It’s hit the West Coast particularly hard.
Canine flu is making its way across America and hit the West Coast especially hard, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Dog flu causes symptoms similar to human flu, such as lethargy and coughing. It cannot spread to humans.
The illness has affected dogs in all states but North Dakota, Nebraska, Hawaii and Alaska, according to DogFlu.com.
Fortunately, canine influenza is not often fatal. One veterinary hospital in Campbell, CA, told SFGate it had seen 50 cases of the illness over a recent two-week period, and none of the dogs had died.
And Dr. Kyle Frandle of Los Gatos Dog & Cat Hospital in Losa Gatos, CA, told the Mercury News: "About six days ago we started getting calls about dogs with the flu from kennels and boarding facilities; now many of them have shut down to limit the spread."
Frandle is recommending that dogs be vaccinated.
A six foot adult male green iguana was found yesterday in Plantation, FL. He was shot five times with arrows and is now in the care of THE SOUTH FLORIDA WILDLIFE CENTER (in Fort Lauderdale), an affiliate of THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES, where surgery was performed this afternoon.
The striking creature, who is approximately six feet long and weighs 10 pounds, arrived with multiple puncture wounds. X-rays showed he had an arrow imbedded in his abdomen. South Florida Wildlife Center vet Dr. Grant swiftly prepped the iguana – nicknamed “Godzilla” due to his gigantic size – and performed surgery.
The iguana has no broken bones or ribs, but he is not out of the woods yet. He runs the risk of internal bleeding and/or infection.
He is on pain medication, antibiotics, had topical care to his wounds and is receiving supportive care. Right now, he is still asleep in recovery, on a heat lamp and hooked up to a heart monitor.
He needs to be watched overnight and for the next several days, to make sure infection and internal bleeding don’t occur. Once the staff at SFWC is sure he has come through surgery without complications, we should have an estimate of recovery time
Iguanas can live up to 20 years in the wild.
The South Florida Wildlife Center (SFWC) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is the largest wildlife hospital, trauma center, and rehabilitation facility in the nation in terms of intake numbers, and provides emergency rescue services, diagnostics, surgical and other veterinary treatment, recovery habitats, orphan rearing, and expert rehabilitative care to more than 250 different species. SFWC admits more than 12,000 injured, orphaned, or imperiled animals annually, with the goal of returning every rehabilitated animal back to nature to live wild and free. SFWC, founded in 1969, is an affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States.
Study says $13 billion annually in direct and supporting services, to be exact
Veterinary medicine contributes $13 billion annually in direct and supporting services to Ohio’s economy, according to a 2017 economic analysis by Regionomics LLC, which researched veterinary medicine’s impact in economic activity and employment contributions to the Buckeye State.
The study, a collaborative effort between the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) and The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), found that veterinary services in Ohio contribute $2.4 billion in direct economic output while sustaining more than 23,000 jobs. Support of animal-related industries, including agricultural production, reflects an additional $10.6 billion in annual economic activity.
“Veterinary medicine supports Ohio’s economy and communities in a variety of substantive ways, including agriculture, research, and human health,” said Rustin Moore, DVM, Ph.D., DACVS, Ohio State CVM dean. “As the only college of veterinary medicine in Ohio, we are proud of the role we play in direct economic activity, supporting the efforts of veterinary practitioners, and advancing the economic health of all animal care-related industries in Ohio.”
Veterinarians work in a variety of disciplines impacting economic growth and job creation beyond caring for companion animals. Areas not often considered as part of the veterinary field include food animal production, zoos, racetracks, health research, education, and animal nutrition. The economic study not only reaffirmed the importance of veterinary medicine’s role in supporting the economic activity of these industries, but it also explored issues of veterinary geographic distribution, veterinary student loan debt and the contributions of the human-animal bond in mitigating human healthcare costs.
“Veterinary medicine not only keeps Ohio’s pet and farm animals healthy, but it also plays an important role in Ohio’s economic health,” said Tod Beckett, DVM, OVMA president. “We are proud of the meaningful contributions we make and see greater opportunities to serve and contribute in the years ahead.”
New directory aims to make reporting animal abuse easier for veterinary professionals
The National Resource Center on the Link between Animal Abuse and Human Violence, or the National Link Coalition, has published a new national directory of agencies that investigate animal abuse. The directory represents more than 6,500 counties, cities and towns across the United States and identifies which agency follows up on reports of suspected animal cruelty, abuse and neglect, according to a release from the coalition.
The directory was created in response to laws in 36 states, as well as policies from the AVMA and AAHA, that either require or permit veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty. Lack of uniform systems for investigating these reports or unclear procedures for reporting may make it difficult for practitioners to determine who to contact, the group says.
The National Link Coalition was founded in 2008 and is made up of 3,400 veterinary, animal care and control, law enforcement, domestic violence, child and adult protection, academic, human health, and prosecution professionals in all 50 states and 53 foreign nations, the release states. The coalition, which focuses on the link between animal abuse and human violence, has the goal of making communities safer by recognizing that animal abuse is often the first link in the chain of family and community violence and may point to co-occurring or future violence.
The directory can be found at nationallinkcoalition.org/how-do-i-report-suspected-abuse. An interactive map lists the names and phone numbers of investigating agencies organized by county and city within each state, with the intent of eliminating confusion and making reporting easier.
“Veterinarians who want to report suspected animal abuse often encounter a bureaucratic runaround,” says coalition coordinator Phil Arkow in the release. “Unlike the simplified statewide hotlines for child abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse, the animal protection field is extremely fragmented with no national or statewide coordination of services. Each local agency operates independently with its own varying degree of enforcement powers, resources, training, organizational capacity and program priorities.
“A caller to an animal control or humane agency may be told to call law enforcement; the police or sheriff may say they are not trained in animal welfare issues and to call animal control," Arkow continues. "The result is a veterinarian who gives up in frustration and animal abuse that goes unresolved. Our goal is for people to use the directory to cut through the confusion.”
The directory also includes information for reporting suspected child and elder abuse and domestic violence. Veterinary personnel are mandated reporters of suspected child and elder abuse in 23 states, without fear of civil or criminal liability.
Heartworm resistance: What we know (and what we don’t)
Dr. Clarke Atkins says heartworm disease is the most important disease in dogs in the U.S., and resistance—which is real—doesn’t always stem from the usual geographic suspects.
At the 15th Triennial Heartworm Symposium in New Orleans, Clarke Atkins, DVM, DACVIM (cardiology), professor emeritus at North Carolina State University, spoke briefly about what the field of veterinary medicine has learned over the past 10 to 15 years about heartworm resistance and macrocyclic lactones, as well as what remains unknown.
For starters, says Dr Atkins, “We know resistance is real.” But he goes on to explain that we still don’t know the extent of the problem (such as how far it extends or how much it plays a role in infection and disease).
Second, “We know that compliance is the biggest problem … bigger than resistance in terms of causing heartworms,” he says. The good news? This is an area veterinary professionals can change. “We don’t seem to do it very well,” Dr. Atkins admits, “but we can affect that.
According to Dr. Atkins, we also know that the isolates of resistant heartworms have come from both expected and unexpected places. “They don’t all come from the Mississippi Delta, which I think is a confounding part of this,” he says. “They have not necessarily come from areas that have concerns about resistance.”
A few more things we know:
> Resistance in heartworms is hereditary.
> Heavy exposure to mosquitoes likely makes it more difficult for macrocyclic lactones to be effective (which is an argument for reducing dogs’ exposure to mosquitoes in the first place).
> There are genetic markers that can tell us which isolates are causing macrocyclic lactone resistance.
> There is resistance to each of the four macrocyclic lactone molecules.
ASU awarded $6.4M grant to test preventive canine cancer vaccine
The multi-year grant will support the largest-ever interventional canine clinical trial
Arizona State University (ASU) professor Stephen Albert Johnson, Ph.D., has received a $6.4 million grant from the Open Philanthropy Project to support a clinical trial of a vaccine to prevent canine cancer.
The trial will involve approximately 800 middle-aged, healthy pet dogs and will test the effects of a multivalent frameshift peptide (FSP) vaccine developed at ASU that has shown promise in mouse studies. Scientists think the vaccine has potential for human use, too.
“Our goal has always been that if this is possible, we should at least try it,” said Johnston, director of the Biodesign Center for Innovations in Medicine and CEO of Calviri Inc., a cancer vaccine company. “Open Philanthropy was the only organization that responded to support our high-risk project, the biggest cancer intervention trial in dogs ever.”
Johnston and his team developed the new FSP vaccine over the past 10 years. The vaccine, already tested for efficacy in mice, is shown to be safe in dogs, according to Johnston’s research.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in pet dogs and their cancers are very similar to their human counterparts. Some breeds have a very high cancer rate, as much as 40 percent. The canine immune system responds to tumors and vaccines very similar to the human immune system. But dog years and the course of tumor development are much shorter compared to the average human lifespan. Johnston believes he and his team can evaluate the effectiveness of the vaccine in five years or less, versus the 15 to 20 years it would take in a human trial. The vaccine they are testing in dogs will have a composition very similar to the one they would test in humans.
The trial will be conducted at the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University. Enrolled dogs will live at home and receive biannual exams with a complete clinical pathology workup. Dogs will be randomly chosen to receive either the vaccine or a mock version. Any owner whose dog develops cancer during the trial, on either the test or control arm, will be given a credit toward medical expenses.
If successful, the trial would provide support for possibly employing FSP vaccines to prevent human cancer in its earliest stages, possibly leading to a canine cancer vaccine, and could eventually justify human clinical trials for both treatment and prevention.
Experts are warning dog and cat owners to be aware of the risks associated with feeding their pets raw meat-based diets (RMBDs), instead of the more conventional dry or canned pet foods.
In the Vet Record today, a team of researchers based in The Netherlands say these diets may be contaminated with bacteria and parasites, and as such may pose a risk to both animal and human health.
Feeding RMBDs to companion animals has become increasingly popular across the world, yet claims of health benefits are not backed by evidence, and several studies have reported possible risks.
Of most concern, however, is the risk to public or animal health due to contamination of RMBDs with zoonotic bacteria and parasites, that can pass between animals and humans.
So a team led by Paul Overgaauw at Utrecht University set out to determine the presence of four zoonotic bacteria and two parasite species in commercial RMBDs, available in most pet shops and supermarkets.
They analysed 35 commercial frozen RMBDs from eight different brands, widely available in The Netherlands. Escherichia coli O157 was isolated from eight products (23%), Listeria species were present in 15 products (43%) and Salmonella species in seven products (20%). Both E coli O157 and Salmonella infections in humans have been linked with serious illnesses.
Four products (11%) contained the parasite Sarcocystis cruzi and another four contained Sarcocystis tenella. In two products (6%) Toxoplasma gondii was found. The Sarcocystes species are not zoonotic but pose a risk to farm animals. T gondii is an important zoonosis with a high disease burden in humans.
"Despite the relatively low sample size of frozen products in our study, it is clear that commercial RMBDs may be contaminated with a variety of zoonotic bacterial and parasitic pathogens that may be a possible source of bacterial infections in pet animals and if transmitted pose a risk for human beings," say the researchers.
"Cats and dogs that eat raw meat diets are also more likely to become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria than animals on conventional diets, which could pose a serious risk to both animal health and public health," they add.
They outline several ways in which pet owners and other household members can encounter such pathogens. For example, through direct contact with the food or with an infected pet; through contact with contaminated household surfaces; or by eating cross-contaminated human food.
They therefore suggest that pet owners should be informed about the risks associated with feeding their animals RMBDs, and should be educated about personal hygiene and proper handling of RMBDs.
Warnings and handling instructions should also be included on product labels and/or packages, they advise.
Cold weather may be affecting many horses and owners in the Northern Hemisphere, but ambient temperature has absolutely no impact on whether or not a horse has shivers, despite its bone-chilling name. While widely recognized in certain breeds of horses over the past several centuries, until recently little was known about the cause of this neuromuscular disease or, more importantly, what to do about it. “The equine community knows more about shivers than it did even 10 years ago, thanks in large part to research efforts, and can finally begin to make progress in terms of treatment,” shared Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a nutritionist who has dealt with her fair share of shivers cases during her career with Kentucky Equine Research (KER).
By definition, shivers is a chronic, slowly progressive neuromuscular condition characterized by quivering of the hind limbs and tail during backward movement. Most horses show no signs of shivers at the walk or trot. Affected horses often show hyperflexion or hyperextension of one or both hind limbs when asked to back, though. With hyperflexion, the horse raises one hind limb up and away from the body in a spastic, trembling motion for several seconds or longer. With hyperextension, the horse places the hind feet further back than normal when moving backwards. The stifle and hock joints become hyperextended, held rigid and spastic. Trembling of the muscles of the hindquarter may also occur, especially in advanced cases. Shivers appears to be caused by a defect in a region of the brain called the cerebellum that controls muscular activity. Based on the most up-to-date details, the cerebellum of horses with shivers lacks an “off switch,” causing certain muscles to be active at all times. Here’s what else you need to know about shivers:
- Most horses do not begin showing signs of shivers before the age of five years, though some show signs as younger horses.
- Geldings are more likely to be diagnosed with shivers than mares.
- Tall horses, especially those over 16.2 hands, are also more susceptible than shorter horses; ponies and Miniature Horses are, if ever, rarely affected.
- Researchers suspect a genetic component, considering shivers most commonly occurs in draft horses, Warmbloods, and occasionally light breeds, such as Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds.
- Shivers can be similar to other musculoskeletal and neuromuscular disorders, especially during the early stages of the disease. A veterinary examination should rule out stringhalt, upward fixation of the patella, equine motor neuron disease, and even equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM). Do not confuse shivers with polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM), and appreciate that certain horses can actually suffer from both conditions concurrently.
- There is no cure or definitive treatment for shivers. While some horses can continue to compete or perform athletically, others require retirement or even humane euthanasia.
“Vitamin E plays an important role in neuromuscular conditions. Experts recommend having shivers horses have adequate levels of vitamin E.
Belize, home of the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere, permanently suspended oil activity in its ocean waters. The legislation marks the first time that a developing country has taken such a major step to protect its oceans—and all the life within—from oil exploration and extraction.
The new suspension of oil activity marks an enormous win for the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage site, the wildlife that live there, and the hundreds of thousands of Belizeans who rely on the reef for survival.
“Today is a great day for Belize,” said Nadia Bood, Mesoamerican reef scientist at WWF. “Not only has its government listened to calls to protect the Belize Barrier Reef, which only last year was under threat from seismic oil exploration, it has stepped up to become a world leader in ocean protection by ending all oil activity in its waters.”
Ecosystems in the reef have already been damaged by coastal construction, and potential oil drilling posed a major threat. Harmful industrial activities would impact Belize’s economy, natural resources, and the 1,400 species found in the reef system.
More than 450,000 people from around the world joined WWF’s campaign to end oil exploration and other harmful activities in the reef.
The Belize barrier reef teems with life that will benefit from the new protections. The endangered hawksbill turtle, manatees, and six threatened species of shark live in these waters. Vibrant corals abound, and aquatic animals shelter their young in mangrove forests along the coast.
And people will benefit from a healthy reef, too. Belize’s economy is built on tourism, so the health of the reef directly impacts the country’s future. Tourism alone is estimated to bring in between $182 million to $237 million per year, with reef-related tourism and fisheries supporting about 190,000 people.
“By acting to remove a major threat to the reef, Belize is safeguarding its future prosperity,” Bood said. "We hope today’s announcement will encourage other countries to follow suit and take urgent actions needed to protect our planet’s oceans.”