Monday, April 27, 2009

My Take on Swine Flu

Unless you live in a cave, or have eschewed radio, TV, and internet news, you are by now aware of the outbreak of swine flu. So why, you ask, is that crazy Dr. Robison posting about it on her blog?

Well, it turns out that SWINE flu had its origins in pigs, so that falls within my jurisdiction. It is one of the many zoonotic (spread from animals to humans) diseases we veterinarians have to be aware of so we can do our part to help deter their spread and keep the public informed. Now that the bug has mutated and jumped into humans, where it is having a grand time from all reports, it's technically not my concern anymore. But given my background in microbiology prior to veterinary medicine it's still interesting to me, so you all get to listen to me expound.

First off, there is no need to panic. Your pets cannot get infected by this swine flu, and are not a source, nor are they at risk. You CAN NOT catch swine flu from eating pork or any other food. Basic respiratory hygiene and etiquette is in order: wash your hands well with soap and water frequently, especially when you go out in public; cover your mouth with your ARM when you cough or sneeze (to keep the virus off your hands); avoid touching your hands to your face, particularly the nose, eyes, and mouth; if you have flu symptoms (fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, sore throat, occasionally vomiting or diarrhea) PLEASE do not go out in public to spread it.

If you are home sick with suspected flu, PLEASE do not use the opportunity to bring your cat to us for any non-critical services - the annual vaccinations and exam can and should wait until you are well. If you suspect you have the flu and your cat needs to be seen because of serious illness or injury, please advise us of your situation when you make your appointment so we can plan accordingly to minimize risk to other people.

If I or my staff come down with suspected flu, we may have to cancel appointments on short notice. If this happens, please understand it is in the interest of public health that we do so.

There are many excellent, reliable sources of information on swine flu on the internet:



LA County Public Health

Pandemic Flu federal gov't site


We will be following this outbreak closely, and if we need to take additional measures for public health reasons, we will keep you advised.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Doctor's Pick - Local Bookstore

I realize this is a little off-topic, but given that the proprietor is a cat person, I promised to give the place a plug.

My new favorite Saturday hangout is a tiny used bookstore up in Canoga Park called Next Chapter Books. Located at 7140 Owensmouth Ave, it is open Monday through Saturday from 11 AM to 6 PM. Phone number is 818-704-5864. They have a large selection of mysteries, sci fi, and fantasy paperbacks, but also a lot of hardbacks across various genres, generally in really nice condition. They take books in good condition in trade, of course (which is half the point of a used bookstore).

Here's the website:

Check it out next time you're in the area. The owner is a very pleasant man who knows the importance of personal service and building a relationship with his customers to help meet their needs.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Our Mascot, Dusty

Everyone always wants to know about Dusty, so this is as good a place as any to tell her story for all to read.

Back in 1999 my grandmother was nearing the end of her life and my sister assigned me the task of dealing with Gramie's cat. I flew to Colorado for a final visit and made arrangements to return with her, with the intention of placing her with a good client, since I wasn't in the market for one more cat. Well, just a few days later Gramie passed away, and I got cold feet about giving away what seemed like the last living part of her. So Dusty has been with us ever since.

She lives at the clinic, where until a couple of years ago she preferred to spend her time at the front desk, waiting for attention from clients. When she developed arthritis she quit jumping on countertops and now spends most of he time at my feet in the office, tucked into her little bed. Change of any sort causes her great distress, so I am not highly motivated to bring her home and she is content where she is. Though she got along well enough with Mummy and Boochi, she is afraid of other cats and prefers to do her job solo.

Dusty recently celebrated her 18th birthday. In spite of hyperthyroidism and renal failure for the past three or more years, and half a dozen medications, and fluid treatments three times a week, she just keeps ticking. She's our own in-house "energizer bunny". No longer a fan of daily brushings, she looks less tidy than in years past, and has lost a little weight. But she still stomps around, fussing about every little thing and staring at us when she wants catnip.

She might even come to the front desk to say hi the next time you stop in.