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The Indoor/Outdoor Cat Debate

Posted in Cats, Salmonella
The latest edition of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery contains an American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) position statement entitled “Impact of lifestyle choice on the companion cat: indoor vs outdoor”. It’s an interesting position statement that tries to balance a lot of issues. There are various arguments both ways, involving health, welfare… Continue Reading

Dog Bite Prevention Education

Posted in Dogs
I spend a lot of time talking about “emerging” infectious diseases. Some of these are truly emerging (i.e. new) diseases, some are conditions we couldn’t diagnose well before but now recognize more easily, and some are disease that have been there all along and are just getting more attention. However, while emerging infectious disease (especially zoonotic… Continue Reading

Infectious Disease Risk Management for Canine Group Settings

Posted in Dogs, Other diseases
Hot off the presses in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) is a guidance document aimed at reducing infectious disease risks in a variety of canine group settings. The paper, Risk reduction and management strategies to prevent transmission of infectious disease among dogs at dog shows, sporting events, and other canine group settings (Stull et al,… Continue Reading

Equine Arbovirus Update

Posted in Horses, Other diseases
Arboviruses (ARthropod-BOrne viruses) are viruses that are spread by insects, often mosquitoes. As I’ve written about recently, mosquito biology and differences in reservoir species mean that mosquito-borne viruses can have quite different patterns of distribution and spread. As is common, the occurrence of West Nile virus infection in horses tends to ramp up in late… Continue Reading

Vague Disease Warning in Dogs (and Cats?) in New Jersey

Posted in Cats, Dogs
A vague but potentially interesting report from New Jersey outlines a request for information about pet deaths in the area. The Cumberland County [New Jersey] Health Department is asking for the public’s help in collecting data on reports of what it calls “sudden and unusual illness” among dogs in the county. Perhaps the most interesting and… Continue Reading

Agritourism Infection Prevention

Posted in Other animals
Agritourism is becoming a big industry. As our society gets more urbanized, there’s increasing interest in visiting farms and similar environments. Things like farm visits and petting zoos can be great, especially for kids. They’re also sometimes associated with infectious diseases, most often in kids. Some agritourism events are well run and take a lot of… Continue Reading

Diagnostic Crotch Sniffing?

Posted in Dogs, Miscellaneous
Dogs’ noses are used for a lot of things. Some are conventional (e.g. tracking, search and rescue, drug detection), some are a bit outside of the box (e.g. detection of Clostridium difficile, identifying floating whale poop). A recent paper in Open Forum Infectious Diseases (Maurer et al 2016) takes this to another level by investigating the… Continue Reading

Guinea Worm in Dogs

Posted in Dogs
There are a lot of gross parasitic diseases. A prime example is dracunculiasis, otherwise known as Guinea worm (Dracunculus medinensis) infection. People get infected by drinking water or eating undercooked fish contaminated with “water fleas” that are infected with Guinea worm larvae. Over a year or so, the worm grows silently in the body, with… Continue Reading

Why Do Zika and Other Mosquito-Borne Viruses Only Occur in Specific Areas?

Posted in Other animals
When I got into vet school, I didn’t imagine that I’d have to know much about mosquito biology. (I probably didn’t really imagine that when I graduated either, to tell the truth). However, as I focused on infectious diseases, it became apparent that understanding certain aspects of inner-workings of mosquitoes (and ticks, and various other… Continue Reading

Fatal Horse-Associated Streptococcus zooepidemicus Infection

Posted in Horses
A recent report in MMWR describes a pair of Streptococcus equi subsp. zooepidemicus infections in people.  The cases are noteworthy because this bacterium doesn’t often cause human infections, and because one of the infected people died. More commonly referred to simply as Strep zoo, this bacterium is very commonly found in perfectly healthy horses, although… Continue Reading

Raccoon Roundworm Infection

Posted in Other animals, Parasites
The August edition of Emerging Infectious Diseases has an interesting case report of Baylisascaris procyonis infection in a California man (Langelier et al. 2016). Baylisascaris procyonis, commonly known as the raccoon roundworm, is a parasite that is very commonly found in the intestinal tracts of raccoons. Massive numbers of parasite eggs can be found in… Continue Reading

Eastern Equine Encephalitis Season in Full Swing

Posted in Horses, Other diseases, Vaccination
‘Tis the season for mosquitoes, so ‘tis the season for some nasty vector-borne diseases. Few are worse that Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a viral infection that causes typically fatal disease in horses, and less commonly other species, including people. Cases tend to start mid-summer and peak late summer to fall, depending on the mosquito dynamics… Continue Reading

Move Over mcr-1. You’re Old News.

Posted in Other animals, Other diseases
Recent identification of mcr-1, a gene that makes bacteria resistant to colistin (an antibiotic of last resort) raised a lot of concern. Now, there’s another one to be worried about, as a related gene, mcr-2 has been identified (Xavier et al, Eurosurveillance, July 2016). In this study, 105 colistin-resistant E. coli from calves and piglets… Continue Reading

Capnocytophaga Back in the News

Posted in Dogs
Capnocytophaga canimorsus is a bit of an obscure bacterium. When I talk about it to veterinary or physician audiences, I’m usually met with blank stares – not surprising, since it’s not really mentioned in veterinary or medical school, from what I can tell. It’s a rare cause of infection, but a nasty one. The fact that it’s… Continue Reading

Clean Hands Save Lives: Horsey-Style

Posted in Horses
Infection control isn’t rocket science. Wash your hands, don’t eat that, keep your finger out of your nose… things you learned in kindergarten go a long way to preventing infections. The basic nature of the core infection control concepts is also a barrier – hand washing isn’t fancy, new or associated with some fancy machine. (There… Continue Reading

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