Tag: contagious

FIV & FeLV – Not Just Letters from Your Alphabet Soup

While it is entertaining & instinctual for your cat to be outside hunting like a regal panther, there are risks involved in letting your feline friend outdoors. Coyotes, stray dogs, hawks, parasites, cars… But what about other cats that are on the prowl?

First let’s talk about kitty communication; cats are pretty independent creatures. We joke about cats not really needing owners as long as they have food, water, & a place to go to the bathroom. If your cat is an outside adventurer, they can be protective of their territory (aka your yard). They may not be so friendly when some other strange cat decides to invade it. That is when we have to worry about diseases like Feline Immunodeficiency Virus & Feline Leukemia.

FIVNow, what is Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) & how do they contract it?

Similar to the human strain, HIV, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a virus that suppresses the immune system. Typically speaking, felines that contract this virus do not die from it but they are at a much higher risk of contracting other diseases & illnesses due to their compromised immune systems. Wounds from bites or scratches can take much longer to heal for FIV+ cats as well, making them more prone to abscesses & secondary infections.

FIV is primarily spread through bite wounds from an already infected cat. The infected cat’s saliva carries the virus & deep puncture wounds can allow the virus to take hold. It can also be spread through sex or transmitted to kittens through their mother’s milk if she is infected, but these methods are much are less common.

So, what about Feline Leukemia (FeLV) & how do they contract it?

Feline Leukemia (FeLV) is a retrovirus that severely inhibits the immune system. Similar to FIV, FeLV+ cats are more susceptible for infections & diseases, but they are also more likely to develop kidney disease or cancer (lymphosarcoma) during their lifetime.Understand Why Cats Fight

While FIV is spread primarily through bite wounds, FeLV is able to spread in multiple ways. This virus is spread through direct contact involving saliva, urine, feces, nasal discharge, & blood. So, not just bite wounds but scratches from an infected cat could possibly spread the virus as well. Other direct contact would include grooming, sharing litter boxes, or sharing food or water bowls. It can also be passed on to kittens through their mother’s milk if she is infected.

There are 4 different types of FeLV infection:

  • Abortive infections are those in which the exposed feline produces an effective & early immune response. This prevents viral replication & eliminates virus-infected cells. These cats are negative for the infection.
  • Returning infections are those in which viral replication is limited, but a small population of virus infected cells remain. These cats will test negative, but the virus can be detected in a small percentage of blood cells measured by a type of blood test called a PCR. These infected cats are not contagious, but may be infectious through blood.
  • Dormant infection refers to the cats in which a moderate amount of infected cells remain. These cats will test negative, but will produce a positive PCR test. The inactive infected cells do have the potential for the virus to reactivate, but the cats are not contagious as long as the infection remains dormant.
  • Progressive infections are those in which the virus has infected a majority of the cells. These cats are actively shedding the virus primarily in saliva & feces, they are likely to become ill with FeLV-related disease (lymphoma).

greyOh NO! So how do you find out if your cat has contracted FIV or FeLV & how often should you test?

There is a simple blood test that can be performed at your cat’s next vet visit & results can be available in 10 minutes. This test is commonly called a “Combo Test” because it tests for both FIV & FeLV.

If your feline friend regularly goes outside, or there are other cats in your house that do so, it is recommended that this test be performed every 6 months to a year. If they are indoor only, typically we will perform an initial test at their first vet visit & recheck in 4-6 months for confirmation. Sometimes a “false positive” may happen, this can be from antibodies transferred to them from their mothers or from recent vaccination. Retesting for indoor only cats is usually not necessary unless they take an unexpected vacation outside. Combo tests should always be done any time you don’t know a cat’s history, especially if you’re considering adding this new kitty to your feline family.

Okay! So now that we know about these viruses, is there any way to prevent them?

Luckily, the incidence of FeLV disease has dramatically declined over the past several decades. This is likely due to a combination of screening tests, improved awareness of the disease, & vaccination of at-risk cats. Vaccination is recommended yearly for cats that are at higher risk, while indoor only cats can be vaccinated every two years.

While there are vaccines available for FIV, studies have shown these to not be as effective & can also lead to false test results for your cat. For these reasons, our doctors FIV2at TLC Animal Hospital have decided against carrying this vaccine in clinic.

Education is always important when it comes to preventing our furry friends from harm. Talk to your veterinarian & they can help you decide which vaccines are best for your cat based on their lifestyle.

By: Shelly Crosson, CVA

 

 

“Mite”-y Creepy Ear Mites

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The “mite”-y Ear Mite!

Otodectes Cynotis is actually the very fancy name for Ear Mites. What exactly are Ear Mites? They are part of the arachnid family (just like ticks and spiders). Their food of choice? Wax and oils from your beloved pet’s ear canals. They’re particularly fond of cats, but can also be found in dogs and ferrets. Yikes!

Ear Mites are more common in outdoor animals, but that doesn’t mean your indoor pets can’t get them. These mites, just like fleas, can travel on clothing and shoes. It only takes one mite to make it to your pet’s ear canal to start causing problems. These little buggers can also spread very quickly in multi-pet homes. Especially if your pets like to sleep next to each other, groom each other, or play together.

How Do I Know if My Pet Has Ear Mites?
The most notable symptom you may see is your pet constantly scratching at their ears. You may notice a brown, slightly reddish discharge coming from your pet’s ears as well. Sometimes the discharge will look like ground coffee beans. Their ears may also become red, swollen, and painful. If you notice these symptoms, don’t wait too long to address them. Heavy scratching can lead to open wounds which can cause secondary infection of the skin. If a severe infestation is left untreated, it can eventually lead to hearing loss. Oi ve!ear-mites-in-dogs-01

I Think My Pet Has Ear Mites! What Do I Do Now?
Fret not! If you think your pet has Ear Mites, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to get things checked out! Ear Mites are easily seen with a microscope, so a cytology will be performed to confirm the presence of Ear Mites. This cytology can also show if there is any secondary infection present in your pet’s ears, such as bacteria or yeast.

If there are wounds present from all of that scratching, your veterinarian may want to do a skin cytology as well to make sure that there isn’t any kind of skin infection going on.

Ugh, Ear Mites Sound Like the Worst! Are They Hard to Treat?
Fortunately with a little ear cleaning and medication, Ear Mites are typically a simple problem to resolve. So ensure that all of the ear mites have been taken care of, treatment lasts anywhere from 3-4 weeks. Depending on the results of your pet’s exam, you may be given additional medications for pain and inflammation, or antibiotics if there are secondary infections present.

imagesBecause Ear Mites are easily spread, if you have more than one pet in your home you’ll most likely be asked to treat all of them at the same time.

Prevention is possible as well! Most monthly parasite preventatives (like Revolution Plus) have medication in them to help treat Ear Mites. Using these products every month as directed can help keep your pet’s ears mite free!

By: Tiana Bell

 

“My Dog Isn’t Mean – It’s Had The Distemper Shot!”

Annotation 2020-02-18 150926Canine distemper is a contagious viral disease that attacks multiple parts of the body in dogs like the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. The virus has also been present in canidae species like wolves, coyotes, raccoons, and skunks (or “creatures that party in the night” as Dr. Kuecker refers to them). Even ferrets can get distemper!

The distemper virus is airborne meaning that is spread by the spit and mucus particles from an infectious dog. The virus can also be transmitted by fomites like water bowls, equipment and food, or by a mother dog to her puppy through the placenta. Infectious wild animals can also transmit distemper.

Symptoms include:
STAGE ONE: Pus-like discharge from eyes, fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy,  reduced appetite, and vomiting.
STAGE TWO: The nervous system becomes infected and dogs begin exhibiting neurological signs like walking in circles, head tilt, muscle twitches, seizures and potentially paralysis – either partial or full.
In wildlife species, the infection symptoms seem to closely resemble rabies.

Annotation 2020-02-18 150957Unfortunately, pets don’t usually survive distemper. Most that do survive end up having lasting, irreparable damage to their nervous system.

Infected dogs are usually diagnosed by how they present in-clinic, bloodwork, and other laboratory testing. There is currently no cure for distemper, so treatment consists of supportive care: Fluids to replenish hydration that is lost through vomiting/diarrhea, medications to control and reduce vomiting/diarrhea, and medications to help with the neurologic symptoms. Care to prevent secondary infections must also be taken. It is also recommended that infected dogs be isolated from all other dogs to help prevent the spread of the disease.

While all dogs are at risk for acquiring distemper, puppies younger than four months and unvaccinated dogs are at a much higher risk of catching distemper.

Annotation 2020-02-18 151023Prevention is key!
Consistent and complete vaccination has proven to be extremely effective in preventing our canine friends from contracting distemper. The distemper vaccine is normally combined with some other common vaccines, such as parvovirus, parainfluenza, hepatitis, and sometimes leptospira. We’ll call it the five-in-one special! Along with the rabies vaccine, distemper is considered to be a “core vaccination” that every dog should have.

This vaccination is given as a series. Depending on the age of your dog, your doctor may administer the first distemper vaccine and then have you come back in a couple weeks to re-administer. After that, your dog may only need to be re-vaccinated once a year. As with all vaccinations, the repeated exposure to the virus helps the dog’s immune system build immunity to the disease that they are being vaccinated for.

-Madison Cole

Sources:
https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/canine-distemper

Distemper in Dogs – Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Parvovirus – Deadly, but Preventable!

First things first – What is Parvo?

Almost every mammal species has its own parvovirus. The canine parvovirus was discovered in 1967. At first the strain present CPV-1 did not represent much of a threat except to newborn puppies. In 1978 a new variant appeared called CPV-2. At this time the virus was still new and no dog had any kind of immunity against the virus. With no resistance and no natural immunity to the virus, the resulting epidemic was disastrous.

canine-parvovirus-parvo-in-dogs-1In 1979, the virus mutated again creating the CPV-2a. This strain was even more aggressive that the first two. Vaccine manufacturers were unable to keep up with the demand. The virus is able to rapidly spread and infect dogs because it is shed in large numbers by infected dogs and is especially hardy once in the environment.

At this point in time, the virus is considered to be in every environment. Simply trying to keep a puppy from exposure to the virus is a futile task. Luckily, most dogs have some level of natural immunity to the virus and vaccination against it is common practice now.

How is it spread?

Parvo is spread through the feces of infected dogs. Very little fecal material is needed to transmit the virus. Parvovirus can remain in the environment for six months to a year. It is especially tough and it can survive both extreme heat and subzero temperatures. The virus enters the body through the mouth as the puppy or dog cleans itself or eats food off the ground. There is a three to seven day incubation period. First, the virus hangs out in the lymph nodes in the throat and begins to multiply. Once the virus has reached sufficient numbers, it then begins to attack the bone marrow and begins to kill the young cells of the immune system. 

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Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of parvovirus include severe, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, vomiting, weight loss, lack of appetite, and fever. Parvo should be considered as a possible diagnosis for any young dog presenting with vomiting and diarrhea.

The GI tract is where the most damage is done by the virus. The lining of the intestinal tract is covered in finger like projections called villi. The villi are covered in even smaller finger like projections called microvilli. These projections increase the surface area of the intestine allowing for absorption of nutrients. The cells that make the the microvilli are short lived and are replaced by cells deeper in the tissue that rapidly multiply. The parvovirus strikes these cells. The villi then become blunted and the dog is not able to absorb nutrients. The lining between the digestive bacteria and the blood stream is broken down. This is what causes the characteristic bloody diarrhea of parvo. Bacteria can now enter the bloodstream causing widespread infection.

The virus kills in one of two ways. The first is dehydration and fluid loss brought on by diarrhea and vomiting. The second is bacterial infection from the loss of the intestinal barrier.

parvotestHow is it Diagnosed?

A diagnosis is made by Parvo ELISA test. This is performed in clinic and takes about 15 minutes to run. The biggest drawback to the ELISA test is that recent vaccination with a live virus vaccine can cause a false positive. In this case, doing a complete blood count to look for a drop in white blood cells may also be done.

Treatment

With proper treatment and hospitalization, the survival rate is 75-80%. Treatment of parvovirus centers around supportive care. Supportive care includes keeping the dog hydrated, comfortable, and as strong as possible. There is no way to kill the virus inside the dog. The only way to cure parvo is to keep the dog strong enough that eventually the immune system is able to make enough antibodies to the virus to fight it on its own. When treating parvo, be prepared for a 5-7 day hospital stay and intensive care. Unfortunately, treatment can be expensive. 

puppy-diarrhea-vetThe first step in treating parvo is keeping the dog hydrated. IV fluids are needed to replace the fluids lost by the extreme vomiting and diarrhea. Antibiotics are also needed to help prevent septicemia. The loss of the intestinal barrier allows bacteria from the GI tract into the bloodstream. Since the virus destroys the the immune system, the dog has no way to fight on its own. Keeping the patient comfortable is a key part in treating any disease.

Tests are done to monitor the progress of the disease and effectiveness of the treatment throughout the puppy’s time in hospitalization. These tests include white blood cell counts, complete blood count, electrolyte and glucose levels, urine specific gravity, lactate levels, and total blood protein.

There are some additional treatments that can be done to help the puppy (such as plasma transfusions and certain kinds of cold medicine). However, these options are not a substitute for hospitalization and need to be discussed in detail with your veterinarian before starting them. 

Aftercare

Once the puppy has recovered from the worst of the infection, they can then be sent home. They will most likely be sent home with antibiotics, anti-nausea, and anti-diarrhea medications. It is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions for the medications and home care.

puppyeatingYour puppy will probably be very hungry after going so long without solid food. He should be fed in small portions every 1-2 hours. If he is allowed to gorge himself, this can upset his already delicate tummy.

Your puppy should be considered contagious to other puppies for at least a month after infection. It is important to keep him confined from any dogs that have not had the full vaccine series. Your veterinarian will let you know when it’s ok to resume vaccines. It is possible that your puppy has developed a life long immunity from the parvovirus since the infection. You should still continue vaccinating him for parvo along with all other recommend vaccines. There should be no permanent ramifications from the parvovirus. After the 2-3 week recovery period your dog should go on to lead a happy, healthy life.

Prevention

To prevent parvovirus infection in your puppy, you must follow the recommended vaccine schedule. Starting at six weeks of age your puppy should be vaccinated every 3-4 vxweeks until he is 16 weeks of age. Until your puppy has completed the vaccine series, he should be kept away from other puppies and kept out of dog parks or other social situations. Once your puppy has had all necessary vaccines he is ready to begin exploring the world with you!

There’s a Fungus Among Us!

Ringworm is a fairly common and highly contagious skin, nail, and hair or fur infection that despite its name does not always manifest as a ring and is NOT caused by a worm! Ringworm is actually caused by a fungus! There are several different types of fungi that are responsible for ringworm infections and many of them are zoonotic, meaning the infection can be transmitted to and from both humans and pets. The infection is easily spread by skin to skin contact and from objects or surfaces that have been touched by an infected person or pet such as clothing, towels or bedding, and brushes or combs. The fungi also occur in soil.

So what does a ringworm infection look like?

ringwormCAringwormKid

Symptoms of Ringworm in Pets

Ringworm is not a life-threatening disease, but it is very contagious and does require the intervention of a veterinarian. Knowing the symptoms of ringworm can help you catch the disease before it passes to humans or other pets.

ringworm3aRingworm usually presents as circular areas of hair loss throughout the body. These lesions may start to heal in the center as they enlarge, creating a patchy appearance, and may become inflamed or scabbed.

Ringworm usually does not itch. The affected hair follicles are brittle and break easily, which helps spread the disease throughout your home. In some cases the fungus infects the claws, making them brittle and rough.

Contact your veterinarian if your dog or cat experiences any or all of these symptoms:ringworm3

  • Circular areas of hair loss
  • Dry, brittle hair
  • Scabby, inflamed skin
  • Rough, brittle claws

How is Ringworm diagnosed?

Often your veterinarian can determine from the symptoms your pets has that it is a ringworm infection. There is also a special type of ultraviolet lamp called a Woods Lamp that can be used. Some types of ringworm fungi will fluoresce when exposed to this light.

Unfortunately, not all ringworm infections will fluoresce. Your veterinarian may need to set up a culture to determine the best course of treatment.

How is ringworm treated?

Your veterinarian will determine the best course of treatment. The most common way to treat ringworm is to use a combination of topical therapy (application of creams, ointments or shampoos) and systemic oral therapy (administration of anti-fungal drugs by mouth). In order for treatment to be successful, all environmental contamination must be eliminated.  All surfaces must be cleaned and all bedding should be washed. Humans should be diligent about washing hands frequently and thoroughly. If you suspect you have ringworm you should see your doctor. The earlier the infection can be diagnosed the more the chance of spreading the infection decreases.

By: Kathy Berrier