This blog was created for Niles Animal Hospital & Bird Medical Center by Peter S. Sakas DVM in an effort to provide information & discussion about animal related issues. It may move into some eccentric directions on occasion if the mood strikes me as I get more comfortable in this form of communication. I am open to suggestions & comments about the blog. Also view our hospital website www.nilesanimalhospital.com or Facebook page Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center.
Posted: May 22, 2015 8:18 PM CDTUpdated: May 22, 2015 8:23 PM CDT
By Cherise Leclerc
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -
The first case of canine flu has shown up in Massachusetts this year.
The dog, from eastern Massachusetts, was on a family trip to Chicago when she contracted the virus. The region has been dealing with a dog-flu outbreak since last month that's affected more than 1,700 dogs.
Now local veterinarians are saying it's only a matter of time before New England starts seeing more cases.
"Nasal discharge, cough, fever and loss of appetite," said Dr. Amy Alwood, medical director at the Boston Road Animal Hospital.
Those are the symptoms the infected dog was ailing from when she was brought to MSPCA's Angell Medical Center in Boston.
Vets there confirmed the female terrier mix had a virus we most often associate with humans.
"This new strain of viral infection may also infect cats but it's not the same as the flu strain that affects people. So dog-to-person infection and person to dog infection is not thought to be possible," Alwood said.
According to the CDC, dog flu actually originated from horses some four decades ago before dogs started contracting the virus.
Alwood says there are ways to protect your pet.
"The same dogs that are getting vaccinated for traditional kennel cough or bordetella vaccines should be considered candidates for viral vaccination," she said.
That would include dogs who visit dog parks often, show dogs, or dogs that have regular stays in a kennel..
A particular strain of the flu is said to be responsible for the outbreak in the midwest - an h3n2 virus. As of right now there's a vaccine for strain H3N8. Vets are still researching whether vaccines are effective for both.
"Some would say it's just not protective but the truth is we just don't know. So our recommendation is to consider vaccinating dogs that are at risk for viral influenza," Alwood said.
While the infected dog is recovering at her owners' home in Watertown, Alwood says to remain vigilant and keep an eye on your pet's behavior.
"The good news is, the majority of dogs will have mild to moderate signs. But there is that percentage, less than one percent that can have severe respiratory compromise and systemic illness and can be fatal in a minority of cases," Alwood said.
Copyright 2015 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Bird flu may take bite out of Thanksgiving's turkey supply
CHICAGO| BY P.J. HUFFSTUTTER
Tina Corpus and her daughter Christina shop for turkey at a Walmart store in the Porter Ranch section of Los Angeles November 26, 2013.
(Reuters) - The largest-ever U.S. outbreak of avian influenza, which has devastated Midwestern poultry and egg producers in recent weeks, could be felt at Thanksgiving tables across the nation come November, farmers and some trade groups say.
The virulent H5N2 strain has already spread to 14 states and led to the deaths or scheduled euthanizations of more than 21 million birds, including 3.3 million turkeys in Minnesota, the nation's top turkey producer.
And now, with Thanksgiving just seven months away, farmers say they may be running out of time to raise enough turkeys -the traditional centerpiece of holiday feasts - to meet the demand.
Once a farm has been infected, flocks must be culled, composted in barns, then disposed of. Buildings must then be thoroughly disinfected. The whole process can take up to three months before a new flock of turkey poults can be brought in, said Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.
After chicks are re-introduced to the barns, farmers say, it typically takes about four months to produce a full-sized hen – the type of turkey most Americans prefer for their holiday feasts.
If breeder farms that supply the young birds have also been infected -- as some in Minnesota have -- simply acquiring the chicks could prove challenging.
And in Minnesota, there's still no sign of an end to the outbreak, despite tight biosecurity measures and quarantines. Already, at least one turkey processing plant has cut back on workers' shifts because of a lack of birds to slaughter.
"We're going to have fewer turkeys coming out because of this," Olson said.
"The question we can't answer is how much this is going to impact our total system, because this isn't over yet," he added.
Of the nearly 240 million turkeys raised last year in the United States, nearly one in five came from Minnesota farms. About 30 percent of the Minnesota birds are sold as whole turkeys at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The remaining 70 percent are sold year-round for deli meat, frozen meals, ground turkey and other products, according to industry data.
"There's a sense of pride in farmers, in what they do," Olson said, in a state where farms have often been in the same family for generations. "This is challenging their belief in their ability to raise turkeys, because they have not been able to stop the disease, despite them doing everything they can do from a biosecurity standpoint."
As the reach of the virus continues to expand, companies up and down the turkey supply chain are watching closely.
Tyson Foods Inc said on Monday that the avian influenza has affected some of its turkeycontract farms in neighboring Iowa, where farmers have had to euthanize birds.
While that loss could affect production levels at its turkey plant sometime this summer, Tyson does not produce the whole turkeys typically used at Thanksgiving dinners. Its turkey division is a small part of the company's overall business, and Tyson does not expect the loss to have a material financial impact.
Food retailers are also monitoring the spread of the virus.
Boston Market Corp. said it has been assured by Butterball LLC, one of its main turkeysuppliers, that the company's birds are being raised in areas not affected by the flu outbreak.
But Boston Market Chief Financial Officer Greg Uhing said the company is watching the situation. Butterball declined to discuss specific supply-chain arrangements it has in place with its customers.
Meanwhile, some help for holiday feasts could come from cold storage, where stocks of wholeturkey hens were at 98.7 million pounds as of the end of March, a 24 percent jump over February and up 16 percent over the same period a year earlier, according to federal Agriculture Department data.
Raising birds for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals begins early in the year, with turkeys slaughtered and stored in cold storage to meet the demand at year's end, say industry officials.
Some producers are confident that supplies will largely keep pace with demand.
"There is some wiggle room" for the holidays, said Darrell Glaser, who raises 600,000 turkeys a year for Cargill Inc at his family's Bar G Ranch in Rogers, Texas.
"You may see a small impact," said Glaser, who raises the variety of turkeys sold for Thanksgiving. "Unless this outbreak gets a lot worse, I don't see it having a huge impact on our overall supply."
Still, Glaser's not taking any chances. He has increased biosecurity measures on his farm and told staff not to get close to any wild birds. Visits to nearby farms have stopped, and any trips to the Midwest have been put on hold.
(from AOL) LOS ANGELES (AP) - When it comes to cats, those meows mean ... well, a lot of things.
With each purr, yowl or even blink, felines are saying, "Hello," ''Let's snuggle" or "Beat it, Mom." For the increasing number of pet owners who want to connect with their often-aloof fur babies, experts say there's something to gain from those attempts at communication.
Cats are very independent, and so they are easily misunderstood, says Dr. Gary Weitzman, president and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA and author of the new National Geographic book "How to Speak Cat." He aims to unravel the mystery by helping people discern what cats are trying to convey.
Crafty kitties can make 16 different meow sounds and usually only unleash them when people are around, he said. Meows can be their way of saying feed me, pet me or let me out, and hardly ever get exchanged between cats.
That's because cats learn they can get something desirable from people if they meow, said Dr. Bonnie Beaver, executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and a professor at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine. She also wrote the 2003 textbook "Feline Behavior."
The meaning of a scratch or a hiss is pretty clear, but cats can talk in more subtle ways - with their eyes and tails. A slow blink from a feline, for example, is like a wink between friends, Weitzman said.
"Blinking is like a kitty kiss," he said.
And extending their tails straight up equates to a human handshake, he said. A cat perks up that appendage as it approaches to show it's happy to see you.
Susan McMinn, 55, of Tryon, North Carolina, was eager to try the slow-blinking exercise with her Siamese cat, Jade, after reading the book.
"I sat and blinked slowly at my cat, and she blinked right back. I know she loves me, of course, but now I feel I understand her communication even more," McMinn said.
McMinn has owned Jade for 10 years and has had six cats over her lifetime, but she says it's clear she still has a lot to learn. "And I thought I was an expert!" she said.
Even ear and whisker movements signify something worth listening to. If a cat's ears are flat, don't get close because it's scared or facing a fight, Weitzman said.
A kitty is happy, calm or friendly when its whiskers are naturally out to the side. Twice as thick as a human hair and rooted three times as deep, the whiskers guide them, help them with prey and show how they are feeling.
Learning to communicate with cats becomes even important for those who adopt a pet based only on the color or breed they want versus a connection with the animal.
At Happy Cats Sanctuary in Medford, New York, a potential owner might ask for a "white cat with fluffy fur," said Melissa Cox, director of communications and development.
She tells them not to go by looks alone because the true indicator of compatibility is spending time with a cat and getting to know it.
For McMinn, she says she isn't done with the book and plans to use some of its training tips. But now she knows "what to look for in her (cat's) tail and ear movement, whisker positions and in her eyes."
(Edited by Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center)
Q: What is canine influenza? A: Canine influenza (CI), or dog flu, is a highly contagious respiratory infection of dogs that is caused by an influenza A virus. The canine influenza virus (CIV) is closely related to the virus that causes equine influenza and it is thought that the equine influenza virus mutated to produce the canine influenza virus. In the U.S., canine influenza has been caused by the H3N8 influenza A virus. A separate canine influenza virus, H3N2, had been reported in Korea, China and Thailand, but not in the U.S. until 2015, when an outbreak in Chicago, IL was determined to be caused by the H3N2 strain.
Two clinical syndromes have been seen in dogs infected with the canine influenza virus—a mild form of the disease and a more severe form that is accompanied by pneumonia.
mild form — Dogs suffering with the mild form of canine influenza develop a soft, moist cough that persists for 10 to 30 days. They may also be lethargic and have a reduced appetite and fever. Sneezing and discharge from the eyes and/or nose may also be observed. Some dogs have a dry cough similar to the traditional "kennel cough" caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica/parainfluenza virus complex. Dogs with the mild form of influenza may also have a thick nasal discharge, which is usually caused by a secondary bacterial infection.
severe form — Dogs with the severe form of canine influenza develop high fevers (104ºF to 106ºF) and have clinical signs of pneumonia, such as increased respiratory rates and effort. Pneumonia may be due to a secondary bacterial infection.
Because this is still an emerging disease, almost all dogs, regardless of breed or age, are susceptible to infection and have no immunity. Virtually all dogs that are exposed to the virus become infected and nearly 80% show clinical signs of disease. Fortunately, most affected dogs have the mild form.
Q: Do dogs die from canine influenza? A: Fatal cases of pneumonia resulting from infection with canine influenza virus have been reported in dogs, but the fatality rate is low (less than 10%). Most dogs with CI recover in 2-3 weeks.
Q: How widespread is the disease? A: The first recognized outbreak of canine influenza in the world is believed to have occurred in racing greyhounds in January 2004 at a track in Florida. From June to August of 2004, outbreaks of respiratory disease were reported at 14 tracks in 6 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Texas, and West Virginia). Between January and May of 2005, outbreaks occurred at 20 tracks in 11 states (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin). The canine influenza virus has been reported in 30 states and Washington, DC.
The H3N2 strain of CIV had been reported in Korea, China and Thailand, but had not been detected outside of those countries until 2015. In April of 2015, an outbreak in Chicago, IL was determined to be caused by the H3N2 strain.
Q: Is there a vaccine? A: The first vaccine for H3N8 canine influenza was approved in 2009, and there are several H3N8 canine Influenza vaccines available. At this time, there is not an H3N2 vaccine available in the U.S.
HOWEVER, as there is no specific vaccination available the best way to protect the at risk pet population is to use the currently available vaccine. There may be some cross reactivity between the viruses so that the vaccine may be able to afford some protection. It must be determined if your pet is at risk for contracting the disease. If you pet does go to areas where there are high concentration of potentially infected dogs, boarding facilities, groomers, dog parks, doggy day care facilities, and such, then the vaccine may be warranted. Discuss the risk with your veterinarian. Following the first vaccination a booster vaccination is given 2-3 weeks later, a high level of protection will then be achieved in three weeks.
Q: How is a dog with canine influenza treated? A: As with any disease caused by a virus, treatment is largely supportive. Good animal care practices and nutrition assist dogs in mounting an effective immune response.
The course of treatment depends on your pet's condition, including the presence or absence of a secondary bacterial infection, pneumonia, dehydration, or other medical issues (e.g., pregnancy, pre-existing respiratory disease, compromised immune system, etc.). Your veterinarian might prescribe medications, such as an antibiotic (to fight secondary infections) and/or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (to reduce fever, swelling and pain). Dehydrated pets may need fluid therapy to restore and maintain hydration. Other medications, or even hospitalization, may also be necessary for more severe cases.
Q: Is canine influenza virus transmissible from dogs to humans? A: To date, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza virus from dogs to people.
Q: Do I need to be concerned about putting my dog in day care or boarding it at a kennel? A: Dog owners should be aware that any situation that brings dogs together increases the risk of spread of communicable illnesses. Good infection control practices can reduce that risk, so dog owners involved in shows, sports, or other activities with their dogs or who board their dogs at kennels should ask whether respiratory disease has been a problem there, and whether the facility has a plan for isolating dogs that develop respiratory disease and for notifying owners if their dogs have been exposed to dogs with respiratory disease.
As long as good infection control practices are in place, pet owners should not be overly concerned about putting dogs in training facilities, dog parks, kennels, or other areas frequented by dogs.
Q: My dog has a cough...what should I do? A: Consult your veterinarian. Coughing can be caused by many different medical problems, and your veterinarian can examine and evaluate your dog and recommend an appropriate course of treatment. If canine influenza is suspected, treatment will usually focus on maximizing the ability of your dog's immune system to combat the virus. A typical approach might include administration of fluids if your dog is becoming dehydrated and prescribing an antimicrobial if a secondary bacterial infection is suspected.
Canine influenza virus can be spread via direct contact with respiratory secretions from infected dogs, and by contact with contaminated inanimate objects. Therefore, dog owners whose dogs are coughing or exhibiting other signs of respiratory disease should not participate in activities or bring their dogs to facilities where other dogs can be exposed to them. Clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease to prevent transmission of infection to susceptible dogs. Clothing can be adequately cleaned by using a detergent at normal laundry temperatures.
Q: I manage a kennel/veterinary clinic/animal shelter/dog day care center. How do I keep canine influenza out of my facility, and if it does enter my facility, what should I do? A: Viral disease is usually best prevented through vaccination. A vaccine against canine influenza (H3N8) has been available since 2009. It is considered a "lifestyle" vaccine, which means that the decision to vaccinate a dog against CIV is based on the risk of exposure. A veterinarian should determine which vaccinations are needed based on related risks and benefits and should administer these at least 2 weeks prior to planned visits to dog activity and care facilities (e.g., kennels, veterinary clinics, dog day care centers, training facilities, dog parks). This differs from "core" vaccines - such as distemper, parvo and rabies - that are required for all dogs, regardless of lifestyle.
Vaccination against other pathogens causing respiratory disease may help prevent more common respiratory pathogens from becoming secondary infections in a respiratory tract already compromised by influenza infection.
Routine infection control precautions are key to preventing spread of viral disease within facilities. The canine influenza virus appears to be easily killed by disinfectants (e.g., quaternary ammonium compounds and bleach solutions at a 1 to 30 dilution) in common use in veterinary clinics, boarding facilities, and animal shelters. Protocols should be established for thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting cages, bowls, and other surfaces between uses. Employees should wash their hands with soap and water (or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner if soap and water are unavailable) before and after handling each dog; after coming into contact with a dog's saliva, urine, feces, or blood; after cleaning cages; and upon arriving at and before leaving the facility.
Animal care facility staff should be alerted to the possibility that a dog with a respiratory infection could be presented for care or boarding. If a dog with respiratory signs is presented, staff members should inquire whether the dog has recently been boarded or adopted from a shelter, has recently participated in dog-related group activities, or whether it has been exposed to other dogs known to have canine influenza or kennel cough. The dog should be brought directly into a separate examination/triage area that is reserved for dogs with respiratory signs and should not be allowed to enter the waiting room or other areas where susceptible dogs may be present.
Dogs with suspected canine influenza virus infection discovered after entry into the facility should be evaluated and treated by a veterinarian. Isolation protocols should be rigorously applied for dogs showing signs of respiratory disease, including the wearing of disposable gloves by persons handling infected dogs or cleaning contaminated cages. Respiratory disease beyond what is considered typical for a particular facility should be investigated, and the investigation should include submission of appropriate diagnostic samples.
Q: What diagnostic tests will tell me whether a dog has canine influenza? What samples do I send? Where do I send the samples? How do I distinguish between canine influenza and kennel cough? A: There is no rapid test for the specific diagnosis of acute canine influenza virus infection. Nasal or throat swabs from dogs that have been ill for less than 4 days may be sent to a diagnostic laboratory for testing. Your veterinarian may also offer other testing, such as an in-house test to detect influenza types A and B.
Antibodies to canine influenza virus may be detected as early as seven days after onset of clinical signs. Convalescent-phase samples should be collected at least two weeks after collection of the acute-phase sample. If an acute-phase sample is not available, testing a convalescent-phase sample can reveal whether a dog has been infected with or exposed to CIV at some point in the past.
For dogs that have died from pneumonia or other conditions in which CIV is suspected, additional diagnostic tests are available to your veterinarian through reference laboratories.
Q: I work in a kennel/animal care facility. What should I do to prevent transmission of influenza virus from infected dogs to susceptible dogs? A: Canine influenza is not known to be transmissible from dogs to people. However, caretakers can inadvertently transmit canine influenza virus from infected dogs to susceptible dogs by not following good hygiene and infection control practices. To prevent spread of canine influenza virus, caretakers should take the following precautions:
Wash hands with soap and water (if soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner)
Before and after handling each animal
After coming into contact with animal saliva, urine, feces or blood
After cleaning cages
Before eating meals, taking breaks, smoking or leaving the facility
Before and after using the restroom
Wear a barrier gown over your clothes and wear gloves when handling sick animals or cleaning cages. Discard gown and gloves before working with other animals
Consider use of goggles or face protection if splashes from contaminated surfaces may occur
Bring a change of clothes to wear home at the end of the day
Thoroughly clean clothes worn at the animal facility
Do not allow animals to "kiss" you or lick your face
Do not eat in the animal care area
Separate newly arriving animals from animals that have been housed one week or longer.
Routinely monitor animals for signs of illness. Separate sick animals from healthy animals, especially animals with signs of respiratory disease.
There is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza virus from dogs to people. However, because of concerns about diseases that are transmissible from dogs to people, in general, it may be prudent for young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and immunocompromised persons to limit or avoid contact with animals that are ill.
Q: Is canine influenza transmissible to from dogs to horses or other animal species? A: At this time, there is no evidence of transmission of H3N8 canine influenza from dogs to horses, cats, ferrets, or other animal species; the H3N2 strain has been reported to infect cats.
Photo by: University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Jamie Hebron examines a patient at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
By Melissa Giese/University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MRSA is one of the most common causes of human skin and soft tissue infections, and it is the 10th-leading cause of death in humans in the United States.
MRSA stands for "methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus." Staphylococcus bacteria are found on the skin of healthy individuals and, under normal conditions, do not cause a problem. However, when introduced via a break in the skin, these bacteria can become dangerous to people and pets.
"MRSA bacteria have an enzyme called penicillin binding protein II that interferes with many drugs used to treat bacterial infections, including penicillins, methicillin, oxacillin and cephalosporins," said Dr. Carol Maddox, a professor at the University of Illinois Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Urbana.
People often wonder if their pets may be susceptible to or a source of this drug-resistant bacteria.
"There is a low incidence of MRSA in pets compared with humans," Maddox said. "Cats and dogs are more often carriers or infected with a different staphylococcus, Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, which is very seldom infectious to humans."
MRSA can be found in many unexpected places. It is spread by direct physical contact with a colonized or infected person or contaminated object. Hospitals provide an environment conducive to the transmission of these bacteria between patients. "The first MRSA outbreak occurred in the late 1960s, and MRSA had spread worldwide by the early 1980s," Maddox explained. "Since the 1990s we have been seeing more community-acquired, rather than hospital-acquired, MRSA, and the infection is increasingly found in companion animals."
The resistant bacteria arise when something threatens their survival, such as an antibiotic or some disinfectants, which results in selection of bacteria with traits enabling them to survive. If the antibiotic does not kill all the bacteria present, the surviving bacteria will carry the resistant trait and may pass the trait on in the form of plasmid DNA, enabling a new strain of resistant bacteria to emerge.
"This newly emerged resistance can also be transferred by bacteriophages, viruses that can infect bacteria," Maddox said. A bacteriophage has a chance of picking up the resistance genes and transferring them to another bacteria. This process may lead to super bacteria that are much tougher to kill.
Skin problems are the most common manifestation of a MRSA infection. In dogs superficial pyoderma is a very common skin infection, while humans get a condition called exfoliative dermatitis in which the skin blisters.
"Staphylococci in general produce abscesses that can be found almost anywhere on the body. They cause tissue death and pus production at the infection site," Maddox said. "In severe cases, toxic shock syndrome can occur due to the toxins created by the bacteria. The body's inflammatory response overwhelms the patient and can lead to death."
Although there is a possibility of transmission of MRSA between animals and humans, recent studies have shown that transmission is uncommon.
"Certain staphylococci and their toxins are host specific. This means that a toxin produced by one type of staphylococcus may cause a lot of problems for pets but little problems for humans or vice versa," Maddox said.
Although unlikely, it is possible for MRSA to pass between people and pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that persons who have MRSA should get their pets tested, and owners of pets that have MRSA should get tested as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends preventing MRSA by maintaining good hygiene and keeping any wound clean and covered until healed. Wearing gloves and washing hands after treating infection sites are very important practices to prevent spread of these bacteria.
DOG FLU LINKED TO 5 PET DEATHS IN COOK COUNTY
By Diane Pathieu
Monday, April 06, 2015 10:31PM
CHICAGO (WLS) -- There are over 1,000 cases of canine influenza in Cook County and the virus is spreading fast. Dog flu has already been linked to at least five pet deaths in Cook County.
Experts say, now more than ever, vaccinations are a matter of life and death for your dog.
Dog flu has spread to Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, and three Chicago area PetSmart stores have closed their pet hotels to prevent the spread of the virus.
Dr. Donna Alexander with Cook County Animal Control says, just like humans, the key to not spreading the virus is washing your hands and keeping areas clean. She said it is a misconception that humans can transmit the flu to dogs or vice versa, but that does not mean that humans cannot spread germs.
"The way humans act as a vector is if we get any of the dog's sputum, the nasal discharge, the cough, the aerosolized types of particles on our hands when we're touching them - from their leash, their clothing, from their bedding - and then we go to another dog and pet that dog without washing our hands," Dr. Alexander said.
Alexander says the best advice for dog owners is to get that vaccine. However, it can take 28 to 32 days for that vaccine to take effect, so Dr. Alexander says to keep your dog away from social settings during that period.