Thursday, November 18, 2010

Animal Bite Reporting

I just got off the phone with a woman whose husband was just bitten by their son's cat, a patient of mine. In addition to advising her that he should see his physician promptly, I told her of my obligation to report the bite to the health department. She wasn't happy to hear that, but the law is quite clear in these things. And because the cat was indoor/outdoor and its vaccination status unknown as of the only visit to me in September, this could very well end badly for the cat. Quarantine or immediate euthanasia for rabies testing are the only two options.

To complicate matters, the owner's mother hates the cat, is insistent that it be euthanized without any involvement of the health department, and refused to provide me with the bite victim's name to aid in my reporting obligation. This, despite her near-hysterical concern about the possibility of her husband contracting some disease from the cat.

Veterinarians have a duty to work closely with public health authorities to minimize the risk of zoonotic diseases in humans. But we need the unconditional and complete cooperation of pet owners in order to do so. It is most unhelpful to refuse medical treatment of parasites, refuse vaccinations, allow your pet outdoors in spite of said lack of vaccinations and parasite control, refuse to cooperate with measures designed to keep you safe and healthy, and then verbally upbraid the one person who is working overtime to protect you from your bad decisions.

Los Angeles County Veterinary Public Health has an excellent online portal for animal bite reporting. Anyone who is aware of an animal bite has an obligation to do so, not just the physician or veterinarian involved. The purpose of this reporting is to ensure that no rabid animals slip through the cracks, resulting in needless human rabies deaths.

My biggest concern in this case now is that the owner's mother will take the cat elsewhere for euthanasia, withhold information about the recent human bite, and in doing so allow the cat to go untested. This will then, because I have already reported the bite, lead to mandatory rabies treatment for not only the bite victim but everyone else who handled the cat in the past 10 days. Expensive, inconvenient, painful, and perhaps completely unnecessary.

Just yesterday, LAVPH emailed me with an update on the bat rabies situation this year, and it's not good. They have diagnosed rabies in over 20 bats locally in 2010, more than double the normal number. If your cat goes outdoors AT ALL, it is at risk. And even if it never goes outdoors it is not at zero risk because rabid bats do get into homes all the time. So it's time for another shameless plug: VACCINATE YOUR CAT FOR RABIES EVERY YEAR REGARDLESS OF ITS LIFESTYLE.

Only YOU can prevent gastric ulcers and forehead bruising in your veterinarian.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Infectious Disease Considerations For Fostering Pets

Scott Weese, DVM over at Worms & Germs has another excellent post about the things you need to think about if you are considering, or currently doing, any fostering of dogs or cats.

Many of our clients do some fostering or cats/kittens,and it is important to spend a little time considering the potential disease risks to other pets in the home AND humans. But it's just as important to not get excessively worried to the extent that foster homes become less available.

As Scott puts it so well:

"Fostering is a good way to reduce pressures on humane societies and shelters, and to provide better care for some animals, like pregnant animals or those with young kittens/puppies. A good fostering program can be set up with limited risk to all involved, but infectious disease risks can never be completely eliminated. By accepting a new animal into your house, you increase the risk of exposing yourself and anyone else (human or animal) to infectious diseases. That's just a fact of life."

And speaking of fostering: we are still fostering Little Miss(ed) Pancake here at the hospital. This weekend she was allowed to have free run of the middle of the hospital when nobody was here to supervise. She did well until last night, when she figured out how to get up onto the counters in the lab and knocked a soap dispenser and some other things over. She is adjusting well to the increased freedom, but SHE REALLY NEEDS A PERMANENT HOME.

Friday, November 12, 2010

How A Cat Drinks

I don't normally post articles from the Washington Post here - they tend to be a little dry from a veterinary perspective. But this article on the fluid dynamics of how cats drink was actually pretty interesting.

In a nutshell: "the cat, in effect, balances the forces of gravity against the forces of inertia, and so quenches its thirst".