Worms & Germs Blog

Tag Archives: zoos

Exotic animals in hospitals

Posted in Other animals
What zoonotic microorganisms do pangolins commonly carry? Are some pangolins higher risk than others? What infection control measures should be used? I don’t know, and from a cursory review of the literature, I don’t think anyone really knows. So, do we really want to be exposing them to some of our most susceptible individuals –… Continue Reading

Psittacosis closure at Atlanta zoo

Posted in Birds
Zoo Atlanta has closed its parakeet exhibit after one of the birds died of Chlamydophila psittaci infection. The concern is that this bacterium can cause infection in people (sometimes called parrot fever). Infection of humans is uncommon and usually just causes flu-like disease, but it can be very serious, especially if not diagnosed properly in… Continue Reading

More dumb pet problems

Posted in Other animals
No, I’m not referring to pets lacking in intelligence (my dog Meg leads that category). Rather, I’m talking about questionable decisions by pet owners. Here are a few bewildering stories: The Indian River Reptile Zoo near Peterborough, Ontario, rushed some of their stock of snake anti-venom to Brantford General Hospital (about three hours away) to… Continue Reading

Salmonella in zoo education reptiles

Posted in Reptiles
There was a picture in the weekend edition of the Guelph Tribune of a 3-year-old girl with a large python wrapped around her as part of a nature show put on by the Guelph Lake Nature Centre. While I’m certain I’ll face more wrath from the keep-reptiles-in-schools group that is currently bashing me on the… Continue Reading

Rabies in “petting zoo” animals

Posted in Rabies
Rabies in a lamb and cow at a petting zoo (or more accurately, in a communal group of hobby animals) has been reported in Israel. This follows identification of rabies in another lamb from the same group last week. Little is reported about possible sources of infection of these animals, at Kibbutz Neve Eitan, or… Continue Reading

Elephant TB: Ringling Brothers vs PETA

Posted in Other animals
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is battling Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus because of Karen, an elephant with tuberculosis (TB). The animal rights group is claiming that the elephant poses a public health risk because she has TB, and it appears that their appeal had initially convinced Baltimore city council… Continue Reading

Zoo flu

Posted in Other animals
The pandemic H1N1 influenza virus continues to circulate, although the hype has certainly died down. During the original 2009 pandemic, there were a few reports of infection of domestic animals, particularly ferrets and cats. This wasn’t particularly surprising since we know these species are susceptible to human influenza viruses, and with so many people infected… Continue Reading

Anyone seen a cobra?

Posted in Reptiles
The Bronx Zoo has closed it’s reptile house following the disappearance of an Egyptian cobra. Officials noticed the 20-inch-long snake was missing on Saturday, and they are presumably carrying out a diligent and very careful search. There’s probably no risk to the public (as long as the snake wasn’t stolen). It’s likely curled up hiding… Continue Reading

Elephant-human transmission of tuberculosis

Posted in Other animals
You can probably tell from various posts that I’m a fan of the CDC’s journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. It’s a great journal containing interesting infectious disease reports about people and animals (it’s free too, which is a nice bonus). In addition to the ferret infection I wrote about, the last edition also has a very interesting… Continue Reading

Tigers in the bedroom

Posted in Other animals
A recent article in Emerging Infectious Diseases discussed infectious disease risks associated with having pets in the bedroom. It raised awareness about pets and zoonotic diseases, although some of the coverage was a bit over the top. There are risks, but for most people and most pets, the risks are quite low. Some things do… Continue Reading

Lions and tigers and glanders

Posted in Other animals
Glanders, a very serious disease of horses, donkeys and mules caused by infection with the bacterium Burkholderia mallei, has made the news again in a rather unusual manner – it has been reported as the cause of an outbreak in lions and a tiger at an Iranian zoo in Tehran. The story goes that two… Continue Reading

Tiger attack in Wisconsin

Posted in Other animals
A Wisconsin man is recovering after being attacked by a seven-year-old Siberian tiger at The Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue & Educational Center. The victim is a volunteer at the centre, and he was attacked while giving the tiger some water. He was airlifted to hospital but his injuries are described as minor. As is often… Continue Reading

Salmonella outbreak claims 3rd tiger

Posted in Other animals
A Salmonella outbreak at the Bannerghatta Biological Park in Bangalore, India, has resulted in the death of three tigers. The latest victim, a four-year-old female tiger named Minchu, had been critically ill for the past two weeks and died of kidney failure. (Kidney failure is a potential complication of severe intestinal bacterial infections like salmonellosis.)… Continue Reading

Lambing season and Q fever

Posted in Other animals, Other diseases
I have a small flock of Soay sheep and lambing season started today (too early, but better than the -30C weather from a few days ago). For someone like me, lambing season inevitably triggers thoughts about Q fever, a zoonotic disease that is most commonly associated with contact with small ruminants like sheep and goats… Continue Reading

Petting zoos: What’s wrong with this picture, Part II

Posted in Other animals
Recently, my family went to an Ontario aviary/animal park. It was possible to touch many of the animals, and contact was encouraged because they sold food for the animals. The kids enjoyed having contact with animals, but this facility was an example of completely inadequate (or negligent) infection control practices. There’s actually not much wrong… Continue Reading

Petting zoos: What’s wrong with this picture?

Posted in Other animals, Other diseases, Salmonella
Petting zoos can be great activities, providing entertainment and education to kids and adults alike. However, contact with animals at these events does come with some degree of risk, and numerous infectious disease outbreaks associated with such contacts have been reported. Because of these risks, most petting zoos are improving their infection control precautions, particularly… Continue Reading

Reptile shows….wash your hands!!

Posted in Reptiles, Salmonella
Last weekend, my family and I went to an (indoor) aviary for an outing because the weather was particularly miserable. A new addition to this facility was a large reptile encounter exhibit. As part of this, people were encouraged to handle a bearded dragon (a type of lizard) and a large python. Contact with the… Continue Reading