Flying Squirrels & Rabies

Tips, experience & advice related to the healthy and not-so-healthy flying squirrel
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Flying Squirrels & Rabies

Postby Joan » Sun Apr 09, 2006 8:03 am

There are 4 reported cases of rabies in flyers... 2 flyers involved.
The first in 1961 in St. Petersburg, FL. Three boys caught a flyer and the next day, it died. An examination was positive for rabies.

Morbidity and mortality weekly report, Vol. 10, no. 33, For release August 25, 1961
Communicable Disease Center (U.S.); United States, Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service

On June 16, near St. Petersburg, a small flying squirrel ( Glaucomys volans querceti) was found on the ground by several young boys, captured and carried home. In the process, two of the boys were bitten on the fingers. The following day the squirrel was noted to be foaming at the mouth and about noon it died.

Negri bodies were demonstrated in the brain tissue by Mr. H . D . Venters, Director, F lo rid a State Board of Health Regional Laboratory. Confirmation by fluorescein tagged antibody examination and by mouse injection was made by the State Laboratory.

A though extensive trapping was carried out in the open pine woods area where the squirrel was obtained, only two cotton rats and seven flying squirrels were obtained. (Juveniles from an adjacent sub-division exert a heavy hunting pressure). The two cotton rats had been destroyed by insects when retrieved; the seven squirrels
showed no evidence of rabies on examination.

The rabies picture in Florida is unique in that approximately one-half of the total raccoon rabies in the U. S. is reported from this State; a relatively large percent of bat rabies in the U. S. has also been reported from Florida . Both these species are tree dwellers. This first case of rabies in a flying squirrel adds another species of tree dwelling animals in which rabies has been found in Florida .

(Reported by J . E . Scatterday, Director, Division of Veterinary Public Health, Florida State Board of Health.)

In 1978, an Auburn, AL girl found an ill flyer in the woods and caught it. The flyer bite her and the flyer's brain was examined for rabies and found positive. The girl was treated and survived with no no ill effects.

Morbidity and mortality weekly report, Vol. 27, no. 45, November 10, 1978
Center for Disease Control:

Human Exposure to a Rabid Flying Squirrel —
Alabama recently reported a laboratory-confirmed case of rabies in a flying squirrel.
This is only the second naturally-occurring case of rabies in a rodent in 10 years that
has been confirmed by CDC.

On September 22, 1978, a 10-year-old girl was bitten on the finger by this squirrel; it
was apparently ill at the time. The animal died 2 hours later and was presented to the
School of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University. A specimen from the animal was
delivered to the Alabama Department of Public Health Laboratory on September 25.
Examination by fluorescent antibody technique demonstrated the presence of rabies
antigen; CDC confirmed the presence of rabies virus in the brain tissue on September 29.

The patient was seen by her local physician on September 26 and immediately started
on duck embryo rabies vaccine. On September 28 she began receiving human diploid cell
rabies vaccine and human rabies immune globulin.

Reported by WE Birch, D V M , JL Holston, DrPH, S Wolf, M D, State Epidemiologist, Alabama Dept
of Public Health; Viral Zoonoses Bur, Virology Div, Bur of Laboratories. Respiratory and Special Pathogens
Br, Viral Diseases Div, Bur of Epidemiology, CDC.

Editorial Note: In unusual cases of rabies CDC continues to request original material for
confirmation of the diagnosis. Except for laboratory infections or cases resulting from
inappropriate vaccination with live virus vaccines, no cases of rodent rabies have been
confirmed by CDC since a case in a squirrel in California in 1972 (7).

1. Cappucci DT Jr, Emmons RW, Sampson WW: Rabies in an eastern fox squirrel. J Wild! Dis 8:340-
342, 1972
Center for Disdease Control. 1978. Human exposure to a rabid flying squirrel -- Alabama. Morbid. Mortal Weekly Rep. 27:447

"A lot of people spend time talking to the Animals, but not that many people listen. That's the real problem! ... Winnie the Pooh

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