Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Swine Flu found in a dog

Yesterday, the first case of swine flu was confirmed in a dog. Here's what the AVMA release said...

"December 21, 2009, IDEXX Laboratories confirmed 2009 H1N1 influenza virus in a dog in Bedford Hills, New York. A 13-year old dog became ill after its owner was ill with confirmed 2009 H1N1 influenza. The dog was lethargic, coughing, not eating, and had a fever. Radiographs (x-rays) showed evidence of pneumonia. The dog was treated with intravenous fluids, antibiotics, nebulization and other supportive care, and was discharged from the hospital after 48 hours of care. It is currently recovering. Tests submitted to IDEXX Laboratories were negative for canine influenza (H3N8) but positive for 2009 H1N1 influenza."

Here's my take away on this.
• This is not cause for panic, but underscores the importance of taking pets to a veterinarian if they are showing signs of illness. This is especially important if someone in the household has recently been ill with flu-like symptoms.
• Pet owners should remain vigilant. By vigilant I mean touch your pets, palpate them, pay attention to how they eat and play and sleep, notice what they produce when they pee and poop! You are their guardians and advocates, just like parents for human children.
• So far the clinical signs include lethargy, inappetance/anorexia, coughing and difficulty breathing. Some of the animals have developed pneumonia. Any animals showing these signs of disease should be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
• As always proper hygiene and sanitation measures should be followed to limit the spread of all contagious disease, including this new influenza virus.
• IMPORTANT - There is no evidence to suggest that pets have or will spread the virus to humans or other animals. To date, all of the sick pets became ill after a person in the household was ill with flu-like symptoms.

That's all the info available right now. If you have further questions call me at the office. HolVet 845.338.3300.

Blessings to all this holiday season. Hope this info helps. MY

Friday, December 18, 2009

Poinsettias and Mistletoe - Toxic for pets

Just a quick reminder that poinsettias and mistletoe are toxic if ingested. While most pets will leave them untouched, some will munch them right down to the stem! The most common toxic effect is gastrointestinal irritation, resulting in vomiting and diarrhoea. However, large amounts can be fatal.

It's kind of ironic that plants that represent beauty and romance can be so poisonous, no? Did you know that a homeopathic form of mistletoe is commonly used in the treatment of cancer? There is a very interesting truth I learned in vet school, "the only difference between a drug and a poison is dose." Think about that one for a while!

In the meantime, choose the placement of all your holiday decorations with care. Pet-Proof your seasonal decor and have a wonderful season with all the joy it is intended to bring. And if you do hang some mistletoe be sure to give all your four legged loved ones a big kiss from me!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Second Hand Smoke Kills Cats

Here's great news if you are looking for motivation to quit smoking. When people smoke in their homes, their pets take in second hand smoke just like non-smoking people would. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is finally making an effort recently to make smokers aware that their habit hurts not only themselves and their families, but their pets as well. This reinforces what holistic veterinarians have been saying for years.

Most folks are aware of the scientific research that shows that people who smoke are more likely to get certain types of cancer and other diseases, but a lot of people don't know that the same goes for the pets of smokers.

It has been known for several years that cats who live with smokers are twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma — fatal to three out of four cats within a year — and are more likely to get mouth cancer. Second-hand smoke doubles the risk of lung cancer in dogs with short noses and it puts long-nosed dogs, such as Collies, at 2.5 times greater risk of contracting nasal cancer.

In my practice lots of folks who are not very alternative or natural or holistic minded are motivated to become so after seeing success in their pets on treatment. Perhaps this info, too, will motivate smoking pet owners to get a little more healthier! One can only hope! Spread the word!

Rabies found in Central Park Racoons

Recently, three racoons have been found to be positive for Rabies in Central Park. This is the same virus as we have in our dogs and cats, and the same one in the typical vaccination. Interesting to note is that the statistics reveal only about 0.1% of Rabies cases , or one in one thousand, are fatal.

Here's the whole article...

December 7, 2009, 6:04 pm
Raccoons in Central Park Raise Rabies Concerns
City health officials are warning visitors to Central Park to avoid contact with wild animals and to keep their dogs on a leash following the discovery of three rabid raccoons, two in the last week.

The discovery was a surprise because, in the previous six years, only one rabid animal had been found in Manhattan, with the majority of rabies cases in the city isolated to Staten Island and the Bronx. Another rabid raccoon that was found earlier this year, near the northernmost tip of Manhattan, was believed to have crossed over from the Bronx on a railroad bridge.

“There is concern that it could spread to more raccoons,” said Dr. Sally Slavinski, a public health veterinarian for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. City employees will be enhancing their surveillance of the park to look for signs of other sick animals and are urging parkgoers who spot disoriented or aggressive animals to report them by calling the city’s 311 information line.

There hasn’t been a human infection of rabies in New York City since 1953, around the time that the city began mandating rabies vaccinations for dogs to combat the disease, according to the health department. At the time, the disease, which is transmitted through a bite from an infected mammal and is usually fatal without treatment, was a significant problem in the city. One report described a dog frothing at the mouth racing through the crowd at a public pool and biting the officer who finally captured it.

In the early 1950s, before vaccination programs curbed the cases, about 40,000 people were bitten by rabid dogs nationwide each year, with about 40 people dying annually from the disease, according to news reports from the time. In 2007, the most recent year for which figures were available, just one person contracted the disease, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Worldwide, however, rabies remains a major killer.)

In New York State, 512 animals were identified as carrying rabies, the third most in the nation after Texas and Virginia, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Most rabies cases now involve wild animals, with raccoons being the most common carrier, followed by bats, skunks and foxes. (Nationwide, domestic animals like dogs, cats and cattle account for less than seven percent of all infected animals).

The variant of raccoon-borne rabies did not arrive in New York City until 1992 but now accounts for the majority of cases in the city and the state, said Ms. Slavinski. So far this year, 20 rabies cases have been identified in the city: 14 raccoons in the Bronx, 4 raccoons in Manhattan, a raccoon in Queens and a bat in Staten Island. In the previous six years, the Bronx has had 78 cases, followed by Staten Island with 69, Queens with 7, Brooklyn with 2 and Manhattan with 1, according to the health department.

Swine Flu and Cats

From an AVMA news bite I've just received - Cat Flu Truths and Myths -

What is most interesting is that right at the end of this AVMA post is a reference to the Amer An Hosp Asso's THREE YEAR booster recommedation! I wish more conventional vets would pay attention....

Just a few weeks ago, a 13-year-old indoor cat in Iowa was diagnosed with swine flu. "Two of the three members of the family that owns the pet had suffered from influenza-like illness before the cat became ill," explains Dr. Ann Garvey, a veterinarian with the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Although everyone recovered, many pet owners remain concerned about their own cats and families. As is the case with so many other illnesses, the facts are hard to separate from fiction. We've debunked some misconceptions, and we offer facts and pointers to help you deal with cat infections.

Feline Flu: Myths and Facts

Cats can catch H1N1, aka swine flu This is now fact, thanks to the confirmed Iowa case. It's reason for caution and concern, but not panic. "The risk of other cats becoming infected appears to be low at this point," says Dr. Alfonso Torres, former chief veterinary officer of the United States and current associate dean for public policy at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine.
People can give cats swine flu Experts believe that people can transmit the H1N1 virus to cats and ferrets. "We're seeing reverse zoonosis, with the virus jumping from people to animals," explains Torres. But few such cases have been documented. According to Dr. Kelly M. Wright, director of The Cat Clinic of Orange County in Costa Mesa, Calif., "generally, these types of viruses target different cells in the respiratory tracts of humans and other mammals." In other words, a virus that can thrive in the respiratory tract of one type of mammal isn't likely to do so well in another.

People can give cats other types of flu Experts believe this is likely but uncommon. Nevertheless, it's better to be safe than sorry. "Avoid direct contact with pets if you have the flu," advises Michael San Filippo, a spokesperson for the American Veterinary Medical Association. "Keep them off of your bed and be sure to cover up coughs and sneezes. Wash your hands regularly." He adds, "Pets are members of our families, so exercise the same precautions that you would for other friends and family."

Cats can catch other types of animal flu That statement has been true on occasion. A 2006 report from Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine mentioned that cats can contract avian flu -- aka "bird flu" -- and also transmit the virus back to birds. "This helped the virus spread between poultry farms," says Dr. Wright. It's also one of the many reasons you should always keep your cat indoors.

Human flu and cat flu are the same This is a myth, according to Dr. Wright. "The term ‘flu' is used to describe an influenza virus," she explains. "But cat upper respiratory viruses are most typically the feline herpes virus (FVH-1) and feline calicivirus (FCV)." She adds, "I think we use the word ‘flu' descriptively so that owners understand that the symptoms of these conditions can mimic a human flu virus."
How to Help Your Cat

Although true flu among cats doesn't occur often, your cat can still develop respiratory problems and other symptoms that resemble human flu, as well as symptoms unlike those associated with human influenza. A cat with a respiratory infection may not only sneeze and cough but also lose its appetite, develop a high fever and find it difficult to breathe through its nose. The cat additionally could squint, develop cloudiness or heavy discharge from the eye, and experience severe swelling of the tissue around the eyes.

Any cat that develops such symptoms needs to see a veterinarian. The veterinarian can recommend treating the respiratory symptoms with antibiotics, which will help combat the bacteria contributing additional discomfort to the cat. Your veterinarian can also prescribe an ointment to ease eye symptoms, and nose drops to relieve nasal congestion.

Although animal health experts continue to investigate how well the human swine flu vaccine works on cats, a readily available vaccine -- the FVCRP -- can help prevent most other feline respiratory infections.

"FVCRP is a common combination vaccine recommended by the American Association of Feline Practitioners every three years that will help protect against both the calicivirus and the herpes virus," says Dr. Wright. "These are the two most common respiratory viruses in cats today."