February 5, 2023

Why is Maine Reporting Higher Number of Animal Rabies Cases?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

According to an article in the Portland Press Herald, the increase in the number of reported cases of rabies found in animals: “Generally, we see more cases in springs after mild winters,” is what the article says a wildlife biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) says. But with no explanation as to why that would be so and/or if there are other extenuating circumstances that would effect the number of incidences of rabies-infected wild and domestic animals.

As far as the “mild winter” (I’m not sure scientifically as to exactly what a mild winter is as it pertains to the rabies virus in Maine), here’s what might be some helpful information I found relatively easily Online: “…changes in epidemiology are expected to follow global climate change and are most likely to be detected in areas of climate extremes. This is being illustrated in Alaska, as increased viral transmission shifts from red fox to arctic fox populations following warming trends. Increased surveillance is needed to improve predictive models of epidemiology and human risk.”

Because our society is brainwashed, it will respond to such a statement by saying that “global warming” increases rabies. However, the above statement does not say that.

It uses the term “global climate change.” Global means exactly what it says – over the entire globe. Climate change is change. Climate change does not mean only warming. In addition, the epidemiology (the branch of medicine that deals with the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health.) is likely to be detected in “climate extremes.”

Is a “climate extreme” an occasional “mild winter?” Whether the climate changes – extreme – are warming or cooling, the epidemiology of rabies will change. MDIFW says they usually see increases in rabies transmissions following a “mild winter.” Do they necessarily see decreases in rabies transmissions following a “severe winter?”

In addition, it matters not about whether “climate change” extremes or otherwise, effects the incidence of rabies, if there are no host carries of the virus, or that there are increased carriers of the virus. In Science 101, in order to make any conclusions that state that rabies increases after a mild winter, then something ought to remain constant, i.e. the number of mammals that contract, carry and spread the disease. Without this to base conclusions on, we are left with anecdotal guessing.

Because there’s not a lot of science out there on the subject, it seems that it would be safe to say that changes in the conditions on the ground, in any given region, regardless of size, will have an effect on the epidemiology of rabies, not just a mild winter now and again.

Logical thinking might tell us that, in Maine, where a “mild winter” might involve little or no snow, certain mammals that can contract and spread rabies, can more easily move about. With increases in the number of wild animals, like coyotes, wolves, foxes and raccoon, logic should tell us this might increase the incidences of rabies. Combine this with more and more domestic dog ownership, which would also result in more unvaccinated domestic dogs and free roaming dogs, rabies incidents would increase.

It’s a bit unfortunate that more information wasn’t given in this report to explain why MDIFW thinks rabies incidents increase after a mild winter. Perhaps they really don’t know and would only offer conjecture, as I have done. However, it does nobody any good to leave readers assuming global warming causes increases in rabies.

Or maybe that’s exactly what they wanted us to believe?