Although you may not hear too many stories about people falling victim to the rabies virus, there are still plenty of rabies cases reported around the United States, and elsewhere, today. Researchers from the University of Georgia’s Ecology department are attempting to eradicate the virus entirely.
The researchers, as you would expect, have seen their share of raccoons while out in the field. Around ninety percent of rabies cases reported in the United States were transmitted by wild animals, and thirty percent of those wild animals are raccoons. In fact, there have been efforts to eradicate the rabies virus for years now. Some of these efforts include lobbying lawmakers to create laws that make the spread of rabies more improbable, such as requiring domestic dogs and cats to receive the rabies. There are, luckily, very few confirmed cases of rabies in the US relative to other countries, but according to the World Health Organization you should definitely visit the hospital if you have recently sustained a bite from a bat or raccoon.
Have you ever been worried that you may have had rabies?
The Asian citrus psyllid is an invasive insect that spreads the dreaded citrus greening disease. Florida’s citrus industry has taken a beating in recent years thanks to the work of this destructive insect. However, new research from the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI), the University of Washington, as well as the United States Department of Agriculture’s Research Service, shows that this devastating invasive insect may offer some benefits that researchers have not discovered until now.
The previously unknown bacteria that is responsible for transmitting the bacteria that causes citrus greening disease may not be a “bad” bacteria in itself. When the psyllid infects citrus crops it undergoes a dramatic change in its metabolism and overall physiological functions. Being able to gain a better understanding of how this insect’s metabolism works is essential to understanding how the psyllid is able to produce these harmful toxins. The existence of organisms like the psyllid raises the question as to which came first the citrus plant? Or the citrus psyllid? This is a question that even the brightest of scientists admit is still a mystery.
Have you ever known someone who ran into economic hardship as a result of citrus greening?
You have certainly heard of snails and parasites before, but I bet you have never heard of a snail parasite. There is a type of snail that carries a deadly parasite, and this snail is of concern to researchers since it can travel long distances, and not just for a parasite. There are some snails, believe it or not, that are potential health threats, and the snail being discussed, the typical freshwater snail, is certainly one of the more alarming snail species.
A research team looked into the genome of the freshwater snail and found that this snail is capable of traveling a whole thirty miles. How it was that the scientists determined how far this snail can travel based on its genes is beyond me.
This snail causes problems in many developing countries for spreading the disease known as schistosomiasis. This disease infects more than two hundred and forty million people worldwide. That high number may not seem so surprising when you realize that just one single freshwater snail can carry enough parasites to infect an entire water supply. Who would have thought that a snail could do so much damage?
Have you ever been infected with a parasitic disease, or suspected you were infected at one point during your lifetime?
As you probably already know, ticks do not dwell in every US state. In fact, the tick is largely limited to the northern areas of the United States, but they can be found farther south, especially in Midwestern regions. So when it comes to studying ticks, researchers often rely on the public to provide specimens for them.
The Maine Medical Center Research Institute along with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, are encouraging the general public to collect tick specimens from the areas where they live in order to send them in to proper health officials. This will help public health officials to better map the spread of Lyme disease.
Sometimes the maps that result from carefully collected tick specimens can lead to knowledge regarding tick movement. This knowledge allows researchers to notify the proper public health officials of a Lyme disease risk before the disease arrives. Cases of Lyme disease are only increasing each year, and every single county in Maine alone has residents that experience the negative effects of Lyme disease regularly in some way or another.
Have you ever known anyone that had to endure the pains of Lyme disease?
It is not uncommon for people to spot raccoons near small bodies of water, and sometimes they can get themselves into troubling situations that may cost raccoons their lives. There have been numerous reports made to animal control centers across the United States that describe situations where raccoons seemed trapped on all sides by water during floods and heavy downpours. The question is, should you go out of your way to help a raccoon that is surrounded by violent waves?
One wildlife specialist insists that it is rarely, if ever, necessary to assist a raccoon that looks to be in need of a hand. The fact is, although many people do not realize this, is that floodplains are a raccoons natural habitat, and by gravitating towards areas heavy in water, raccoons are only doing what is natural to them. Even if a raccoon looks to be scared and cold, it does not need our help as it is perfectly adapted at dealing with situations involving heavy water. All in all, rescue missions for raccoons, would likely become an even more dangerous situation for everyone involved.
Have you ever spotted a raccoon near violent water rapids, and were not sure if you should lend it a hand?
These days, as a result of climate change it seems as though every animal is approaching extinction. One such animal that is endangered of becoming extinct is the leadbeater possum. As a result of decades of logging forests, the leadbetter is, without a doubt, becoming extinct. In fact, experts estimate that if the logging industry continues to disregard the natural habitat of many forest dwelling animals, the leadbetter will become extinct within the next thirty years easily.
Many experts agree that many endangered forest dwelling animals can be saved by simply expanding the areas that are currently preserved for the well being of animal wildlife. If the logging continues researchers believe that the leadbeater possum will be the first forest dwelling animal to become extinct as a direct result of the destructive force that is the logging industry. Some of the world’s leading wildlife experts are currently pushing for policies that will allow for the expansion of certain areas where forest wildlife is guaranteed to continue without being impeded by modern industry.
Have you ever encountered a possum of any sort? If you have, how did the possum behave once it took note of your presence?