Teenager infected with rat-bite fever from her pet rodent

A 17-year-old woman was infected with the rare, but treatable rat-bite fever, that developed from pet rodents that lived in her bedroom, report the doctors who treated her in the online journal BMJ Case Reports.

Rat-bite fever has been reported in writings dating as far back as 2300 years. It was originally described as a disease of the poor, but these days most cases occur in lab workers or in children with pet rodents.

The condition is often goes unrecognised and undiagnosed. Only 200 cases of rat-bite fever have been recorded in the USA since 1839.

Most cases of rat-bite fever involve a bite or scratch from a rodent, but there are several reports of infection without direct bacterial inoculation.

The young woman was admitted to hospital with pain in her right hip and lower back that had continued for two days and led to immobility. Over the proceeding two weeks, she had an intermittent fever, nausea and vomiting, and a pink rash on her hands and feet.

Her nausea and vomiting improved, but the fever continued, and she had tenderness of a joint in her pelvis, and pain in her right leg.

The doctors learnt that the woman had numerous pets including a dog, cat, horse and three pet rats. The rodents lived in her bedroom. One of these rats had died 3 weeks prior to onset of her symptoms.

A blood test returned positive for Streptobacillus moniliformis–the most common cause of ratbite fever.

The disease can have mortality as high as 13%, if left untreated. Fortunately, the woman underwent 4 weeks of antibiotics. After 5 days, her rash and fever disappeared, and the joint pain in her pelvis improved over the following weeks. She made a full recovery.


Birds of a Feather Photos of Hummingbirds Hawks & Jays

In the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona, black-chinned hummingbirds have a clever strategy to keep their nests safe: They recruit unknowing hawks for home security. Hummingbird nests cluster near hawk nests, and those hawks keep away the predatory jays that snatch hummingbird eggs, researchers reported Sept. 4 in the journal Science Advances. [Read full story about how hummingbirds recruit hawks for protection]A female black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) perches on a twig. The daily survival rate of a hummingbird nest built nearby a hawk’s nest is 31 percent, compared with only 6 percent for hummingbird nests not near hawk roosts. (Credit: Harold F. Greeney, Yanayacu Biological Station

Leaf Eating Caterpillars Use Their Poop to Trick Plants

Caterpillars that munch on corn leaves have developed a clever way to get the most nutrients from their meals: They use their poop to trick the plants into lowering their defenses.

Scientists at Pennsylvania State University recently discovered that fall armyworm caterpillars (Spodoptera frugiperda) can send chemical signals to plants through their poop, or frass.

“It turns out that the caterpillar frass tricks the plant into sensing that it is being attacked by fungal pathogens,” study co-author Dawn Luthe, a professor of plant stress biology at Pennsylvania State University, said in a statement. [In Photos: Animals That Mimic Plants]

Corn plants can deal with only one kind of attack at a time, so while a corn plant is dealing with the perceived “fungal infection,” the caterpillar is left to feast on the plant’s leaves. Normally, a plant will recognize chemical signatures from insect secretions, which helps the plant know when to raise its defenses. In many cases, this includes producing a biochemical that repels herbivores, such as insects.

But chemical signals from the caterpillar’s poop act as crafty diversions, the researchers said.

“The plant perceives that it is being attacked by a pathogen and not an insect, so it turns on its defenses against pathogens, leaving the caterpillar free to continue feeding on the plant,” Swayamjit Ray, a doctoral student in plant biology at Penn State and co-author of the paper, said in a statement. “It is an ecological strategy that has been perfected over thousands of years of evolution.”Fall armyworm caterpillars (Spodoptera frugiperda) feed on corn leaves and crevasses where the leaves meet the stalks.

Caterpillars usually feed on the leaves in the confined whorls of corn plants. The critters typically defecate in the crevasses where the leaves meet the stalk, the researchers said.

Scientists studied the biochemical relationship between fall armyworm caterpillar frass and a plant’s defensive mechanisms by performing two tests. In the first test, the scientists applied frass extract to the leaves of some corn plants and compared caterpillar growth of those that fed on treated leaves with those that munched on untreated leaves.

The second test involved measuring how frass-treated corn leaves affected defensive performance on plants exposed to a fungal pathogen — in this case, spores of a fungus that causes blight in corn (Cochliobolus heterostrophus). The scientists observed that, initially, proteins in the frass activated an insect defense in the plant, but over time, as the corn plants were exposed to more of the protein, the plants’ defenses became altered and instead began to recognize the frass protein as a fungal pathogen instead of an insect waste product. This caused the plant to defend itself against what it saw as a fungal threat instead of an insect threat.

While this may not be good news for plants suffering from a caterpillar infestation, the researchers think it may be possible to isolate the specific components in caterpillar poop that heighten a plant’s defenses against pathogens. If this is the case, the scientists said, farmers could one day develop an organic and sustainable pesticide to prevent infection and disease in crops.

Using Animal Control To Get Rid Of Unwanted Critters

Animal Control in Carlsbad, CA is responsible for dealing with most of the animal related disturbances for San Diego County, including all of the incorporated and unincorporated areas within. But you may be at a loss if you should contact the City of Carlsbad, who contracts with the County of San Diego for animal control services, or if you should contact the county itself. Here are a few guidelines you can follow to make sure that you are contacting the right department, as well as ensuring that you are not putting yourself in any unnecessary risk.

If you are just looking to adopt a pet, license one you have already, or any other pet matter that is unrelated to a disturbance you should contact the County of San Diego directly. They operate three shelters, including the one in Carlsbad, so you should not have to contact animal control in Carlsbad at all for any peaceful inquiries. Carlsbad animal control is mostly responsible for dealing with animal disturbances that pose an immediate threat to people or animals. So be sure to ask yourself how urgent your inquiry is, and that should help guide you to the correct organization.

A situation requiring animal control assistance would be suspected abuse to an animal in your neighborhood. If you here constant barking, or desperate shrieks from a nearby cat then you may need to call Carlsbad Animal Control. You should not do any private sleuthing to investigate the situation. First of all, an abused animal can typically display violent tendencies, so you may not want to pose yourself as an intruder.

Secondly, you do not want to risk your credibility by having your neighbor call the police on you for trying to “rescue” his pet. Carlsbad Animal Control employs highly trained individuals who have been primed to investigate such occurrences and determine if any abuse has occurred, and take the animal away from its owner if any danger is posed to it. Always trust the professionals to take care of the problems in their field.

If a dead animal is found on the road then you should contact the City of Carlsbad. Dead animals are not just smelly and unsightly, they can also spread disease. Do not attempt to remove the animal yourself, because you probably do not know for sure what killed it and if it poses any danger to you. Once again, just let the professionals who are paid to take care of this problem remove it for you.

Another major problem can be wild dogs roaming the area. A wild dog can be extremely dangerous, so Carlsbad Animal Control should be contacted. Many of these animals have been abused and are very afraid of people, so any attempt to scare the dog into leaving may backfire, prompting the dog to attack you in defense.

In addition, a wild dog has no way of receiving regular vaccinations, so there is a chance that it could be infected with rabies. Animal Control has the necessary training and tools to safely remove the dog, and wild dog removal should never be attempted without their assistance. And, though they may be a terrible nuisanceFree Articles, Animal Control in Carlsbad is not supposed to respond to a skunk in the backyard or an opossum. So make sure you have a genuine emergency before calling.

Animal scientists identify mutations that led to pigs that lack immune systems

Animal science researchers at Iowa State University have identified a pair of genetic mutations that cause immune deficiencies in pigs that make them uniquely good models for testing potential medical therapies for people.

The discovery of the mutations will pave the way for researchers to further develop a genetic line of pigs with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) at Iowa State and to improve husbandry and management practices for the pigs.

Christopher Tuggle, an animal science professor, said pigs born with SCID make ideal models for studying vaccines, potential cancer treatments and stem cell therapies for human medicine. That’s because their deficient immune systems can’t reject cells introduced experimentally.

“The pig is known to be an excellent model for human biology due to its similar size, physiology and genetic make-up,” Tuggle said. “This shows it has high potential as a model for many areas of testing in regenerative medicine, a new medical specialty that repairs disease instead of treating symptoms.”

Tuggle was part of a research team that published findings recently in the Journal of Immunology, a peer-reviewed academic publication, identifying two genetic mutations in pigs that lead to offspring with SCID. The editors of the journal highlighted the publication for its importance.

In collaboration with researchers at Kansas State University, ISU scientists first identified pigs with SCID around four years ago as part of an ongoing study of feed efficiency in pork production and the impact of infectious disease. The project, led by animal scientist Jack Dekkers, did not set out to breed a line of pigs with SCID, but the researchers quickly realized their value when some pigs did not show an immune response when exposed to a viral disease.

The National Institutes of Health awarded the researchers a $2.5 million grant earlier this year to improve management practices for the SCID pigs, which require a range of special considerations.

“A major challenge now is to figure out how to raise these pigs in extremely clean environments,” Tuggle said. “Our new NIH-funded project aims to meet that challenge, as well as improve upon the existing model.”

The project has attracted the interest of medical researchers across the country who want to test new regenerative therapies, Tuggle said. The SCID pigs hold particular promise for gauging the ability of stem cell-derived therapies to repair damaged tissues.

Tuggle said scientists are working on methods to use someone’s own stem cells to help heart attack victims, but mice with SCID are unreliable models for testing such advances. The SCID pigs might have a role to play in developing such therapies, he said.

“The data from pigs is likely much more accurate for predicting what stem cell derivatives will do in humans,” he said.

Pepper Spray to get rid of attackers

Pepper spray is a kind of self defense product. Pepper spray was originally invented by a mailman who has to deal with unfriendly dogs during his work. Pepper spray is a chemical compounds that is used for self defense against attackers and animals. The attackers are generally drug abusersScience Articles, drunkers and rapists. The effect of pepper spray differs from man to man based on their tolerance capacity. It causes irritability to eyes in the form of tears and pain. The composition of spray includes oleoresin capsicum and OC gas. It is a powerful weapon for self defense for man and woman both. Now a days the policemen also uses this spray on their duty. Pepper sprays are very easy to use. The attacker is on the ground after three minutes if you use pepper say. Pepper spray is very easy to acquire also because you do not need any registration for that.

The effects of pepper spray are very serious that includes: Temporary blindness which can remain for twenty to thirty minutes.

Immediate closing of eyes.

Difficulty in breathing that can last for three to ten minutes.

Difficulty in speaking.

Uncontrolled cough.

Runny nose.

Burning sensation of skin.

Pepper spray are very small in size and can be kept in pocket. Thus you are assured about your safety because it is always near to you. They can be concealed in rings. In this type of pepper spray the ring is filled with an alkaloid powders. It can be used from a distance of about two feet. the only thing you needed is to just press a button. Pepper projectile is also available which can be fired using a paintball gun. Now a days triple action pepper spray is also available whose composition includes tear gas with OC gases and oleoresin capsicum. Pepper sprays are provided with canisters so that if the powder in the weapon gets finished you can refill it. You just need to remove the old canister and fill it with the new one.

If you are buying a pepper spray you need to keep in mind that the amount of pepper should be eight percent and a minimum of two million SHV( Scoville Heat Units).It is the highest intensity of pepper permitted legally. If the pepper content is less than this than spray is of lower quality. The pepper spray is not so expensive so any person who is conscious about his safety can use pepper spray.

Sorry Cat Lovers Felix Doesn’t Need You

Dogs have owners, cats have staff.

Though the old joke is a stereotype of a feline’s independent nature, that trope may have some scientific backing.

Cats do not form the childlike dependence on humans that dogs do, new research suggests.

That doesn’t mean people’s feline friends don’t bond with them, said Daniel Mills, a veterinary behavioral medicine researcher at the University of Lincoln in England.

“This is not about whether cats love their owners,” Mills told Live Science. Rather, it just means that Felis catus doesn’t look to its human owners as a source of safety and security, he added. [Here, Kitty, Kitty: 10 Facts for Cat Lovers]

Strange situation

The new results are based on a test called the “Strange Situation.” In the test, which was developed for humans by psychologist Mary Ainsworth in the 1970s, researchers put a mother or primary caregiver and a baby in one room together and then asked the mother to leave as a stranger walked in to play. Ainsworth found that some tots would play joyfully while their caregiver was around, act fearful or distressed when the caregivers left, and then act happy when the mother figure returned. Those little ones were “securely attached,” Ainsworth said, meaning they saw their mom as a “safe base” from which to explore the world. By contrast, some youngsters seemed indifferent to their moms’ presence and absence, while others were tentative when approaching a returning mom, and still others showed a very erratic response.

Securely attached infants tend to do better in school, relationships and life in general than those with other forms of attachment, scientists have found.

A study published in 2013 in the journal PLOS ONE found that dogs similarly cling to their owners as a haven of safety when a threatening stranger is near. The researchers concluded that, just like human babies, these little fur babies could become securely attached to their caregivers. A small 2002 study suggested that cats could develop separation anxiety, but the findings weren’t carefully verified.

Self-reliant creatures

To see whether cats showed a similar puplike attachment, Mills and his colleague Alice Potter, who now researches companion animals at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in England, put cats in the equivalent of the Strange Situation. In the new study, owners left the cats in a room and a stranger then entered and tried to engage the kitties in play. The researchers selected cats whose owners said they were particularly attached to them.

Overall, cats lived up to their fickle reputation; they had quite variable behavior.

“The idea of developing behavior tests in cats is much harder than people perhaps realize,” Mills said. Researchers may “do a test and say, ‘Oh, this is the cat’s profile.’ If you do the test on a cat a few weeks or a few hours later, it’s different.”

The felines also showed no clear signs of attachment, other than slightly more frequent meows when the owner left them with the stranger, the researchers reported Wednesday (Sept. 2) in the journal PLOS ONE.

However, those meows could have been signs of frustration, a conditioned response, as cats tend to meow more if their owners chat with them, Mills said. The results suggest that, unlike dogs, cats don’t look to owners as a sort of security blanket. [Are Cats Smarter Than Dogs?]

Love among equals?

Ask any cat person, however, and they would swear that Mr. Whiskers does love them. They may be right, Mills said. The new findings simply mean cats don’t see their human companions as parentlike figures. For instance, in the Strange Situation test, parents don’t form a secure attachment to their babies because they don’t see their children as a “safe base” — but it would be wildly inaccurate to say that parents don’t love their kids. It may simply be that feline-human love is rooted in something other than dependence.

It’s also possible that cats simply don’t wear their emotions on their fur, so to speak, and that another test might better gauge their attachment to owners, Mills said.

Still, he thinks the findings do reflect a truth about cats’ independence.

“If you think about it, why should cats depend on people for safety and security?” Mills said. “Cats are naturally very independent hunters.”

By contrast, dogs hunt in packs, and so may naturally gravitate toward others when looking to meet their needs, he added.

Meet 6 Animals That Predict World Cup Winners

an octopus named Paul correctly predicted the outcome of eight World Cup matches in a row, including the final showdown between Spain and the Netherlands.

>> Get travel discounts with your AARP Member Advantages.

In 2010, after winning worldwide attention as an animal oracle, Paul passed away at the tender age of two and a half – a normal lifespan for an octopus vulgaris. But a raft of other animals have been competing to fill Paul’s, er, shoes in the 2014 World Cup season. So far, however, the would-be successors to Paul the Octopus haven’t been faring so well.

Nelly the Elephant predicted that the German team would overtake the Ghanians in the second round. The match, however, ended in a tie.

Pele the Piranha predicted that the host country of Brazil would defeat Mexico. This match, however, also ended in a tie.

Flopsy the Kangaroo, a.k.a.  the “Predictaroo,” correctly predicted that Brazil would defeat Croatia in the opening match of the World Cup but flopped badly in predicting that Australia would defeat Chile.

>> Sign up for the AARP Money newsletter

Alves the Tapir also correctly predicted the outcome of the opening match between Brazil and Croatia. But he wrongly predicted that England would prevail over the Netherlands, whose team is still going strong.

Big Head the Turtle was the third animal to correctly predict the outcome of the Brazil-Croatia match. But, like Pele the Piranha, he wrongly predicted that Mexico would beat the host country of Brazil in their second match (it ended in a tie).

So, for now, much hope – at least here in the United States – rides on Nasar, a prognosticating horse who lives inside a 300-year-old farmhouse in Hold, Germany, with his owner, Stephanie Arndt, a doctor. When the online editorial office of a local newspaper enlisted the horse’s help in predicting the winner of the U.S.-Germany World Cup match on June 26, Nasar predicted that the United States would win by kicking a beach ball into a miniature soccer goal with a U.S. flag attached to it.

Could Nasar be the real deal – the never-fail Ouija of the animal kingdom? Stay tuned.

 

Also of Interest

  • Freestyle Soccer Star Séan Garnier Wows Crowd With Old-Man Prank
  • 10 Money Wasters You Should Think Twice About
  • Fight fraud and ID theft with the AARP Fraud Watch Network.

Surprise! Newfound Venomous Spider Drops in on Scientists

Most people likely wouldn’t react well to being surprised by a venomous spider, but recently, scientists at Booderee National Park, on the southern coast of Australia, were excited when a highly venomous funnel-web spider showed up unannounced.

Many species of funnel-web spiders, named for their funnel-shaped webs, are indigenous to Australia, but only one of these species, the Sydney funnel-web spider, is known to live in Booderee National Park.

Sydney funnel-webs (Atrax robustus) are ground-dwelling spiders with highly venomous bites that, before the development of an anti-venom, posed a serious medical risk to humans. Funnel-webs, including Atrax robustus, were believed to be responsible for at least 13 deaths in Australia before the anti-venom became available, in 1981. [Creepy, Crawly & Incredible: Photos of Spiders]

But the spider found along Australia’s southern coast by scientists from the Australian National University (ANU) wasn’t Atrax robustus. In fact, it might be a brand-new species of funnel-web spider, said Thomas Wallenius, a biologist at ANU’s Research School of Biology and one of the scientists who uncovered the arachnid.

“It’s remarkable that we have found this other species in Booderee National Park. It shows we still have a lot to learn about what’s out there in the bush,” Wallenius said in a statement.

The spider next to a large coin.
The relatively large funnel-web spider is about 2 inches, or 50 millimeters, long.
Credit: Stuart Hay ANU

View full size image

The nearly 2-inch-long (50 millimeters) specimen is fairly large for a funnel-web spider, the researchers said. And unlike the Sydney funnel-web, this critter lives inside of fallen trees, not in underground burrows. This suggests that the newfound spider belongs to the genus Hadronyche, which consists of funnel-web spiders that are saproxylic, or dependent on dead or decaying wood for survival.

When Wallenius found the spider, it was burrowed in its “lair,” a long web inside of a rotten log.

“They build a silk-lined burrow inside the hollow log, which can be up to 2 meters [6.6 feet] long. She had probably been living in there for 25 to 30 years,” Wallenius said.

That’s right: Funnel-web spiders aren’t just potentially deadly; they also live for an eerily long time. A study presented at the 22nd International Congress of Entomology in 2006 states that captive funnel-web spiders have a maximum life span of two decades.

The discovery of the (perhaps) previously unknown species of funnel-web spider comes on the heels of another exciting finding by ANU researchers. Last week, an ANU biologist discovered a rare, red-fanged funnel-web spider belonging to the species Atrax sutherlandi in Australia’s Tallaganda State Forest. This area, like Booderee National Park, is located in the southeastern state of New South Wales.

ANU ecologist Mark Wong uncovered the red-tinted arachnid while searching for funnel-web spiders under a rotting piece of wood.

“Almost instantly, the spider had rushed out of her silken lair with her legs raised and fangs greeting me with glistening venom,” Wong told Live Science in an email interview last week. “Taken aback by her colors, I knew there and then this was something special.”

While some members of the A. sutherlandi species have a bit of red tint on their bodies, this was the first time Wong and his fellow researchers had observed a specimen with red fangs.

The discovery of both the blood-hued funnel-web spider and its cousin, the log-dwelling spider in Booderee National Park, are part of a large study of biodiversity in New South Wales. The state is also home to many species of peacock spiders, which are much less venomous than funnel-web spiders, and arguably a whole lot cuter (some of them even dance).

How You Can Help Fight Animal Cruelty

Animal cruelty is something that is close to many people’s hearts. Many think of it as an abuse that is akin to child abuse, since animals are also defenseless against the hands or neglect of humans.

It tends to rouse similar anger and outrage as well, and there are now many agencies that are set up to help prevent animal cruelty, and also shelters where rescued animals find solace and comfort from their abusive or neglectful environments.

Years ago, there were not even any laws set up to protect animals from abuse, and abusers were able to get away with doing just about anything they wanted without consequence.

Now, there are animal protection laws set up in almost every state, and if you are found guilty of inhumane treatment of an animal, you are subject to anything from fines to community service, to jail time.

While we’ve come a long way in legislating animal protection laws, there is still room for improvement, as they are not stiff enough penalties in most people’s eyes, and it seems that it’s still taken rather lightly.

While I’m not aligned with the extreme mentality of animal rights groups that preach vegetarianism and use tactics that I don’t deem appropriate to get their point across, I certainly admire what they are trying to do, which is drawing attention to the animal kingdom and getting the word out that our furry friends need our help when they do not have a voice of their own to defend themselves.

One can read about stories of inhumane treatment weekly in any newspaper, and some of the stories are enough to make one nauseous. There are stories of animals left in homes without food or water, in their own waste and crawling with fleas and ticks, stories of farm animals abandoned, neglected, underfed and abused, and horrifying tales of household pets being beaten, starved, deprived of care, and even killed at the hands of the very people who are supposed to take care of them, that all still need to be addressed.

There are some steps you can take to make sure you are not a silent voice in the quest to prevent animal cruelty, you just need to be aware of your surroundings and know what to look for.

You can report any suspicions to the local police, or if you have an agency that works with abused animals, you can call on them to investigate and rectify also, usually the APL (Animal Protective League) and other similar shelters and animal rights nonprofit organizations will be able to help as well.

Some of the signs to look for you may already know, as most people who are animal lovers have a built in instinct for knowing when an animal has been abused or neglected. Many animals who have been physically abused will be hand shy.

They will not want to come near you or any other person, and may be especially leery of their owners or react in an aggressive way toward them or others.

While this does not always indicate abuse, as some animals are just tempered that way, it is a good underlying factor to look at when determining if an animal has been physically abused.

If an animal has patches of fur missing or looks extremely thin, or even if they are overrun with fleas, this may indicate neglect. Another one to look for is animals that you see outside on extremely cold days, tied to a chain for hours without any warm shelter. This is dangerous and can be abuse if the animal does not have a place of shelter to retreat to.

Likewise if they are left chained outside for hours without food or water – water of course being the most vital of the two. Use your judgment, there are always animals that may be acclimated to certain situations, but if you consistently see this, and are suspicious it may be worth an investigation by an officer of an animal protection agency or the police department.

Of course the most obvious thing to look out for is actually witnessing an act of animal abuse. If you see a person physically assaulting an animal, please make sure you report this immediately, as this is the most blatant and obvious form of animal abuse and certainly warrants a report for investigation.

If we all do our part in preventing animal cruelty, we can make this world a better and safer place for our furry friends who entrust us with their life and well being. If we don’t look out for themHealth Fitness Articles, who will?