Outdoors reporter Dennis Anderson made an appeal in the March 9 (Minneapolis) Star-Tribune to the Minnesota legislature to limit the scourge of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in the state’s deer herd -- ideally by getting rid of deer and elk farms, or at least making them secure with double fencing and regular inspections. His appeal should not fall on deaf ears in Minnesota, or in other CWD-afflicted states.
CWD is caused by diseased prions, which are single proteins that cannot be destroyed by typical “kill strategies” like extreme heat or ultraviolet light. A variant of the prions that cause CWD in deer, moose and elk across many states caused mad cow disease in the U.K., decimating the beef industry and resulting in brain disease in humans and some companion animals. Plants can bind and transport infectious prions.
In April 2017, Canada’s Bureau of Microbial Hazards posted an advisory entitled, “Potential Human Health Risks from Chronic Wasting Disease.” The reason: CWD has been transmitted in the laboratory to cynomolgus macaque monkeys. Both infected brain and muscle tissues were found to transmit disease. The probability of transmission to cattle, sheep, goats and humans consuming infected meats -- and crops, from corn to cabbages, contaminated by infected deer feces and urine -- is considerable. Concerted action is called for at this time to prevent such a potentially catastrophic eventuality.
The leading wildlife biologists cited by Todd Wilkinson in his Dec. 11, 2017, Mountain Journal article on the topic are unanimous in recognizing the role of predators in controlling CWD. Predators’ systematic extermination over the past two centuries, especially by the livestock industry, has facilitated the spread of this disease across the U.S. and Canada. In the article, Kevin Van Tighem, a hunter and former superintendent in Banff National Park in Alberta’s Canadian Rockies, opines: “I don’t know of a single credible biologist who would argue that wolves, along with other predators and scavengers, aren’t important tools in devising sound strategies for dealing with CWD.” Van Tighem says it can be rationally argued that wolves provide the best line of defense, since they are confronting infected animals.
So those states blessed with viable wolf and cougar populations need to recognize the role of these predators in ecosystem management. They should protect such large carnivores from human predation, and maintain maximal numbers to optimize deer and elk herd health -- rather than removing the wolf from federal protection as an endangered species to allow trophy hunting, trapping and snaring.
DEAR DR. FOX: I was wondering if you have any info on how to deal with or treat our large Chihuahua that had a seizure for the first time last Sunday.
He is about 3 years old, a little on the heavy side. Our veterinarian asked us to record any seizures, time and length, but did not prescribe any medication. The dog seemed to have no side effects, and he seems pretty much his normal self.
Any suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. -- K.K., Collins, Missouri
DEAR K.K.: You have a good veterinarian, not jumping the gun on anti-seizure medication, which can have harmful long-term side effects.
There are many reasons why dogs suddenly start having seizures. In some instances, it is an isolated event. Over-excitement, intestinal parasites, adverse reaction to vaccination or anti-flea medication are all known causes, but many instances are idiopathic, meaning “of unknown origin.”
In a Chihuahua, I would suspect a possible cranial abnormality, even low-grade hydrocephalus, as another possible cause for which there is no easy remedy. Many holistic veterinarians are concerned about synthetic chemical food additives and various ingredients that may trigger seizures, and join me in advocating an organic, whole-food diet that specifically avoids wheat and chemical dyes and preservatives. Try my dog food recipe, posted on my website (drfoxvet.net).
STATES CONSIDER CREATING ANIMAL-ABUSE REGISTRIES
Abuse of animals can be a sign a perpetrator will go on to harm humans, and that’s one reason New York and a number of other states are looking at laws that would create animal-abuse registries. The databases would be used to prevent those with an animal-abuse conviction from adopting or purchasing animals in the future. (WIBW-TV, Topeka, Kansas/Associated Press, Feb. 26)
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
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