Friday, April 17, 2009

NEW HAMPSHIRE NEWS: Lyme Disease Cases Rise 80%

Areas of the Seacoast continue to have the highest number of Lyme disease cases in the state, recent data shows, and health officials are warning people to use caution as the warm weather starts to draw out ticks.

There were 1,590 reported cases of Lyme disease statewide in 2008 — an 80 percent increase from 2007 and a 600 percent increase from 2004, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The highest number of cases was in Rockingham County, with 653 reported in 2008 — a 70 percent increase over the previous year. Hillsborough County and Strafford County had the second- and third-highest concentration of cases, respectively.

Across the border in Maine, southern York County has had the highest concentration of Lyme disease cases in the state in the last few years, said state Epidemiologist Dr. Kathleen Gensheimer.

A recent change to the government's definition of Lyme disease, making it more inclusive, is partly responsible for the increases, according to New Hampshire Public Health Director Jose Montero.

Suburban sprawl and people spending more time outdoors could also be factors, he said.

Gensheimer added that increased deer populations may also be responsible seeing how ticks feed off deer along with mice, birds, opossums, raccoons, dogs, cats, livestock and humans.

A New Hampshire DHHS survey last year found more than half the ticks in Rockingham and Strafford counties had Lyme disease. Results of a similar study will be released in the coming weeks, Montero said.

"We want people to know this disease can be serious, but can be preventable by avoiding being bitten," he said.

The greatest risk for Lyme disease is between May and August, when the black-legged tick, also known as a deer tick, is in the juvenile stage. The insect is the size of a poppy seed and very difficult to detect. Individuals are often unaware they have been bitten.

Source: Fosters Daily

SOUTH DAKOTA NEWS: Jury Still Out On Effectiveness of Reflectors

An experiment to reduce the number of deer-vehicle collisions along Interstate 90 near Mitchell is now in its second year, but officials involved with the project say they have yet to see a major change in the number of accidents.

“It’s still kind of inconclusive yet as far as whether it’s a real benefit,” said Jeff Gustafson, the Mitchell region operations engineer for the South Dakota Department of Transportation. “Hopefully, the benefit will pay off in the long run.”

In September 2007, long lines of reflectors were placed along three stretches of I-90, including two segments near Mitchell and Mount Vernon and another near Sioux Falls.

The devices are manufactured to reflect light from a vehicle’s headlights into the eyes of a deer and discourage the animal from attempting to cross a road. Gustafson said the three areas in eastern South Dakota were selected for the project because of their high rate of deer-vehicle collisions.

After purchasing and installing the reflectors, the DOT released an analysis on the reflectors’ effectiveness a year later. While the study did show that reported deer-vehicle collisions in the three areas were down from 49 between October 2006 and September 2007 to 37 a year later, the number of dead deer removed from the areas rose, from 154 to 161.

The report said the reduction in reported accidents meant a return on an initial investment of $88,751, but Gustafson said the results aren’t enough to proclaim the program a success.

“We will ... keep analyzing the data, but we will probably not be putting any new ones up in any new locations until we verify that this is a good program or worth (the) money,” Gustafson said.

Art Smith, wildlife damage management program administrator for the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks, said he personally doesn’t believe the reflectors have been successful.

With no official scientific control – an area with similar conditions that does not have reflectors, for example – Smith said it’s difficult to determine what kind of difference, if any, the reflectors are making.

Smith said the reflectors have three inherent problems:

– They’re difficult to keep clean and at a proper angle;

– there’s no proof that light deters animal movements;

– and the idea that reflectors can affect animal behavior is, according to Smith, an “iffy proposition at best.”

Instead of the reflectors, Smith said he’d like to see a system that uses a roadside beam that, when broken, would set off a flashing yellow light to alert the driver.

“I am more inclined to believe that we have a better chance at affecting driver behavior rather than wild animal behavior,” Smith said. “We’ll never eliminate (accidents), but maybe we can reduce them”

Both Smith and Gustafson admit there’s no money in the budget for such a device right now. In the meantime, they intend to keep an eye on future results and hope scientific evidence will give an accurate reading on the reflectors’ effects.

“Hopefully, the benefit will pay off in the long run,” Gustafson said.

Source: Argus Leader

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

GUAM NEWS: Special Hunt to Combat Overabundant Deer

I had no idea there were deer in Guam. Shows what I know...

The Department of Agriculture is offering a special unlimited deal for deer hunters starting tomorrow, April 15.

The agency notes this year's seasonal hunting of local deer can only take place on Government of Guam property or private property with the owner's permission. Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources Biologist Jeff Quitugua says they have opened up the unlimited either-sex deer hunt because the agency is trying to control the deer and feral pig population. So far, he mentions that the animals have been destroying natural habitats that are supposed to regenerate indigenous plants and vegetation.

No exact data has been released on the current population of these local animals. In the meantime, Quitugua also says hunting licenses and deer tags are required to participate in this hunting season. Anyone interested is asked to contact the Department of Agriculture. Again, the unlimited deer hunt starts tomorrow, April 15 and ends September 30.

Source: Pacific News Center

Monday, April 13, 2009

NEBRASKA NEWS: TB Found in Captive Elk / Fallow Deer Herd

According to Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) State Veterinarian Dr. Dennis Hughes, NDA and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) veterinarians have discovered a herd of captive elk and fallow deer in the Knox County area that have tested positive for Tuberculosis (TB). NDA has authority over captive cervid herds in the state.

According to Dr. Hughes, NDA and USDA are currently in the process of working with the producer who has been cooperating with the two agencies. The herd, which is currently under quarantine, is eligible for depopulation and indemnification in accordance with USDA guidelines.

"The area where these animals are kept is fairly remote and there is no direct contact with any livestock," said Dr. Hughes. "NDA is coordinating with the Nebraska Game and Parks authorities on the situation, and they will be taking appropriate next steps regarding the wild cervid population in the area."

TB is a slow, progressive disease and is difficult to diagnose in the early stages; however, as the disease progresses animals can exhibit emaciation, lethargy, weakness, anorexia, low-grade fever and pneumonia with a chronic, moist cough.

Source: Nebraska Dept. Agriculture