Santa Ana Protest Cancelled

The protest originally planned for tomorrow morning has been cancelled following news that the traps have been removed from Willard Intermediate School and El Sol Science and Arts Academy. According to today’s Orange County Register:

“Traps to catch feral cats have been removed from two Santa Ana school campuses, where public health officials have been trying to stop the spread of typhus, a city official said Friday.

The traps provided by Orange County Vector Control were removed Wednesday afternoon, just a day after they were set at El Sol Science and Arts Academy in the 1000 block of North Broadway and Willard Intermediate School in the 1300 block of North Ross Street, city spokesman Jose Gonzalez said.

Santa Ana city officials decided to pull the traps because there wasn’t a clear-cut plan as to how the cats were going to be handled, Gonzalez said.”

The paper goes on to note, “No cats were trapped, tested or euthanized.”

“‘We are changing our focus and attacking the real problem, which are the fleas,’ Gonzalez said. ‘The main issue right now is to safeguard the community and reduce the risk of typhus.'”

No doubt the immediate response from feral cat advocates—the scale of which, I suspect took city and county officials by surprise—played a role in their decision to change focus. Well done.

Flea Circus Gives Way to Media Circus

“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Department of Defense news briefing, February 12, 2002

The more we learn about the typhus scare in Santa Ana, CA, the less we know. For example:

According to Saturday’s Los Angeles Times, this whole episode began when a “Santa Ana child contracted typhus.” On Tuesday, however, KTLA-TV claimed it was “an adult who has no connection to the school [Willard Intermediate, one of two trapping sites] whatsoever.”

Frankly, I’m less interested in the age of this individual than the suggestion that he or she has no connection to the site where Orange County Vector Control is trapping cats. If there’s no connection, why are they trapping there? Read more

Follow-up Items

A few follow-up items related to my past couple of posts: the first sheds some additional light on the Santa Ana typhus scare, while the second provides a little historical context to The Sacramento Bee’s recent reporting on Wildlife Services.

1. Typhus, Fleas, and Cats
Somehow I missed press releases from both Stray Cat Alliance and Alley Cat Allies, both issued yesterday in response to the Santa Ana typhus scare. (My apologies!) Below is the SCA release in its entirety (as I’ve been unable to find a link). The ACA release can be found here. Read more

Santa Ana Typhus Scare

“In an effort to combat a potential typhus outbreak,” reports today’s Los Angeles Times, “city officials zeroed in on two schools in [a] densely packed [Santa Ana] neighborhood and set a dozen traps to catch feral cats and other animals that might carry disease-bearing fleas.” [1]

“The hope is that by trapping and testing animals caught at Willard Intermediate School and El Sol Science and Arts Academy, officials will be able to determine if a recent case of typhus—the first in Santa Ana this year—originated in the community. In late April, a child was hospitalized as a result of the virus, which is caused by bacteria found in infected fleas and their feces. The child was later released.”

Read more