Worms & Germs Blog

Monthly Archives: November 2009

Lizards on a plane (or greedy idiot on a plane)

Posted in Reptiles
Michael Plank, a California resident, was caught at the Los Angeles airport smuggling 15 lizards from Australia. Two geckos, two monitors and 11 skinks were found worth over $8500 and confiscated. The reptiles were strapped to his body inside money belts.  It’s not explained how the smuggling was identified, but I imagine wriggling clothes might… Continue Reading

H1N1 in a dog

Posted in Dogs, Other diseases
H1N1 influenza was diagnosed in two dogs in China, bringing increased calls to pay attention to other animal species when it comes to this disease. I’m more surprised by this than finding H1N1 in a cat or ferret. Dogs are susceptible to influenza and have their own circulating influenza strain (H3N8, originally from horses) but… Continue Reading

Feline leprosy

Posted in Cats, Other diseases
Leprosy usually evokes images of deformed faces and hands and leper colonies. This disease, caused by Mycobacterium leprae, has been recognized for at least 4000 years, and is thought to have been one of the biblical plagues. While now treatable with proper access to healthcare, leprosy is still a problem in some regions. Feline leprosy… Continue Reading

Lyme disease from a dog: Don’t believe everything you read

Posted in Dogs
InsideToronto.com published an article entitled "Unsuspecting resident contracts Lyme disease from pet dog". However, Lyme disease cannot be transmitted from dogs to people. Lyme disease is a tickborne disease caused by the bacterium Borrellia burgdorferi. This bacterium is transmitted from wildlife reservoirs to people and pets by ticks that have fed on an infected animal,… Continue Reading

Probiotics and obesity

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Horses
A recent editorial in Nature Microbiology Reviews by Dr. Didier Raoult raised questions about the potential role of probiotics in obesity.  It is based both on studies indicating weight gain in humans and farm animals in probiotic trials as well as some laboratory animal data. The conclusions based on clinical trials for treatment of disease… Continue Reading

The good and bad of pet therapy

Posted in Dogs, MRSA/MRSP
.An article about a therapy dog demonstrates some good points of these programs and places to improve. The story is about "Taco", a Chihuahua involved in pet therapy at the Livingston Regional Hospital (Tennessee). The obvious benefit of the program is highlighted by the owner’s comment "She creates smiles when there were none." There are… Continue Reading

Campylobacter upsaliensis: an overlooked problem?

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Other diseases
Campylobacter bacteria are important causes of disease in people. Many Campylobacter species exist, and these different species vary quite a bit in their ability to cause disease in people and animals. Campylobacter jejuni is one of the most common causes of diarrhea in people worldwide, and is most commonly associated with contaminated food.  However, a… Continue Reading

More H1N1 cat cases

Posted in Cats
Perhaps not too surprisingly, more cats have been diagnosed with H1N1. Following the first reported case in Iowa, two more cases have been reported: one in Utah and one in Oregon. The Utah case apparently had typical flu-like disease. The cat from Oregon died of severe respiratory disease. This doesn’t really change anything. We know… Continue Reading

Antibiotic Awareness Day

Posted in Miscellaneous
European Antibiotic Awareness Day is an initiative of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.  This year it falls on November 18.  The aim of the Day is to provide an annual opportunity for raising awareness about the threat to public health of antibiotic resistance and how to use antibiotics responsibly. Responsible use of… Continue Reading

Stray cats and H1N1 influenza

Posted in Cats, Other diseases
The topic of the potential for feral (stray) animals, particularly cats, to be sources of human influenza infection came up today. For feral animals to be a public health problem, the following sequence has to happen: Feral animals need to be exposed to H1N1 This is pretty unlikely. Influenza is spread through close contact, mainly… Continue Reading

How to remove a skunk from a pool

Posted in Dogs, Other animals
This morning, as my dog Meg and I went out to get the newspaper, she ran towards our pool fence, barking (pretty unusual for a dog that is afraid of chipmunks). I wondered what the issue was until I saw a black and white tail sticking out. The pool has been closed for the season and… Continue Reading

Family Salmonella outbreak from school reptile

Posted in Reptiles, Salmonella
Three Louisville, Kentucky children and their father recently contracted Salmonella from two lizards (green anoles) that the kids brought home from school. Two weeks after the lizards were brought home, the youngest child got sick. Then the other kids and the father got sick. This outbreak highlights numerous problems: Schools are not pet stores: Why… Continue Reading

H1N1, cats and the potential for mutation

Posted in Cats
I’ve spent a lot of time talking to the press this week about H1N1 and pets. One question that has come up repeatedly involves concern about the potential for this virus to mutate because of its presence in pets. This largely relates to the general knowledge that pigs are potentially important "mixing vessels" for influenza… Continue Reading

How to diagnosis influenza in pets

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Other diseases
One of the common questions accompanying the onslaught of calls I’ve taken today is "How do you diagnose influenza in pets?" Clinical signs, such as sneezing, coughing, fever and lethargy, are not useful for diagnosis. Influenza can produce highly variable disease, ranging from almost none to very severe – so you can’t look at an… Continue Reading

H1N1 in a cat

Posted in Cats
H1N1 influenza has been confirmed in a cat in Iowa. The cat had "influenza-like illness" and was tested, with H1N1 being confirmed today. Two of three people in the house were also sick, but they became ill before the cat, and were presumably the source of infection for the cat. There’s no evidence that the… Continue Reading

‘Registered’ service dog scam

Posted in Dogs
I’ve written a few times in the past about the need for better definitions and guidelines for service dogs. Service animals are incredibly beneficial for some people, but there is great potential for abuse of the "service animal" designation by people who don’t really need a service animal and/or are using completely untrained and sometimes… Continue Reading

Another ferret flu case

Posted in Other animals
A second ferret in the US has been diagnosed with H1N1 influenza. The latest case involves a fatal infection in a ferret from Nebraska that was presumably infected by its owner. Three other ferrets in the household were also sick, and it’s fair to assume that they had H1N1as well. It’s important to keep things in… Continue Reading