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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 9/19/2022                                   

CDC Confirms Recent Human Infections With Flu Viruses From Pigs – 8/12/2022

The total count of human infections in the United States with a flu virus that usually spreads in pigs is now five this year. The most recent variant flu infection was associated with subtype H1N2v in a person who attended an agricultural fair in Ohio on the day of their illness onset. No person-to-person spread of this virus associated with this person has been confirmed. In July, another H1N2v virus was identified in Oregon and three H3N2v infections were reported in West Virginia. The H3N2v cases were reported among attendees of an agricultural fair in West Virginia where pigs had tested positive for swine flu A(H3N2) virus. CDC genetic sequencing data indicated that the viruses from the infected people were nearly identical to those obtained from infected pigs at the same fair.

While these types of infections usually cause mild illness, they are concerning because they can cause severe illness, especially in people at higher risk of serious flu complications, and because of their potential to cause a flu pandemic should they obtain the ability to spread easily from person to person in a sustained way. CDC recommends people take precautions around pigs.  CDC is monitoring this situation closely and reports these cases in FluView. Past and current novel influenza A virus infections, including variant virus cases, by season and subtype are available in FluView Interactive.

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USDA Drops Rabies Vaccines by Helicopter Along the East Coast - 8/26/2022

The USDA is dropping flavored rabies vaccine packets from helicopters, planes, and vehicles from Maine to Alabama to immunize raccoons and keep the raccoon-adapted strain of rabies from spreading among wild and domesticated animals. About 3.5 million packets containing an experimental vaccine that is approved in Canada for raccoons and skunks are also being dropped in seven states.


Avian Influenza Hits Two Turkey Farms in Minnesota – 8/31/2022

Highly pathogenic avian influenza was found recently in birds at two commercial turkey farms in western Minnesota and is suspected in a small mixed flock in northern Indiana. "While the timing of this detection is a bit sooner than we anticipated, we have been preparing for a resurgence of the avian influenza we dealt with this spring," said Minnesota Board of Animal Health Senior Veterinarian Shauna Voss.


NIH Awards $2.1M to Washington State University Veterinary Program – 8/31/2022

The NIH issued a $2.1 million, five-year grant to Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine to continue supporting a post-doctoral training program established in 1989 covering zoonotic infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance. Veterinarians and other specialists in the integrated program gain research skills, expertise with microbial pathogens and a deep understanding of global health.


CDC Reports Five Human Swine Influenza Cases in Three States – 8/31/2022

A total of five human cases of swine influenza infection have been confirmed in Ohio, West Virginia, and Oregon, and while four cases are associated with contact with pigs, one is not, according to the CDC. Three patients were infected with the A(H3N2) variant, two with the A(H1N2) variant, and none was hospitalized.


Impact of Human Behavior on the Spread of African Swine Fever Virus – 9/1/2022

African swine fever virus was first identified and characterized in Africa in the early 1900s, but it has spread exponentially in Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean since 2018. While it is a disease that exclusively affects swine, thus posing no infectious risk to human health, the virus’s resiliency and human behavior have facilitated the rapid global dissemination of the virus over the past 4 years. In this Currents in One Health, we will review its epidemiology, viral characteristics, host range, and current prevention strategies; the current perspective on what a response would look like and who would be affected; and if the virus was ever found in the US. Due to the fact that the virus affects all breeds of Sus scrofa, including those used for food and companionship, it is vital for all veterinarians to work together to keep the virus out of the US. It is only through the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally that we can contain the spread of this virus. While the infectious impacts of African swine fever (ASF) are limited to swine, the economic impacts are projected to eventually reach people both in and outside of agriculture.


Plague Confirmed in Wyoming Cat Death, Suspected in Others – 9/1/2022

A cat in the Laramie, Wyoming area that lived primarily outdoors died recently of plague, and other cats at the same location have also died recently, according to the state health department. Although no human plague cases have been reported in Wyoming this year, someone who was exposed to outdoor pet cats did develop pneumonic plague last year, and health officials say treating pets with veterinary flea control products can reduce animal and human risks.


Flock of 20 Birds in Ingham County Test Positive For Avian Flu – 9/13/2022

State officials have confirmed Tuesday avian influenza has been detected in birds in Ingham County. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) made the announcement Tuesday. The department said a domestic flock of 20 birds, chickens, ducks and geese that were living in a residential backyard tested positive for bird flu.  In order to prevent the spread and to protect other birds in Michigan, officials said the birds will be euthanized and the area will be quarantined. As of Sept. 13, 2022, the virus has been detected in Ingham, ranch, Livingston, Oakland, Kalamazoo, Macomb, Menominee, Muskegon, Saginaw, Washtenaw and Wexford counties. “While this newest detection is unfortunate, it is not unexpected,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland. “As wild birds migrate and spread the virus this fall, it is vital for bird owners to take every step they can to protect their birds from being exposed to wild birds.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the risk to humans is low.


CWD Vaccine Provokes Immune Response in Elk - 9/14/2022

Seven of eight captive elk demonstrated an immune response to an investigational vaccine for chronic wasting disease, according to Wyoming Game and Fish Department veterinarian Peach Van Wick. The vaccine was injected, an approach that Dr. Van Wick said is impractical for wild populations, but researchers will explore alternative delivery methods if further testing suggests it could protect against the prion disease.


Avian Influenza Found in Penguins in South Africa – 9/16/2022

Highly pathogenic avian influenza infections have been confirmed in four penguins and suspected in seven others in a colony at Cape Town, South Africa. The area's penguin populations were already in decline, and officials closed areas around major colonies to commercial fishing for anchovies and sardines to try to support colony health.


Ebola Outbreak Declared in Uganda – 9/20/2022

The Uganda Ministry of Health declared an Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak today after a case of the Sudan ebolavirus was confirmed in Mubende district in the central part of the country. “This is the first time in more than a decade that Uganda is recording an outbreak of Sudan ebolavirus. We are working closely with the national health authorities to investigate the source of this outbreak while supporting the efforts to quickly roll out effective control measures,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “Uganda is no stranger to effective Ebola control. Thanks to its expertise, action has been taken to quickly to detect the virus and we can bank on this knowledge to halt the spread of infections.”

While ring vaccination of high-risk people with Ervebo (rVSV-ZEBOV) vaccine has been highly effective in controlling the spread of Ebola in recent outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere, this vaccine has only been approved to protect against the Zaire virus. Another vaccine produced by Johnson and Johnson may be effective but has yet to be specifically tested against Ebola Sudan. Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness affecting humans and other primates. It has six different species, three of which (Bundibugyo, Sudan and Zaire) have previously caused large outbreaks. Case fatality rates of the Sudan virus have varied from 41% to 100% in past outbreaks. Early initiation of supportive treatment has been shown to significantly reduce deaths from Ebola.