DEAR DR. FOX: I would appreciate knowing your opinion about Purina’s new additive in cat food that can help make people less allergic to their cats. It sounds too good to be true! -- S.T., Boston
DEAR S.T.: This is what has been posted on this remarkable development in immunology research:
ANTIBODY ADDITION TO THE FELINE DIET MAY NEUTRALIZE POTENT ALLERGEN
Research from Purina reported in Immunity, Inflammation and Disease suggests it is possible to safely neutralize the “Fel d1” allergen in cat saliva by integrating an antibody to the substance into the feline diet. The company says the finding could enable control of allergies among humans who have contact with cats.
“Taking advantage of natural allergen-antibody interactions, Purina researchers discovered how to safely neutralize Fel d1 in hair and dander by incorporating an egg product containing anti-Fel d1 antibodies into a cat’s diet. Ultimately, this will reduce active Fel d1 levels in the environment. This approach maintains normal allergen production by the cat, without affecting the cat’s overall physiology,” Purina shared in a statement.
”These allergens have created a huge barrier to cat ownership and may limit the loving interactions between cat lovers and cats,” immunologist Dr. Ebenezer Satyaraj, Director of Molecular Nutrition at Purina and lead investigator on the research, said in a statement. “Our discovery has the potential to transform how people manage cat allergens.” (People, June 17)
I would say to all cat “dander” allergy-sufferers to first wipe their cats down morning and night with a moist sponge; vacuum all areas where the cat has been every 3-7 days and change your air filter regularly. Some exposure to these feline allergens can actually lead to desensitization.
Also, there are some cats whose dried saliva presumably does not contain this allergen because they do not affect people who are extremely allergic to cats. Purina’s research is groundbreaking, but sometimes the ground is best not broken. Some cats are allergic to eggs, and therefore might have negative reactions to the ”egg product” used in this research. I hope this new biologic product will cause no harm, and save many cats from having to be abandoned.
DEAR DR. FOX, I am concerned about my cats who get outdoors on occasion, picking up fleas. I hear that the fleas can cause an infection that leads to anemia.
What do you advise? -- R.E., Arlington, Virginia
DEAR R.E.: Feline hemotrophic mycoplasmosis (FHM) is the name of a relatively uncommon infection of cats. In the past, this disease was called feline infectious anemia, or hemobartonellosis.
This bacterial disease, transmitted by biting fleas, causes destruction of the infected red blood cells, resulting in anemia. Indoor-outdoor cats are more likely to be exposed and bring this and other infections home, which could infect other family members, human and non-human.
TICK-BORNE BOBCAT FEVER SPREADING AMONG DOMESTIC CATS IN OKLAHOMA
Bobcat fever, caused by a blood parasite carried by Lone Star ticks, is usually fatal to domestic cats and is spreading in Oklahoma, says veterinarian David Biles. Early signs include lethargy and lack of appetite, progressing to fever and rapid breathing. Treatment is most effective when the disease is at an early stage, Dr. Biles says. (KFOR-TV, Oklahoma City, June 3)
With the climate crisis in full swing, conditions are favorable for the spread of ticks and associated diseases across the states. Local public health authorities need to set laws prohibiting cat owners from allowing their cats to roam free in order to reduce the chances of such cats bringing ticks and diseases transmissible to humans into their homes.
A bite from the Lone Star tick can cause people to develop an allergy to certain types of meat, including beef and pork. The Lone Star tick has been implicated in initiating the red meat allergy in the U.S. This tick is found predominantly in the Southeast, from Texas, to Iowa, but has also been found as far north as New England. This tick does not transmit Lyme disease, but can cause southern tick-associated rash illness. The rash may sometimes be accompanied by fatigue, headache, fever and muscle pains.
(Send all mail to email@example.com 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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