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Our weekly zoonotic disease updates are courtesy of Mr. Pat Fricano. He is a One Health Collaborator that has more than 30 combined years of work experience in environmental protection and environmental public health between the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the South Florida Water Management District, and the Florida Department of Health. In his current capacity as the Zoonotic Diseases Coordinator at the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County, he tracks mosquito borne and other vector borne diseases.

Zoonotic Articles – Week of 5/8/2023

Poland: Lyme Disease Cases Up 93% to Date in 2023 – 4/26/2023

This year, 2,753 cases of Lyme disease (a 93% increase) and 47 cases (a 236% increase) of tick-borne encephalitis have been confirmed in Poland, according to the latest data on infectious diseases. The covers the period from January 1 to April 15 this year. During the same time in 2022, there were 1,423 cases of Lyme disease  and 14 cases of tick-borne encephalitis.  An educational campaign on the prevention of tick-borne diseases under the slogan “Don’t be attractive to ticks” has been launched. The aim of the campaign is to promote the basic principles of protection against ticks, educate on the correct removal of ticks, increase social awareness in the field of prevention of diseases transmitted by ticks, increase knowledge about preventive vaccinations as an effective method of preventing tick-borne encephalitis.

Lyme borreliosis is a chronic multiphasic systemic disease characterized by skin, joint, cardiac and neurological symptoms. The variety of symptoms and the similarity to many other diseases make diagnosis difficult. Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is an acute viral disease that is often associated with neurological complications. Vaccination is the most effective way to protect against tick-borne encephalitis. There is currently no vaccine against Lyme disease.


Flavivirus Surveillance in Horses May Protect People – 5/3/2023

Seroprevalence monitoring of unvaccinated horses may predict outbreaks of West Nile, tick-borne encephalitis, Usutu and other flaviviruses in animals and humans. "As searching for tick-borne encephalitis virus in ticks has been shown to not be constructive, serology in horses is a very useful sentinel tool to detect virus circulation in a given area," researchers wrote in Viruses.


Minnesota Lawmakers Approve Bill to Control CWD – 5/5/2023

Legislation approved by the Minnesota House and Senate includes a provision placing a moratorium on new deer farms in the state, transferring oversight of deer farms to the Department of Natural Resources, strengthening deer farm fencing requirements and restricting imports of captive deer from areas where chronic wasting disease is present. The state Board of Animal Health would continue to oversee elk and other cervid farms.


Spain: Trichinosis Outbreak Affects 16, Linked to Wild Boar – 5/6/2023

The Territorial Health Service of the Territorial Delegation of the Junta in León has detected an outbreak of trichinosis that, for the moment, affects 16 people related to hunting , due to the presence of larvae in a wild boar sausage that, apparently, could have shared. On April 19, the Rapid Diagnosis Unit of the León University Assistance Complex (Caule) detected a patient with symptoms compatible with trichinosis, which was confirmed after the pertinent serological analysis. The patient indicated that he was part of a group of hunters from the Omaña region and that they usually get together with another group of hunters from the Tremor area where they share food and make sausages.

Based on this information, technicians from the León Territorial Health Service, from the Epidemiology and Health Protection Section, began the investigations. To date, 26 people have gone through the Rapid Diagnostic Unit. There are currently 16 people with clinical symptoms compatible with trichinosis already undergoing treatment. Of these, four already have serological confirmation, while the results of the other twelve are awaiting. The possibility of more cases is not ruled out.


Avian Influenza Kills 21 Endangered Condors – 5/6/2023

The US Fish and Wildlife Service says 21 California condors have died of avian influenza since late March, including eight breeding pairs. Because condors are slow to mature and typically produce a single chick every two years, the virus threatens the endangered bird's recovery from near extinction.


Map of Bushmeat Consumption Reveals Pandemic Risks – 5/8/2023

Processing and consuming meat from wild animals increases risks for zoonotic disease spillover, and a map of the intensity of bushmeat consumption around the world shows the risks are highest in West and Central Africa and Southeast Asia. Lead author Soushieta Jagadesh says the researchers hope the map can improve targeted surveillance and interventions, but reducing bushmeat consumption will be difficult, as it is the only source of protein and income in some populations


Maine Reports Record Number of Lyme Disease Cases in 2022 – 5/8/2023

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and Maine officials have issued a health advisory on Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases. Ticks are already active this year. As the weather continues to get warmer into the spring and summer months, Maine expects the number of Lyme and other tickborne disease case reports to increase. The burden of human tickborne illnesses in Maine continues to increase every year. While Lyme disease is still the most common tickborne disease reported in Maine, the rate of many other tickborne illnesses also continues to increase.

In 2022, Maine CDC preliminarily reported 2,636 Lyme disease cases (a new annual record), 824 anaplasmosis cases, 192 babesiosis cases, 12 Hard Tick Relapsing Fever (HTRF, formerly Borrelia miyamotoi disease) cases, 7 ehrlichiosis cases, 4 Powassan cases, and one case each of ehrlichiosis/anaplasmosis (undetermined), Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis (SFR), and tularemia.In recent years, Maine CDC also reported cases of Alpha-Gal Syndrome (AGS, also called alpha-gal allergy or red meat allergy) and Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI), which are not notifiable conditions, in Maine residents. To date in 2023, Maine has reported 374 Lyme disease cases, 14 cases of anaplasmosis and 4 babesiosis cases through May 3


Minnesota Leads U.S. in Wild Bird Deaths Caused by Avian Flu – 5/9/2023

The widespread avian flu outbreak that began more than a year ago is still circulating among wild birds and mammals in the United States. But cases have greatly slowed in Minnesota, with the virus causing only three confirmed wildlife deaths in the last three months. That's especially heartening because bird flu cases are typically at their worst during spring migration, said Victoria Hall, executive director of the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota. "Last year at this time we were flooded with them," she said.

Across the country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed that the virus has killed more than 400 bald eagles, more than 300 great horned owls, hundreds of hawks and falcons along with thousands of ducks and geese. Scientists said those numbers are an under-count, as most of the sick and dead were not able to be tested. The USDA has confirmed that the virus killed 101 wild birds in April across the country. That's down from nearly 600 during the same time last year, according to the USDA. Minnesota confirmed 11 bird flu deaths as of May 9 this year. That's down from 213 over the same time frame in 2022.


New Covid Outbreak in Farmed Mink Suggests Wild Animal Spill Back – 4/21/2023

Mink at three farms in Poland tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 late last year, but no one who worked at any of the farms tested positive, nor did their families or any feral cat droppings around the farms, researchers reported in Eurosurveillance. The coronavirus variant found in the mink, B.1.1.307, was last detected in people in the region more than two years ago, and genome sequencing revealed 40 minor genetic mutations, suggesting that wild animals are harboring the virus and spilled it back to the mink.


Pollution, Bird Flu Threatens 'Very Fragile' Chilean Dolphin Population – 4/22/2023

Growing pollution, industrial activities, and now bird flu are threatening the Chilean dolphin, one of the world's smallest cetaceans, in the cold Pacific waters off Chile's western coastlines. Also known as the "tonina negra," the dolphin's small population lives along the Chilean southern and central coasts, in bays also used for industrial activities such as sea farming and seaweed extraction. Chile's long coastline helps make it one of the world's top exporters of fish and aquatic crops. "Chilean dolphins share spaces with humans, and knowing this, we have to work even more to protect this unique species," said veterinarian Cayetano Espinosa, adding that the species is "very fragile, because there are only a few of the dolphins left." Espinosa is a member of the Yaqu Pacha study center on marine ecosystems.

Jose Luis Brito, curator of the Natural History Museum at the country's main maritime terminal, San Antonio, said he receives constant reports of dolphins stranded on beaches, sometimes tangled in nets and other times killed by pollution after consuming plastic or other waste. "The Chilean dolphin is disappearing at an alarming rate," he said. "Every day we see less of them on the coast." One official also pointed to the threat of bird flu, which has been detected in Chile's wild birds, marine animals, and industrial complex. A human case was also reported in March. 


Equatorial Guinea Reports 17th Confirmed Marburg Virus Disease Case – 4/23/2023

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea reports an additional confirmed Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) case in Bata, bringing the total confirmed cases nationally to 17 and the 11th confirmed case in Bata. The number of MVD deaths in confirmed cases has risen to 12 (CFR 70.5%). This brings the total deaths to 35 –12 laboratory confirmed and 23 deaths in probable cases. The MVD outbreak was declared in the country on 13 February 2023.


This Cow and Pig Influenza (D) Virus Could Infect Cattle Farmers – 4/24/2023

Influenza D was first identified in pigs, but cows are its primary host, and antibodies were found in 75% of the cows and cattle tested in 2014 and 2015. The strain isn't known to be adapted to humans, but virologist Feng Li says it "has everything it needs to infect humans," and scientists say people who spend long periods of time in close contact with cattle may be at risk.