turned up
negative, said Slocomb Police Lt. Todd Dorriety.

Human rabies cases are extremely rare, with only one to 3 cases
reported annually in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention reports only 23 cases of human rabies in the past decade
(2008-2017), and 8 of those were contracted outside the U.S. and its
territories. Alabama last experienced a reported case of human rabies
in 1994.

Raccoons, in Alabama, turn up the highest percent of rabies cases each
year. A total of 45 of the 76 confirmed cases of rabies in 2014 were
from raccoons. Three years later, in 2017, 30 of the 51 rabies cases
came from raccoons.

Fewer than 20 percent of overall rabies diagnoses come from foxes
annually, according to state public health records. Last year [2017],
there were 9 cases of foxes having rabies -- or 17.6 percent. In 2016,
15.6 percent were foxes. In 2013, the state reported only one case of
a fox testing positive for rabies.

Experts don't believe this year's sudden burst of rabid foxes - of the
21 positive rabies cases, 6 are from foxes, or 29 percent - can be
attributed to one single factor. Jones, the state veterinarian, said
he believes the factors to be more "environmental," and that he also
believes the virus likely is being passed from raccoons to foxes
during the spring and summer months. Foxes, by nature, are nocturnal
and reclusive, tending to avoid human contact. But they will also
approach houses or dumpsters that have become a trusted food source.
"If a fox is used to a dumpster full of bread, it may not just come
out at night," said Jones. "Environments may change the normal
behavior of the animal. Living in a populated area can cause a change
in normal behavior."

Preventing encounters
During spring and summer months, wildlife encounters with humans occur
with more frequency. Marianne Hudson, a state conservation outreach
specialist, said any scent or presence of food left outside someone's
garage or house will attract wild animals. "One of the easiest things
we can do to keep wildlife in the woods is not to attract them either
purposely or inadvertently," said Hudson. "Stinky trash cans, or food
... if it smells like trash, it will attract the animals." Jones said
people need to "put the dog food up at night" and remove garbage bins
from their yards. In addition, he said that people need keep their own
domestic pets on a leash and within their own yards.

Niemeyer, meanwhile, said people feeding feral cats are "not helping".
"People are obsessive of feral cats," he said. "People are feeding
colonies of cats. They are gathering around that food and biting each
other. It's a quick way for the disease to spread."

The following CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) map
shows the locations where the most incidences of rabid fox bites
occurring in 2017. [This is an excellent map. Go to the site to
view it. - Mod.MHJ]

Alabama law requires dog and cat owners to vaccinate a dog or cat they
own, and a failure to produce the immunization records is a Class C
misdemeanor. Despite the law, less than 50 percent of Alabama's dog
population has received the rabies vaccination, according to state
health records. Baldwin County, however, is one of best counties in
the state for vaccinations at 76 percent of its estimated 46 746 dog
population. Alabama vaccination rates vary wildly among counties.
According to 2017 data, only 39 percent of dogs in Montgomery and
Jefferson counties were vaccinated, while 83 percent of dogs in
Marshall County were vaccinated.

"People are saying, 'foxes are running around crazy and getting
rabies,'" said Jones. "What I'm saying is, 'Yes they are, which makes
it more important to vaccinate your animals.'" He said, "We'll see
these pockets come and go but we try to use these instances to hammer
home the point that the most important of rabies prevention is to give
your animals a shot so they are protected."

Fox concerns
But while state experts are offering tips, some victims of the recent
fox encounters remain unsettled over their experiences. Among them is
a 70-year-old Spanish Fort man, who asked that his name not be
revealed for this story. He was bitten by a fox on his foot a few
weeks ago.

"I was adjusting a sprinkler head and the next thing you know, I feel
a piercing pain in my heel," the man said. "I kicked him off, and ran
to the house, and he caught me again. I had flip-flops on and he
grabbed a hold of that, started howling and took off. I haven't seen
the fox or the flip-flops again." Sheriff's deputies responded to the
biting, while the man went to Thomas Hospital in Malbis where he was
treated for rabies with what he said was a "painful" injection in his
bite marks. "You'd like to move on, but geez, it gives you a sense of
vulnerability and mortality at the same time," the man said. "You
never can tell where they will come from. I was in my front yard. When
I saw him, it looked like Wile E. Coyote from the Road Runner."

Jones, the State Veterinarian said that he hopes people don't decide
to launch a vigilante action against foxes. "We don't want to wage a
war on foxes just because a fox is getting a lot of press right now,"
said Jones. "People should report any sightings before we start going
out and shooting foxes."

Niemeyer agreed. "I don't think we should be eradicating al of Baldwin
County's foxes," he said. "We shouldn't be out on this big fox hunt.
They are out gathering their young and it's normal behavior. They will
run the other way." He added, "But if they don't show fear, that's
where you should be concerned."

[Byline: John Sharp]

Communicated by:

[The advice from both states is very sound. - Mod.MHJ

HealthMap/ProMED maps available at:
Kansas, United States: <>
Alabama, United States: <>]

[See Also:
Rabies (39): Americas (USA) fox, human exposure, susp
Rabies (38): Americas (USA) deer, fox, skunk
Rabies (21): Americas (USA) raccoon, fox, coyote, goat, human exp
Rabies (19): Americas (USA) fox, human exposure
Rabies (18): Americas (USA) fox, human exposure
Rabies (10): Americas (USA) fox, susp, human exposure
Rabies (05): Americas (USA) fox, susp., human exposure
Rabies - Americas (43): USA (NY) fox, human exposure
Rabies - Americas (09): USA (SC) fox, canine, human exposure
Rabies - Americas (05): USA (VA) raccoon, fox, human exposure
Rabies - USA (37): (NC) fox, human exposure, APHIS meeting
Rabies - USA (31): (SC) fox, human exposure
Rabies - USA (21): (KS) fox, human exposure
Rabies - USA (18): (FL) fox, human exposure
Rabies - USA (12): (NM) fox, human exp, new bat strain virus
Rabies - USA (11): (SC) fox, human exposure
Rabies - USA (06): (VA) fox, canine exposure

Rabies (36): Americas (USA) bat, alert
Rabies (33): Americas (USA) bat, comment
Rabies (30): Americas (USA) bat, comment
Rabies (29): Americas, USA (MN) bat, human exp
Rabies (20): Americas (USA) bat, human exp
Rabies (17): Americas (USA) bat, human exp
Rabies (06): Americas (USA) human, bat, canine exposure
Rabies (04): Americas (USA, Brazil) bat, human, Milwaukee protocol
Rabies (42): Americas (USA) bat, human exp
Rabies (34): Americas (USA) bat, human exp
Rabies (28): Americas (USA) bat, human exp
Food contamination, bat - USA: (FL) salad, recall, rabies vacc advised
Rabies - Americas (39): USA new rule, raccoon, bat, human exp.
Rabies - Americas (36): USA (CO) bat, human exp
Rabies - Americas (35): USA (TX,UT) bat, human exposure
Rabies - Americas (33): USA, Canada, equine, wildlife, bat, human exp
Rabies - Americas (32): USA, wildlife, bat, human exposure
Rabies - Americas (28): USA (IL) bat, human exposure
Rabies - Americas (16): USA, feline, canine, bat, human exposure]
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