A timely health check for endangered eastern gorillas

Dr Alisa Kubala3While the world’s attention is currently focused on the Ebola crisis in western Africa, a virus that has been responsible for the deaths of almost one third of the region’s gorillas and many thousands of chimpanzees, as well as humans, in eastern Africa’s Democratic Republic of Congo veterinarian Alisa Kubala’s interest in studying infectious diseases that affect endangered animals, has resulted in a research project that seeks to provide a better understanding of the overall health status of eastern gorilla populations.

It is anticipated the four-year international collaboration will determine if cross-species transmission is occurring in gorilla habitats, and which vector species are responsible for blood parasite transmission.

Kubala’s research involves both examining faeces and blood samples from two endangered eastern gorilla sub-species, Grauer’s (G. beringei graueri) and Mountain (G. beringei beringei), as well as from humans and other primates living in the area, in addition to studying those species of mosquito and fly believed to be responsible for transmitting malaria and microfilariae. Continue reading A timely health check for endangered eastern gorillas

Vets and doctors warned of potential epidemic

 

Jacqui Norris with Richard Malik, Tanya Sorrell, Ed Breitschwerdt and Michael Ward at the 2014 Zoonoses conference

Jacqui Norris with Richard Malik, Tanya Sorrell, Ed Breitschwerdt and Michael Ward at the 2014 Zoonoses conference

Bartonella could be responsible for a hidden epidemic of disease in animals and humans, according to a US veterinary infectious disease expert.

Edward Breitschwerdt, from the Centre for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, updated doctors and veterinarians at the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases Zoonoses conference in Brisbane last month.

He warned that Bartonella species, a group of Gram negative rods, represented an occupational hazard for veterinarians in particular, with exposure possible via many routes including insect vectors, scratches and bites, needle-stick injury and potentially inhalation of flea faeces. Phylogenetically, the disease is closely related to Brucella species and can cause similar chronic, relapsing disease manifestations that are challenging to diagnose and often refractory to treatment.

Breitschwerdt said bartonellosis Continue reading Vets and doctors warned of potential epidemic

Snag a statement to protect your flock

With ram sale season in full swing, buyers are being urged to protect their flocks from unwanted diseases by asking for a Sheep Health Statement.

The SHS has been designed for use across Australia to help sheep producers in taking a risk-management approach to their farm biosecurity.

It provides information on flock history, Ovine Johne’s Disease vaccination and . . . → Read More: Snag a statement to protect your flock

Challenges in prognostication of FIV-positive patients

Jules and Bob 2

Veterinarian Julia Beatty with FIV positive rescue cat Bob.

A Sydney University study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine found that the presence of haematologic and biochemical abnormalities could not be relied upon to determine clinical progression of FIV in sick feline patients, and that FIV-positive status alone did not have a negative impact on survival.

The authors set out to compare signalment, complete blood count and biochemistry panel, major clinical problem and survival between client-owned FIV-positive and uninfected domestic cats. The retrospective study, one of the largest of its kind, involved 520 cats tested for FIV.

Whilst reasonably straightforward to diagnose, often with an in-house antibody detection kit, feline experts continue to puzzle about how FIV contributes to disease status. Naturally infected cats present with a range of clinical signs including stomatitis, cachexia, atypical, refractory or recurrent infections, neurologic signs, persistent cytopaenias and immune-mediated disease – but these problems are often seen in FIV-negative cats too. With the exception of a small subset of lymphomas, AIDS-defining illnesses are not recognised for FIV. Additionally, many FIV-positive cats remain asymptomatic with a normal life expectancy.

In experimental studies of FIV infection, cats have shown progressive aberrations in measures of immune function such as lymphocyte subset counts and mitogen responsiveness, but these changes are rarely associated with clinical signs. Continue reading Challenges in prognostication of FIV-positive patients

Wildlife sentinels reveal expanding distribution of rat lungworm

A study examining the role of wildlife species as sentinels for rat lungworm suggests an expanded distribution of the parasite, and the need for pet owners and wildlife carers to take precautions in order to minimise transmission of the disease to animals in care.

Rat lungworm, or Angiostrongylus cantonensis, was the most common cause of neurological disease . . . → Read More: Wildlife sentinels reveal expanding distribution of rat lungworm