Brucellosis in a dog, raw meat origin

My friend Scott Weese wrote this up in his Worms and Germs Blog so I don’t have to.

˙(I still miss Sadie, who we had to relo˙cate before we moved to Australia).

A recent report from the Netherlands in Emerging Infectious Diseases (van Dijk et al 2018) describes a new twist on raw feeding concerns, Brucella suis infection. For the full details, you can read the whole paper here, but the short version of the story is outlined below.

The dog had fever, ascites (fluid free in the abdomen) and inflammation of the testicles, and after failing to respond to antibiotics, it was taken to surgery. At surgery, culture samples were collected from the epididymis (tissue adjacent to the testicle). Brucella suis was identified, which presumably caused a bit stir in the lab and clinic since that bacterium is a rarely identified, poses risks to people and is notifiable (the government has to be contacted when it’s found). Ultimately, the dog was euthanized after failing to respond to further treatment.

Because this is a notifiable disease, there was an investigation. The dog’s raw, rabbit-based diet became the leading potential source and Brucella suis was identified in samples from a 30,000 kg batch of raw rabbit imported from Argentina, a country where B. suis is present.

It’s a single case report so we can’t get too worked up about it, but it’s noteworthy for a couple reasons.

One is the disease…brucellosis is a nasty disease. It can be hard to treat, is potentially zoonotic and sometimes results in public health-mandated euthanasia of the dog.

Another is the importation aspect. The dog wasn’t imported but the bacterium was, via food. We’re trying to get increasing awareness of the need to query travel and importation history, since that can impact disease risks. Querying diet origins is tougher, since, while most people would know where their dog has been in the past few weeks, they may not know much about where their dog’s diet has been. With commercial processed food, it’s not a big deal but with a higher risk food like raw meat, importing food can be similar to the dog visiting the country of origin, from a disease standpoint. With raw meat, knowing where the meat came from and the disease risks in those areas may be important, but that’s not often easy to find.

The incidence of disease in dogs and cats associated with raw meat feeding ins’t clear and is probably low. Nevertheless, I recommend avoiding raw meat feeding, especially in  high risk households (e.g. with elderly individuals, kids <5 yrs of age, pregnant women or immunocompromised individuals). However, if raw meat is to be fed, some basic practices can be taken to reduce the risk, as we outline in the info sheet in our Resources section.

Sadie, Salmonella and humans eating pet food

Sadie saved my marriage.

That’s dramatic but I have a flair for drama.

Sadie was about 10 weeks old when I found her one Saturday morning under our vehicle.

Amy and I had recently moved into our Kansas compound, we had some people over, things didn’t go well, we had a, uh, dispute, and the next morning things were still festering. I packed my knapsack, which always has everything important, and was headed out the door for a long, long walk.

I found this pup under the truck.

I’d seen her running around in our yard about 5 a.m. but didn’t think much of it.

Now, the whimpering pup was glued to my heel.

Sadie had been well-cared for but ultimately abandoned, a not-uncommon occurrence in a student and military town. We took her in and realized our quarrels weren’t all that terminal.

Former Kansas State president Jon Wefald loved the story of Sadie. I would often see him around campus, walking our two dogs after accompanying Amy to her office, and he would always ask about the story of Sadie.

One time, there was an outbreak of Salmonella in pet food going on and a bunch of humans had gotten ill as well. The Pres asked how humans could get sick from pet food, and I explained about cross-contamination, and that some people ate pet food.

He didn’t believe me.

So here is a video of Jessica Pilot sampling human grade dog food. Some people do eat pet food.

Bicycle and dog-friendly drive-through

Sadie (right) is an energetic dog. We found her as a 10-week-old pup, hiding underneath our vehicle, shortly after Amy and I moved into our Kansas compound in downtown Manhattan.

It happens, with the transient population of military and students, dogs, unfortunately, are abandoned routinely.

We followed procedure, ran ‘dog-found’ ads in the local paper, but no one claimed her. So we took her in.

I had a couple of Australian Shepherd-type-mutts back in Guelph (below, left), so was prepared for the, uh, high energy of Sadie. Which means she learned to run beside my bicycle. Quickly.

Sadie and I will sometimes bike to the grocery store in the morning and stock up for dinner, sometimes we’ll just bike, although we’re both moving a little slower 3 years later.

But the best is when we go to the bank.

Kansas State Bank has drive-through banking. My Canadian daughters still marvel at this when they visit. I still get paper cheques for this and that, so every couple of weeks, Sadie and I will bike to the drive-through bank. I’ll make a deposit using the pneumonic tubes, and the teller will send back a treat for Sadie, along with a deposit slip.

Oregon seems to be just figuring this out.

A couple of weeks ago, the state announced plans to crackdown on doggies in grocery stores. The N.Y. Times reported this as news this morning.

But the Los Angeles Times got it right. Kate Linthicum reported this morning that when Sarah Gilbert, a cyclist in Portland, Oregon, tried to order four cheeseburgers for her family at a Burgerville drive-through, she was denied.

Gilbert, a freelance blogger with thousands of online followers, went home and Twittered huffily about the experience ("burgerville on 26th/ powell turned me on my bike away from drivethrough. and not nicely at all."), and penned an open letter to Burgerville calling for more bike-friendly policies.

Many chain restaurants across America do not serve bicyclists at their drive-throughs, said Jeff Mapes, a Portland journalist who has written a book about bike culture. "In a lot of cities it doesn’t make much of a splash at all," he said. "But here, it’s a cause celebre."

Jonathan Maus, who publishes a blog called said, "They expect a business to treat them the same whether they come in a car or on a bike."

Advocates have successfully persuaded many local businesses to include bicycle parking, he said. Persuading banks, pharmacies, fast-food chains and other businesses with drive-throughs to serve bicyclists is the next step.

Which is why Gilbert’s complaints struck a nerve. There was talk of a boycott. The story was picked up by local news outlets. Finally, Burgerville yielded. The chain apologized to Gilbert (it said it had no formal policy dictating how — or where — bicyclists could be served) and announced that it would henceforth welcome cyclists at all of its 39 drive-through locations in Oregon and Washington.

Sadie would approve.