Davis bats test positive for rabies
County health officials are advising caution among local residents after two dead bats found in Davis last week tested positive for the rabies virus.
A local resident walking her dog came across seven dead bats near the West Covell Boulevard bicycle overcrossing, where a local bat colony is known to roost. The Yolo County Health Department tested four of the bats and found two were positive for rabies. The other three could not be tested.
While no humans or pets are known to have come in contact with the infected bats, health officials are alerting people to avoid any human or animal interaction with the bats.
“It’s a delicate balance we have to achieve when it comes to dealing with bats in our county,” said John McNerney, wildlife resource specialist for the city of Davis, in a written statement. “Bats have such a negative reputation, and we want to protect these animals from potential human harm since they do serve an important role in our ecosystem.”
Health officials advise all Yolo County residents to avoid direct contact with any bats, especially bats that are sick or behaving abnormally, such as laying on the ground or being active during the daytime.
Any bats – healthy, sick or dead – that have come in contact with people, pets or livestock, should be isolated and contained for testing if possible. Residents can file reports with the Health Department at 666-8646 or Animal Services at 668-5287.
UCD researchers: No AIDS threat from mountain gorillas
A recent article in the online edition of Nature Medicine raised fears that tourists and others who come into contact with mountain gorillas could be at risk of contracting a new HIV strain.
UC Davis researchers say those fears are overblown.
“HIV and SIV have not been detected in mountain gorillas, so tourists, park workers and other people who come into contact with mountain gorillas are at negligible risk for acquiring a retrovirus infection from them,” said Michael Cranfield, co-director of the UC Davis Mountain Gorilla One Health Program, in a university press release.
Cranfield said more than 50 mountain gorillas have been tested in the past 10 years, and none have tested positive for SIV – simian immunodeficiency virus – or HIV.
Because humans and all species of gorillas are genetically similar, many infectious diseases can be transmitted among them. This presents more of a risk for mountain gorillas, however, than it does for humans, said Kirsten Gilardi, also co-director of the Mountain Gorilla One Health Program.
“With only 740 mountain gorillas remaining in the world, the primary concern is to protect mountain gorillas from diseases they could contract from humans that could devastate the population, including influenza and measles,” Gilardi said in the university press release.
HIV and SIV can only be transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids. Indirect contact, such as inhalation of viral particles, is not a viable mode of transmission for the viruses.
News In Brief is compiled by JEREMY OGUL, who can be reached at email@example.com.
Correction: August 10, 2009 – The news brief, “Davis bats test positive for rabies,” stated in separate sentences that two bats tested positive and that three bats tested positive. In fact, only two bats tested positive.