Kansas veterinarian says the same food safety rules that apply to humans also apply to pets

When I got fired as a full professor from Kansas State University in 2013, my department chair actually kept a straight face as he said, if I didn’t show up on campus, he would have no choice, and that “I didn’t work well with others.”

Bureaucratic BS.

They wanted my salary, didn’t like what I said to cattle folks, and started a whole on-line thingy I had proposed after getting dumped.

Best and brightest get promoted.

There were several colleagues in the college of veterinary medicine I worked quite well with.

One was Kate KuKanich, associate professor of clinical sciences in Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

We hit the road and did handwashing studies in hospitals, co-supervized vet students who did cool investigative work on petting zoos, and she brought us duck eggs.

Kate made K-State’s Thanksgiving of PR, and full kudos for going through the process.

“Thanksgiving is a time when a lot of people think that giving tidbits of the food to pets it thoughtful. A small piece of turkey breast, which is low in fat and salt, is OK for a dog or cat in moderation. But, because we love our pets, we can often overdo it and ignore food safety rules that affect both our health and the health of our pets.”

Each year around Thanksgiving, KuKanich and colleagues at Kansas State University’s Small Animal Hospital treat multiple cats and dogs that have pancreatitis — an inflammation of the pancreas. The condition often manifests in pets that have eaten fatty human foods, such as meat trimmings and bacon, rather than their normal diet. Foods high in salt can be hazardous to pets with heart disease.

I thought it was drunks that got pancreatitis.

KuKanich advises pet owners to keep pets’ meals and treats as normal as possible during the holidays in order to avoid a recipe for disaster. She also said that the same food safety rules that apply to humans also apply to pets. These include:

  • Turkey and other meats must be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit before dogs, cats and humans eat it. Raw and undercooked meats as well as their juices can contain germs that can cause serious illness in both people and animals.

“Sometimes people think that it’s OK to give a pet raw or undercooked meat because pets’ ancestors come from the wild,” KuKanich said. “Any raw meat, such as the gizzard of the turkey, can make our pets sick because they can be contaminated with bacteria. A meat thermometer is best way to know our meats are food safe and cooked to the proper temperature for everyone’s safety.”

  • Bones, such as a hambone, drumstick or rib, also can be dangerous because they can become lodged in the esophagus of dogs, requiring emergency endoscopy or surgical removal.
  • Pet owners should wash their hands in warm, sudsy water before and after feeding their pet. Pets’ food and water bowls and measuring cups used to dispense their food also should be cleaned regularly.

“Handwashing prior to cooking, eating and food storage is important to keep food and family members safe,” KuKanich said. “It also is a good idea to either avoid petting our furry friends during food prep and meals or to wash hands frequently so that we keep both the food and the pets safe.”

  • Juices from raw turkey and other meats will contaminate anything it touches in the kitchen, including counter space, utensils, other food and pet dishes.
  • Pets and people should not eat cooked and dairy-based food that has been sitting at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. Two hours is the longest food should sit at room temperature before it is refrigerated or frozen, according to a food safety specialist at Kansas State University Olathe.

Additionally, while sweets and deserts may affect our waistline, they can be hazardous to an animal.

Kate’s got the basics right.

Kansas State is fortunate to have her.

Our publications can be found on-line.

The real-life diseases that spread the vampire myth

Whenever I talk about Kansas, I think of a couple of times Amy and I went off the regular roads, and saw all kinds of pioneer homesteads, long abandoned but probably built about the 1820s.

finger-of-godGiven the weather of Kansas, I would speculate, it’s no wonder so many crazy religions came from this place, because the finger of god – tornadoes – would descend without warning, super heat, super cold, and it wasn’t like anyone could go to Wal-Mart and restock.

It was probably terrifying.

I also recall how an astounding professor who’s class I got to TA for a couple of years – genetics for arts students – would begin every semester by citing Christian scripture and then describe the genetic ailment (he also said the Christian bible was a fairytale, because a woman – XX – could only have a female offspring and still be a virgin).

Vampires are the same way.

Stephen Dowling of the BBC writes diseases were frightening things before the age of medical science. Plagues and epidemics could appear without warning and cause death and misery (I’m thinking Jesus time and Kansas, 1820).

It wasn’t just plagues. Other diseases – perhaps passed on by animals or from genes lying dormant in their own bodies – could cause ailments that defied explanation.

People turned instead to the supernatural. Some of these diseases helped spawn one of the most enduring and widespread monster myths in civilisation – the vampire.

The vampire – an undead figure who rises each night from his unquiet grave to feast on the blood of the living – has appeared since the time of the Ancient Greeks. While some of the sage old philosophers we still admire today might have lived into their 70s, life expectancy in Ancient Greece was thought to be around 28; centuries before sanitation, refrigeration and antibiotics, diseases were more prevalent and were far more likely to take people to an early grave.

But without a microscope to study these tiny assailants, communities in older times saw the hand of the supernatural in many diseases.

Author Roger Luckhurst, who edited Oxford World’s Classic’s reprint of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, has researched the conditions which spread the belief in vampires, showing that the myth began to gain popularity in the early 18th Century. “The first mention of the word vampire in the English language is in the 1730s, in newspapers which carry reports from the edge of Europe, of bodies being dug up and looking bloated, and having fresh blood around their mouths. They report that these stories have come from peasants, but they make them sound very plausible.”

When calamity struck these rural areas – plague, cattle dying – many would point the finger at an undead spirit preying on the living. Often the first act would be to dig up the last person who had died in the village. And that leads us to another problem – medical science was in such infancy, that even telling if a person had died wasn’t exactly foolproof. Diseases such as catalepsy, which put people into a catatonic state so deep that their pulse was hard to detect, meant some were buried alive. If they awoke, some were driven so mad with fear and hunger that they would bite themselves – an explanation, perhaps, for some of the corpses found with fresh blood.

Most people in these communities kept animals; the villages themselves were usually close to forests and woodlands home to many other animals. Before vaccination was discovered, rabies, now virtually unknown in the European wild, was common. Once symptoms – which include aversion to light and water, aggression, biting and delirium – developed, death was inevitable. There is no cure.

“Rabies is obviously where we get the link to the werewolf, too,” says Luckhurst. “People were turned feral by this contact with animals. There is a degree of folk wisdom in the werewolf myth, a warning for people not to connect yourself too much to the natural world. You had to remember your humanity.”

There are many cultures around the world – in different continents and at different times – that share the myth of the bloodsucking undead. There are manananggal in the Philippines, and the peuchen of Chile; the Baobhan Sith of Scotland and the Yara-ma-yha-who of indigenous Australian tribes.

Essentially, the vampire myth comes from more than just disease, says Luckhurst. The vampire always seems to come from somewhere outside of the comforts of our own homes – be that a rural Transylvanian cottage, an English stately home or Ancient Athens.

“It always comes from somewhere else; in Ancient Greece the barbarians from beyond the Greek world were cannibals and bloodsuckers, and able to do all sorts of black magic that they were weren’t. In other places, it was the pagan tribes.” Even in South America, he says, the vampiric creatures the Incas believed in were from the wilds beyond their cities.

The vampire seems to be a vehicle not just for the diseases that we were not able to comprehend, but for all those strange, unmapped places and the people that live in them too.

Org chart crazy: How can One Health have 3 international One Health groups

No communication issues here.

communication-context-13The very first ‘One Health Day’ will be organized on 3 November 2016 across the globe. It is held to promote a change in the assessment of global health challenges and how to address them, and aims to ‘bring global attention to the need for One Health interactions’. It is intended as ‘a day of declaration and action wherever possible to bring global attention to the crucial need and benefits of using trans-disciplinary approaches to complex challenges involving animals, people, and planetary ecosystems’.

One Health Day is organised by three international One Health groups: the One Health Commission, the One Health Initiative Autonomous pro bono Team and the One Health Platform Foundation.

The ‘One Health Initiative’ was first started in April 2007 when the American Veterinary Medical Association formed the One Health Initiative Task Force. The link between human infectious diseases and zoonoses is frequently underlined on the many sites forming the One Health initiative as ‘nearly 75 percent of all emerging human infectious diseases in the past three decades originated in animals’.

Hong Kong: City University’s plan to include food safety in a veterinary course

Hong Kong’s urban high-rise environment may seem an unlikely place to host a centre of veterinary excellence. But that is still not the way City University sees it, despite rejections of funding requests for a veterinary school in 2010 and 2014 by the University Grants Committee on the grounds that it is unviable and unnecessary. It has unveiled a self-financed, six-year undergraduate course in veterinary medicine beginning in the next academic year with an intake of 10 to 15 students, rising to about 30 in two years.

one-healthEach student would have to pay tuition fees of HK$120,000 a year. The government has warned the university not to assume that in the long run it would receive public funding, which would reduce the fees to HK$42,100 a year.

Nonetheless university president Professor Way Kuo is confident of securing government funding in 2018, by which time it also hopes to have raised HK$1 billion to support the programme. Cornell University in the US is a partner in the course.

City university says part of the course will focus not on training vets in the care of domestic pets, but on research into food safety and how to prevent disease spreading from animals to humans. Since this is most relevant to the agricultural and livestock industry across the border rather than Hong Kong, perhaps it is hoped the course will attract enough fee-paying students from the mainland to begin with.

One Health: UI grad’s passion has taken her all over the globe

We had lunch yesterday with a friend from Slovenia.

She had been a researcher at a university there, and then moved to Brisbane and worked in the private sector before landing another research job at a uni.

She said, Doug, don’t you want to try and get a uni job here in Australia?

No. I’m done with universities.

But I do miss the students, although I still get to interact with several.

maureen_birmingham_150pxDr. Maureen Birmingham, a 1983 graduate of the UI College of Veterinary Medicine, is the kind of student I miss.

Describing herself as a “fortunate victim of a lot of fortunate opportunities,” Birmingham has been all around the world helping to prevent and resolve disease — in both people and animals.

After veterinary school, Birmingham worked as a clinician in a large animal practice in upstate New York for a few years but realized that she wanted something else from her career.

“Every other night, I was on call,” she said. “It was not sustainable in the long term but a wonderful experience for locking in my veterinary skills and the art of veterinary practice as well as building communication skills with clients.”

She spent the late 1980s working for nongovernmental organizations, first in Haiti and later in Bolivia, where she taught veterinary technicians critical skills to help subsistence farmers improve their economic situation.

“In rural Haiti, families kept a pig as their living savings account, to be cashed in for special circumstances, like paying for school or an unforeseen family crisis or event. So pigs were critical to the rural economy,” said Birmingham, who was part of a program to reintroduce pigs to the island after all had been slaughtered to eradicate African swine fever there.

one.health.slide.dp.10“In Bolivia, we taught veterinary technicians not only about basic veterinary medicine and animal husbandry but also about how to maximize the fiber yield from alpacas and meat from guinea pigs for better profits,” Birmingham said. “Bolivians raise guinea pigs as a cost-effective and traditional food source, so we helped them manage these animals as well.”

Over the next several years, she and Dr. Peter Quesenberry, a veterinarian who spent most of his life working in Asian countries, wrote “Where There Is No Animal Doctor,” a manual on basic measures to prevent and treat animal diseases for people living in remote areas around the world.

The next phase of Birmingham’s career was earning a master’s degree in public health at Harvard. From there, she joined the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and was deployed to Africa for most of the next two years to work on child-survival issues.

“This EIS program provides excellent training in field epidemiology, for example, by participating on the frontline in outbreak investigations both domestically and internationally. Some of the more well-known investigations of EIS officers include the emergence of Legionnaires’ disease, polio, cholera, Ebola, HIV/AIDS, West Nile virus and influenza, as well as the public health aspects of disasters such as Hurricane Katrina to name a few,” she said.

Eventually, the CDC transferred Birmingham to Geneva, Switzerland, to work on global polio eradication in a program led by the World Health Organization (WHO). She and her husband spent the next 12 years in Geneva, where she completed a CDC residency program in preventive medicine and cultivated her skills as an epidemiologist, manager and administrator.

From there, Birmingham and her husband moved to Bangkok, Thailand, to get closer to fieldwork.

After more than six years in Thailand, she moved with her family to become a WHO/Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) representative to Mexico.

“My role now is as a generalist, managing the various WHO/PAHO programs of cooperation with the government,” Birmingham said. “My team delves into all sorts of topics, such as environmental health including pesticide/chemical management, strengthening preparedness and response to public health emergencies, addressing the health effects of climate change, applying public health approaches to reduce violence, addiction prevention/treatment, reducing maternal mortality, reducing the very high rates of road injuries and addressing childhood obesity and the soaring diabetes rates.”

Promoting public health is a collective effort among many sectors. Veterinarians like Birmingham play an important role. Moreover, the One Health movement seeks to bring animal and human health fields closer together to better predict, prevent and control emerging diseases, given that 75 percent of all emerging diseases in humans come from animals. Veterinarians are well-positioned to address this problem.

“Even something as simple as effective public communications to wash hands for the prevention of bird flu makes a difference,” she said. “Veterinarians are very relevant in public health.”

One Health pioneer, James H. Steele, dies at 100

The potential for a disease to pass from animals to people had been understood for millenniums, but it was not until the late 18th century, when Edward Jenner developed a vaccine for smallpox, that someone found a way to prevent it. The idea that government could take a systematic approach to fighting disease in animals to protect people did not take hold until the middle of the 20th century, when, according to a N.Y. Times obituary, Dr. James Steele led the way.

He helped establish mass vaccination and prevention programs in the United States for diseases like rabies and bovine brucellosis. After setting up federal programs, he helped start them at the state james.steelelevel. He visited dozens of countries to start veterinary public health programs and to help trace specific diseases, like Rift Valley fever in Nigeria, where he traveled in the 1970s. He constantly looked beyond his immediate field: in 1964, he published a paper titled “The Socioeconomic Responsibilities of Veterinary Medicine.”

He participated via Skype this summer at the annual conference of the American Veterinary Medical Association in Chicago during a lecture series, “The James Steele Challenge: A Better World Through One Health.” It focused on his lifelong passion: convincing people that economic prosperity was rooted in animal, human and environmental health. Scores of students cite him as their mentor.

In 1942, a year after Dr. Steele received his doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Michigan State University, he became one of the first veterinarians to receive a master’s degree in public health from Harvard. In 1945 he started the veterinary public health program at the United States Public Health Service in Washington. In 1947, he and the unit moved to Atlanta, to what is now called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two years after that he went to work for the office of the surgeon general as chief veterinary officer. He became the nation’s first assistant surgeon general for veterinary affairs in 1968 and deputy assistant secretary for health and human services in 1970. The formal name for the types of diseases Dr. Steele dealt in, which pass from animals to humans, is zoonoses. While he had strong science and field experience — his interest in pursuing a veterinary degree increased after he helped investigate a brucellosis outbreak in a lab at Michigan State in the 1930s — his special talent was in finding practical ways to address disease on a large scale.

“He had to take all that science and translate it into a disease control program,” said Dr. Peter Cowen, who teaches epidemiology and public health in the college of veterinary medicine at North Carolina State University. “Jim took the science and protected public health.”

James Harlan Steele was born on April 3, 1913, in Chicago to James Hahn Steele and the former Lydia Norquist. He grew up, all the way to 6-foot-7, in Chicago, and stayed there into his 20s, selling insurance to help his family before he entered Michigan State.

In 1971, he became a professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston.

“The impact of veterinary research through the years has been startling,” he wrote in the 1960s. “It has opened vast areas of continents to animal husbandry, given a base to many industries and improved human nutrition beyond expectation. Probably in no other creative area has an investment returned so great a dividend for mankind.”

He retired in 1983. His survivors include his wife, Brigitte; his sons, Michael, James and David; and four grandchildren. His first wife, the former Aina Oberg, died in 1969.

UN Food and Ag Organization endorses One Health

Safe food is food that doesn’t make people barf. Or animals.

That’s the essence of One Heath. Things that make people and animals sick.

The American Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association have approved resolutions supporting ‘One Medicine’ or ‘One Health’ that bridge the two professions. Rudolf Virchow, the Father of Modern Pathology, and Sir William Osler, the Father of Modern Medicine, were outspoken advocates of the concept, which was re-articulated in the 1984 edition of Calvin Schwabe’s Veterinary Medicine and Human Health.

Today, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said governments could save billions of dollars by stepping up the prevention and control of high impact animal diseases, some of which pose a direct threat to human health.

?Many other animal diseases have a negative impact on people’s livelihoods. Pandemic influenza viruses H5N1 and H1N1, foot-and-mouth disease, Rift Valley fever, and rabies are among the more recent disease outbreaks.

Land use, ecological dynamics including climate change, and expanding trade and trade routes are all posing new challenges to animal disease prevention and control, the UN agency warned.

These emerging threats are also related to increased urbanization and strongly growing urban demand for meat, milk and eggs. A rapid increase and intensification in poultry, production in East Asia translated into a five-fold increase in duck meat output between 1985 and 2000. In 2008, over 21 billion animals were produced for food globally, a figure expected to rise by fifty percent by 2020.

FAO, in partnership with the World Organisation for Animal Health and the World Health Organization has adopted a One Health strategy to more effectively detect and combat these new pathogens.

Drawing on the agency’s experience in past animal health emergencies, the One Health initiative aims to make a key contribution to the global response to disease outbreaks, implementation of effective prevention and containment strategies and management of risks of disease emergence, including improving knowledge of disease-emergence drivers in livestock production and in associated ecosystems.

Special attention of the programme is given to risk communication at all levels of action.