Abstracts: Hendra virus and horse owners – risk perception and management

Hendra virus is a highly pathogenic novel paramyxovirus causing sporadic fatal infection in horses and humans in Australia. Species of fruit-bats (genus Pteropus), commonly known as flying-foxes, are the natural host of the virus. We undertook a survey of horse owners in the states of Queensland and New South Wales, Australia to assess the level of adoption . . . → Read More: Abstracts: Hendra virus and horse owners – risk perception and management

Worms remain a public health risk as only half of Australians pick up dog poo in public

SONY DSCA survey which found that more than 1000 Australian dog owners found that only 56 per cent clean up after their dog in public is an important reminder to worm dogs regularly, according to a leading parasitologist.

The study, conducted by Milbemax, found that men were worse than women, with 11 per cent admitting they never pick up their dog’s poo in public compared to 7 per cent of women. The situation improves with age, with 70 per cent of persons aged 65 picking up poo in public, as opposed to 39 per cent of those aged 18-34.

Other key findings were that 41 per cent of owners waited one week or more to clean up dog faeces in their backyard. Around 72 per cent of dog owners admitted to allowing their dog to lick their face while 40 per cent admitted letting their dog sleep in the bed.

Charles Sturt University parasitologist David Jenkins said that failure to clean up after dogs was a public health issue. According to published figures, around 500,000 Australian dogs (roughly 15 per cent) have worms, although prevalence may be much higher in some areas.

“The most recent study of parasite infections in urban dogs [Palmer et al (2008) Veterinary Parasitology 151;181-190] showed the prevalence of infection with intestinal worms in urban dog pound dogs was 15.9 per cent and in dogs presented at vet clinics was 4.9 per cent,” Jenkins said. Continue reading Worms remain a public health risk as only half of Australians pick up dog poo in public

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

Bligh says govt acted before Hendra report

Anna Bligh.

Anna Bligh.

The Queensland Government had made significant changes to the way it handled Hendra virus outbreaks well before the ombudsman released a critical report, Premier Anna Bligh said.

Ombudsman Phil Clarke’s report highlighted inadequate communication between veterinarians and horse owners.

Clarke said systemic failures had hampered the Labor government’s response to six Hendra outbreaks between June 2006 and October 2009.

The report, released early this month, identified outdated policies and procedures, and overlapping legislation that led to inconsistent quarantine practices.

Training and resources for government agency staff, contractors and property owners were lacking.

Records of decisions made were also inadequate and there was a poor framework for compensation payments

Bligh said the report analysed how historic cases were handled, and ignored how government agencies had responded to the most recent incidents.

“They date back several years and there’s been a very significant shift in the way the matter’s being dealt with now,” she said.

“Nevertheless, when things like this happen you learn from it.”

Clarke found some Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries staff had imposed quarantines contrary to law, and were uncertain about what personal protective equipment to use and how to employ it.

The report dealt with 18 horses which died or were euthanased, two vets who died from Hendra, and a third vet who contracted the virus but recovered. Continue reading Bligh says govt acted before Hendra report

Global effort leads to the biggest victory in veterinary history

The Rinderpest virus

The Rinderpest virus. (Picture Rajnish Kaushik)

Scientists are confident that the acute viral disease rinderpest, that has devastated cattle and their keepers for thousands of years, has been eradicated world-wide.

The eradication is being heralded as the biggest achievement in veterinary history and is expected to save countless lives in some of the poorest countries of the world.

The United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation has suspended efforts to track the disease and expects to make an official announcement that the virus has been wiped off the face of the planet at the World Organisation for Animal Health meeting in May next year.

It will be only the second time in history that a devastating viral disease has been eradicated, the first being the human disease smallpox in 1980.

In its progress report on the global effort to eradicate rinderpest, released in October, the FAO said the dreaded virus was now believed to be extinct.

The last known outbreak occurred in 2001 in Kenya. In 2006 vaccinations for the virus stopped and field operations ceased earlier this year.

Australia has been free of the disease for more than eighty years after an outbreak involving 28 cattle herds near Fremantle in Western Australia was brought under control in 1923. Continue reading Global effort leads to the biggest victory in veterinary history