Worms & Germs Blog

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Worms and Germs Map Update

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Horses, Parasites, Rabies
A few years ago, we launched WormsAndGermsMap to help track certain emerging and endemic diseases. Data are entered by participating veterinary clinics, surveillance programs and the WormsAndGerms team. While we certainly can’t capture every case, we do collect some interesting information about the presence of certain diseases. Using the “Report Filter” bar on the left, you can… Continue Reading

Mapping Zoonotic Disease Emergence Risk

Posted in Birds, Cats, Dogs, Horses, Other animals, Other diseases, Pocket pets, Reptiles
Predicting the future is a dodgy proposition at the best of times. It’s particularly hard with infectious diseases, which tend not to behave as expected. Yet, it’s important to plan surveillance, education and response. One approach is to assess where certain types of problems are more likely to develop. That can help direct resources (time,… Continue Reading

Moving Dogs, Moving Bugs

Posted in Dogs, Rabies, Vaccination
I’ve written a lot about the issues of dog importation and the diseases that can sometimes “come along for the ride”. However, high risk movement doesn’t need to be international. Any movement from a high risk area can be a concern. A recent article in Canadian Communicable Disease Report (Curry et al. 2016) addresses the issue of… Continue Reading

There’s a Test For That! But, Is There a Need?

Posted in Dogs
Some diagnostic tests that are available are more of a situation of a test looking for a market rather than filling a clinical need for additional information. That complicates matters since providing new information isn’t necessarily useful if we don’t know what to do with it. In some situations, it can even lead to bad decisions.… Continue Reading

New superbug in dogs and cats: mcr-1

Posted in Cats, Dogs
A few years ago, the New Delhi metallobetalactamase-1 (NDM-1) antibiotic resistance gene attracted a lot of attention. This resistance gene can be found in (and passed between) a variety of bacteria, and bacteria possessing this gene are resistant to a wide range of drugs. A drug of last resort for those infections is colistin (a… Continue Reading

Lyme Disease and Dogs Infographic

Posted in Dogs
The Ontario Animal Health Network – Companion Animal has released a new infographic on Ticks and Lyme Disease in Ontario: What’s The Real Risk?  It’s obviously Ontario-centric but some of the messages apply more broadly. It’s important to consider what the real risk of exposure is, and that involves thinking about things like how common Borrelia… Continue Reading

Tiny Turtles, Big Problems

Posted in Reptiles, Salmonella
The CDC has updated information on the ongoing (if not ever-present) salmonellosis outbreaks linked to pet turtles. At last count, there were 133 illnesses (although it’s likely that this represents a fraction of the people that actually got sick), with 38 of those requiring hospitalization. Forty-one percent (41%) were kids under the age of five, reflecting… Continue Reading

Animals in Child Care Facilities: New Guidance

Posted in Birds, Cats, Dogs, Other animals, Pocket pets, Reptiles
Animals are not uncommonly found in daycares and other childcare settings. Sometimes, it’s good: animals can be entertaining, animal contact can have various benefits to children, and animals can be part of learning activities. Other times, it’s not: such as the presence of species at higher risk for shedding certain pathogens, poor management that increases… Continue Reading

Canine flu strikes again – Illinois

Posted in Dogs, Vaccination
Canine influenza has once again reared its ugly head in fairly spectacular fashion, this time in Bloomington, IL.  Apparently there have been numerous laboratory-confirmed cases, and also many suspected cases, and likely still more cases that have gone completely unreported.  It’s estimated that “hundreds” of dogs may have been affected already – it’s very difficult… Continue Reading

Equine Biosecurity Standards

Posted in Horses
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (which, despite the name, deals with broader animal issues as well, not just those related to food), in conjunction with a variety of partners, has developed a National Farm and Facility Level Biosecurity Standard for the Equine Sector. It’s a comprehensive overview of best practices for infectious disease control in the… Continue Reading

More Turtle-Associated Salmonellosis

Posted in Reptiles, Salmonella
In what shouldn’t come as a surprise, I guess, another pet turtle-associated multistate outbreak of Salmonella infection in people has been identified in the US. Despite the fact that the sale of small (<4 inch shell length) turtles has been banned in the US for decades, the law is widely ignored, and kids get sick… Continue Reading

Public Health Agency of Canada: Healthy Pets, Healthy People

Posted in Other animals, Pocket pets, Reptiles
The Public Health Agency of Canada, along with various partners (including the Worms&Germs team), has developed a set of informational postcards and a poster targeting pet owners and prospective pet owners.  They emphasize five critical steps for safe pet ownership and provide a visual reminder using infographic icons: WASH (your hands) DISINFECT (contaminated surfaces and… Continue Reading

Raw Pet Food and Human Salmonellosis Outbreak

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Salmonella
According to an alert from the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia: The BC Centre for Disease Control is collaborating with BC health authorities, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and Health Canada to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella infections in British Columbia likely related to raw pet food. Raw pet food is food served… Continue Reading

“Show Me the Evidence”….Maybe

Posted in Dogs
When we’re faced with making decisions about treatments, “show me the evidence” is a common refrain. There are a lot of products being sold as “cures” but with little or no evidence to back up their claims. So, looking for any scientific backing is important.  One of the highest levels of evidence would be a… Continue Reading

Vaccine Apathy

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Other animals, Rabies, Vaccination
Success can breed apathy. Apathy can lead to bad decisions. That’s a common problem with vaccinations. People lose sight of why we vaccinate. Growing up during a time when many major pathogens have been controlled by vaccines, it’s easy to forget about how bad those diseases are. Whether it’s resurgence in measles in people because… Continue Reading

Hermit Crab Zoonoses

Posted in Other animals
It seems like s a bit of an oddball question, but it’s come up a couple times in the past few weeks: Are there any human health risks posed by hermit crabs? My standard line is that there is no such thing as a zero-risk animal. That’s not an anti-pet sentiment, it’s just life. The… Continue Reading

More Canine H3N2 Influenza in Cats

Posted in Cats, Dogs
Perhaps unsurprisingly, canine H3N2 influenza has been found in a group of cats in the US. Canine H3N2 influenza is the strain that emerged in the US last year. It was likely imported (in a dog) from South Korea, and then spread through many parts of the country. As with H3N8 canine flu, we’ve been… Continue Reading

Cache Valley Virus in Dogs (and People)

Posted in Dogs, Other animals
Cache Valley Virus (CVV) has been in the news around here lately. This mosquito-borne virus can be found in various parts of North America, particularly in the southeastern US. It’s been present in Ontario for a while, but has hit the news recently because of a recent outbreak in sheep flocks in the province. CVV infection… Continue Reading

Blastomycosis Screening in Dogs

Posted in Dogs
I had an interesting question the other day about blastomycosis screening. Blastomycosis is a nasty fungal disease caused by Blastomyces dermatitidis. The infectious form of this fungus (spores) lives in the environment, and dogs (and other species, including people) can develop serious disease after inhaling fungal spores (or being otherwise inoculated with spores, e.g. through… Continue Reading

Maybe Your Cat Isn’t Making You Crazy

Posted in Cats, Parasites
Headline writers have had a lot of fun over the past few years writing about toxoplasmosis and potential associations with neurological and behavioural disorders in people. Cats are the main natural host of Toxoplasma gondii, so “crazy cat lady” and other predictable headlines have ensued. But, what is the real risk? The answer is still… Continue Reading

Babesiosis in a Puppy: Ontario

Posted in Dogs
While it’s unlikely that any given patient will have a rare disease, we need to remain vigilant for such conditions because they’re easy to miss. That’s just common sense – if we rarely see something, it doesn’t jump to mind when examining a patient. Babesiosis is one such disease. It’s seen commonly in some regions, but it’s really rare… Continue Reading