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By Carol A. Kemper, MD, FACP
Source: ProMED-mail posts July 2, July 4, August 8, and August 13, 2001; email@example.com.
Aedes albopictus—the notorious Asian Tiger mosquito—was recently found hitching a ride in maritime cargo entering Los Angeles’ busy port. Port authorities in Los Angeles contacted the CDC on July 14 after opening a container of "lucky bamboo" and out flew several of the mosquitoes. Similar shipments of lucky bamboo were bound for ports in San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and New Jersey. The bamboo typically originates from China, Thailand, and Malaysia, and is shipped in 2 inches of standing water. The CDC subsequently issued an embargo on the importation of lucky bamboo in standing water, but the bug appeared again at an import facility in Portland, Ore, on August 7 in another shipment of lucky bamboo. Only 10 or so mosquitoes were found (let’s hope they swatted them all). The mosquito has not been previously seen on the West Coast, although it has been found in other parts of the United States, including Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida, where it was possibly introduced in standing water in imported tires.
The Asian Tiger, so-called because of the stripes on its legs, is of particular concern because it is an aggressive day time biter and an efficient vector of a number of viral infections, including Dengue. In the United States, it could feasibly become a vector for a number of viruses, including St. Louis, Eastern Equine, Western Equine, and La Crosse Encephalitis viruses. In addition, West Nile Virus was isolated from an A albopictus mosquito found in Pennsylvania last year.
Source: Barros MB, et al. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2001;96:777-779.
Medical experts at the Research Center Evandro Chagas Hospital in Rio de Janeiro have been surprised by an apparent outbreak of sporotrichosis in humans that they believe may be associated with cat bites or cat scratches. Sporotrichosis, which is a saphrophytic fungus associated with decaying plant material and moss, is typically thought of as a disease of gardeners and rose handlers. The infection is introduced into the skin via thorns or splinters. It is not generally thought of as a zoonosis, although isolated cases have been reportedly due to the bites of various animals, such as badgers, rodents, squirrels, and iguanas, and has been associated with handling of armadillos (in Uraguay).
Barros and colleagues identified 66 human cases of sporotrichosis between 1998 and 2000, 79% of which were associated with cat contact and 47% of which occurred in persons reporting cat scratches or cat bites. They also saw 117 cats and 7 dogs diagnosed with sporotrichosis during this 2-year period. In apparent contrast, only 13 human cases of sporotrichosis were diagnosed at the same research center during a 9-year period from 1987 to 1998, 2 of which were associated with cat scratches. This difference could be accounted for based on the increased awareness or recognition of infection and not an actual increase in disease incidence.
While it is entirely plausible that sporotrichosis could be introduced through the skin via a cat scratch, as opposed to a thorn, Barros et al should consider a case-control study to examine the relationship between the risk of sporotrichosis and cat scratches or other high-risk activities in their patients.
Source: ProMED-mail post July 1, 2001; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three British soldiers assigned to the worst imaginable duty of slaughtering and disposing animal carcasses in Northumberland have been diagnosed with Q fever. All 3 developed flu-like symptoms and shortness of breath, possibly associated with the development of pneumonia in 2 of the men. Six others have tested negative for the infection.
Q fever is apparently not uncommon in certain parts of Great Britain and Ireland, where it may infect up to 1 in 4 farmers. Based on this information—and the slaughter to date of more than 530,000 cattle and 2.7 million sheep (including many pregnant ewes and baby lambs)—it is remarkable that other cases of Q fever have not been recognized in workers disposing of carcasses. Nonfarm workers used to clearing carcasses, such as soldiers, may be especially vulnerable, as they lack any pre-existent immunity. Because Coxiella burnetii can be spread by dust and debris and can reside in soil for years, mass burial sites of animals possibly infected with the organism may present a risk for years to come.