March 11th, 2010
If this story was a Hollywood movie, it might open with armed men in white hazard suits scouting a desolate Arizona suburb, with corpses of
people, foxes, skunks, and bats everywhere.  Cut to the edge of town,
where a foam-mouthed fox with nasty intent trots crazily into the woods
chasing down a small child.  The hero, sensing the evil about to be
perpetrated, lifts his gun and fells the fox. Wait a second! I think
I’ve seen that movie!

However Hollywood might treat this subject, National Geographic reports that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health officials are taking quite seriously the fact that an
evolved strain of rabies has been found in skunks and foxes in suburban
areas of Arizona. The officials are concerned for two reasons.  First,
this strain of rabies seems to be mutating incredibly swiftly. Also,
foxes and skunks have been passing the virus to their kin through
simple social contact. This differs from the usual transmission method
for “normal” rabies,
which can only be passed from one animal to another through biting, or
in rare cases, through direct contact with infected material that gets
into the eyes, nose, mouth or an open wound.

According to Barbara Worgess, director of the Coconino County Health Department in Arizona, the report of the first skunk death due to rabies in 2001 was thought to be the result of a bat bite.  When other
skunks started expiring from rabies, health officials became concerned
and initiated a skunk vaccination program. Still, more skunks turned up
rabid, and the officials were puzzled. “It shouldn’t have been able to
pass from skunk to skunk,” said Worgess.  Later lab tests showed that
the virus had become contagious within the species — that like with the
common cold, just hanging out with an infected skunk put a healthy one
at risk.  Now CDC studies confirm that the strain of rabies showing up
in skunks and foxes is a mutated version of the one commonly found in
bats, a mutation that occurred very quickly.  According to David
Berman, the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s director for Arizona,
“We’re watching evolution in action on the ground.”

The mutant rabies strain seems to be spreading rapidly, but what really has the officials nervous is the potential for it to jump species and pass on to humans. Given the mutation, you wouldn’t
necessarily need to get bitten by a fox to catch the disease from him,
nor would you need to bite your beloved, as in the shock horror film “Rabid”,
to pass it along the human chain. According to Hinh Ly, a molecular
virologist at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, this
should be a “major concern.” The problem is that foxes range far and do
well in habitats in and around suburban areas.  Skunks commonly live
under houses in these same areas.  Since suburban sprawl has pushed
considerable numbers of these animals into congested neighborhoods, the
chances for contact between infected animals and pets and humans is
real.

Of course, the disease also can be spread by bites (it is not uncommon for hikers to be attacked by rabid animals, for example). But even scarier is the fact that as more animals get infected and
congregate, the possibility that the virus will mutate further
increases, potentially spawning a new and more dangerous form that
could spread across species.  

Officials in Arizona are on the case, trying to prevent an outbreak among pets and people. In the Flagstaff area, they declared a 90-day pet quarantine that required all dogs to be kept on leashes and all
cats to be kept inside.  Unfortunately, funds to vaccinate wildlife
have been cut due to the recession, as have funds for public
vaccination programs. Meanwhile, it’s been an active year for “normal”
rabies — even in places like New York City. Recently, 39 rabid raccoons
turned up in Central Park and triggered the city to begin trapping the
animals and vaccinating them.

By comparison to rabies, swine flu seems like a benign illness. Rabies causes pain, vomiting, insomnia, and the famous signs of fury — thrashing, unquenchable thirst, drooling, spasms, and aggression; and once
symptoms appear, death is swift. But health officials don’t expect an
imminent human pandemic, because unlike flu, rabies has a very long incubation period.
It typically takes 30 to 60 days from the time of exposure to arrival
of symptoms, giving individuals plenty of time to get vaccinated — if they know they’ve been exposed.
That’s why only about five individuals die of normal rabies in the US
annually, though 18,000 get exposed and seek treatment. In other words,
most people know enough to get help if exposed to rabid animals or if
they receive a bite, and the current treatment works. But what if the
mutant strain crosses over to humans where infection doesn’t require a
bite — merely social exposure? How would you know you need to get a
shot then?

Should a new strain of the disease arise, the scientists may need to go back to the lab to develop something different. Meanwhile, it’s unlikely that you’ll have to evacuate your condo unit to avoid
marauding hordes of rabid skunks any time soon. But down the road may
be a different story.

:hc


2 Responses to “Mutant Rabies Peril: Health Blog”



  1. This is serious. What interests me is what is causing the rabies virus to mutate so quickly. Why after thousands of years is the virus changing.
    Is it something we humans are doing. For example chemical pollution,
    nuclear radiation, genetically modified organisms, chemtrails, etc.


  2. Carolyn Clark says:


    I agree with Roger, if one starts to connect all the dots including HARRP and the world elites’ seemingly never ending mission to rid the world
    of undesirables ( any species) , we as inhabitants on planet Earth are
    in dire peril. This constant assault on a daily basis of numerous
    threats is meant to over whelm and conquer. Each of us need to spread
    the word and encourage all who value life to take the time to do so
    before there is nothing left to save.

Source  http://www.jonbarron.org/blog/2010/03/mutant-rabies-peril.html

Views: 73

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