Worms & Germs Blog

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Leftover zoonotic disease Q&A, Part 1

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Rabies

I did a talk recently for Third Age Learning in Guelph, and there was an abundance of questions. I didn’t get through them all at the time, so I figured I’d address some of them here: Do mice carry rabies? Mice aren’t rabies reservoirs like raccoons, skunks or bats, as they don’t have a rabies… Continue Reading

Echinococcus multilocularis: Ontario, Canada

Posted in Deworming, Dogs, Parasites

Echinococcus multilocularis, a small tapeworm with a big name, is causing big concerns in Ontario, an area that was until recently considered free of this parasite. This tapeworm is normally found in the intestinal tract of wild canids (e.g. coyotes, foxes) and can also infect dogs. That itself isn’t a problem, since the intestinal form… Continue Reading

Wash your hands and save a skunk

Posted in Other animals

Well, not really. Presumably most people don’t have direct contact with skunks; however, that doesn’t mean skunks can’t pick up viruses from us. A study published in Zoonoses and Public Health (Britton et al. 2018) investigated human H1N1 influenza in wild skunks in the greater Vancouver, BC (Canada) area, following up on an earlier study… Continue Reading

Dogs and tularemia

Posted in Dogs

Tularemia is a nasty bacterial disease. The bug that causes it, Francisella tularensis, is a category A bioterrorism agent (along with things like anthrax, botulism, plague, smallpox and Ebola virus). It’s classified as that because it’s highly transmissible and causes serious disease, so it’s something you definitely don’t want. The bacterium circulates in the wild,… Continue Reading

Bad headlines

Posted in Dogs, Other animals, Rabies

I realize headline writers are trying to attract attention, and sometimes they don’t know much about the content. As a result, some headlines are quite over the top, and that can freak people out. Here are some examples from the past couple of days: 4 year old girl catches life-threatening infection by trying on shoes… Continue Reading

Human rabies death, Delaware, US

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Other animals, Rabies, Vaccination

Human deaths from rabies are common in some developing countries (where tens of thousands die from canine rabies every year) but rare in developed countries. It’s an almost invariably fatal disease, but at the same time it’s almost completely preventable because of the quality of vaccines and post-exposure prophylaxis available. Getting those treatments to the… Continue Reading

Dog parks and canine leptospirosis

Posted in Dogs, Vaccination

A Fremont, California dog park was temporarily closed in response to concerns about canine leptospirosis after 4 reports of dogs contracting the disease, potentially associated with exposure at the park. It’s always hard to determine the source of exposure with lepto, but a park is certainly possible. We don’t understand a lot about how and where… Continue Reading

Things not to do with raccoons

Posted in Parasites, Rabies

1) Pick up baby raccoons and take them away Rarely does this end well. It’s illegal in many areas (including Ontario). Raccoons don’t do well long-term in households for various reasons (their curious and destructive nature being a big one). And, they are potential sources of a number of zoonotic diseases (rabies being a big one but not… 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

Raccoon Rabies – 1 Year Later

Posted in Rabies

It has been just over 1 year since the discovery of the first rabid raccoon in Ontario in over a decade, and the first rabid wildlife in the Hamilton area in over two decades.  Since then well over 4500 abnormal or “found dead” wildlife have been tested, and 253 animals carrying raccoon-variant rabies have been… Continue Reading

All you wanted to know about Baylisascaris…the raccoon roundworm

Posted in Other animals, Parasites

The US Geological Service isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think about publishers of zoonotic disease information (but what do I know?). If you’re looking for some holiday reading, the USGS has published a comprehensive overview of Baylisascaris larva migrans, a serious disease caused by Baylisascaris procyonis, the raccoon roundworm. This parasite… Continue Reading

Human Rabies in Missouri

Posted in Rabies

The latest edition of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports describes a case of rabies in a Missouri man. Rabies is rare in people in the US, but it remains an ever-present risk because the virus circulates in various wildlife species. (This case seems to have been from 2014, but they missed some proofreading since… Continue Reading

More Ontario Echinococcus multilocularis cases

Posted in Dogs

This tiny parasite continues to cause a stir around Ontario. While infections are (apparently) still rare, it’s becoming clear that this nasty worm has somehow stealthily established itself in the province. That presumably means it’s either also in neighbouring provinces and states, or heading there. Echinococcus multilocularis is a small tapeworm that can cause severe disease. Canids… Continue Reading

Deworming wild and feral animals

Posted in Parasites

I had a question the other day about roundworms in feral cats. Specifically, how do you deworm a group of cats that you don’t handle and may not be able to catch? There are a few possible approaches, from trapping and treating (oral or topical) to trying to get a dewormer into them via food.… Continue Reading

2013 US rabies recap

Posted in Rabies

It’s that time of year. No, not for snow (although it is snowing here at the moment). It’s time for the annual US rabies surveillance report in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Dyer et al. Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2013). The highlights… Over 5800 rabid animals were identified in… Continue Reading

Skunk + late vaccine + inflexibility = dead dog

Posted in Dogs

A Brockton, MA dog was euthanized after being bitten by a rabid skunk, because of a combination of the skunk’s rabies diagnosis, a relatively minor lapse in the dog’s vaccinations, and regulatory inflexibility. The ten-year-old Schnauzer cross was bitten in its own yard, and the skunk was subsequently caught, tested and diagnosed as rabid. Clearly,… Continue Reading

Plague from dog

Posted in Dogs

Plague… it’s a term that typically conjures up images of the devastating "Black Death", the pandemic that killed 75-200 million people in Europe back in the 14th century. Yet, it’s not just a historical disease. Plague is still present in a variety of small mammals in different regions worldwide (see map), including parts of the… Continue Reading

More on rabies and roadkill

Posted in Rabies

A reader recently posed a question about the potential risk of rabies virus exposure from running over a rabid animal. I get the "can I get rabies from touching roadkill?" question regularly, but this person had a different concern. “The other day I accidentally plowed right over an already-dead animal in the road. My air… Continue Reading

Raccoon rabies…what is exposure?

Posted in Rabies

A recent report about a rabid raccoon in New Brunswick highlights a few different issues regarding rabies exposure, and the marked differences in application and interpretation of various guidelines. The incident occurred in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, where a family came home "to find their 2 dogs excitedly circling around something in the yard. The… Continue Reading

Boo Boo gets pardoned, but so much for stress relief

Posted in Other animals

Let’s put this one in the "smart people doing stupid things" file. Some well-intentioned people at Washington University in St. Louis thought they’d help relieve stress during exam time by bringing in a petting zoo – that unfortunately included "Boo Boo" the biting bear. As you can likely guess, problems ensued. 18 students sustained skin-breaking… Continue Reading

Raccoon roundworm reminder

Posted in Parasites

An article by Dr. Ann Britton of British Columbia’s Animal Health Centre (AHC) on the blog site healthywildlife.ca  is another reminder of the perils of raccoon poop. Over a 2 year period, 17 raccoons were submitted to the AHC for necropsy, and 12 (71%) of them were infected with Baylisascaris procyonis, the raccoon roundworm. The… Continue Reading