BISMARCK — Former members of the defunct University of North Dakota women’s hockey team have appealed the dismissal of their discrimination lawsuit against the state’s university system.

The former players filed a notice of appeal to the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in mid-July. Their attorney previously said they had not yet decided whether to appeal.

The lawsuit claimed the university’s decision to cut the women’s hockey program in 2017 violated Title IX, which bars discrimination based on sex in programs that receive federal financial assistance. The lawsuit aimed to reinstate the team.

The University of North Dakota cut the women’s hockey team, along with men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, in an effort to trim budgets with an expected drop in state funding.

But the move was met with disappointment in a hockey-heavy culture in Grand Forks.

Attorneys for the former players didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment. A spokesperson for the North Dakota University System declined to comment Tuesday morning, Aug. 13.

Rabbit in Sheridan County tests positive for tularemia

BISMARCK — A wild rabbit in central North Dakota’s Sheridan County has tested positive for tularemia, also called “rabbit fever,” the state Department of Health reported Tuesday.

Tularemia is a rare infectious disease that mainly affects mammals, particularly rabbits and rodents, but can also affect humans and domestic animals, the Bismarck Tribune reported. It’s spread a number of ways, including through direct contact with the blood or tissue of infected animals, as well as insect bites. It can be life-threatening if untreated.

A domestic cat that had contact with the rabbit’s carcass was presumed positive for tularemia based on clinical signs of illness and is responding well to treatment, according to the Health Department.

Tularemia occurs “sporadically” in rabbits and rodents in North Dakota, health officials said. There have been between zero and five cases yearly in the past 10 years, according to data from Michelle Dethloff with the Health Department’s Division of Disease Control.

Four human cases of tularemia have been reported to the Health Department so far this year.

“Symptoms of tularemia in humans vary depending on how the infection was acquired and generally appear one to 14 days after exposure,” said epidemiologist Laura Cronquist.

Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches, joint pain, diarrhea, progressive weakness and dry cough. Tularemia can be treated with antibiotics.

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