May Be Jumping Species at 'Lightning Speed'
Reno, Nevada (I.R.I.S.) -- An emerging public threat of Rabies across the United States has the U.S.
Department of Agriculture taking extreme measures to stop the spread.
This week it will start delivering
millions of vaccination 'baits' by hand and air across 8 eastern cities and Texas and Arizona. They are hoping to stop the spread across the land.
The problem is foxes, skunks,
raccoons and coyotes. They are coming down with the disease and the fear is that they will bite pets and those pets can take
the deadly disease home to their owners.
The vector causing the spread in the west may
be golf courses of all places. The hypothesis is that mosquitoes are attracted to golf courses because of all the water.
And that brings bats, which typically carry a specific strain of the disease. Normally, since the strain is specific to bats
it wouldn't be a problem, but now the dying bats are fall to the ground and spreading the disease to other species like foxes,
skunks, coyotes and raccoon who try to eat them. This expanding of the “host spectrum” from bats to now other
wild animals has happened over just the past decade, “and that is lightning speed scientifically,” says Anette
Arink, Lab Supervisor for the Nevada Department of Agriculture.
Again, it is a hypothesis,
but the spread of animals walking around with rabies is raising alarms and federal reaction with the mass vaccinations set
to begin August 15.
Arink calls it an emerging public threat. Another part
of the threat that is new, is that this is not the “old Yeller rabies,” that we are familiar with where
the animal is spitting rabid.
“Silent rabies is seen more often where
the animal just curls up and dies,” Arink says. The bats are the big brown bats that are the predominant species in
Nevada as well.