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Of Mice and Disease: Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Discovered in NYC Mice

20 Apr 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger


A study by scientists at the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health finds New York City house mice carry bacteria responsible for mild to life-threatening gastroenteritis in people, and some of these bacteria may be resistant to antibiotics. Findings appear in the journal mBio.

The researchers collected 416 mice from residential buildings at seven sites across New York City over a period of one year. A genetic analysis of their droppings revealed that the mice carry several gastrointestinal disease-causing bacteria, including C. difficile, E. coli, Shigella, as well as Salmonella, a leading cause of bacterial food poisoning in the U.S. with 1.4 million reported cases annually along with 15,000 hospitalizations and 400 deaths. They also found evidence of genes mediating antimicrobial resistance to several common antibiotics.

“From tiny studios to penthouse suites, New York City apartments are continually invaded by house mice,” says lead author Simon H. Williams, BSc, a research scientist at CII. “Our study raises the possibility that serious infections—including those resistant to antibiotics—may be passed from these mice to humans, although further research is needed to understand how often this happens, if at all.”

According to the researchers, it is well known that salmonella infections can be the result of food contaminated with animal waste—including mouse feces. C. difficile infections, while mostly acquired in healthcare settings, could also be spread in the community by the mice that harbor the pathogens.

A second study, also published in mBio, provides a detailed look at viruses present in the mice droppings. The researchers found 36 viruses, including six new viruses, none of which are known to infect humans. However, they identified genetic sequences matching viruses that infect dogs, chickens, and pigs, suggesting the possibility that some of the viruses had crossed over from other species. Mice from the Chelsea neighborhood, heavier than mice from other sites, also carried more viruses.

A previous study of rats in New York by investigators at CII found several of the same pathogens, including E. coli, Salmonella, and C. difficile.

“New Yorkers tend to focus on rats because they are larger and we see them scurrying around in streets or subways; however, from a public health vantage point, mice are more worrisome because they live indoors and are more likely to contaminate our environment, even if we don’t see them,” says senior author W. Ian Lipkin, MD, senior author of both papers, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology, and director of CII.

Additional co-authors of the bacteria paper include Xiaoyu Che, Cheng Guo, Bohyun Lee, and Dorothy Muller at CII; Ashley Paulick at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Anne-Catrin Uhlemann and Franklin D. Lowy; and Robert M. Corrigan of RMC Pest Management Consulting. Additional co-authors of the virus paper include Xiaoyu Che, Joel A. Garcia, Bohyun Lee, Dorothy Muller, and Komal Jain at CII; John D. Klena and Stuart Nichol at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Werner Ulrich, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Torun ́, Poland; and Robert M. Corrigan, RMC Pest Management Consulting.

Both studies were supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (U19AI109761: Center for Research in Diagnostics and Discovery) and from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

To get rid of mice safely and prevent rat and mice infestation, contact EHS Pest.

Source: columbia.edu

Rats and the Diseases They Carry

19 Apr 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

EHS Pest Rodent Expert

This 2014 study reminds us how serious rat can be to public health.

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In the first study to look at would-be diseases carried by New York City rats, scientists at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health identified bacterial pathogens, including E. coli, Salmonella, and C. difficile, that cause mild to life-threatening gastroenteritis in people; Seoul hantavirus, which causes Ebola-like hemorrhagic fever and kidney failure in humans. Results appear in the journal mBio.

The researchers trapped 133 Norway rats at 5 sites in New York City, focusing on rats trapped inside residential buildings. In the lab, targeted molecular assays confirmed the presence of 15 of the 20 bacterial and protozoan pathogens they looked for and one virus: Seoul hantavirus was present in eight rats. It is the first time the virus has been documented in New York City, and genetic clues suggest that it may be a recent arrival. Human infection has been associated with multiple cases of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, and chronic renal disease in Maryland and Los Angeles.

It is unknown how often humans become sick from rats and what viruses cross over, but according to first author Cadhla Firth, PhD, transmission could happen in any number of ways. Rats leave behind quantities of the pathogens in saliva, urine, or feces that people or their pets come in contact with.

“New Yorkers are constantly exposed to rats and the pathogens they carry, perhaps more than any other animal,” explains Dr. Firth, who conducted the study as a research scientist at Columbia’s Center for Infection and Immunity. “Despite this, we know very little about the impact they have on human health.”

Animal Model for Hepatitis C

High throughput screening methods developed by the Center for Infection and Immunity employed to test for the presence of known and unknown microbes identified 18 novel viruses, including two rat hepaciviruses dubbed NrHV-1 and NrHV-2. Although these are not the closest relatives to human hepatitis C discovered, the identification of these viruses in a species commonly used in medical research is extremely important, the researchers say. Notably, the two viruses replicate naturally in the animal’s liver, which suggests that their lifecycle is similar to human hepatitis C virus.

“With the loss of the chimpanzee model for hepatitis C, the availability of an animal model that has fidelity to the human model is extremely important to efforts to develop drugs and vaccines,” says senior author W. Ian Lipkin, MD, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia’s Mailman School, who has discovered more than 600 viruses over the course of his career.

An estimated 3.2 million Americans and 130-150 million people worldwide have a chronic hepatitis C virus infection, which can lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis.

Rats as Sentinels for Human Disease

The study developed out of conversations between Dr. Lipkin and the late Joshua Lederberg, a molecular biologist and Nobel laureate. The two scientists wanted to study rats in New York City to have a point of comparison in case a pathogen crossed over and caused a human outbreak. “It started as a biodefense initiative,” says Dr. Lipkin. “If we are to pick up something that is a novel threat to public health, we have to know the baseline microflora.”

Dr. Lipkin continues: “Rats are sentinels for human disease. They’re all over the city; uptown, downtown, underground. Everywhere they go, they collect microbes and amplify them. And because these animals live close to people, there is ample opportunity for exchange.”

Continual monitoring of the rat population is needed along with studies in people to understand how the animals and the microbes they carry make us sick, Dr. Lipkin notes. With modern disease surveillance methods, a repeat of the rat-borne Black Death, which killed as much as 60 percent of the population of 14th Century Europe, or a similar outbreak need not happen.

Dr. Firth is currently a research scientist at CSIRO in Geelong, Australia. Co-authors include Meera Bhat, Simon H. Williams, Juliette M. Conte, James Ng, Joel Garcia, Nishit P. Bhuva, Bohyun Lee, Xiaoyu Che, and Phenix-Lan Quan at the Center for Infection and Immunity; Matthew A. Firth at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Matthew J. Frye at Cornell University; and Peter Simmonds at the University of Edinburgh.

About Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

Founded in 1922, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting New Yorkers, the nation and the world. The Mailman School is the third largest recipient of NIH grants among schools of public health. Its over 450 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as preventing infectious and chronic diseases, environmental health, maternal and child health, health policy, climate change & health, and public health preparedness. It is a leader in public health education with over 1,300 graduate students from more than 40 nations pursuing a variety of master’s and doctoral degree programs. The Mailman School is also home to numerous world-renowned research centers including ICAP (formerly the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs) and the Center for Infection and Immunity. For more information, please visit www.mailman.columbia.edu.

To get rid of rats safely, contact EHS Pest

Mice 'eavesdrop' on rats' tear signal

03 Apr 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

EHS Pest in MA, RI

Tears might not seem to have an odor. But studies have shown that proteins in tears do act as pheromonal cues. For example, the tear glands of male mice produce a protein that makes females more receptive to sex. Now researchers reporting in Current Biology on March 29 have found that rat tears contain proteins with similar functions. The new study also shows that mice pick up on the rats' tear proteins, too. The chemical cue appears to tip the mice off to the fact that predators (i.e., rats) are around.

The findings provide the first example of "olfactory eavesdropping" in the predator-prey communications of mammals, the researchers say.

Researchers led by Kazushige Touhara at the University of Tokyo, Japan, had earlier described a pheromone protein in mouse tears that they call ESP1. In the new study, they hypothesized that proteins secreted in the tear fluid of a predator (rats) might trigger behavioral changes in their prey (mice).

First, they identified a novel compound in rats' tear fluid, which they call cystatin-related protein 1 (CRP1). The protein, produced by male rats, activates receptors in the vomeronasal organ of female rats, prompting them to stop. As the researchers suspected, the protein also activates receptors in the vomeronasal organs of mice.

When mice detect rat CRP1, they report, it activates a defensive circuit in the rodents' brains. As a result, the mice stop moving around as their body temperature and heart rate drop.

Touhara's team found that multiple receptors in the mouse vomeronasal organ detect the rat protein. When the researchers genetically modified mice to block expression of one of those receptors, the animals stopped responding to rat CRP1.

"Our study shows that rat CRP1 is a putative sex pheromone in rats and that mice eavesdrop the rat pheromone as a predator signal," Touhara says.

Touhara says that rat CRP1 is a member of the cystatin superfamily, a group best known for its role in inhibiting enzymes that degrade proteins. That a member of this superfamily would serve as a chemical signal comes as a surprise.

The researchers say that future studies will explore how rat-derived vomeronasal signals are encoded to produce distinct behaviors in the mice. The discovery also opens a new avenue to explore the evolution of predator-prey communications.

This work was supported by the JST ERATO Touhara Chemosensory Signal and the JSPS.

To learn more about mice and their behavior, contact EHS Pest.

Source: sciencedaily.com

Bed Bugs in Kansas City Airport

02 Apr 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

EHS Pest Ma, RI

Bed bugs have been discovered in a sitting area at Kansas City International Airport.

According to reports, airport staff found a live infestation of bed bugs on an upholstered chair in the Missouri airport. The chair was reportedly near several restaurants in Terminal B.

The mezzanine area in the terminal was temporarily closed for cleaning.

Kathleen Hefner, a spokeswoman for KCI, said bed bugs were not found in any other area of the airport, The Kansas City Star reported.

"The mezzanine area in Terminal B is closed briefly out of an abundance of caution to clean for bed bugs found (in a chair) by staff," Hefner said.

"This is not a food-related issue," she added. "The restaurants just happened to be adjacent to the seating in the area."

The mezzanine area has since reopened, following the bed bug treatment.

Looking for an effective and safe bedbug treatment, contact EHS Pest.

Source: fox news

200K mice plagued the islands. Now, none

26 Mar 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

EHS Pest Control - Ma, RI

A subantarctic archipelago is making "huge news": The New Zealand Herald reports there are officially no more mice on the country's Antipodes Islands, which once housed up to 200,000 of the rodents.

They caused a big threat to the World Heritage Site by preying on native birds, bugs, and plants, and the five-year effort to do away with them got an assist from the public, with the "Million Mouse Project" fundraising campaign bringing six figures.

The Department of Conservation explains that cereal bait laced with rodent toxin was dropped via helicopter on the island during the winter of 2016. A team scoured the island last month looking for any mice and found none.

Both Radio New Zealand and NPR note the mice originally found their way to the Antipodes either on 19th-century ships or via a shipwreck and proceeded to purge the island of at least two insect species, as well as to displace some seabirds to other islands.

The initiative in the Antipodes isn't a stand-alone: The island nation has also gotten rid of other invasive species in the name of boosting biodiversity, including goats, rats, cats, rabbits, and a local meat-eating weasel.

New Zealand's ultimate goal is to rid itself completely of all invasive pests by 2050, per Nature.

To learn more about how to get rid of mice and rats safely, call EHS Pest.

Source: FOX

Here's Why Cockroaches can Survive Just About Anything

22 Mar 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

EHS - Pest Control, MA, RI

The genome of the American cockroach has been sequenced for the first time, revealing why these creepy-crawlies are such tenacious survivors.

The roach (Periplaneta americana) has widely expanded gene families related to taste and smell, to detoxification and to immunity, compared with other insects, according to a new study published March 20 in the journal Nature Communications.

"It makes total sense in the context of the lifestyle," said Coby Schal, an entomologist at North Carolina State University who was part of a team that last month reported an analysis of the genome of the German cockroach (Blattella germanica). Many of the gene families that expanded in the American cockroach were also expanded in the German cockroach, Schal said. That makes sense because both species are omnivorous scavengers that can thrive on rotting food in seriously unsanitary environments.

Discriminating tasters

The American cockroach is a denizen of the sewers. It originally hails from Africa, but was introduced to the Americas in the 1500s. Unlike the German cockroach, which is a major pest found almost exclusively in human dwellings, the American cockroach mostly ventures only into the basements or bottom levels of buildings, Schal said. [Photos: Insects and Spiders That May Share Your Home]

Both roaches, though, are hardy survivors, and their genes hold the keys as to why. In the new study, researcher Sheng Li of South China Normal University and colleagues found that American cockroaches have the second-largest genome of any insect ever sequenced, right behind the migratory locust (Locusta migratoria), though a good 60 percent of the roach genome is made up of repetitive segments. Gene families related to taste and smell were much larger than those of other insects, and the researchers found 522 gustatory, or taste, receptors in the roach. German cockroaches are similarly well-equipped, Schal said, with 545 taste receptors.

"They need very elaborate smell and taste systems in order to avoid eating toxic stuff," Schal said.

Hardy survivors

American cockroaches also had a larger-than-average suite of genes devoted to metabolizing nasty substances, including some of the ingredients in insecticides. German cockroaches have similar adaptations, Schal said. Both species developed these genetic changes long before humans came on the scene, he said. Thanks to their tendency to live among toxin-producing bacteria and to eat plant matter that might hold toxic substances, roaches were "pre-adapted" to the insecticides that humans throw at them, Schal said.

The American cockroach also had an expanded family of immunity genes, likely another adaptation for surviving unsanitary environments and fermenting food sources, Li and colleagues wrote. Finally, the roach had a large number of genes devoted to development, like genes responsible for synthesizing the insect's juvenile hormone or the proteins in its exoskeleton. This made sense, the researchers wrote, since American cockroaches can grow up to 2 inches (53 millimeters) long and molt many times to reach that size.

A greater understanding of the cockroach genome could help researchers come up with new ways to control pest species, the researchers wrote. One example, Schal said, is the Asian cockroach (Blattella asahinai), a close relative of the pesky German cockroach that lives outdoors and doesn't bother humans much at all. It would be interesting to see if there are any differences between the Asian and German cockroach genomes that might explain why one is dependent on human-made environments and the other is not, Schal said.

"There are 5,000 described species of cockroaches, and now we have two [full] genomes," Schal said. "So we need more."

For more information about cockroach pest removal and how to get rid of them safely, contact EHS Pest.

Source: fox news

McCormick and Schmick's manager suing for $999,999 after getting bit by venomous spider

20 Mar 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

A restaurant manager in Oregon is suing a pest control company for $999,999 after he allegedly was bit by a poisonous spider.

Scott Clement runs McCormick and Schmick’s Harborside at the Marina, an upscale restaurant and bar in Southwest Portland. In the lawsuit filed March 8, Clement is suing Ecolab, Inc., the company contracted by the restaurant to perform regular pest control, exterminator services and “proactive prevention.”

According to the lawsuit, Clement made multiple attempts to contact Ecolab during the summer and early fall of 2017, requesting they spray for spiders, but the company didn’t respond.

Ecolab allegedly “knew the restaurant required immediate pest elimination and services and “knew that spiders at the restaurant posed a threat to the health and safety of the restaurant’s customers, employees and other visitors” but failed to perform their contractual duties.

Clement decided to take matters into his own hands and clean away the spiders from the outdoor dining area. In the process, he was bitten by a venomous brown recluse spider, causing him weakness, fever and nausea that resulted in three days of hospitalization, the suit states.

While the Oregon Department of Agriculture notes there are at least 500 species of spiders in the state, the most common being the hobo spider, giant house spider and western black widow, The Oregonian reports there aren’t any brown recluses.

The suit claims that due to the spider bite and related symptoms, Clement was unable to return to work for an “extended period of time,” resulting in lost wages.

While it’s unclear how the plaintiff came up with the $999,999 amount, the suit states that damages include medical bills and related expenses totaling $25,000, in addition to lost wages during his recovering in the amount of $3,000, a lost bonus of $3,000 and loss of about two weeks’ paid vacation worth $4,500.

“Plaintiff has also suffered non-economic losses and damages, including pain, suffering, anxiety and emotional distress, in an amount to be proven at trial,” the suit reads.

For safe spider removal, contact EHS Pest.

Town Says Cape Cod Woman to Blame for Ongoing Rat Problem

08 Mar 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

Cellphone video recorded in late May by a neighbor shows rats running around a Cape Cod backyard, but the rodent issue has continued into the winter.

The health director in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, is calling it the most difficult case he has ever dealt with.

"Now that [the rats] found a source of food and water, they've stayed right there," said Bruce Murphy, Yarmouth's health director.

Murphy says Judith Adelchi on Nauset Lane is to blame.

"She's feeding them on her property," he said.

"I personally have never seen rats," Adelchi contested.

According to Murphy, his department launched an investigation after receiving complaints from neighbors in the summer.

"I would never feed a rat purposefully," said Adelchi. "I would never do that. Who would do that?"

Murphy said he has been on the property several times and has seen numerous rats. He accuses Adelchi of trying to bait the rats with bird food.

"She said they were her friends," said Murphy. "She was lonely. She wanted to feed them as a source of her friendship to the animals."

The home is owned by Mark Pallantino, who is also related to Adelchi. According to court documents, he hired an exterminator, but the rats keep coming back.

Murphy sent a cease and desist letter to the home instructing Adelchi to stop feeding the rats, but the problem has continued.

That has forced the town to file a criminal complaint against Pallantino. He is facing three charges, including having unsanitary conditions and failure to exterminate rodents.

Pallantino is due in court on Jan. 3.

For safe rat solution, contact EHS Pest.

Source: NBC

Congratulations to Jeff Hyman, Our December Ratoon Winner

14 Feb 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

EMD Serono’s senior manager, Jeff Hyman is very serious about environmental health and safety. Jeff is also a seriously funny human being!

He is our December “Ratoon” winner with his masterpiece of humor and New School Pest Management. We will proudly display this rembrandt in our headquarters and it will appear in our EHS coloring book!

EHS will donate his $100 prize to The Ruby Fund care of The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine / Tufts University in North Grafton, Massachusetts to support research for secondary poisoning from rodenticides.

Thank you for your commitment to animal and public health and the use of pelletized dry ice to end secondary poisoning of raptors and animals forever!

EHS Pest, MA, RI - Jeff Hyman, Our December Ratoon Winner


This Container of Rats will Make Your Skin Crawl

29 Jan 2018

Posted by John D. Stellberger

PARIS — Rats are increasingly scrambling from Paris sewers to the surface — and city officials and rat-catchers are scrambling for ways to get rid of them.

A creepy video of hundreds of rats wriggling in dumpsters published by Le Parisien newspaper put new pressure on authorities to act.

City hall says it has taken increasing measures against rats as their surface population has exploded in the past two years.

But Stephane Bras, spokesman for a group of extermination companies, said Monday the city’s efforts won’t work without national legislation requiring regular rodent inspection of all buildings and punishing picnickers who litter.

He said heavy rains in recent days, combined with a mild winter and an unusually large number of Paris construction sites, have driven more and more rats above ground.

For more information about how to control rats, contact EHS Pest.

Source: nypost.com

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