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Tag: infection

Infections leads BARCS to halt admissions

SBaltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) will temporarily suspend intake of dogs due to an outbreak of respiratory infections, WJZ reports.

The three-week moratorium will allow veterinarians to treat ill animals and ensure that the infection is not transmitted to more dogs at the shelter.

No new dogs will be admitted from June 3 to June 24.

The shelter will remain open, maintain its regular hours and continue adoptions of both dogs and cats.

 ”We’re currently seeing a much higher rate than normal of these serious respiratory infections in dogs, and we want to deal with the problem aggressively and make sure that as few animals as possible become ill,” said BARCS Executive Director Jennifer Brause.

“This was a difficult decision and one not made without careful consideration of all options. We’re confident it’s the right thing to do for the better health of animals in Baltimore.”

“We are asking people who have dogs they need to give up, to please hold on to them until the shutdown has ended, or to find alternate housing for this short period of time,” Brause said.

People who find dogs can contact BARCS, which will help them find other shelters or rescue organizations that can accept the animal.

Cat intakes are not affected.

Don’t tell me not to sleep with my dog

A researcher who I’m guessing doesn’t have a dog says pets don’t belong in the bed, and that allowing them to sleep with us can lead to infections, parasites and diseases.

He further advises that anyone who is licked by a dog wash the area immediately.

To me, a guy who has spent the last eight months with my dog nearly constantly at my side during our travels across America — including in whatever bed we happen to be sleeping in at night — that seems a massive over-reaction.

Bruno Chomel, a professor at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, says that, while such cases aren’t common, people have contracted infections from sleeping with, kissing and being licked by their pets. Chomel and fellow researcher Ben Sun, of the California Department of Public Health, express their views in the latest issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

I don’t subscribe to that publication, because my theory is the surest way to get a disease is not from sleeping with your dog, but from reading about that disease.

Though I sleep with my dog nightly, I’m not so much concerned about Zoonoses, or diseases transmitted to humans by animals, as I am about Merckitis, a chronic case of which I’ve suffered from since childhood.

It stemmed from a big blue book called The Merck Manual, on my mother’s bookshelf, which allowed you to, based on your symptoms, diagnose your medical issue, read about the treatment and determine, in my case, if I was going to live to see 13.

I must have diagnosed myself with a dozen different diseases, many of them fatal, in the course of matching up my symptoms — usually those of a common cold — with the worst  possible maladies.

I remember one night that — congested, unable to breathe through my nose and worried that my throat breathing pipe (non-medical term) might close up – I gathered the necessary supplies to perform an emergency tracheotomy (bic pen, with the ink part removed, pocket knife, duck tape) and kept them under my bed, alongside the book.

The Internet has made it much easier to wrongly self diagnose — just a few clicks and you can jump to the conclusion that you have the most dreaded disease imaginable. The key word there being imaginable. In a way, those medical self-help websites, rather than lessen the need for doctors, only create more of one as we, fueled by our fears, rush to confirm our faulty self diagnoses.

Pulled muscle? I was sure it was a heart attack.

Of course, such concerns are not always entirely baseless, and many of them should be checked out by professionals. But often, they’re only in our heads — having been placed there by WebMD, yourdiagnosis.com, familydoctor.org and the like. Often they are really far-fetched, instilling a fear out of all proportion with reality, which is the case with Chomel’s study, or at least his remarks:

“I think pets can be very nice in the home environment, but certainly, they don’t belong on the bed,” Chomel told LiveScience.

Chomel says humans can contract bubonic plague from flea-infested pets, bacterial infections resistant to multiple strains of antibiotics, and various parasitic worms.

Since 1974, Chomel says, multiple cases of plague have been associated with people in the southwestern U.S. who allowed flea-infested cats to sleep with them. And in a  2008 outbreak, a study found that people infected with bubonic plague were “more likely to have shared a bed with a dog than uninfected counterparts.” (Despite that, I still don’t recommend sharing a bed with uninfected counterparts.)

The authors cite surveys conducted in the U.S., the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands that show up to 45 percent of dogs sleep in their owners’ bed.

Several reports of bacterial infections have been attributed to sharing a bed with pets, and in “multiple” cases, they report, patients acquired various infections after allowing their dogs or cats to lick wounds or damaged skin.

That’s the total opposite of my philosophy. Whenever I get a boo-boo, the first thing I do is let Ace lick it. Then it feels better. If thousands of microscopic parasites enter my bloodstream by doing so, so be it … join the party, fellas.

Don’t tell me not to sleep with my dog, especially when it’s this cold. That’s like saying, because there may be some impurities in the air, I should stop breathing. I’m going to continue to engage in both risky behaviors.

And if worse comes to worst I can always, after consulting my Merck Manual, perform an emergency tracheotomy.

OUR FAVORITE READER COMMENT: “Pity poor Chomel. He has obviously not enjoyed the delight of a canine companion…I’ve spent the past 50 years sleeping with dogs – most of the canine persuasion – and if anything it must have strengthened my immune system … The plague? Only a plague of comfort and love. Poor Chomel.”

(For all the comments on this post, click the comment button below, and scroll to the bottom to leave one of your own.)

Infection prompts PSPCA to empty shelter

The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals plan to remove all the animals from a city shelter and disinfect the building after a dog died of a rare illness last month.

The PSPCA will place the dogs and cats with animal rescue agencies around the region.

PSPCA officials say the death of a 3-year-old chocolate Lab last week from a viral infection prompted the decision to empty and clean the building.

Officials quarantined the PSPCA shelter on West Hunting Park Avenue last year after an outbreak of the same illness that killed at least six dogs. The infection was identified as Streptococcus zooepidemicus, or “strep zoo”

While the PSPCA disinfected the shelter after last year’s outbreak, PSPCA chief executive officer Sue Cosby said it’s possible the strain may have remained.

“It could be we never completely eliminated it from the building,” she said.

Cosby said all the dogs from the shelter will be placed with animal-rescue agencies across the region, and only new dogs will be admitted after the cleaning.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, health issues have plagued the shelter for years.

Bill Smith, founder of Main Line Animal Rescue, said the of the 300 dogs and cats he had taken from the PSPCA in the last year, virtually every one had some form of illness, ranging from mild upper-respiratory infection to strep zoo.

The building itself, a former warehouse, is apparently at the root of the problem, the Inquirer reported. It lacks adequate air circulation and  a quarantine area where staff can isolate incoming dogs.

“It was not built to house animals,”  said Melissa Levy of the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, which rescued 2,200 animals from the shelter last year. ”When the city established it as an animal-control shelter, they paid no attention to how the building needed to be outfitted.

“It’s a hotbed for disease,” she added. “The problems are not going to go away. The PSPCA is doing what they can do, but they’re working with a sick building.”

More than you want to know about anal glands

Somehow, in three years of dog-blogging, I’ve managed to avoid addressing the issue of anal glands.

The time has come to express myself.

Dog anal glands are two small glands located on either side of your dog’s anus, each of which holds a tiny amount of a foul smelling brown liquid. For a long time, traditional wisdom among groomers was that, every now and then, those glands should be squeezed, or expressed, to clear them.

Fortunately, especially for groomers and do-it-yourself expressers, the wisdom has changed — so much so that some experts, including veterinarian Karen Becker, featured in the video above, now advise that anal glands, as a rule, be left the heck alone.

That’s because your dog knows how to express himself, so to speak.

Whenever a dog urinates or defecates, the act applies pressure to the anal glands, and a tiny bit of the fluid is released. Dogs also have the ability to express at will, by raising their tails, which they often do when meeting a new dog — as in “Allow me to introduce you, new acquaintance, to eau de Ace.” They just emit a tiny amount, not detectable by humans, but enough to lead those meeting for the first time to a long bout of mutual butt sniffing.

Only once has my dog Ace been the victim of a manual anal gland expressing, by a groomer in Alabama who was pretty much insisting it be done, and insisting I watch and learn. She squeezed and squeezed but nothing came out. Finally she gave up, saying maybe they didn’t need expressing after all.

Many dogs never develop any problem with their anal glands, especially those who are eating quality food — not big on fillers — that lead to a firm stool. A firm stool will create the pressure needed to naturally express the glands.

When the anal glands are not sufficiently expressed, bacteria can build up, which can lead to infections, which can lead to an abscess, which can lead to further problems.

If your dog is scooting or dragging his rear across the floor, emitting foul odors from his rear, or licking and chewing the area, those are signs that his anal glands may not be properly expressing. A visit to a groomer, or better yet a vet, can, shall we say, rectify the situation. 

If want to do it at home — and trust me, you don’t — you can learn more at  Lovetoknow.com. To see more of Dr. Becker’s reports, visit Mercola Healthy Pets.

Devocalizing dogs, devocalizing citizens

Those hoping to speak their mind about a bill in Massachusetts that would ban devocalizing dogs found themselves effectively silenced this week.

The Judiciary Committee hearing — because of the committee’s decision to hear 227 bills in one day — saw debate cut off on a number of bills, including one that would ban the process of cutting or removing a dog’s vocal cords.

Backers of the bill (H 344)say (or would have, anyway) that the procedure causes unnecessary harm to dogs, puts dog-owners at risk of being bitten without warning and can lead to infection of dogs’ throats.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Wrentham) did get a chance to speak in support of the bill, which was proposed at the urging of a Needham High School student, Jordan Star, who after encountering a dog that had been devocalized, felt it was morally wrong. The bill if passed, will be known as “Logan’s Law”, named after a Belgian Sheepdog that underwent devocalization surgery and was later abandoned.

The bill would make it illegal to devocalize a dog unless it is medically necessary to treat an illness or disease. The law would be punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2500.

The Humane Society of the United States and ASPCA support the bill.  The Massachusetts Veterinary Association is opposed to the bill and worries that the bill “does not make debarking available as a last resort to save an animal’s life or home”.

The Judiciary Committee was forced to cut off testimony Tuesday from speakers on a range of topics, from gun violence, to sexual assault and a bill to add gender identity to the state’s non-discrimination statute, according to a report in the Wellesley Townsman. Advocates for various bills privately questioned why the committee would schedule so many contentious bills for one hearing, and some said they would have to leave without testifying because of the long waits.

Researchers warn of bite-related infections

Doctors treating people for dog and cat bites should be aware of an increasing risk of MRSA — Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — being transmitted from pets to humans, newly published research says.

MRSA, an uncommon strain of the bacteria in domestic animals, is being seen more often, according to research reported in the new issue The Lancet that focuses on infectious diseases.

“As community-acquired strains of MRSA increase in prevalence, a growing body of clinical evidence has documented MRSA colonisation in domestic animals, often implying direct infection from their human owners,” reports a team led by Dr Richard Oehler, of the University of South Florida. “MRSA colonisation has been documented in companion animals such as horses, dogs, and cats and these animals have been viewed as potential reservoirs of infection.”

“Pet owners are often unaware of the potential for transmission of life-threatening pathogens from their canine and feline companions,” the researchers said. “Clinicians must continue to promote loving pet ownership, take an adequate pet history, and be aware that associated diseases are preventable via recognition, education and simple precautions.”

Each year, dog and cat bites comprise around 1% of accident and emergency visits in the US and Europe. Severe infections occur in about 20% of bite cases, and are caused by bacteria in the animal’s mouth, plus other infectious agents from the person’s skin.