Worms & Germs Blog

Promoting Safe Pet Ownership

Latest from Worms & Germs Blog

I’ve been away and need to catch up on some posts.  I was planning a nice non-COVID post, until a few seconds ago when I saw the CNN headline “Chinese officials say chicken wings imported from Brazil tested positive for COVID-19.” My response… oh crap. Not because I fear a wave of foodborne COVID-19. Rather, I fear a wave a paranoia about foodborne COVID-19 (and an overstuffed email inbox today). According to the…
Around here, infection in dogs caused by Leishmania infantum typically comes up in the context of imported dogs, particularly those from countries around the Mediterranean (e.g. Greece, Israel, Spain).  This parasite is usually transmitted between a variety of mammalian species, including dogs and humans, by certain species of sandflies.  We’re quite lucky here in Ontario because the kinds of sandflies that transmit Leishmania don’t live here (yet), and we have yet to identify any local…
I get a lot of emails about vet clinic access from a wide spectrum of individuals. This includes: Owners who are upset they aren’t allowed in the clinic with their pet Owners who are worried that their vet clinic isn’t doing enough to prevent transmission of COVID-19 Vets who want to know how to increase owner access to clinics safely Vets who want to keep people out of the clinic as much as possible for…
Last spring, we posted about a report of alveolar echinococcosis (AE) in a child in Quebec from 2018.  This very serious parasitic infection is caused by the intermediate stage of the fox tapeworm, Echinococcus multilocularis (EM), which despite its common name is often also found in coyotes (including right here in southern Ontario), and it can infect dogs as well.  Canids typically become infected by eating small mammals like rodents that carry…
As reports of animals testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 continue to trickle in (as expected), it’s clear that some domestic animal species are susceptible (at least to some degree) to this virus. A recent article in National Geographic about “Buddy,” the first dog in the US to test positive for SARS-CoV-2 back in May, has flooded my inbox with emails about the story and the broader question about whether we need more testing of pets.  Here’s…
A colleague asked me about scent detection dogs the other day. My response was that I hadn’t heard much after all the initial buzz, which might suggest things weren’t going well. However, as opposed to the horrible pre-print about COVID-19-sniffing dogs I wrote about previously, a paper in BMC Infectious Diseases (Jendry et al. 2020) provides some more robust and interesting information. It’s a pilot study, so it’s small, preliminary and underpowered, but it…
Taking a break from the latest pandemic microbe, there have been a couple of recent items about another very old pandemic bug that’s never really completely gone away – Yersina pestis, known commonly as plague, and the cause of the Black Death of the mid 1300s, aka the deadliest pandemic recorded in human history. Even though we now know what causes plague (a bacterium) and how its transmitted (primarily by fleas, but also some routes…
I’ve been slow posting in the past few days, so here are a few quick recaps from the animal/COVID-19 world. Higher quality debunking of crappy dog-SARS-CoV-2 paper Back in April, a paper (Xia 2020) was released that suggested dogs could be the source of SARS-CoV-2.  Most of us considered it crap at the time (read more about it in our previous post), and most people moved on pretty quickly, but it still…
Following the recent debacle with a large group of imported dogs from Ukraine in early June, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has cancelled import permits for all commercial puppies under 8 months of age from Ukraine. It will not issue any new permits “until the CFIA is satisfied that import conditions and international transport standards are in place and that animals will travel safely in the future.” Import permits are required for importation…
As we continue to work our way through the COVID-19 pandemic, balancing protection and practicality continues to be a challenge. The desire to return to “normal(ish)” is completely understandable. However, “normal” is a long way away. It’s more a matter of what degree of “abnormal” we’re willing to tolerate (and for how long), and what degree of disease risk we’re willing to tolerate – the two are generally inversely related. SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory virus,…