Wednesday, May 13, 2009

[Rabies in Ohio: What You Should Know] Zoonotic Disease Program: Rabies

[Rabies in Ohio: What You Should Know] Zoonotic Disease Program: Rabies

"Local health departments reported they were aware of 56 people who were bitten or otherwise potentially exposed to rabid bats in Ohio during 2008. All 56 patients started rabies post-exposure treatment (PET). Eleven rabid bats also exposed 10 cats, nine dogs and a horse. Each animal was given a vaccine booster and/or quarantined. Bat rabies is sporadic throughout the state and pets frequently are the conduit to human exposures. The public must be continually reminded that even these small animals can be deadly."

(Note: Rabies is another reason pets should be supervised at all times and not be permitted to run loose. ORV -- Oral Rabies Vaccine) bait was put out in sixteen eastern Ohio counties: Ashtabula, Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Harrison, Jefferson, Lake, Mahoning, Monroe, Noble, Portage, Summit, Trumbull, and Washington. TVR -- Trap-Vaccinate-Release -- is also employed.)

Last updated: February 23, 2009

People are exposed to rabies when they are bitten by an infected animal, or less commonly, when saliva from an infected animal gets into an open wound or onto a mucous membrane.

Any bite wound should be thoroughly washed with soap and water as soon as possible.

Animal bite victims should consult with their doctor and promptly report the incident to the local health department.

Rabies is almost always fatal once clinical symptoms appear. To confirm the victim’s risk of being exposed to rabies, a decision must be made to either test or quarantine the biting animal, or to treat the victim. Treatment must be initiated soon after the exposure to be effective. Ohio’s local health departments investigate more than 24,000 animal bite incidents annually. Because of health department activities and medical treatment, human rabies is rare in the United States. Ohio’s last human rabies case was in 1970.

The Ohio Department of Health Rabies Program conducts rabies prevention activities to protect Ohio residents from the spread of wildlife rabies to people, pets, and other animals. Bat, raccoon, skunk, other wild animal and domestic animal rabies cases are reviewed to determine any necessary control initiatives.

The Rabies Program works to do the following:

Assist local health departments with rabies prevention programs and coordinate rabies control activities among local, state and federal agencies.

Develop educational materials for the public.

Provide consultation for public health workers, veterinarians, the medical community, and others who work with animals, and deal with animal bites and rabies exposures.

Collect and maintain data on rabies and animal bites in Ohio.

2008 Ohio Rabies Map

2008 Rabies Summary (excerpted below) (4 pages)

In 2008, 4,405 animals from Ohio were tested for rabies. Testing was conducted by three laboratories:

The Ohio Department of Health Laboratories (ODHL) tested public health specimens (e.g. suspect animals that exposed humans or pets/domestic animals).

The United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Service (USDA APHIS WS) targeted sick and dead wildlife collected for raccoon- rabies variant (RRV) surveillance in northeast Ohio.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laboratories conducted variant typing on rabies-positive animal samples and confirmed USDA APHIS WS samples.

Sixty-four animals tested positive for rabies in 2008. Fifty-five of those animals were bats (85.9 percent), five were raccoons (7.8 percent), three were skunks (4.7 percent) and one was a coyote (1.6 percent). For comparison, 86 animals (66 bats, 11 raccoons and nine skunks) from Ohio tested positive for rabies in 2007. In Ohio, there are three rabies variants (or strains) circulating among wildlife and they include bat, skunk and raccoon rabies. The North Central skunk-rabies variant and the raccoon-rabies variant are terrestrial variants, and each tends to have a geographic focus. The third variant is bat rabies, which is sporadic and geographically disbursed. Each strain prefers a specific animal species, but any strain can infect humans and other mammals. For example, a skunk with RRV can cause rabies in a dog, cat, horse, etc.

No matter the variant, rabies is a viral disease of mammals that affects the nervous system. It is nearly 100 percent fatal and is transmitted when saliva from an infected animal gets into an open wound or on a mucous membrane. In humans, treatment is effective only if immunoglobulin and a series of five vaccine injections are administered within days after the exposure. This is the reason Ohio law requires all animal bites be reported to the local health department within 24 hours. Human disease can be prevented through prompt exposure evaluation and treatment. Because of the medical and public health infrastructure in the state, Ohio has not had a confirmed human case of rabies since 1970. Each year in the United States, an average of three people die from rabies, usually from bat-related variants. Worldwide, roughly 55,000 people die each year, most often from canine-rabies variant, which is not endemic to the United States.

Bat Rabies:

In 2008, the number of bats testing positive (55) was higher than the five-year average (47, range 30-66). The percent positive was 6 percent. Local health departments reported they were aware of 56 people who were bitten or otherwise potentially exposed to rabid bats in Ohio during 2008.

All 56 patients started rabies post-exposure treatment (PET). Eleven rabid bats also exposed 10 cats, nine dogs and a horse. Each animal was given a vaccine booster and/or quarantined. Bat rabies is sporadic throughout the state and pets frequently are the conduit to human exposures. The public must be continually reminded that even these small animals can be deadly.

Bats frequently inhabit attics and pose a rabies risk to residents if there is access into living areas. In July, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Zoonotic Disease Program received a call about a bat found in a rental home. The bat tested positive for rabies through ODHL and the family received PET. The tenants moved shortly after completing the PET series. New tenants moved in and subsequently reported seeing bats in sleeping areas in the morning. Because no bats were available for testing, these tenants also started and completed PET. The landlord paid all the out-of-pocket expenses for each family which amounted to several thousand dollars. “Bat-proofing” the structure would probably have been less expensive than paying for PET.

Raccoon Rabies Variant:

All rabid raccoons and skunks, plus one coyote, identified in Ohio during 2008 were positive for RRV. All were found in northeast Ohio. The percentage of raccoons testing positive in 2008 (five of 1,009 or 0.5 percent) was similar to previous years. This year, most RRV-positive animals (five raccoons and two skunks) were detected by enhanced surveillance activities (odd behavior, sick, roadkill); not because they bit or otherwise exposed a person or pet. However, one skunk and one coyote were involved in human or pet/domestic animal exposures. (4 pages)

Source (original website address / URL):

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cat Health Tips: Health Tips for Cat Owners

Cat Health Tips: Health Tips for Cat Owners

(Disclaimer: Nothing contained herein should be interpreted as veterinary advice or a substitute for same. Please always consult your veterinarian, keeping in mind that describing symptoms over the phone is no substitute for the vet actually seeing the patient.)

Cats can get colds

Sneezing, nose and eye discharge may be associated with upper respiratory infections. These signs can also be due to allergies or foreign material stuck in the nose. Wheezing sounds can occur when there is marked irritation or partial obstruction in the nasal cavity, but true wheezing involves the lungs. In the latter case, there is bronchial constriction (narrowed airways) that leads to a whistling lung sound, in combination with increased respiration efforts. The most common scenario in cats leading to true wheezing is asthma, which is associated with airway irritation, or wheezing can occur when something foreign has been inhaled down the windpipe or a lung infection is present. Vomiting is not usually associated with cat "colds." There are numerous causes of vomiting. The irritation can then lead to secondary sneezing, and nasal discharge. Since the cause of these symptoms may be simple and easily controlled, the sick cat should see a veterinarian for a professional assessment.

Hairballs in cats

Nearly everyone who has ever owned a cat knows about hairballs. Hairballs are natural at very low frequency. Every day, a cat grooms the hair coat extensively and swallows large quantities of hair as a result. Normally, the hair mixes with the food, and passes out with the stool, mixed fairly evenly throughout the feces. Sometimes, though, hair remains in the stomach and balls up. When it grows large, it is vomited up because it irritates the stomach. Some cats have an abnormal tendency to accumulate hair and to form hairballs. They swallow large amounts on an ongoing basis and some degree of buildup is inevitable. Sometimes cats develop excessive hairballs when their stomach is irritated. Hair buildup in the digestive system can be a worrisome problem. It is not unusual for the stool of cats with chronic constipation problems to contain a significant amount of dry hair in the stool ball. It is important to effectively manage the constipation to prevent the risk of dry hair-based masses. Left unattended, the result can be permanent stretching of the gut wall around large impactions. Low-grade hairballs can be effectively managed using gentle hairball medication that helps to lubricate the hairs in the stomach to help prevent hair from tangling together and starting a hairball. These lubricants are usually formulated as a tasty paste administered once or twice weekly by mouth. They have added vitamins, and can be very effective if used regularly. Never give mineral oil to cats by mouth as a hairball remedy. There have been many cases where the cat does not taste the mineral oil and inhales it into the lungs. This is very dangerous and can lead to death. Always consult your veterinarian about the best choice for hairball management in your cat.

Even cats get gas

Sometimes the only sign of excess gas is a swollen abdomen. Sometimes there is just a gurgling sound. Cats do not belch as commonly as dogs, due to the structure of the upper digestive system. Cats are less gassy due to the nature of their diet and are also less inclined to wolf down their food, and so do not inhale as much air into their system as a typical dog. If they are prone to gas, cats may benefit from a commercial diet that uses a rice source of carbohydrate, because rice is less gas producing than other dietary carbohydrate sources. If disease is present, one or more of the following may be noted: diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. Feeding milk to cats will often produce excess gas. If your cat has a constant gas problem, veterinary evaluation should be made unless an easy explanation is evident such as milk or other poorly digestible foods being fed.

Reproduction in cats

If allowed to mate naturally, a female cat can have two or three litters annually, resulting in 50-150 offspring over the course of her lifetime! If you suspect your cat is pregnant, have your veterinarian check her health and confirm the pregnancy.

Male cats benefit from neutering

Most pet owners are aware that pets should be neutered, but few are aware of all the reasons why neutering is beneficial, particularly in male cats.

Male cats are neutered for many reasons. Intact male cats tend to fight one another in order to defend their territory and to secure the opportunity to mate with female cats in heat. Fighting can lead to scratch and bite wounds, which often become infected, leading to abscesses. Neutered cats do not have strong territorial instincts, thus making them better pets. Non-neutered male cats tend to roam great distances, coming home only to eat and sleep. This roaming increases the chances of being hit by a car or getting into fights. Neutering is effective in reducing fighting and roaming.

Non-neutered male cats mark their territory (inside or outside) by spraying strong-smelling urine on objects such as drapes, furniture and carpeting. Besides being unsanitary, the urine odor and stains are extremely difficult to remove. Neutering a male cat is effective in stopping urine spraying and also reduces the strong, unpleasant odor of male cat urine.

Intact male cats tend have poor grooming habits, causing them to become matted and scruffy-looking. Neutered male cats tend to pay more attention to keeping themselves clean.

These are some very humane reasons for neutering male cats. Allowing a tomcat to mate at will contributes to already epidemic cat overpopulation. Animal shelters must ultimately euthanize those cats for which no homes can be found.

Please discuss neutering your male cat with your veterinarian.

The benefits of spaying

Spaying is a safe and reliable method of birth control in both dogs and cats. With animal shelters overwhelmed with homeless and abandoned animals, spaying is an important way by which we can be responsible pet owners and not contribute to the problem of pet overpopulation.

In cats, the excessive vocalization and behavior associated with heat (estrus) cycles is avoided by spaying. Spaying will not make a cat fat or lazy. Obesity in pets is usually the result of overeating combined with lack of exercise. Spaying does not change a pet's personality or temperament, whether for good or for bad.

Spaying is a very safe surgical procedure. Please discuss spaying your female cat with your veterinarian.

First aid steps for poison control

Pets come in contact with potential toxins almost every day of their lives. There are many possible sources of poison: indoor and outdoor plants, household cleaners and chemicals, prescription medications, pesticides, herbicides, paints, and even foods. Poisonings are seen far more frequently in dogs than cats, because cats tend to be much fussier about what they ingest. Poisonings are often suspected rather than actually witnessed. For this reason, it is helpful for owners to be aware of the clinical signs associated with poisoning. Symptoms of poisoning depend on the type of poison encountered as well as the quantity.

Ingested poisons often cause intestinal upsets, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and abdominal pain or cramps. Examples of poisons that can cause internal upsets are: antifreeze, weed killers, oils, cleaning solutions, paints and plants.

Inhaled poisons may lead to sneezing, coughing, bluish-tinged gums and lips, and labored breathing. Examples of these poisons include: fumes from paints, cleaning fluids, and smoke.

Contact poisons tend to irritate the skin and gums, causing irritation, redness, peeling skin, hair loss, swelling, and pain. Examples of these include: solvents, soaps, and insecticides.

When dealing with a poisoning, the first step should be to remove the source of the poison. Contact your veterinary and notify her/him that you are on your way. Let them know what kind of poison is involved and the condition of the pet.

For ingested toxins, this could include administering neutralizing or antidotal agents. For contact poisons, the contact area could be washed with large volumes of water.

For inhaled poisons, immediate access to fresh air should be the first step. Where applicable, check the label on the poison container for instructions on first-aid procedures and antidotes.

If the patient is unconscious, do not try to give it anything by mouth. Wrap the patient in a warm blanket and transport it to the veterinarian with the head lower than the body. This is done to prevent shock and also to permit drainage from the mouth if necessary. If the patient is very excited or is convulsing, keep it from hurting itself, wrap it in a blanket, and transport to your veterinarian as quickly as possible. Save the material vomited so that the veterinarian can evaluate it and analyze it if necessary. Also take along containers, boxes, bottles, labels, and anything else related to the poison, since this may provide important clues and helpful information. Induce vomiting only if you are sure that corrosive substances such as alkalines, acids, or petroleum products are not involved. If in doubt, contact your veterinarian for advice.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

When No One Wants Them: Turning the Tide

When No One Wants Them: Turning the Tide

Do you know a place where all puppies and kittens are planned, wanted, loved, and provided with lifelong, caring, responsible homes? Do you know a place where the owner of a pregnant dog or cat cares for that dog or cat and makes sure it has proper nutrition, vaccinations and deworming so the puppies or kittens are born healthy?

Do you know a place where every puppy and every kitten born to a breeding is born into an environment in which it is loved, handled gently, and receives proper worming and vaccinations?

Do you know a place where older, ill, or otherwise 'less than pristine' animals would never be dumped from vehicles like we would brush out leaves or gravel?

Now consider the 'other side of the coin.'

There are many places where dogs and cats are owned by people that -- for whatever reason or reasons -- don't intend to be breeders, but want 'a son or daughter' from the old dog, so they breed it, assuming that everything will be fine. Some people buy animals with the intention of making 'lots of money' by breeding and selling, with scarcely a care in the world about the impact such breedings will have on a world already overloaded with surplus animals.

'Puppy mills' churn out many puppies and kittens, the sole reason being 'the bottom line:' the almighty dollar. Certainly, profit is there to be made, but at what expense? Animal confinement should at the very least be humane, with care given to keep kennels clean, roomy enough for the animals to move around, etc.

While many breeders and kennels are astute and take great care of and pride in their efforts to breed quality puppies and kittens, the fact is that there are still countless breedings producing a staggering number of at-risk results.

Puppies and kittens are born at risk of being mistreated, dumped, getting sick and having no care, wanting for simple things that should be a given, if only they were wanted and loved.

There are places along roadsides -- some of those roadsides very busy with traffic -- where dogs and cats, puppies and kittens, are regularly dumped. Unceremoniously, with not even a kind word, animals are simply left behind. Sometimes animals are left behind when owners move. It falls to others to save the animals before they die of thirst, starvation, or succumb to heat or cold.

There are places where taking the responsibility of keeping pet dogs and cats from getting pregnant or fathering litters is not even a consideration. In those places, other things can be -- and often are -- options, things that should be requisite to owning a pet. Things like regular veterinary care (vaccinations, deworming, annual physical check-ups); good food; fresh water; flea & tick prevention; a dry, clean, comfortable place to sleep; enough training so the animal is not a hazard to itself or others via inappropriate behavior or aggression; the safety of a fenced yard or a home -- things that many people provide, but many do not.

Those places often help create unwanted animals, from unwanted litters to unwanted expectant females. Often the owners have no idea of the number of unwanted, unplanned puppies and kittens are already being born every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year. Many believe they 'can't afford' to have an animal spayed or neutered. Sometimes it's as simple as educating people about the availability and affordability of such services.

Do you know a place where all animals are safe, loved and wanted? Information is available free on the Internet, at animal shelters and dog pounds.

Learning is the first step to becoming a great pet owner.

Please help animals find good places to live their lives. Please provide good places for animals to live lives free from hunger, thirst, lack of medical care, and lack of love.

Let's turn the tide from 'no one wants them' to 'they are wanted.' We can do it!