Teen Dies of Rabies in Santa Maria Emergency Room

A 16 year old died from exposure to the rabies virus in Santa Maria on March 18, marking the first known case of human rabies in Santa Barbara County since 1927, according to the County Public Health Dept.

In an Associated Press interview, SB County Public Health Dept. Director Dr. Elliot Schulman said the teenager entered the Marian Medical Center suffering from delirium, hypersalivation and difficulty swallowing. The boy reportedly came to Santa Maria from his home near Oaxaca, Mexico, where he is believed to have contracted the virus.

“He came in, collapsed and died in the emergency room,” Schulman said.

Public health officials are working to locate a friend the infected teenager was traveling with. The deceased was likely at the height of his infection while in transit with the man, who authorities believe is somewhere in the Oxnard area in Ventura County. If left unfound, he is at risk of becoming ill with rabies.

Officials are also trying to identify persons who had close contact with the boy prior to his death. Health advisors are recommending that those who were exposed receive post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent the development of the virus.

Rabies is a viral disease that is most often transmitted in mammals via animal bites. It is preventable through vaccination and is treatable if discovered prior to the onset of neurological symptoms. If left untreated, those infected will usually die after the first few neurological symptoms appear.

Human-to-human transmission is rare and nearly non-existent in the United States, but direct contact with infected saliva has the potential to spread the disease.

Egg McMuffin Inventor Passes Away in Santa Barbara

Local resident Herb Peterson, inventor of McDonald’s iconic Egg McMuffin, died at the age of 89 last week while at his Santa Barbara home.

Peterson is credited with creating the fast food breakfast when he asked a local blacksmith to create a Teflon-lined iron ring in order to cook round, muffin-sized eggs 25 years ago. Peterson slapped the finished product in between some cheese, Canadian bacon and an English muffin and soon the Egg McMuffin was a national sensation. As the birthplace of the Egg McMuffin, the McDonald’s at Camino Real Marketplace still has a plaque noting the franchise’s role in McHistory.

As vice president of McDonald’s advertising agency in the 1960s, Peterson also helped craft the company’s first slogan – “Where Quality Starts Fresh Everyday” – and had a hand in creating the corporation’s big-shoed, red-nosed mascot.

Peterson, who grew up in Chicago, moved out west when McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc offered him the chance to set up a franchise. After initial success with his first franchise on Fairview in Goleta, Peterson branched out, eventually owning six Santa Barbara area McDonald’s with his son.

In 1972, when McDonald’s did not open its doors for business until 11 a.m., Peterson figured his business was missing out. Aiming to make his favorite breakfast of eggs benedict into a hand-held meal on the go, Peterson’s Egg McMuffin was soon born.

During his lifetime, Peterson also donated to organizations like the Special Olympics and the Santa Barbara Zoo. He is survived by his wife, four children, 11 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Death of Judge Halts Local Media Litigation

The Santa Barbara News-Press’ copyright infringement suit against the Independent was thrown into limbo last week after U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie succumbed to cancer.

According to the Independent, two instances of alleged copyright violation were stayed as a result of the judge’s recent death. The first charge, that an unpublished News-Press article was posted on the Independent’s Web site, was already approved by Rafeedie for argument in court.

The second charge purported that Independent executive editor Nick Welsh possessed another unpublished News-Press article – an allegation denied by Welsh. Welsh contested in court that he had only claimed to possess the article as a tactic to get more information in an interview and that he did not actually have the article in question. The Independent’s lawyers have argued that Welsh is protected under state law. The merits of the second issue were not decided by Rafeedie prior to his death and will now fall before another judge.

The formerly approved copyright case was scheduled for trial in January, but factors such as Rafeedie’s ailing health and recommendations for a mutual settlement between parties created several postponements. The Independent reported that the trial will now occur later this spring and that Judge Andrew Wistrich, whom Rafeedie chose to preside over the matters in his absence, will decide the case if the both papers do not settle beforehand.

The two parties have until tomorrow to reach a settlement before the matter is brought back to court.