Worms & Germs Blog

Promoting Safe Pet Ownership

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Human health risks from raw pet food (either from exposure to pathogens in the food or in the feces of pets eating the food) are known to exist but they’re not well characterized. We know that dogs fed raw meat-based diets clearly have increased risk of shedding various pathogens, particularly Salmonella and multidrug resistant E. coli. We know this results in some degree of disease risk in animals and in humans, but the scope of…
While we’re still working on sorting out and containing our latest Canadian outbreak of H3N2 canine influenza, we can look to the south to see the problems this virus is still causing. Flu is still active in a variety of locations in the US. The numbers reported are presumably a marked under-estimate, since it’s based on clinical diagnostic testing. Only a fraction of sick animals tend to be tested, so many unidentified cases are probably…
More cases of H3N2 canine influenza have been identified in the province since the virus was re-introduction to central Ontario in the last week. That’s not surprising, since the start of any outbreak investigation is dedicated to figuring out the extent of the problem. Cases identified in the first few days or week reflect things that happened before we knew anything was going on. It’s what happens after the first week or so that’s…
Canine influenza virus (CIV) has been re-introduced to Ontario, again in the Muskoka region.  Variant typing for the latest case should be available shortly, but in all likelihood this is once again H3N2 CIV. More details will follow; however, dog owners and veterinarians in this region should be aware of the return of this highly contagious canine virus. Testing of sick dogs and their contacts, as well as quarantine of infected and exposed animals, is…
Here’s a post by Dr. Katie Clow from our sister site, PetsAndTicks.com: Today, we received our 400th tick submission (actually, 401 to be exact). Does that sound like a large or a small number? Although there’s no real answer to that question, to me it seems like a pretty small number. At this time last year, when the Pet Tick Tracker ran through the Worms & Germs Blog, over 1400 submissions had been received.…
My email and phone have been lighting up over the past few days about news reports describing a study presented at a recent scientific meeting in San Francisco. I wasn’t there and the results aren’t published, so I don’t have a lot to go on, but here are some highlights from the news article on Time.com: The study was an assessment of the dynamics of transfer between people and visitation dogs in hospitals of…
This week’s edition of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report has a summary of the 2016-2018 campylobacterosis outbreak linked to pet store puppies. Nothing is particularly surprising, but that doesn’t mean it’s not disappointing (or depressing). Click here for the complete article. Here’s a (relatively) brief summary: It all started when sequencing of Campylobacter jejuni isolates identified the same Campylobacter strain from puppies from a commercial pet store chain in Florida and…
It’s probably not actually a “new” bacterium but rather recognition of a species that we’ve been mixing up with something else, but regardless, a paper in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (yes, that’s an actual journal) describes a new Staphylococcus species, Staphylococcus cornubiensis (Murray et al. 2018). Here’s what we know: The bacterium was isolated from a 64-year-old man with a soft tissue infection. Only a single bacterial colony was present…
No, it’s not pets freaking out and killing people. It’s people staying in harm’s way during natural disasters because they can’t take their pets with them. I saw some data about this from Hurricane Katrina years ago, and while I can’t remember the exact number, an astounding number of deaths were associated with people who didn’t evacuate because they couldn’t take their pets with them. It’s not just a natural disaster issue. Uncounted homeless people…
I realize headline writers are trying to attract attention, and sometimes they don’t know much about the content. As a result, some headlines are quite over the top, and that can freak people out. Here are some examples from the past couple of days: 4 year old girl catches life-threatening infection by trying on shoes while barefoot In this case, the girl got an abrasion on her foot. Any break in the skin can lead…