Zoonosis News from Public Health Region 1
Pub. #50-10970, Vol. 44-02 March, 2004
Inside this issue:
From Doc’s Desk
By James Alexander, DVM, MPVM Doc’s Desk 2
Our region had an interesting year fatality. Last year, we had a spe- affected. The WN infections re-
in 2003. While our rabies cases cies reversal. While only 61 horses sulted in 167 (61.4%) WN fever
were relatively few, West Nile virus were confirmed with infection, with cases, with a mean age of 43.5 Bait Drop Success- 2
(WNV) and hantavirus infections a slightly higher CFR (34%), hu- years (range 6-89). The 105 peo- fully Completed
took up the slack. In a few short man cases increased dramatically! ple with the more severe encepha-
months we will once again see an We have nearly concluded the litis or meningitis forms of the dis-
increasing risk for both of these investigations of all reported test ease had a mean age of 52.9 Website Additions 2
diseases. results. Approximately 385 test years (range 11-87). All deaths
results were received in our of- that were recorded as being due to
In 2003, the state documented the
fices. After weeding out duplicate WNV occurred in people with the Training Opportuni- 3
most cases of hantavirus infections
names, test results that were inde- more severe form of the disease.
in Texas in a single year (7), in-
terminate, out-of-state residents However, while investigating the
cluding our first case which did not
(26) and folks who could not be cases, we realized very quickly
develop into the hantavirus pulmo-
located, we have obtained informa- that the majority of the people that Smile! 4
nary syndrome (HPS). Of the
tion on 304 people, with a few reported having the “less severe”
seven individuals, two died, result-
more still being worked. form experienced a debilitating
ing in a 29% case fatality rate
disease. The recovery time from
(CFR) for the year. This was a vast The majority of the people were Free Pet Supplies 4
the fever form was in excess of
improvement over the situation in infected with the WNV (272,
four weeks in many instances. In
2002, when all four confirmed 89.4%). Another disease that had
some people, the encephalitic form
cases died. Five of the seven not been identified in quite a while,
resulted in recurring headaches,
cases were in Public Health Re- St. Louis encephalitis (SLE), af- Rabies Update 4
fatigue, and, on occasion, lasting
gion 1, including one of two fatali- fected 14 people (4.6%). We sus-
ties. When the weather warms up, pect that SLE, a “cousin” of WNV,
the usual “spring cleaning” will has been active in the past, but We were able to obtain information
ensue. Please remind your clients, was probably diagnosed as aseptic about the use of DEET-based Dr. Mahlow Resigns 4
family and friends that certain pre- meningitis in most cases. The final repellents from 166 (55%) of the
cautions need to be taken before group of 18 people (5.9%) was 304 cases investigated. Only 12,
embarking on cleaning out the classified as “flavivirus” cases. two-thirds of whom were females,
stuffy storerooms, garden sheds, These were people with symptoms reported using DEET 100% of the
etc. compatible with SLE and WNV, but time. The average use of DEET
whose titers were not clearly in- was 19.3% of the time, with 62% of
In 2002, our region experienced an
dicative of which infection was the people who responded report-
extremely high incidence of West
active. ing no use at all!
Nile virus infections in horses (387
confirmed) with a CFR of about For the 272 WNV infections, the This brings me to the final mes- PHR 1 ZOONOSIS STAFF
24%. That year we only docu- mean age was 47 (range 6-89), sage: this is a disease that can be
mented 11 human cases, with one with 135 males and 137 females (Continued on page 2) James Alexander, DVM, MPVM
Pet Guinea Pig in New York Tests Positive for Suzan Norwood, Admin Asst.
Rabies 300 Victory Drive
Adapted from an article by Millicent Eidson, MA, DVM, DACVPM, New York State Health Dept. WTAMU Box 60968
Canyon, TX 79016-0968
Never say never. been a pet with one family its burrowed under the edge of a 806-655-7151
The New York State (NYS) entire life. dog house. For the next few 806-655-1354 (Fax)
Department of Health has iden- On September 27, 2003, the days, the animal favored a hind
limb, though the owner did not Karen McDonald
tified a pet guinea pig infected owner took the animal outdoors Zoonosis Technician
with raccoon variant rabies. for fresh air, and allowed it to report a visible wound.
This is the first rabid guinea pig roam free. Hearing the guinea On October 23, the owner was 1109 Kemper Street
and the first rabid pet rodent pig squeal, the owner saw a bitten by the guinea pig. She Lubbock, TX 79403
identified in the state. The ani- raccoon running off to climb a 806-767-0427
(Continued on page 3) 806-741-1366 (Fax)
mal was six years old, and had tree. The guinea pig was found
Page 2 Zoonosis News from Public Health Region 1
From Doc’s Desk (cont.)
(Continued from page 1) how to prevent mosquito breeding the dangers that dogs can pose.
prevented fairly easily. The 4Ds in water troughs, playa lakes, etc. As always, please continue to
still apply: avoid being out at dusk We hope this year will be a much promote rabies vaccinations,
and dawn, if possible; if out at less active year for all three pri- based on the schedule established
those times, use a DEET-based mary species: birds, horses, and in your community.
repellent; dress in proper clothing humans.
Thank you for your assistance in
when out during the peak of mos-
We have also had a number of dog protecting the health of our re-
quito activity; and drain standing
attacks recently. Several children gion’s citizens.
have been injured; we are thankful
Please help us spread the word there have not been any deaths. In
about how to prevent WNV infec- one incident, the child had played
tions. It’s relatively easy, a whole with the dogs before, but was
lot less expensive than the treat- placed in the yard unsupervised
ment for the disease, and much and was viciously attacked. In
less painful, too. Horse owners another instance, a child walked
Mosquitoes kept health care need to be reminded of the vac- into the yard of a neighbor and
professionals, veterinarians, and cines that are available for pre- was attacked. Please work within
TDH employees busy through- venting the disease in their horses, your communities to help educate
out the last half of 2003. as well as being advised about children and their parents about
ORVP Successfully Completed for 2004
Adapted from ZCD Website
Two rabies epizootics (epidemics in Texas. The two epizootics ex- was completed January 12, with
animals) began in Texas in 1988, panded to involve a total of 69 approximately 730,400 baits
one involving coyotes and dogs in Texas counties by 1996. dropped and 30,959 miles flown.
South Texas and the other in gray The West-Central bait drop was
In February 1995, the Texas De-
foxes in West-Central Texas. The completed January 30, with ap-
partment of Health (TDH) initiated
South Texas epizootic has resulted proximately 1,986,020 baits
the Oral Rabies Vaccination Pro-
in two human deaths and has dropped and 59,314 miles flown.
gram (ORVP) as a multiyear pro-
caused over 3,000 people to re-
gram, with a goal of creating zones For additional information, please
The bait drop has been a ceive post-exposure rabies treat-
yearly event in Texas since of vaccinated coyotes and gray contact Dr. Tom Sidwa or Guy
ment. In 1994, the public heath
1995. foxes along the leading edges of Moore with the TDH Zoonosis Con-
threat created by these two ex-
the epizootics, thereby halting the trol Division at (512) 458-7255, or
panding epizootics prompted then-
spread of the disease. go to the website at http://www.tdh.
Governor Ann Richards to declare
rabies a public health emergency in This year’s South Texas bait drop
New Publications Added to Website
By Pam Wilson, RVT, M.Ed., CHES, and Eric Fonken, DVM, M.P.Aff.
The updated version (2004) of the treatment of probable expo- sion of a pamphlet about Bay-
the Rabies Prevention in Texas sures. Instructions to veterinari- lisacaris procyonis, the raccoon
booklet is now available on the ans and animal control officers roundworm, to the ZCD website.
Texas Department of Health submitting animal specimens for You may access it at http://www.
Zoonosis Control Division’s rabies evaluation are included, tdh.state.tx.us/zoonosis/
(ZCD) website at: http://www.tdh. as well as recommendations for diseases/baylisascaris/
Be sure to check our website for state.tx.us/zoonosis/diseases/ management of biting animals raccoonlatrine.pdf directly, or if
new publications. RABIES/rabiesprevention.asp. and management of domestic you are browsing from the main
animals exposed to rabid ani- page the link is at http://www.
This guide assists in the evalua-
tion of possible exposures of
Outdoorsafety.asp under our
humans to rabies virus, and in Also, we have added a PDF ver-
“Outdoor Safety” page.
Pub. #50-10970, Vol. 44-01 Page 3
Pet Guinea Pig in NY Tests Positive for Rabies (cont.)
(Continued from page 1) with slightly crusty eyes from the guinea pig may never have This case has many similari-
promptly washed the area an ocular discharge, but noth- been tested and the patient ties to some of the incidents of
twice with soap and water, and ing seemed out of the ordinary may never have received post- rabid pet rabbits in NYS.
assumed she was bitten be- for an older guinea pig. In hind- exposure prophylaxis. Guinea These incidents serve as a
cause she was squeezing the sight, the owner reported the pigs frequently give small bites warning about the risks of let-
animal too hard. After thinking guinea pig had become copro- to their owners, and guinea ting unvaccinated pets, espe-
about the bite incident for sev- phagic in the week prior to pigs usually die at home with cially small rodents and rab-
eral days, the owner contacted euthanasia. The animal was nonspecific signs such as the bits, outside without the pro-
local health authorities and was not seen by a veterinarian. The pet in this case, without the tection of double cages. It also
advised to submit the animal brain tested strongly positive owners contacting local health emphasizes the importance of
for rabies testing. The animal for rabies infection by im- departments for rabies testing. reporting all potential contacts
was euthanized on October 30. munofluorescence microscopy; If the owner had subsequently of those animals with wildlife to
The veterinary technician who this finding was confirmed by developed rabies, the guinea health departments for appro-
euthanized the animal noted virus isolation in cell culture. pig bite and the raccoon inci- priate follow-up.
that the guinea pig had a poor If the owner had not happened dent may never have been And it teaches us to “never say
hair coat and was a bit thin, to witness the raccoon attack, included in the patient’s history. never.”
Some people believe this may be worth a try: for mosquito control at home, put some water in a white dinner plate and add a couple of
drops of Lemon Fresh Joy dish detergent. Set the dish on your porch, patio, or other outdoor area. Whether it’s the lemon smell, the
white plate color, or something else that attracts them, mosquitoes supposedly flock to it — and drop dead shortly after drinking the
mixture, usually within about 10 feet of the plate!
Training Opportunities are Available Statewide
If you missed the deadline to The 14th Annual Texas Fed- The annual Southwest Con-
sign up for the April 20-21 Ba- eration of Humane Societies ference on Diseases in Na-
sic Animal Control Officer (TFHS) Conference will be in ture Transmissible to Man,
Training Course in Lubbock, Austin at the Omni Austin Hotel sponsored by the Zoonosis
you still have ample time to Southpark, April 25-27. Regis- Control Division of the Texas
register for the one in Amarillo tration is from 11:00 a.m. to Department of Health and the
scheduled for October 26-27. If 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 25. Texas Health Foundation, will
training is needed sooner, and Sessions begin at 2:00 p.m. be held June 2-4 at the Austin
your agency is willing to send that same day. Marriott at the Capital. The
you out of the region, there are In addition to the presentation conference is attended by
several other courses sched- of a number of topics by vari- health professionals worldwide, Don’t miss a chance for train-
uled. View those dates and ous speakers, there will also be and is the oldest continuous ing!
register online at www.tdh. exhibits set up in the ballroom, meeting of its kind in the U.S. It
state.tx.us/zoonosis. and a silent auction that opens provides continuing education
The new euthanasia techni- Monday at 9:00 a.m. and credits for physicians, veteri-
cian training requirement be- closes Tuesday at 10:45 a.m. narians, animal control officers,
comes effective January 1, and veterinary technicians.
Further information can be ob-
2005. Various agencies are tained by contacting TFHS. For further information, go to
currently seeking approval of Scholarships are available; the Zoonosis website at www.
their course curricula. Course Pam Burney (pamb@aspca. tdh.state.tx.us/zoonosis.
dates will be announced in the org) can provide details.
A woman brought in a very limp duck into a veterinary clinic. As she
placed her pet on the table, the vet pulled out his stethoscope and listened
to the bird’s chest. After a moment or two, the vet shook his head sadly
and said, “I’m so sorry, Cuddles has passed away.”
The distressed owner wailed, “Are you sure?”
300 Victory Drive “Yes, I’m sure. The duck is dead,” he replied.
WTAMU Box 60968 “How can you be so sure?” she protested. “I mean, you haven’t done any test-
Canyon, TX 79016-0968 ing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something.”
The vet rolled his eyes, turned around, and left the room. He returned a few
Fax: 806-655-1354 moments later with a black Labrador Retriever. As the duck’s owner looked on in
E-mail: email@example.com amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination
table, and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He then looked at the vet with sad
eyes and shook his head.
The vet patted the dog and took it out, and returned a few moments later with a
beautiful cat. The cat jumped on the table and also sniffed delicately at the bird. The
cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly, and strolled out of the
The vet looked at the woman and said, “I’m sorry, but as I said, this is most defi-
nitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck.” Then the vet turned to his computer terminal,
hit a few keys, and produced a bill, which he handed to the woman.
The duck’s owner, still in shock, took the bill. “$150!” she cried. “$150 just to tell
me my duck is dead?”
The vet shrugged. “I’m sorry. If you had taken my word for it, the bill would have
been $20, but what with the Lab Report and the Cat Scan…”
The Texas Federation of Humane Societies (TFHS) has received a donation of pet
supplies for distribution to animal shelters in Texas. If you’re interested, particularly
if you work with a shelter that has a small budget, check the details at their web-
By Karen McDonald, Public Health Technician IV, Lubbock Resigns
Unlike Public Health Regions homes in the Lazbuddie town- exposure prophylaxis as a pre- Jane Mahlow, DVM, MS, Direc-
2/3 and 7 (Abilene/Arlington ship. It was killed and submit- caution. Remember, for rabies tor of the TDH Zoonosis Control
and Temple), we have started ted without any exposures. testing, the laboratory requires Division, resigned her position
off 2004 rather quietly. There There was one investigation of samples from three areas of effective last month.
has only been one case of ra- a “destroyed” specimen. It was the brain. Citizens should be Dr. Mahlow stated in her letter
bies reported so far in Public a stray dog a family had been discouraged from shooting an of resignation, “There’s an ad-
Health Region 1. It was in Par- feeding that became aggres- animal in the head, thus de- age that the reward for doing
mer County. A skunk was sive and bit. It resulted in an stroying the brain, if rabies is a something is not what you get
found wandering around some individual receiving rabies post- consideration in an incident. from it, but rather what you be-
come from it. That certainly ap-
plies to me. I have enjoyed a
phenomenal amount of per-
sonal and professional growth
while employed with this
By the way, is your dog or cat agency, and I shall be forever in
debt to those of you who con-
current on its rabies vaccination? tributed to that growth.”
Dr. Tom Sidwa is the Acting