Transmission Of WNV
From Alligators To Humans
From Patricia Doyle, PhD]

The Idaho case indicates yet another case of nonarthropod transmission of WNV. It is still NOT clear how the alligators pass on the virus. Again, we have NOT seen this type of transmission in other parts of the world where WNV is endemic.
Makes you wonder about the NY 99 West Nile LIKE Virus.
West Nile Virsu, Human - Idaho
A ProMED-mail post ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases
Transmission of West Nile Virus
from Alligators to Humans
From Steve Grenard
I need to clarify the discussion in the foregoing post [West Nile virus, human - USA (Idaho) (02) 20031111.2793], as it is a bit misleading. There are no commercial or any other types of alligator farms in Idaho. The weather and environment is much too inhospitable for that purpose. American alligators (_Alligator mississippiensis_) are naturally found in 10 southeastern states with the largest numbers, probably a million or more, being in Louisiana and Florida, followed then by Georgia. coastal South and North Carolina, lower Alabama, eastern Texas, extreme SE Oklahoma, Mississippi, and extreme southwestern Arkansas contiguous with eastern Texas populations (1).
So these animals do exist in areas where there is significant seasonal climate change in their natural environment. The West Nile virus (WNV) infected animals have so far only been identified in farmed animals kept at artificially high year round temperatures (92-95 degrees F) to encourage year-round feeding and growth.
The only conceivable reason a "worker" would be handling live baby American alligators in Idaho is because these animals were in the process of, or have entered the pet trade. Baby alligators have no other commercial value and retail anywhere from one to several hundred dollars each in the pet trade.
This factor adds a new dimension to the potential problem, which is reminiscent of the Turtle/Iguana/Salmonella issue of a few years ago. The source of baby alligators in the pet trade are likely to be alligator farms in Louisiana or Florida that find it more profitable to divert such animals as "pets" than to raise all of them to commercial size for leather or novelty meat purposes. The leather is used to make luxury shoes, boots,wallets, and the like. The tail meat is sold frozen by specialty shops and is often served deep fried using a variety of recipes. However, baby alligators are of no value for this purpose and are much more valuable as live pet specimens.
The reports from Idaho indicate that the worker there (in Idaho) was handling these animals and that testing found the animals positive for WNV. This leads to the obvious conclusion that an arthropod vector was not the source of transmission but that these baby alligators were shedding virus in some manner, which may have been contracted by the handler through a cut or abrasion. A concern, however, involves not only the threat of some pet alligator owner becoming infected through cuts and abrasions combined with contact with an infected animal but also as a result of the possibility of even more casual contact, as we have seen demonstrated in the transmission of Salmonella to humans from reptiles in past cases.
This case in Idaho requires intense investigation as to whether these animals, which are hopefully still alive, are shedding the virus somehow, whether a cut or abrasion may have been the portal through which it was introduced in the infected victim, and whether the conditions at alligator farms in Louisiana and Florida (as highlighted by Pete Brazaitis in the previous posting) may be contributing to the spread of the disease. Certainly mosquitos in the alligator home states such as Florida and Louisiana are part of the chain of transmission, but the case is Idaho is definitely disturbing for the reasons given above.
(1) Grenard, S. 1991. Handbook Of Alligators and Crocodiles. Krieger Publishing Co., Malabar, Florida.
-- Steve Grenard Staten Island University Hospital Staten Island NY 10309
ProMED-mail makes every effort to verify the reports that are posted, but the accuracy and completeness of the information, and of any statements or opinions based thereon, are not guaranteed. The reader assumes all risks in using information posted or archived by ProMED-mail. ISID and its associated service providers shall not be held responsible for errors or omissions or held liable for any damages incurred as a result of use or reliance upon posted or archived material.
Visit ProMED-mail's web site at <>.
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message board at: Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa Go with God and in Good Health




This Site Served by TheHostPros