Posts Tagged ‘AVMA’

Historically dogs are most commonly associated with biting humans and transmitting rabies. It is now clear that in the U.S. cats are more often diagnosed with rabies than dogs. The number of verified cases of rabies in cats has increased and now there are three times as many cat cases reported compared to the diagnosis in dogs.

The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) says that approximately 34-37 percent of families or individuals with pet cats do not take those animals to a veterinarian. The likelihood of those animals being vaccinated to prevent rabies is low to nonexistent. At least a third of all cats not vaccinated? That is a troubling statistic made even more so by cat owners who do take their animals to a veterinarian but have failed to have them vaccinated against rabies.

This is not a rare disease. In 2010 fewer cases of rabies were reported compared to previous years in the U.S. but there were 6,153 cases in animals from 48 states and Puerto Rico verified. Raccoons were most commonly diagnosed (36.5%), skunks (23.5%), bats (25.2%), foxes (7.0%) and the rest in other species including some rodents. Domestic animals accounted for 8% of all verified cases and we still have 2 or 3 cases in humans every year. Last year a woman in Maryland died following a kidney transplant from a donor who was apparently incubating the disease. Other patients that received organs from that donor received preventive care and are, apparently, not affected. Rabid animals can and do come into contact with our pets, especially cats allowed outside. Imagine the response of your cat to a rabid bat, not able to fly, flopping around on your lawn.

The rabies virus is a member of the Lyssavirus genus of the Rhabdoviridae family and survives in both wild and domestic species including farm animals. When I was in veterinary school we were often reminded that exposure for veterinarians was most commonly due to suspecting “choke”, an object lodged in the esophagus of a bovine that prevents the animal from swallowing, when the animal actually has rabies. When I worked for the U.N. for a year in the veterinary school at the Autonomous University of Mexico I almost fell victim to this. Students were handling a cow that was profusely salivating, even putting their hands in its mouth. I almost did the same before remembering what had been drummed into us. We isolated the cow that developed other signs of rabies within hours, died and rabies was confirmed on necropsy. Most veterinarians today have received preventive vaccination for rabies, at least I hope they have.

New oral vaccines for rabies have recently been developed and distributed in bait. This program has successfully reduced the incidence of rabies in rural areas of the U.S., Canada, France and other environments. A serious outbreak of rabies in raccoons in the Mount Royal park area of Montreal, Canada was brought under control using this resource.

So, … get your cat vaccinated. With Halloween soon upon us a bat could fly into your house, your cat pounces on it, gets bit and then you get exposed when your cat bites you.

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IMG_0092 Taken on the road to Denver.

While driving in San Diego, Phoenix, and now in Denver I can hear my own voice speaking aloud, but it is as though I am out of body, away but close enough to hear clearly. I’m just another old geezer, complaining that everything has changed and not for the better. All this growth is not progress, or is it?

I have a good friend in Denver, actually in Littleton. His name is also Charley but without the weird spelling. I’ve known him since 1954. We were on the swimming team at what was then Colorado A & M and became Colorado State University while we were still in attendance. On road trips we were roommates. We also both got into veterinary school the same year so we are classmates as well. As I said, good friends, but how did we ever get this old?

Charlize and I arrived in Denver and spent three days and nights with Charley and his wonderful wife Jean. It was therapeutic. Charley is a natural politician. He remembers names. Names of those he meets, names of their spouses, names of their kids and he actually cares when he asks how they are all doing. During my stay we never went anyplace where he didn’t run into several people he knew and he always took the time to greet them. In every restaurant we went into the cute young servers and host or hostesses knew him by sight and came over to give him a hug and greet him and he immediately connected with each of them. I know he works hard at it, but the true gift is that he cares enough to do it. Charley’s grandfather was the king maker in Colorado politics in the 1930’s and 40’s, maybe longer. I guess that’s where my friend comes by this talent.

I woke up very early on the day we left Denver, well ahead of the predicted snowstorm. We were on the road by 4:30 am. It was very comfortable driving after the three-day hiatus so we pressed on all day and into the evening, avoiding the storm by driving north and west. We arrived at the home of another classmate in Nampa, Idaho about eight in the evening. A long satisfying day and Charlize and I were warmly welcomed. We spent the evening and more than half the next day visiting and catching up. All of these friends had just seen Rosalie the previous October and were surprised and saddened by her passing. She put up such a brave front when we were last all together.

Both Charley and my Nampa classmate, Lionel, built hugely successful equine veterinary practices that have now been taken over by veterinarians that they originally hired as associates then taken in as partners. Both of the practices provide specialized veterinary care for their own clients and for many referred to them by other veterinarians.

I am very proud of all of my classmates. They have made significant contributions to society and to the profession. At least six of us ended up in academia, teaching the next generations of veterinarians, Charley was president of the AAEP, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, and another classmate was president of the AVMA, many served at presidents of their local AVMA chapters and went on to more responsible positions at the regional level. All those who went into practice were successful and provided professional and state-of-the-art veterinary care for their patients and their clients. How on earth did we all get so damn old?

When I questioned them about this, none of us think we feel or think differently than we did just out of school. We all have the aches and pains and most of us are gimping around. The revelation is looking in the mirror.

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