Worms & Germs Blog

Tag Archives: Pocket pets

Do headline writers actually read the articles?

Posted in Dogs
Part I Lyme disease is accompanied by enough paranoia. Bad headlines don’t help. A recent article on The Daily Mail is about Lyme disease and pets. It’s actually not a bad article, outlining some important issues. However, the headline shows a big disconnect between some good content in the article and a complete misunderstanding of… Continue Reading

Rat bite fever death

Posted in Reptiles
A recent rat bite fever death in a six-month-old Pennsylvania baby raises several issues that parents need to consider. The child died of meningitis and myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) caused by the bacterium Streptobacillus moniliformis. This bacterium is present in the mouths of virtually all rats, and is the cause of rat bite fever.… Continue Reading

Antibiotics in animals: ACVIM consensus statement

Posted in Cats
Every year, the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) commissions "consensus statements" on specific topics. They’re developed by an expert panel, put up for review by ACVIM members (board certified veterinary internal medicine specialists), and published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Hot off the (electronic) press is the 2015 ACVIM Consensus Statement… Continue Reading

Hazardous guinea pigs?

Posted in Pocket pets
All animals pose some risk of infection to people, to one degree or another, but the risk varies a lot between animal species. I guess I’ve always considered guinea pigs to be relatively benig, with a few zoonotic disease concerns but with bites probably being the biggest risk. I still think that’s true, but a… Continue Reading

Animal Health Laboratory Zoonotic Diseases Report

Posted in Dogs
The University of Guelph’s Animal Health Laboratory recently published a summary of selected zoonotic disease diagnoses in its monthly newsletter. It’s an interesting summary of what’s gone through the lab in the last year.  It also helps to remind us of the zoonotic potential of all of these pathogens, some of which are relatively common… Continue Reading

Rat bite fever…who’s to blame?

Posted in Pocket pets
A couple months ago, I wrote about a family suing PetsMart over a case of rat bite fever in a child. Now, a San Diego family is suing PetCo after their ten-year-old son died of the same infection.  Rat bite fever is a bacterial infection caused by Streptobacillus moniliformis, and it is almost always associated… Continue Reading

Rat bite fever…who’s liable?

Posted in Pocket pets
A Colorado family is suing PetsMart and a rat supplier after their son developed rat bite fever (RBF), following a bite from a newly acquired rat. Lawsuits seem to be increasingly common after zoonotic infections, which is probably more of a reflection of an increasing tendency for people to sue, not an increasing occurrence of… Continue Reading

All I want for Christmas is hydro…and related musings

Posted in Dogs
As we were heading into our 5th day without power as a result of a nasty ice storm, the power came back on. It’s been a pain, but with the generator, fireplace and family to visit in unaffected areas, it’s more disruptive than anything. Not everyone’s that lucky. If you don’t have a generator or… Continue Reading

HIV and pets

Posted in Cats
A little knowledge can be a bad thing. We see that with zoonotic diseases. Awareness is great. However, a little bit of awareness can be a problem if it’s enough make people paranoid but not enough to help them understand the real risks. This can lead to excessive and illogical responses (often ending with "…get… Continue Reading

Feeder rodent Salmonella alert, Ontario

Posted in Pocket pets
A local county newspaper had a front page headline about a zoning amendment that was approved to allow for a feeder rodent facility that will produce about 10 000 rodents a week (I know, apparently there aren’t a lot of big things happen around here). Co-incidentally, a couple days later, I received an alert and fact… Continue Reading

Cowpox from a cat? Not as strange as it seems.

Posted in Cats
Cowpox is a disease with a misleading name. It would be reasonable to assume that cowpox comes from cows. It doesn’t. (Just like monkeypox doesn’t come from monkeys.) Cowpox is a viral infection and the natural reservoirs are actually rodents. Humans, cats and cows are amongst the more common "accidental hosts" – species that get… Continue Reading

Hedgehog Salmonella update

Posted in Other animals
I’m just back from vacation (luckily, with no infectious disease stories to write), but now I have to catch up on a few posts. One easy one that was waiting for me in my inbox was about Salmonella and hedgehogs. I’ve written before about biohazardous hedgehogs, and more details about the US 2011-2013 multi-state Salmonella… Continue Reading

Rat bite fever in a person with HIV/AIDS

Posted in Pocket pets
A recent report in the journal Infection (Chean et al. 2012) describes rat bite fever in a patient with AIDS. I’ve written about rat bite fever before, and it’s not really a surprising case report. Streptobacillus moniliformis, the bug that causes the disease, is found in the mouths of most rats (and in the mouths… Continue Reading

Ferret legging…a sport?

Posted in Other animals
With the lingering NHL strike, TV networks are looking for replacement sports. One of my PhD students (who claims he doesn’t spend too much time playing around on the internet but keeps coming up with these gems) sent me information about one sport that’s not coming to a network near you. Yes, it’s ferret legging.… Continue Reading

LCMV in rodent facility workers

Posted in Pocket pets
I’ve written about lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) before, as an interesting but pretty uncommon rodent-associated disease. Human infections are mainly associated with handling  rodents, although other routes of transmission, such as organ transplantation from an infected donor, have also been reported. Being a disease associated with rodents and considering how rodents are produced in North… Continue Reading

2011 US Rabies recap

Posted in Other animals
The annual US rabies surveillance report has been published in the latest edition of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Blanton et al 2012). There’s not really anything earth-shattering in it, but it’s a good overview of the rabies diagnoses in the US from 2011. As always, it only provides a peek into rabies in… Continue Reading

Biohazardous hedgehogs

Posted in Pocket pets
When I give talks about pet therapy animals, I talk about appropriate and inappropriate animals. On one slide I have a picture of a hedgehog, and I use it as an example of an animal that sometimes makes its way into pet therapy programs, despite standard guidelines to the contrary.  This is a species that raises… Continue Reading

Guinea pigs and ringworm

Posted in Pocket pets
As with most "pocket pets," guinea pigs don’t get a lot of attention in the scientific literature. As a result, we are limited in what we know about certain diseases in this species, and we tend to rely a lot on personal experience, small case studies and extrapolation from other species. It’s not that these… Continue Reading

The outbreak that won’t go away

Posted in Pocket pets
The CDC is investigating CDC is investigating more cases of salmonellosis associated with feeder rodent contact, caused by the less-than-catchy-named Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:-. This strain is the same one that was implicated in a large and prolonged outbreak in the US and UK in 2009-2010 which was also associated with frozen feeder rodents (rodents sold… Continue Reading

Salmonella outbreak from guinea pigs

Posted in Pocket pets
Guinea pigs are relatively benign pets in terms of zoonotic diseases, but like any animal, they can carry some pathogens that are transmissible to people. This was highlighted in a poster presentation at the recent International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta. The poster (Bartholomew et al) described a CDC investigation into an outbreak of… Continue Reading

Another rat bite fever warning

Posted in Pocket pets
A case report in the Medical Journal of Australia (Pananicolas et al 2012) describes a case of rat bite fever and comes with the typical warning about this uncommon but concerning disease. Rat bite fever is an infection caused by the bacterium Streptobacillus moniliformis (the main cause in most countries) or Spirillum minus (the main… Continue Reading

New guinea pig…new ringworm outbreak

Posted in Pocket pets
A Kitchener, Ontario family is dealing with a household outbreak of ringworm, likely contracted from a new pet guinea pig. Ringworm is a fungal infection cause by a few different types of fungi. Some ringworm fungi are able to infect both people and animals, and those can be spread in households from direct contact with… Continue Reading