Friday, May 6, 2011

Wisconsin Cases of Lyme Disease Increased 35% in 2010


Lyme Disease Remains a Health Threat in Wisconsin
 May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

MADISON -- Lyme disease cases increased 35 percent in 2010, and state health officials are urging people to take precautions against tick bites as warm spring weather triggers more “blacklegged” or “deer” tick activity. Infected blacklegged ticks can carry Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases including anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and babesiosis.
Lyme disease cases totaled 3,495 in 2010 compared with 2,587 cases in 2009, according to Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer
Early symptoms of Lyme disease may occur 3 days to 30 days after the bite of an infected tick, which can include a rash called erythema migrans (EM), fever and chills, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. In some people the EM rash may not occur. The disease can be easily treated with antibiotics when detected early. However, if left untreated, Lyme disease can result in debilitating arthritis, and serious heart and nervous system complications.
“Everyone should take precautions against bites from blacklegged ticks, especially between May and August when people are more likely to be exposed,” said Anderson. “It’s important for people to check themselves for ticks as soon as possible when they come indoors.”
People can take steps to avoid tick bites and reduce the chance of getting Lyme disease:
• Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter since ticks prefer these areas. Stay to the center of a trail to avoid contact with grass and brush.
• Use effective tick repellants and apply according to the label instructions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults use repellants with 20-30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing to prevent tick bites. Repellants that contain permethrin can also be applied to clothing.
• Wear clothes that will help shield you from ticks. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are best. Tuck your pants into the top of your socks or boots, to create a “tick barrier.” Light-colored clothing makes ticks easier to spot.
• Landscape homes and recreational areas to reduce the number of ticks by creating tick-safe zones using woodchips or gravel along the border between lawn and wooded area. Continue to remove leaf litter and clear tall grass and brush around the house throughout the summer.
• Check frequently for ticks, and remove them promptly. Blacklegged ticks are small and may be difficult to find, so tick checks must be done on all parts of the body carefully and thoroughly. Pay special attention to areas where ticks tend to hide, such as the head, scalp, and body folds (armpit, behind the knee, groin).
• Remove attached ticks slowly and gently, using a pair of thin-bladed tweezers applied as close to the skin as possible. Folk remedies like petroleum jelly, nail polish remover, or burning matches are not safe or effective ways to remove ticks.
• Protect pets from tick bites by checking dogs or cats for ticks before allowing them inside. While a vaccine can prevent Lyme disease in pets, it will not stop the animal from carrying infected ticks into the home. Speak to a veterinarian about topical tick repellant available for pets.

Record Breaking Purr 67.7 decibels

Smokey the cat has earned a place in the Guinness World Records with the loudest purr ever.  Click on the link below and have a listen. You may want to have the volume control handy!

The Good Bugs

Last month I attended a seminar put on by the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. The subject was Contemporary Drug Therapies in Veterinary Medicine. I found the discussion of Probiotics to be particularly interesting.

A probiotic is a live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. (World Health Organization) That last bit of conferring a health benefit is the subject of much research. What we know so far is that Probiotics can enhance digestion and synthesis of B vitamins, help to maintain a healthy mucosal lining of the GI tract and support the immune system. There are important differences in the normal bacteria flora of humans and other animals.  Research is looking into which microorganism works in various species.  Products that are commercially available are not regulated by the FDA so viability and proper identification of microbial strains cannot be guaranteed.  It is therefore important to use products that have studies and data to back them up.  Here is the current list of veterinary products that fulfill this requirement:
·         Fortiflora (Purina)
o   Enterococcus faecium SF48
·         Proviable (Nutrimax)
o   Bifidobacterium longum
o   Lactoabicillus spp.
o   Streptococcus salivorus
o   Enterococcus faecium
·         ProStora (Iams)
o   Bifidobacterium animalis AHC7
In addition ConsumerLab is an independent laboratory that test probiotic supplements (human and veterinary) for accuracy of label claims of viability of organisms in products. As part of ConsumerLab’s Voluntary Certification Program, Proviable was evaluated and found to contain the advertised number of probiotic organism and to be free of microbial contamination.

More clinical studies are necessary but potential use of probiotics in Veterinary Medicine includes:
·         Chronic Kidney Disease
·         Inflammatory Bowel Disease
·         Acute Diarrhea caused by viral or bacterial infection
·         Antibiotic associated diarrhea – prevention and treatment
·         Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

State of Pet Health Report

A major study recently released by Banfield Pet Hospital examined disease trends among the 2.1 million dogs and 450,000 cats between 2006 and 2010. The study shows that dental preventable diseases plague our pets most often!

Below is a list of the most common diseases found in the above study.

#1 Dental disease: This is the most common disease among pets, affecting 68 percent of cats and 78 percent of dogs. Periodontal disease has been linked to heart, kidney and liver disease, but it can be prevented by annual teeth cleaning.
#2 Otitis externa (inflammation of the outer ear canal) was the second most-common disease, increasing by 34 percent in cats and by 9 percent in dogs.
#3 Diabetes: The report found the diabetes rate in dogs has gone up by 32 percent in dogs and by 16 percent in cats since 2006. As with humans, the disease is associated with obesity and reduced exercise.

#4 Heartworm disease: This usually fatal disease is 100 percent preventable but still occurs in every season and every state across the country, particularly in the Southern states.
#5 Fleas:  Besides causing uncomfortable itching for your dog or cat, flea infestation can lead to skin infections, allergies and even anemia.

Preventative care is an important step in helping your pet’s avoid these common diseases. Schedule your pet’s wellness exam soon.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Allergies

Like us, our pets can suffer from seasonal allergies. Their symptoms however are different from ours. Pets tend to not have the sneezing, congestion and runny eyes that we do.  Their skin is a more common target for seasonal allergies.

Allergy symptoms
Symptoms include chewing on paws or other reachable body parts; scratching excessively; recurring ear infections; hair loss, and raw and inflamed skin.
Common allergy triggers are food and the environment. A surprising number of pets have flea bite allergies. It is important to treat any pet with allergy symptoms for fleas.  It does not take a flea infestation for an allergic pet to have a problem with fleas. Because of their bodies exaggerated response just one small bite from one flea can cause a severe reaction.  Often pet owners do not report seeing fleas, but it is important to treat anyway.
Our animal companions can develop allergies to house dust mites, pollens, molds, grasses and food. Allergies may start out as seasonal — such as a reaction to pollen during the spring — but can get worse over time so that they may become year-round.
Treatment begins with clearing up any secondary skin or ear infection.  Medications that decrease inflammation are helpful. I often recommend essential fatty acid supplements and medicated shampoos. If the symptoms persist or become severe a hypo-allergy diet trial is tried. It is possible to test for environmental allergies and treat with desensitization injections.  
Pixie Belle is one of my patients with severe allergies. She was found to be allergic to weeds (Lamb’s Quarter, Yellow Dock and Pigweed), grasses and molds. For these allergies she takes a hyposenitization shot once every 3 weeks. This plus putting her on a hypo-allergy diet of duck and green peas has helped her remain itch free year round!