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Monday, February 27 2017 @ 10:20 PM EST

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Rabies Outbreak in the Azuero

Animals & Pets There has been an outbreak of rabies on the Azuero penninsula. Health officials said that bats are spreading the virus and that several people have been infected. Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. Domestic animals account for less than 10% of the reported rabies cases, with cats, cattle, and dogs most often reported rabid. Rabies virus infects the central nervous system, causing encephalopathy and ultimately death. Early symptoms of rabies in humans are nonspecific, consisting of fever, headache, and general malaise. As the disease progresses, neurological symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation, difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of symptoms. Over the last 100 years, rabies in the United States has changed dramatically. More than 90% of all animal cases reported annually to CDC now occur in wildlife; before 1960 the majority were in domestic animals. The principal rabies hosts today are wild carnivores and bats.. The number of rabies-related human deaths in the United States has declined from more than 100 annually at the turn of the century to one or two per year in the1990's. Modern day prophylaxis has proven nearly 100% successful. In the United States, human fatalities associated with rabies occur in people who fail to seek medical assistance, usually because they were unaware of their exposure.
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Fondness for hummingbirds makes their arrival special

Animals & Pets By Herb Wilson: More than 320 species of hummingbirds have been described. This family of birds occurs only in the New World, and most species are found in Central America and South America. With a little effort, it is not hard to find a dozen species in places like southeastern Arizona. But in eastern North America, we have a single species, the ruby-throated hummingbird. Ruby-throated hummingbirds have a broad distribution in the United States east of the 100th meridian everywhere except the southern tip of Florida. In Canada, ruby-throats occur from the Maritime Provinces westward into Saskatchewan. No other species of hummingbird in North America has a broader geographic range. It's hard to think of a Maine bird whose summer arrival is more anticipated. Who is not fascinated by these little sprites? The red throat feathers (called a gorget) of a male ruby-throated hummingbird may seem to sparkle in the right light. Their throat feathers refract light, giving the bird an iridescence that makes the feathers seem to shimmer as the bird moves its head.
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Scientists create hybrid butterfly species in lab

Animals & Pets LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists said on Wednesday they have created a distinctive red and yellow butterfly in the laboratory by interbreeding two different species in a way similar to what they believe has occurred in nature. The laboratory hybrid is nearly identical to a wild species of butterfly in Colombia known as Heliconius heurippa. "We recreated the evolutionary steps that may have given rise to Heliconius heurippa, a hybrid butterfly species, in the lab," said Jesus Mavarez, of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City, Panama. Animal hybrids are thought to be very rare because they are less able to survive. The mule for example, a hybrid between a donkey and a horse, is sterile so it is an evolutionary dead end. But some hybrids survive and establish new species. The achievement by Mavarez and researchers in Colombia and Britain, which is reported in the journal Nature, suggests animal hybrids could be more common than previously thought. The scientists began their experiments after noticing that Heliconius heurippa's distinct wing pattern was similar to two other species of butterfly. After interbreeding the two types, they found the laboratory hybrid was very similar to the wild species. The scientists said the color pattern on the wing of Heliconius heurippa, which is a mating cue, makes it unattractive to members of their parents' species but attractive to each other.
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Amphibian Crisis in Panama - It's Not Easy Being Green

Animals & Pets By Joseph R. Mendelson III and Ronald W. Gagliardo: Amphibians are undergoing a mass extinction event on a scale unprecedented in human history. Habitat loss, human exploitation, and environmental contamination are among the main causes of this threat of extinction. A deadly new threat has emerged recently. An infectious fungal disease called amphibian chytridiomycosis is having catastrophic effects on amphibians all over the globe. This disease may well be the result of global climate change. Recent events in Panama illustrate perfectly a pattern of amphibian decline clearly associated with this disease and the power of scientific data to that allows scientist to launch pro-active conservation responses. Recently, Dr. Karen Lips of Southern Illinois University and colleagues offered a model of a wave-like spread of the fungus across Costa Rica and Panama. This model predicted that in 2006 the rich amphibian fauna in the vicinity of El Valle de Antón in central Panama, would suffer a catastrophic decline because of chytrid fungus.
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Panama butterflies cosy up to other species

Animals & Pets By Michael Day: BUTTERFLIES in Central America are providing evidence for inter-species breeding as an evolutionary force. Contrary to existing theories, the resulting hybrids can be highly fertile and viable, a study of two members of the Heliconius genus suggests. James Mallet, an evolutionary biologist at University College London, set out to study the flow of genes between the two genetically and physically distinct butterfly species Heliconius cydno and H. melpomene (see below) whose ranges overlap in Panama. H. cydno, which is found mainly to the north, is coloured black, white and blue, sometimes with iridescent yellow markings. This pattern mimics other poisonous butterflies in its range. H. melpomene has distinctive red markings that mimic poisonous species prevalent in the Andes. The two species are thought to have diverged 1.5 million years ago. Mallet and colleagues compared the structure of five different genes in the two species and found that one, which codes ... http://www.newscientisttech.com/article.ns?id=mg19025504.700&feedId=life_rss20

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58 Cows Drop Dead on a Panamanian Ranch

Animals & Pets The National Office of Animal Health of the Ministry of Farming Development (MIDA) is investigating the sudden death of 58 head of cattle on a ranch in the district of Penonomé, according to Aurelio Tejeira, regional director of the organization. Although the exact cause of death has not been determined, Tejeira suspects that the recent application of a medicine to control parasites could have caused the deaths. Jorge Grimaldo, owner of the animals, said that on Monday he treated 140 head of cattle with the medicine. "Ranchers routinely apply vitamins, minerals, and medicines to control parasites" said Grimaldo. Lacking a precise diagnosis, authorities discarded the possibility that the deaths were caused by some kind of epidemic after verifying that animals on neighboring properties were were healthy. MIDA's veterinary doctors took tissue and blood samples yesterday from both the living and dead animales that will be analyzed. Grimaldo's property is far from the road that leads to the local community, and access has been restricted. Other cattle ranchers in the area are waiting to hear the results of the MIDA analysis to verify that the deaths were not caused by some disease.
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Frogs: Female choice for complex calls led to evolution of unusual male vocal cord

Animals & Pets Male tropical túngara frogs have evolved masses on their vocal cords that help them woo females with complex calls, show scientists working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. Dr. Mike Ryan, Clark Hubbs Regents Professor of integrative biology at The University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Marcos Gridi-Papp, a post-doctoral scholar in physiological sciences at UCLA, and the late Dr. Stan Rand, of STRI, published their findings in the May 4 issue of Nature. Males of the túngara frog, Physalaemus pustulosus, attract females by singing out "whine chuck chuck" calls in wetlands and puddles during the rainy season. The males may only produce whines, but females are more attracted to males that also produce chucks. The scientists surgically removed the fibrous masses in the males' larynx and found that they could no longer produce the "chuck". The frogs produced a normal whine and attempted to add chucks to it, but the sounds that they added lacked the distinctive pattern of the chuck.
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"Harpy Eagle Day" at Parque Omar Tomorrow

Animals & Pets Tomorrow morning the Panamanian chapter of the Peregrine Fund (http://www.peregrinefund.org/default.asp) will hold the second annual Harpy Eagle Festival to commemorate Harpy Eagle day. This goal is to "instill in the Panamanian population the love and respect towards our national symbols, with emphasis in this species." The Harpy Eagle is the national bird of Panama. The event will take place tomorrow, Sunday 9 of April, in the Omar Torrijos Recreational Park (see: http://www.panama-guide.com/article.php?story=20060305172233945) In the event there will be exhibitions, meals, games and other events that will include the flight of a live harpy eagle.

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Bufo marinus - A Frog That Can Kill Your Dog

Animals & Pets The practice of “toad-licking” has evolved into an urban legend – that the venom secreted through the skin of some toads cause hallucinations. In fact, the venom has been cultivated for generations to be used for medicinal purposes in human beings. However, the venom is highly toxic to pets. Dogs, which are the most likely pet to come into contact with a toad, have a high probability of dying if untreated. This toad wouldn’t win any awards for beauty; its brown/green skin is usually covered with warts. They grow to be about three to seven inches long, and is very toxic to pets. Because dogs are more curious and extroverted, they tend to be treated for toad poisoning more often. But a dog doesn’t necessarily have to lick or eat a toad to be poisoned. There have been cases where frogs have been attracted to a dog’s water dish and sat along the rim. Enough toxin can be left to make a dog sick.
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Beagle Puppies For Sale

Animals & Pets You might remember that back in the end of October I happily announced that Rex had found his mark (finally) and Kiwi was preggo. Well, four little ones arrived at about 3:15 am on 1 December 2005, without a hitch. Right around Christmas time they were just starting to get up and about, and now they are going full speed all over the place. In a week or two they will be big enough to leave mama behind and strike out on their own. While there's simply nothing more fun in the whole wide world than playing with a houseful of puppies, and as much as I'd like to keep them all, we have to let them go. We had two males and two females, all perfectly healthly. They are positively thriving...
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