Worms & Germs Blog

Promoting Safe Pet Ownership

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Following up on the lighthearted rant about fake emotional support animals, it’s important to remember that animals can do great things in many situations. Dental offices weren’t really on my radar until Dr. Anne Gussgard from the UiT Arctic University of Norway contacted me about the work her team was doing with dog-assisted therapy in dental offices. It makes complete sense, as dental offices can be anxiety-invoking for many, and the calming effect of a…
I’ve written (ranted?) regularly about fake service dogs and disruptive emotional support animals. I’ve had the odd “you must hate animals” reply, but selfish people who slap a service dog vest on their pet so they can take it anywhere, just because they want to take it anywhere, cause problems for people who really need an animal with them. Anyway, I never thought I’d be referring to Toronto Star entertainment columnist Vinay Menon in a…
A recent study looked at human illness associated with raw pet food and has led to headlines such as “It is safe to feed raw pet foods.” Did the study say that?  No, it did not. If you asked 100 people if they had a foodborne disease in the past year, I assume few would say “yes,” despite the widespread estimate that about 30% of people get a foodborne illness every year. If…
Media reports have described a number of Norwegian dogs with  unknown intestinal disease, characterized by vomiting and diarrhea. Cases were first reported in Oslo, with subsequent reports in other towns – whether this indicates spread of disease or spread of awareness isn’t clear.  Oslo could be the epicentre of the disease, but it could also simply be the first place it was identified, based on the presence of more dogs and more veterinarians. Some…
A recently published University of Guelph study evaluating pet poultry flocks found (unsurprisingly) high rates of shedding of certain concerning bacteria (Brochu et al, J Vet Diagn Invest 2019). Campylobacter, an important cause of gastrointestinal disease in people, was present in 36% of tested chickens.  Salmonella was less common but present in 3% of chicken fecal samples. The Campylobacter shedding rate was actually higher than has been reported in commercial chickens at slaughter…
A number of Ontario fairs have cancelled horse shows because of concerns about strangles. Strangles is a nasty and highly contagious disease of horses caused by the bacterium Streptococcus equi, which is currently circulating in horses in Ontario (as in most places where horses are present). While most horses recover uneventfully from the infection, it’s problematic because of the potential for severe disease in a small number of horses and because it’s highly transmissible. Some horses…
There’s nothing too surprising in the latest CDC update on the US outbreak of salmonellosis linked to pig ear treats. People continue to get sick, which is the frustrating aspect, since this has been a known issue for a while and has been communicated extensively. At last report (yesterday), the total case number was up to 143. That probably means well over 1000 people have actually gotten sick, since the diagnosed cases likely include…
I’ll hold back and just classify this as “not a great idea.” At least 21 people in Macon, GA, are undergoing rabies post-exposure prophylaxis after having contact with a rabid raccoon. How do that many people get exposed to a single raccoon? Step 1: Take a wild raccoon and try to make it into a pet Bad idea and illegal most places (including Ontario). Step 2: Take it to a “Raccoon or kitten event” (whatever…