Worms & Germs Blog

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Rabies in Northern Quebec

Posted in Dogs, Rabies, Vaccination
Two rabid dogs have been identified in Whapmagoostui, a Cree community in a remote region of northern Quebec. Rabies is very rare in dogs in Canada, and in recent years, much of the concern has revolved around rabies in dogs from northern communities. Rabies is endemic in Arctic foxes, and dogs can be infected from… Continue Reading

Bandicoots, Sandboxes and Salmonella

Posted in Other animals, Salmonella
A playground in New South Wales, Australia, has been closed because its sandpit was linked to salmonellosis in two children. Sandboxes are a potential source of a few different infectious diseases since they can be used as litterboxes by animals such as cats, raccoons, and apparently, bandicoots. In the Australian incident, two kids were diagnosed… Continue Reading

PetTickTracker Update

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Horses
Over the years, we’ve tried a variety of new approaches to promote awareness (among the public, veterinarians and others) and to collect relevant research information. Some (like this blog) have taken on a life of their own and exceeded our expectations. Some didn’t go very far. Our most recent initiative is the PetTickTracker, a website designed… Continue Reading

Human Rabies: Virginia

Posted in Dogs, Rabies, Vaccination
Every few weeks I get a call or an email about travel-associated rabies exposure concerns. It’s usually from someone traveling to southeast Asia or India who has been bitten by a stray dog. Most of the time, it’s an unvaccinated person and the dog isn’t available for monitoring or testing. Since rabies is endemic in… Continue Reading

Pet Tick Tracker

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Horses
It’s pretty clear that tick ranges are changing. In Ontario, we’ve seen movement of ticks into areas where they were never seen before, as well as potential changes in the types of ticks that are found in different areas. The potential for tickborne diseases like Lyme disease highlights the importance of understanding tick distributions. Knowing where… Continue Reading

New Guidance for Human Exposure to Rabies: Ontario

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Other animals, Rabies, Vaccination
This month, Public Health Ontario released a new Rabies Guidance Document for Healthcare Providers. It’s nothing particularly new but a good review of the recommended response to rabies exposure from various animal species, something that’s unfortunately often messed up or made more complicated than necessary. It includes some nice flowcharts, such as the one below. The full… Continue Reading

Rodent Importation…Booming Business, Booming Risks?

Posted in Pocket pets
The recent (ongoing) Seoul virus outbreak associated with pet rats and recurrent Salmonella outbreaks linked to feeder rats have focused more attention on the national and international movement of rodents. Most people probably don’t realize the massive number of rodents that are shipped internationally, and we don’t really understand the risks. Anytime animals are moved… Continue Reading

Petting Zoos, Outbreaks and Denial

Posted in Other animals, Parasites
I think petting zoos can be great. I’ve taken my kids to many and think they’re a great way for people to see and interact with animals they would not normally encounter. However, there’s always some risk, and petting zoos range from exceptionally well run to horrible. It seems like there’s been steady improvement over… Continue Reading

Colistin Resistance in Pets

Posted in Cats, Dogs
I’ve had a lot of emails over the past few months from colleagues from other countries, asking if we’re finding much mcr-1 in Canada. mcr-1 is a gene that makes bacteria resistant to colistin, a “drug of last resort” in people with some highly resistant infections.  The gene has emerged in bacteria from both animals… Continue Reading

Immunocompromised People and Their Pets

Posted in Birds, Cats, Dogs, Other animals, Pocket pets, Reptiles
This month’s edition of the Internal Medicine Journal contains an article entitled High rates of potentially infectious exposures between immunocompromised patients and their companion animals: an unmet need for education (Gurry et al. 2017). The study is fairly superficial and there’s nothing particularly surprising in the paper, with results similar to what has been reported in… Continue Reading

Seoul Virus in Ontario

Posted in Pocket pets
It’s not particularly surprising, I guess, but a few cases of Seoul virus infection have been identified in Ontario residents who breed or have contact with rats.  Fortunately, like most infections with this type of hantavirus, disease was mild. Equally not surprising is that infected rats have been found in Ontario rat-breeding facilities.  The Ministry… Continue Reading

Flesh Eating Disease with a Pony Link

Posted in Horses
The bacterium Streptococcus equi subsp. zooepidemicus (often simply called Streptococcus zooepidemicus) is one that I think I understand less and less, including the risks this predominantly equine-associated bug poses to humans. It’s a well-known and common bacterium in horses, both healthy and sick, and can also be found in dogs and cats (where it can… Continue Reading

Canine and Feline Respiratory Infection Treatment Guidelines

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Other diseases
The latest set of clinical treatment guidelines from the International Society for Companion Animal Infectious Diseases have been published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Lappin et al 2017): Antimicrobial Use Guidelines for Treatment of Respiratory Tract Disease in Dogs and Cats: Antimicrobial Guidelines Working Group of the International Society for Companion Animal Infectious… Continue Reading

Rabies and Bite Responses

Posted in Dogs, Rabies, Vaccination
There tends to be confusion about what happens when an animal bites or is bitten, and rabies is being considered. Most of the confusion revolves around how long an animal is quarantined or observed. Yet, it’s actually pretty straightforward if you think about why quarantine/observation is being performed and some basics about the virus and… Continue Reading

2016 Rabies Compendium

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Horses, Other animals, Rabies, Vaccination
The 2016 Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control has been released by the US’s National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV). This version has updates in a few different areas, such as some changes to recommendations for dogs, cats and ferrets that have potentially been exposed to rabies. It can be downloaded directly here or be found… Continue Reading

Is MRSP zoonotic?

Posted in Dogs, MRSA/MRSP
I’ve written about this many times (probably because I get asked about it almost every day), but there’s not really a simple answer to the question “Does methicillin-resistant Staph. pseudintermedius pose a human health risk?” My typical answer is along the lines of “Yes, but…” with discussion about how rare Staph pseudintermedius (SP) infections are in… Continue Reading

Seoul Virus in Pet Rats

Posted in Pocket pets
Another day, another new zoonotic disease concern. Well, it’s not really that bad, but the list of new (or at least newly identified) zoonotic disease issues continues to expand at an impressive rate. One of the latest concerns is a cluster of Seoul virus infections linked to rats. At last report, 8 infections with Seoul… Continue Reading

Rabies from a mongoose bite

Posted in Other animals, Rabies, Vaccination
Every few days, it seems, I get an email or call that goes something like “I was just bitten by [insert various mammals here]. Do I need to worry about rabies or do anything?” The answer’s pretty similar every time. While the relative risk posed by different animal species in different geographic regions varies, you… Continue Reading

More avian flu in cats…H5N6 in South Korea

Posted in Birds, Cats
Following on the heels of an H7N2 influenza outbreak in cats (and one person) in New York, H5N6 avian influenza has been found in two dead cats in Pocheon, Gyeonggi province, South Korea. This highly pathogenic avian influenza strain has been active in South Korea since November 2016, resulting in the death or euthanasia of… Continue Reading

More on H7H2 influenza in cats (and now a person)

Posted in Cats
A press release by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has provided some interesting new information about the recent H7N2 influenza outbreak in cats. This avian influenza strain is causing an ongoing outbreak in cats in shelters in New York, and human surveillance has been underway. Three-hundred fifty (350) people have been screened… Continue Reading

H7N2 influenza in cats, New York

Posted in Cats
Emerging problem, newly recognized issue or oddball infection? Recent identification of H7N2 in cats at a Manhattan animal shelter has raised recurring concerns about animal health, human health and the movement of influenza viruses. As a quick recap, flu viruses are named (in part) based on the genes coding for two important viral proteins, hemagglutinin and… Continue Reading