Salmonella skyrockets in Swedish cats

In just two months, salmonella infection has been detected in 1,007 cats in Sweden. Never before have so many cases been discovered even for a whole year.

It is the Danish Veterinary Office, SVA, which reports the compilation of the number of infected cats. The Salmonella Mite is suspected to come from birds and the cats are infected at the birdboards.

Frecrik Israelsson of SVT reports this year differs from previous years in two ways; partly because the observed cases are so many, partly because the proportion of salmonella positive samples is so high among the suspected samples we get. Now, however, the culmination seems to be reached for this contagion season, “said Elina Lahti, epidemiologist SVA, according to SVA’s website.

Even humans and other animals can be infected with salmonella and SVA encourages those who have had contact with sick cats and birds to wash their hands. Even when handling bird tables and litter boxes, hand washing is important, according to SVA.

Questions: Why do dogs eat poop?

Every dog I’ve ever owned has liked to eat poop.

Even the current one, Ted, the Cavalier master of indifference, loves nothing more than going outside and chowing down on some cat or possum poop.

Saryn Chorney of People Pets writes, it’s a topic that has long perplexed animal researchers and veterinarians. And if you Google the topic, you’re likely to get more than a dozen different explanations ranging from canine anxiety to illness to simply boredom.

(Boredom explains many of life’s ills, human or dog or cat.)

However, a new study led by veterinarian Benjamin Hart, director of the Center for Animal Behavior at the University of California at Davis, has managed to link the off-putting behavior to “greedy eating” (dogs that quickly ravish their food bowls, according to owners) as well as an instinct connected to canines’ ancestral wolf pack days.

Hart and his team surveyed over 3,000 dog owners. Of these subjects, 16 percent ate other dogs’ feces “frequently” (their owners had witnessed a crappy chow down session at least six times), and of those pups, 80 percent preferred fresh feces less than two days old. Who doesn’t?

Interestingly, the research suggested that the tendency towards coprophagia (the scientific term for poop-eating) was evident no matter a dog’s age, breed, diet, house-training status or compulsive behavior tendency. This finding has unleashed a new theory: Modern day dogs have inherited both their aversion to pooping where they live as well as their likelihood to eat fresh poop from their ancient wolf ancestors.

Back in those wild days, wolves may’ve eaten the fresh feces of sick, lame or old members who accidentally let a load loose as a way to clean up inside and around their den. Since it takes about two days for parasites and other pathogens to develop, eating fresh poop is not usually dangerous, and in fact, eating poop that was festering in their living quarters was actually a helpful way to avoid intestinal parasites such as larvae and worms.

That said, some great minds in the canine scientific community think there may be a bit more to it. For instance, Professor James Serpell of the University of Pennsylvania and editor of the recent book The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, Behavior and Interactions with People, told the Washington Post he finds the wolf theory “plausible,” but he’s also intrigued by the “greedy eaters” survey findings. He referenced a study of free-roaming wild dogs in developing countries that scavenge for food and, as a result, fill up on a sizable amount of human feces. This seems to indicate that poop could be viewed, errr digested, as a second-hand food source.

Today, dogs (and cats) “are fed diets that are relatively rich in fats and protein, not all of which may be completely digested, making their feces potentially attractive as a second hand food source,” Serpell told the Washington Post.

So, there you have it. Poop-eating is probably a normal, evolutionary dog trait.

I buy the greedy eaters theory: Ted the wonder dog was the runt of the litter, raised outside, and 2 years later, still eats by retrieving a piece of kibble and taking it to the couch or bed to chow down.

But that’s an anecdotal observation, not science.

Vets test for deadly cat virus in Queensland after multiple deaths

My science writing career started with cats.

(The two black ones made it to Kasnas, the other one, Lucky, wasn’t so lucky)

My parents didn’t allow warm-blooded mammals in the house, just Salmonella-ridden turtles, so when my ex brought me 2 kittens from the vet clinic where she was a student, it still stands out as the nicest thing she ever did for me.

I wrote about cat behaviour, weekly, because I was fascinated and thought everyone else would be.

Maybe not, but I was editor-in-chief the next year, because of no bullshit and cats.

The ex wrote a book no one read except my former hockey team mates in which she stated the only thing I was good for was throwing off good-looking daughters.


And people wonder why I have angst.

Calicivirus is when I got turned on to leaning.

A fourth-year virology class, we kids had to go do an independent project, and I chose Calicivirus.

Just woke me up to all the things that were available to learn, other than cats.

The Courier-Mail reports urgent testing is underway to determine the cause of death of a number of cats in south-east Queensland in the past month, with vets suspecting a particular strain of virus to be responsible.

In recent weeks there have been possibly 14 cases of Feline Calicivirus-Virulent Systemic Disease, or Virulent Calicivirus, reported in Queensland.Of those 14 cases – all but one have come from the Ipswich area, west of Brisbane.

Australian Small Animal Veterinarians President Dr Mark Kelman said laboratory testing was underway in Sydney.

“At this stage we’re not 100 per cent sure it’s this cat virus that’s going on. It’s still early days,” Dr Kelman said.

“It’s highly suspicious that it may be what we call Feline Calicivirus-Virulent Systemic Disease … it’s not common at all.

“If it is that it’s a variant of a fairly common virus which is the Feline Calicivirus but this particular strain causes more severe disease in cats and certainly can be fatal.”

Dr Kelman said he hoped to have a definitive answer within the next week.

Swollen legs a concerning symptom for cats

Three cats from the Ipswich area have died and others have been euthanised because of the severity of their symptoms, Dr Kelman said.

We’re all hosts on a viral planet.

Plague in domestic cats — Idaho, 2016

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports in May 2015, Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague, was identified in dead Piute ground squirrels (Urocitellus mollis) reported through the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s wildlife mortality monitoring program; in June 2015, the Idaho Division of Public Health (DPH) sent an advisory to veterinarians in four southwestern Idaho counties requesting that they notify their local public health officials of suspected plague in animals.* Y. pestis was not confirmed in any pets during 2015.

yersinia-pestisDuring May 30–July 26, 2016, local veterinarians notified public health officials that five dogs and 12 cats were being evaluated for possible plague. Local veterinarians also performed necropsies, when applicable, to establish the diagnosis. Idaho’s Central District Health Department and Eastern Idaho Public Health coordinated with DPH on submission of specimens to the DPH Bureau of Laboratories for Y. pestis testing and interviewed veterinary staff and pet owners. Specimens from blood, spleen, liver, and lymph nodes were screened using real–time polymerase chain reaction and confirmed by culture and phage lysis testing.

sorenne-cats-aug-15Among evaluated animals, Y. pestis was isolated from six of 12 cats; five of the six were from areas in southwestern Idaho where dead ground squirrels with confirmed Y. pestis had been reported in May 2016, and one was from from eastern Idaho. Among these six cats, specimen collection occurred during May 31–July 12, 2016; cats ranged in age from 10 months to 14.5 years (median = 4 years), four (67%) were male, five (83%) resided both indoors and outdoors, and one resided outdoor only. All six cats were domestic shorthair breed and had been neutered or spayed. Fever and lymphadenopathy (n = 4, 67%) were the most commonly reported signs of illness. None of the cats had known pulmonary involvement. Three of the six cats were treated with appropriate antibiotics (1); of these, two survived and one was euthanatized. The three other cats had died or had been euthanatized. All six cats reportedly had contact with ground squirrels and other wild rodents or rabbits before becoming ill; one had flea control administered before illness onset.

Cat owners, their household members, and veterinary staff were advised to be alert for fever and other plague symptoms (2) in themselves and other pets that might have had contact with the ill cats. Veterinary staff members were reminded about methods to prevent occupational exposure when managing pets suspected of having plague (1). In June 2016, an updated plague advisory was sent to veterinarians in four southwestern Idaho counties and eight eastern Idaho counties. Local public health districts used the Idaho Health Alert Network to enhance situational awareness among health care providers and issue guidance on management and reporting of plague cases. Public communication strategies to raise awareness about the risk for and prevention of Y. pestistransmission to persons and pets included an online map of plague-affected areas, warnings posted in affected public areas, and press releases advising residents about preventive measures. No human plague cases were reported.

Cat-associated human plague cases, including fatalities, have been reported in the western United States since 1977 (3). Compared with dogs, cats are highly susceptible to plague illness and can transmit disease to humans directly through exposure to respiratory droplets and infectious body fluids associated with bites or scratches (1). Cats could also carry infected fleas into households. Y. pestis–infected cats usually develop fever, anorexia, lethargy, and lymphadenitis (submandibular in approximately 75% of cases); approximately 10% of cases are pneumonic (4) and present the most risk to pet owners and veterinary staff members. During 1926–2012, six (43%) of all primary pneumonic cases of human plague that occurred in the United States had contact with domestic cats (5). No plague vaccine for pets is available.

Veterinarians should consider the diagnosis of plague in pets, including cats, with compatible signs and exposure to rodent habitats, rodents, or ill pets in areas where plague is endemic or epizootic. Suspicion of plague should trigger the following actions by veterinary staff: 1) implementation of personal protective measures, including wearing masks and gloves; 2) isolation of the ill pet; 3) assessment of pulmonary involvement; 4) initiation of diagnostic testing for Y. pestis; 5) prompt administration of antibiotic therapy; 6) implementation of flea control for affected animals and the hospital environment; 7) provision of advice on household flea control to pet owner; and 8) notification of public health officials (1). Pet owners can reduce the risk for plague in pets by controlling pet roaming, implementing a flea control program, and minimizing rodent habitats and food sources inside and outside the home. Additional information on prevention of plague is available at

Nasty women? Cat poop used to protect Trump sign from theft

Kathy Bressler of Monroe, MI, is passionate about two things: Donald Trump and her 10 cats.

braunwynn-hockeyBressler has never put up political signs before but because of her support for Trump, she has several signs and buttons, and volunteers for the local Republican party a couple of days a week.

So, when someone stole Trump signs from her yard, so she decided to make a stink about it – literally. Bressler combined her love of cats and country and “poopy trapped” her Trump signs.

court-hockey“My First Amendment rights are being violated,” Bressler said. “SO, I thought, gee, it’s not a pleasant idea if someone would happen to happen to step into the used cat litter that I’ve been sprinkling around my Trump signs. So, I thought that might be a good deterrent.”

Cats: Harbinger of parasites and schizophrenia

Pregnant women are advised to avoid many things, including alcohol, smoking and even their cat’s litter box (what about the refrigerated ready-to-eat foods?). More than 90% of obstetricians and gynecologists in the United States caution patients about handling cat litter during pregnancy, according to a recent survey.

amy.pregnant.catThe reason? A parasite lurking in the pets’ poop.

Cats can shed a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii in their feces, and if a pregnant woman accidentally inhales or eats the parasite and becomes infected, there are serious health risks. In 20% to 50% of cases (PDF), the fetus also becomes infected.

Only a very small number of cats are estimated to be shedding these parasites at any time — about 1%, by some estimates — but if a woman is infected within her first trimester, it could lead to microcephaly and other birth defects, as well as an increased risk of mental disability and blindness later in the child’s life.

People with weakened immune systems, such as those who have HIV or are undergoing chemotherapy, can develop neurological problems including headaches and seizures from the infection.

jauques.fierce.jun.16Other than the groups who were at greater risk, experts had generally thought toxoplasma, or toxo, was of little consequence. But that view started to change in the past decade as reports claimed that the parasite could influence a person’s behavior and even increase the risk of schizophrenia.

Once a person is infected, toxo lies dormant in their body throughout their life. A recent study found between 10% and 15% of people in the United States to be latently infected with the parasite.

“The consequences of infection with toxo not during pregnancy is all new and not well understood,” said Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, a research psychiatrist at the Stanley Medical Research Institute, a nonprofit organization that supports research on schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

There have been so many new studies into the link between toxo infection and schizophrenia that Torrey created a web page to keep track of them all. “I’m adding studies almost every month,” he said.

In a 2007 review, Torrey found that people with schizophrenia were 2.7 times more likely to have antibodies against the parasite — which indicate that someone has been infected — than healthy people. This increase in risk would mean that the rate of schizophrenia would increase from 1 in 100 in the general adult population in the United States to 2.7 in 100 among people who have a toxo infection.

A large study by Torrey and his colleagues found that adults who had schizophrenia were more likely to have grown up in homes that had cats, compared with healthy controls. Parents of young children may therefore want to be careful about bringing a new cat into the home.

Despite the evidence found to date, it is still not possible to say whether toxo infections cause these illnesses, said William Sullivan, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, microbiology and immunology at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Research has merely suggested that people with psychiatric disorders happen to be more likely to have been exposed to toxo. “Correlation plus correlation plus correlation does not equal causation,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan suspects that toxo is not enough on its own to bring on the illness and that another, as yet unknown, risk factor could also be involved.

A good way to find out whether toxo truly causes mental health disorders and changes in behavior would be to give people with schizophrenia a drug that clears their dormant toxo infection and see whether their symptoms improve, Sullivan said. But no such drug exists.

According to Sullivan, there are other ways to become infected with toxo, including eating raw meat, which can harbor the parasite, and gardening or working with soil, where toxo can survive for several years.

A study by Torrey found that there can be 100 toxo spores, or oocysts, under a gardener’s fingernail. Those with a green thumb can take protective steps, such as wearing gloves and a face mask.

People can also become infected by eating the raw meat of animals harboring the parasite. To prevent this, Sullivan advises that people make sure to cook meat thoroughly or else to freeze the meat before eating it.


Cats eating dead deer behind UK market stall

Officers investigating concerns about the state of a market stall found cats eating a dead deer when they went to inspect the premises.

market.stallHusband and wife, Charles, 78 and Margery Todd, 77, who sold food at markets across the East Riding as well as Leeds, Malton and York, have been banned from running any food business by magistrates, who described the images as “harrowing”.

The Todds, who ran Rosedale Farm Products, Bewholme, Hornsea, will also have to pay almost £15,000 after admitting a string of food safety and hygiene offences.

Beverley Magistrates were told the business had been operating for 48 years and supplied gamebirds, chicken and turkey to the private and commercial sector as well to the public via market stalls.

There were no hand washing facilities or provision for cleaning or washing of preparation tables or equipment.

As the meat had not been stored correctly, some was so decomposed officers were unable to identify what animal it was.

Magistrates were told how the Todds agreed to a voluntary closure order but continued to operate the business.

Mr Todd apologised to customers today saying there was “no defence” from the pictures and saying standards had slipped following two motor accidents which had affected his mobility and led to his being registered disabled.

He said: “I am not going to be bloodyminded. It was a mess. It was a gradual deterioration proportionate to the deterioration of my physical ability.”

Farmers targeting toxo-carrying feral cats in NZ

An Ontario friend arranged for three kittens for me and my daughters about 12 years ago from their local shelter. was a dairy farmer and used to horrify the kids with how he shot stray kitties.

People would randomly abandon cats on his dairy farm, believing cartoons about cats and milk.

He wasn’t going to lose his livelihood to some unwanted cat.

Farmers in New Zealand are doing the same thing.

Feral cats carrying toxoplasmosis are the target of a predator programme that could save Hawke’s Bay farmers in excess of $4.5 million dollars a year.

A monitoring programme testing ewes on six farms, as part of the Cape to City predator programme, has found that up to 30 per cent of sheep carry the disease, which causes a high abortion rate in pregnant ewes.

Three “experimental” farms within the 26,000-hectare Cape to City footprint tested feral cats and mice for toxoplasmosis while three control farms outside of the footprint tested mice only.

Sixty sheep on each farm have also been sample tested to form a baseline across the farms that have been matched in size, stocking density and habitat.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Biosecurity adviser Rod Dickson said the baseline was high but “that was expected” and by reducing feral cats, it is hoped abortion rates will decrease.

braunwynn.kittens.03“Feral cats are one of the main carriers of toxoplasmosis and if we can reduce the numbers of feral cats, we have a good chance of reducing the high abortion rate in ewes.

“This could provide a significant economic benefit for farmers,” he said.

Mr Dickson said toxoplasma is highly prevalent in New Zealand sheep flocks with a recent survey testing 198 ewe flocks revealed 85 per cent of sheep had been exposed to the disease.

Sheep become infected from eating contaminated food such as pasture, concentrate feeds and hay.

Once ingested, the disease spreads to the sheep’s muscles and brain ” and also to the placenta. Shielded from the ewe’s defence system the parasite multiplies rapidly, killing cells as infection spreads.

And my cats? Lucky wasn’t so lucky and didn’t make it out of Guelph. The two black ones had a long life roaming the forest in our Kansas backyard and, brought us gifts every morning.

Mystery E.coli O55 outbreak in UK deepens as cat and owner affected

Beginning Nov. 2014, a cluster of E. coli O55 cases was identified in Dorset followed by another cluster in May 2015: no common source was found.

Now, a new case of E. coli O55 has been identified, along with a case in a pet cat.

e.col.O55To date, 26 cases of E. O55 coli have been confirmed in the county, and it is now believed that pets might be carrying the disease.

Health protection consultant Noëleen McFarland said: “Public Health England would like to reassure the public that the investigation into this unusual strain is ongoing.

“What we now know is that cats and other pets could be spreading this bacteria but they are not the source.

“E.coli is a type of bacteria that is found in the guts of cattle and other ruminants, whilst cats and other pets can act as carriers passing this on to humans in their faeces.”

Both the person and cat affected were from the same household, but however the agency will not reveal the locations of cases, citing patient confidentiality.

No common source has yet been identified for the outbreak, which is only in Dorset.

Who can control cats? Visual audit of food safety hazards present in homes in an urban environment

Research utilizing both survey and observational techniques has found that consumers do not accurately report their own food handling behaviors.

braunwynn.kittens.03The goal of this study was to objectively observe conditions related to food safety risks and sanitation in domestic kitchens in an urban environment. Subjects (n = 100) were recruited from Philadelphia, PA. Homes were visited over a one-year period by two trained researchers using a previously developed audit tool to document conditions related to sanitation, refrigeration, and food storage.

Potential food safety risks identified included evidence of pest infestation (65%), perishable food stored at room temperature (16%), storage of raw meat above ready-to-eat foods (97% of homes where raw meat was present), and a lack of hot running water in the kitchen (3%). Compliance with correct refrigeration practices was also low, with 43% of refrigerator temperatures ≥ 41°F, and only 4% of refrigerators containing a thermometer.

Consumers of minority race/ethnicity were more likely to have evidence of pest infestation in the home, lack a dishwasher and lack a cutting board in the kitchen, while Caucasian consumers were more likely to have an animal present in the kitchen during the audit visit.