Category Archives: USA

Rhode Island | Mosquitoes positive for West Nile virus in Barrington

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) announce that test results from one mosquito pool, or sample, from a trap set on September 3 in Barrington has been confirmed positive for West Nile Virus (WNV).

It is the fourth time this year that WNV has been positively identified in Rhode Island, although it is presumed likely to be present in other areas of the state. The positive WNV result was from a pool of mosquitoes trapped near Barrington High School and was of the Culex species that feeds on birds and mammals.

Yesterday DEM and Health announced confirmation of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in mosquitoes trapped on September 3 in northern Tiverton and in Chapman Swamp in Westerly. In addition, it was announced that two mosquito pools – one trapped in Tiverton and one trapped in a remote area of northwestern Hopkinton close to the Connecticut border – were confirmed positive for Highlands J Virus. The positive Highlands J results were from a species of mosquitoes that bites birds. Highlands J virus is a bird disease that doesn’t affect humans, but which is an indicator that environmental conditions are appropriate for the transmission of other mosquito-borne viruses.

As a result, DEM will be setting extra mosquito traps for increased assessment.

These findings are not unexpected at this time of the year. Test results on the remaining 102 mosquito pools from 33 traps set statewide during the week of September 3 are pending at the RI Department of Health (HEALTH) laboratory.

This year, to date in Rhode Island, four pools of mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV) and three pools of mosquitoes has tested positive for EEE. There have been no reported 2013 cases of WNV or EEE in humans in Rhode Island at this time

Rhode Island | Mosquitoes positive for EEE in Tiverton and Chapman Swamp in Westerly

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) announce that test results from two mosquito pools, or samples, from traps set on September 3 in Tiverton and Westerly have been confirmed positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

It is the second time this year that EEE has been positively identified in Rhode Island, although it is presumed likely to be present in other areas of the state. The positive EEE results were from a pool of mosquitoes trapped in the northern area of Tiverton and in Chapman Swamp in Westerly. Both positive findings were of the Culiseta species that feeds exclusively on birds.

As a result, DEM will be setting extra mosquito for increased assessment.

In addition, two mosquito pools – one trapped in Tiverton and one trapped in a remote area of northwestern Hopkinton close to the Connecticut border – have been confirmed positive for Highlands J Virus. The positive Highlands J results were from a species of mosquitoes that bites birds. Highlands J virus is a bird disease that doesn’t affect humans, but which is an indicator that environmental conditions are appropriate for the transmission of other mosquito-borne viruses.

These findings are not unexpected at this time of the year. Test results on the remaining 103 mosquito pools from 33 traps set statewide during the week of September 3 are pending at the RI Department of Health (HEALTH) laboratory.

This year, to date in Rhode Island, four pools of mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV) and three pools of mosquitoes has tested positive for EEE. There have been no reported 2013 cases of WNV or EEE in humans in Rhode Island at this time. Human cases of WNV and EEE have been reported in nearby states. There has been one confirmed case of WNV in Massachusetts, and two deaths from WNV in New Jersey. Vermont has had one death from EEE.

WNV is most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes and can cause febrile illness, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). Anyone living in an area where WNV is present in mosquitoes can get infected. EEE is one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases in the United States with approximately 33% mortality and significant brain damage in most survivors. Infants and the elderly are at greatest risk for serious complications. There is no specific treatment for EEE; care is based on symptoms.

Throughout the mosquito season, which typically lasts through the first hard frost, residents are encouraged to protect themselves by eliminating mosquito breeding grounds and avoiding mosquito bites.Personal protection is the first line of defense against mosquitoes that can carry diseases such as WNV and EEE and is by far the most effective way of avoiding infection.

To help protect themselves and their families from mosquito-borne illness, DEM and Health strongly recommend that Rhode Islanders should:

• Dress for protection. Wear long pants, long-sleeve shirts and socks during outdoor evening and early morning activities.

• Use bug spray. Use mosquito repellent with no more than 30 percent DEET during outdoor activities, particularly at dawn, dusk, and evening hours, when mosquitoes are most active. Do not use repellent on infants. Instead, put mosquito netting over playpens and baby carriages.

• Time activities for maximum protection. If possible, minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.

• Evaluate the environment. Be sure all open windows are screened, repair any holes in screens, and fix loose screens. Residents and facility groundskeepers should immediately look for and empty standing water following heavy rain, and ensure rain gutters are clear of debris that might trap water. Remove any standing water around yards and houses by emptying planters, wading pools, trash and recycling bins, and other places where water might accumulate to reduce mosquito breeding. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Just one cup of standing water can produce hundreds of mosquitoes.

Because horses are susceptible to West Nile Virus and EEE, Rhode Island horse owners are reminded that safe and effective vaccines are available to protect their horses. Horse owners should check with their veterinarian to ensure that their horses are properly immunized.

Mosquitoes are trapped every week statewide by DEM staff and tested at the RI Department of Health (HEALTH) laboratory. DEM will normally report mosquito test results once a week on a routine basis, with additional reports as necessary. Test results from mosquitoes trapped this week will be included in next week’s announcement. Positive mosquito test results will generally trigger additional trapping to assess risk.

New Hampshire | Horse in Derry tests positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) today announces a positive test result for eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) in a horse from Derry as well as a mosquito batch in Sandown and a mosquito batch positive for West Nile virus in Hampstead.

These findings necessitate the elevation of the risk level in Derry to “High.” Towns surrounding Derry will be raised to a “Moderate” risk level.

“These results highlight the fact that these illnesses affect not just mosquitoes, but animals and of course people too,” said Dr. José Montero, Public Health Director at DHHS. “It is also an indication that mosquitoes do not respect borders, and as a result can infect animals and people in any corner of our State. This follows closely our identification of a person with West Nile virus in Chesterfield so I want to reiterate the importance of protecting against mosquito bites no matter where you live until there is a killing frost statewide.”

So far this season New Hampshire’s Public Health Lab has tested 4,263 batches of mosquitoes. Of those, 10 have tested positive for WNV and 13 tested positive for EEE. One person was also diagnosed with WNV. The test results being announced today are the first animal found positive for EEE this season and there have been no positive tests for animals with WNV.

EEE is a serious disease that carries a high mortality rate for those who contract the serious encephalitis form of the illness. Symptoms may include high fever, severe headache, and stiff neck. There is no treatment for the disease, which can lead to seizures and coma. Symptoms usually occur 4 to 10 days after being bitten. Symptoms of WNV disease often appear 4 to 10 days after being bitten. If you or someone you know is experiencing flu-like symptoms, including fever and headache, contact your local medical provider.

Questions about EEE and WNV can be answered by calling the toll free EEE/West Nile Virus information line at 1-866-273-6453. You can also find extensive information about both diseases on our website www.dhhs.nh.gov.

Maine | Horse in Oxford County tests positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry announced today that a horse euthanized due to neurological signs last week in Oxford County tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

The horse was vaccinated for EEE and West Nile virus (WNV) a year ago, but had not received a booster dose.

EEE is a virus that is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Eight pools of mosquitoes have tested positive for EEE in York County this year. Maine last saw EEE in horses in 2009, when 15 horses died of the disease.

“EEE, which is carried by mosquitoes, is a fatal, viral disease in horses. The virus can affect human beings if they are bitten by mosquitoes that carry the virus,” Dr. Michele Walsh, state veterinarian said. “People cannot acquire EEE infection from sick animals, only from the bite of an infected mosquito.”

Steps Mainers can take to protect themselves from EEE and WNV include:

  • Wear long sleeves and long pants
  • Use an EPA approved repellent on skin and clothes
  • Take extra precautions at dusk and dawn
  • Use screens on your windows and doors
  • Drain artificial sources of standing water where you live, work, and play
  • Vaccinate horses against EEE and WNV

EEE virus is carried by mosquitoes, which pick it up from infected wild birds. The virus replicates in birds, which act as natural reservoirs for the disease.

Signs of the disease in horses include: stumbling or poor balance, unusual behavior and lethargy. Other symptoms include head pressing, circling, tremors, seizures and eventual coma. “EEE is preventable in horses through vaccination,” the state veterinarian advised. “If more than six months has elapsed since a horse has been vaccinated, a booster vaccination may be needed.” Vaccination can also protect against WNV, which has not been detected in Maine so far in 2013, but was detected in 2012, and has been detected in our neighboring states this year. Horse owners should contact their own veterinarians to decide if booster shots are needed. Revaccination is recommended if more than six months have passed since the last vaccination when exposure to infected mosquitoes is likely. Other animals besides people and horses can be affected by EEE. The virus can also affect specialty livestock, such as llamas, alpacas, emus, ostriches and other farm-raised birds, such as quail and ducks.

“This EEE activity in mosquitoes and horses should serve as a reminder to health care providers that humans are at risk from this disease, as well,” says Dr. Sheila Pinette, Director of Maine CDC. Although many persons infected with EEE have no apparent illness, those who develop symptoms do so usually three to 10 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.

Symptoms range from mild flu-like illness to encephalitis, coma and death. Approximately half of people who have symptoms of EEE will have mild to severe permanent neurological damage and EEE is fatal in about one of every three cases.

Maine’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory performs arboviral testing for mosquitoes, large animals and humans. Submission information can be found at http://www.mainepublichealth.gov/lab.

For more information: Maine CDC’s arboviral website:
http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/vector-borne/index.shtml

Maine’s weekly arboviral surveillance reports:
http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/vector-borne/arboviral-surveillance.shtml

Georgia | Herbal incense seized in Glynn County determined to be Schedule I substance

The Glynn County Police Department submitted several packages labeled “Crazy Clown”’, marketed as an herbal incense product, to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Crime Lab in Savannah.

The laboratory analyzed the material in these packages to determine if a controlled substance was present.

The analysis confirmed the presence of a new synthetic cannabinoid, ADB-PINACA.  Confirmation of this new compound by the GBI Crime Lab is the first known instance of this particular synthetic cannabinoid in the U.S.

The ADB-PINACA compound is categorized as a Schedule I substance by O.C.G.A 16-30-31 as part of Chase’s Law which was passed by the Georgia General Assembly in the 2012 session.

Colorado | Synthetic marijuana sends dozens to area hospitals

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, along with the Tri-County Health Department, Denver Health and CDC, has launched an epidemiological investigation after several hospitals reported seeing or admitting patients suffering from effects of smoking synthetic marijuana.

One purpose of the investigation is to attempt to identify whether all the patients were sickened by the same product or different products.
Dr. Tista Ghosh, interim chief medical officer for the state, said, “Initial reports show approximately 75 people who reported smoking a form of synthetic marijuana may have been seen at hospitals in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs beginning in late August. Several individuals were in intensive care and three deaths are being investigated as possibly associated.
“Don’t wait for the results of this investigation. If you have synthetic marijuana, stop using it and destroy it,” said Dr. Ghosh.
State and local health officials will be working with area hospitals to complete chart reviews of patients who were sickened by the synthetic marijuana. CDC is sending a team of four, including a toxicologist and epidemiologist, to assist in the investigation. All investigatory records, including medical records, are confidential under state law and will remain so in this investigation.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment routinely works with local public health agencies to investigate disease or illness outbreaks from communicable diseases and food borne illnesses. As with those investigations, the purpose of this investigation is to identify the cause of the illness so the public can be warned to avoid exposure.
Synthetic marijuana is marketed under many names including Black Mamba, Monkey Spice, K2, Twilight, Spice and Herbal Incense. No single product has been identified as the source for these reported illnesses.

Ohio | State enlisting help of veterinarians to identify and combat dog illness

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is working with animal health experts to determine the cause and origin of a series of dog illnesses in the state. The department is also urging veterinarians in the state to contact the Division of Animal Health if they suspect any animals in their care are suffering from the same disease.

The department’s Division of Animal Health has been taking reports of severe dog illnesses in several parts of the state for the past three weeks. Affected dogs have exhibited similar symptoms including vomiting, bloody diarrhea, weight loss and lethargy. Although there are several known causes of these symptoms in dogs, it is generally believed that there is an unknown contributor to the cases.

“While we continue to work diligently to identify what is making these dogs sick, we are asking Ohio’s veterinarians to help by contacting our laboratory for consultation if they suspect they are treating a related case,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey. Veterinarians can also help by sharing information on what pet owners should look for and how they can protect their dogs.

Owners of dogs with similar symptoms should contact their veterinarian immediately. The department has also recommended concerned dog owners take standard precautions used to reduce the spread of viral infections, including monitoring the animal closely for signs of illness and refraining from co-mingling them with other dogs.

“The most important thing dog owners can do is call their veterinarian if they have concerns about the health of their pets. Your veterinarian is the best person to help determine if your animal is ill and what steps should be taken to help them recover,” said Dr. Forshey.

Canine Circovirus

As part of its investigation, the department also announced the presence of canine circovirus in a fecal sample taken from an ill dog in the state. This is the first laboratory detection of canine circovirus in Ohio. Further work is being done to verify the significance of this finding.

“The laboratory confirmation is important because the virus is newly isolated, however we are not prepared at this time to confirm that canine circovirus is the cause of the dog illnesses,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey. “Because the symptoms being exhibited can also be linked to other known illnesses, additional analysis and information is needed to determine if this virus alone or in co-infection contributes to illness and death in dogs.”

Canine circovirus is newly isolated and there is very little information available about the virus, where it
came from and how it spreads. The limited research available shows that canine circovirus can cause
vasculitis and hemorrhaging in infected dogs.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture will continue to investigate the situation and urge veterinarians
who believe they are treating dogs with similar symptoms to consult the laboratory by calling (614) 728-
6220

Louisiana | DHH confirms state’s first WNv death of 2013 season

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) has confirmed the State’s first West Nile virus death of 2013 season. The death occurred in Rapides Parish. DHH is also reporting 10 new West Nile cases this week, bringing this year’s total number of cases to 31.

This week’s new infections include six cases of neuroinvasive disease, four cases from Ouachita Parish and one each from Lafayette and St. Tammany parishes and four cases of West Nile fever, with three in Ouachita Parish and one in St. Tammany Parish.

“The state’s first death is a reminder of how serious this disease is,” said State Epidemiologist, Dr. Raoult Ratard. “We all need to take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and our families.”

Humans contract West Nile when they are bitten by mosquitoes infected with the virus. When people are infected with West Nile, the virus will affect them one of three ways. West Nile neuroinvasive disease is the most serious type, infecting the brain and spinal cord. Neuroinvasive disease can lead to death, paralysis and brain damage. The milder viral infection is West Nile fever, in which people experience flu-like symptoms. The majority of people who contract West Nile will be asymptomatic, which means they show no symptoms. These cases are typically detected through blood donations or in the course of other routine medical tests.

About 90 percent of all cases are asymptomatic, while about 10 percent will develop West Nile fever. Only a very small number of infected individuals will show the serious symptoms associated with the neuroinvasive disease. Residents who are 65 years old and older are at higher risk for complications, but everyone is at risk for infection.

Last year, Louisiana reported 160 cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease in the state, which is down from 2002′s high of 204 cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease. DHH has been tracking West Nile virus for more than a decade, and statistics about its occurrence in Louisiana can be found in DHH’s weekly Arbovirus Surveillance Report, found on line at www.dhh.louisiana.gov/fightthebite.

This year, Ouachita Parish has reported nine cases of neuroinvasive disease, Caldwell and Lafayette parishes each have two cases, and Calcasieu, Rapides and St. Tammany parishes each have one case of neuroinvasive disease.

Louisiana | DHH confirms death of a child linked to Naegleria fowleri amoeba

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that a child who died from encephalitis, caused by the Naegleria fowleri amoeba, contracted the illness while visiting a home in St. Bernard Parish, the Department of Health and Hospitals announced Thursday.

While water samples taken from the home tested positive for Naegleria fowleri, initial tests of the parish water system are negative for Naegleria fowleri. Because some DHH tests showed low levels of chlorine in some areas of the system, the parish is taking preventative measures to flush its water system and DHH will perform additional testing.  These actions are being done out of an abundance of caution to ensure public safety.

Naegleria fowleri is a rare infection that has been associated with three deaths traced to water in Louisiana since 2011. Two people died in 2011, in addition to the death being announced today. The CDC confirmed that Naegleria fowleri was the cause of the death after specialized testing was conducted.

Assistant Secretary for Public Health J.T. Lane said, “We are working with the parish to make sure precautionary measures are being taken while we await additional test results on samples taken from the area’s water system.”

Parish President David Peralta said, “After notification from our state and federal partners regarding this matter, we conducted immediate and exhaustive testing of the entire water supply of St. Bernard Parish.  The CDC’s testing detected no evidence of the parasite, however out of abundance of caution; steps were taken immediately to continue to ensure a safe water supply in St. Bernard Parish.  We will continue enhanced monitoring and testing of the water supply.”

Using a common preventative maintenance measure, the parish began treating its water system this afternoon with safe levels of additional chlorine and flushing any trace of contaminants from the water system by pushing water through the lines. During this time, the water may have a strong odor of chlorine, may have a different taste and may have slight discoloration. The water will remain safe to drink during this process. Naegleria fowleri cannot be contracted through the act of drinking water.

Any actions taken by the St. Bernard water system are precautionary and meant to protect public health in the parish. DHH is also conducting additional testing and gathering additional water samples using specialized equipment from CDC. Due to the rarity of this amoeba results may take up to a month to confirm. State and local officials will use the test results to guide future decisions about the water system in the parish.

According to the CDC, personal actions to reduce the risk of Naegleria fowleri infection should focus on limiting the amount of water going up a person’s nose and lowering the chances that Naegleria fowleri may be in the water.  For information on preventative measures, please visit the CDC Website here: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/prevention.html

ABOUT NAEGLERIA FOWLERI

Exposure to Naegleria fowleri typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater lakes and rivers. In very rare instances, Naegleria fowleri infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated tap water less than 116.6 degrees Fahrenheit) enters the nose when people submerge their heads or when people irrigate their sinuses with devices such as a neti pot. People cannot be infected with Naegleria fowleri by drinking water.

Naegleria fowleri causes the disease primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a brain infection that leads to the destruction of brain tissue. In its early stages, symptoms of PAM may be similar to symptoms of bacterial meningitis.

Initial symptoms of PAM start one to seven days after infection. The initial symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and stiff neck. Later symptoms include confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations. After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within one to 12 days.

Naegleria fowleri infections are very rare. In the 10 years from 2001 to 2010, 32 infections were reported in the U.S. Of those cases, 30 people were infected by contaminated recreational water and two people were infected by water from a geothermal drinking water supply.

New York | FDNY remembers 12 who succumbed to 9/11-related illnesses

The FDNY remembered and honored the memory of 12 members who died due to 9/11-related illnesses in the last year, adding their names to a memorial plaque at FDNY Headquarters on Sept. 6.

The added names included: Deputy Assistant Chief of EMS John McFarland, EMS Operations; Battalion Chief John Corcoran, Battalion 52; Lieutenant Marty Fullam, Ladder 87; Lieutenant Patrick Sullivan, Ladder 58; Firefighter Michael Behette, Ladder 172; Firefighter Andrew Dal Cortivo, Engine 227; Firefighter Charles Jones, Ladder 165; Firefighter Michael Mongelli, Battalion 39; Firefighter Larry Sullivan, Rescue 5; Paramedic Ruben Berrios, Station 20; EMT Anthony Ficara, Station 43; and EMT Joseph Schiumo, Station 20.

“Each of these FDNY members answered the call on Sept. 11, 2001, and in the weeks that followed in a desperate search to bring home our fallen members,” Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said. “And now we watch as these brave men and women fight brave battles against disease. Unfortunately, these are fights that few people ever win.”

The plaque lists the names of 64 additional men and women of the FDNY who have tragically died due to 9/11-related illnesses.

“We are proud of what each of them did at the World Trade Center,” Chief of Department Edward Kilduff said. “We appreciate their contribution and their sacrifice.”

Hundreds of FDNY members attended the ceremony, standing beside the families of those lost.

“This ceremony is a tradition in the Department,” Firefighter Joseph Esposito from Rescue 5 said. “We want the families to understand that we will never forget.”

He attended in honor of his friend, Firefighter Sullivan. The two worked together for more than 13 years before the Firefighter’s death from cancer in August 2012. He was 53 and a 13-year veteran of the FDNY.

Firefighter Sullivan’s son, James, also attended the ceremony.

“My dad loved his job more than anything,” he said, describing him as the ultimate family man. “I don’t know if people realize that 9/11 is still affecting so many lives today.”

Christine Mongelli, the niece of Firefighter Mongelli, 64, described her uncle as an “emotional guy who loved his family, so much.”

“He would cry every time we brought up 9/11 – it was too painful to talk about,” she said. “But I know he helped so many people there.”