DEAR READERS: Below are two troubling reports from wildlife organizations.
First, from the Center for Biological Diversity, via Newsweek:
“The United States imported more than 30,000 whole bats and bat body parts from China over a recent five-year period, the nonprofit conservation group Center for Biological Diversity told Newsweek. The nonprofit has published a report -- which analyzed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service data -- documenting a ‘massive’ wildlife trade that they say is fueling the risk of global pandemics. The report found that the U.S. imported nearly 23 million whole animals, animal body parts, animal samples and products made from bats, primates and rodents between the years 2010 and 2014 -- the most recent five-year period for which data is available.”
Next, from the World Wide Fund for Nature (known in the U.S. as the World Wildlife Fund): According to the group’s Living Planet 2020 report, there has been an average 68% decline in the world’s mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish since 1970.
SALMONELLA OUTBREAKS LINKED TO EXOTIC PETS
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating salmonella infections in 13 people from eight states, 10 of whom said they had been in contact with a bearded dragon. Also under investigation is an outbreak of another strain of salmonella, which has infected 32 people in 17 states. Twenty-three of the 32 infected people were interviewed, and of those, 16 reported contact with a pet hedgehog. (Full story: CNN, Oct. 1)
DEAR DR. FOX: Here is a follow-up email I received from my vet, after we discussed my K-9 dog Zeke’s bad reaction to Simparica. What do you think about his response? -- Lt. Michael J. Collins, Perry Village Police Department, Perry, Ohio
“Hi Mike, I have discussed this with the Zoetis (manufacturer of Simparica) professional service veterinarian and the other doctors in my group. None of us can make any connection between the bite event and Simparica, nor the GI issues. I wish there were medical facts that we could share with you that would ultimately lead to a cause-and-effect scenario so that this could be properly addressed, but unfortunately, there are none that we know of. ... I am concerned that Zeke is not currently using Simparica because Lyme disease is rampant in NE Ohio. Fall and winter is when the adult blacklegged tick is most active, and the risk right now is at its peak. I would encourage you to be sure to use something monthly. The only real effective tick products on the market today are the once-a-month chewables, all of which are chemically related to sarolaner (Simparica).”
DEAR M.J.C.: Thank you for sharing this letter from your veterinarian, who spoke with someone from Zoetis. The company must have a data file on adverse reactions reported by attending veterinarians and pet owners using Simparica, and it should be opened. Having a list of possible side effects on product packaging is simply not enough. And there are safe and effective alternatives to these products, which your veterinarian should learn about.
INVESTIGATION BRINGS DOWN FLYING SQUIRREL TRAFFICKERS
Acting on a tip from a concerned citizen, wildlife investigators uncovered a flying squirrel-trafficking scheme that involved a dealer in Bushnell, Florida, who claimed that illegally trapped squirrels had been bred in captivity. The man was among seven people charged in the scheme, in which some 3,600 flying squirrels and other protected species were illegally trapped and exported to Asia for the pet trade, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. (Full story: NBC News, Oct. 20)
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DISPELLING BLACK CAT MYTHS
Studies suggest black cats are less likely to be adopted, tend to remain in shelters longer, are perceived as less friendly and tend to evoke superstitions. But pet owners like Tracey Lenac, who runs Black Cat Holistic Rescue, know they can be just as sweet as any other cats. In fact, in some other countries, black cats are thought to be symbols of luck, prosperity, protection -- and even the owner’s ability to attract suitors! (Full story: Psychology Today, Oct. 25)