DEAR READERS: The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the world -- already facing climate, population, refugee and political crises -- into turmoil. I have a detailed review of the pandemic and its effects posted on my website: Visit drfoxonehealth.com and search for "Pandemics: Past, Present and Future Prevention."
Here are some of the references from that article, and additional reports we must all consider as we move toward a better understanding of disease prevention.
-- Wildlife species sold in "wet markets" in China carry an array of potentially zoonotic viruses, at least 18 of which pose a serious threat to humans and domesticated animals, according to a manuscript released on bioRxiv, an "open-access preprint repository," prior to peer review. Researchers identified 71 mammalian viruses across 16 species of game animals commonly consumed as food in China, and found hepatitis E virus and the H9N2 strain of influenza in badgers and civets; noro- and influenza B viruses in pangolins, civets and bamboo rats; a bat-associated coronavirus in a civet; a swine pneumovirus in pangolins and a bird-associated coronavirus in porcupines. (Full story: BNN Bloomberg, Nov. 12)
-- Scientists suspect SARS-CoV-2 originated in an animal, but humans are now the primary reservoir and have probably transmitted the virus to pets, zoo animals, farmed mink and farmed and wild deer. Mice, raccoons, skunks and other animals near a mink farm were found to carry various other coronaviruses, raising concerns that deer will transmit SARS-CoV-2 to other wild species and give rise to recombinant coronaviruses. (Full story: CNN, Nov. 17)
-- Amid the surge in COVID-19 cases late last year, veterinarians in the U.K. saw a higher-than-usual number of dogs and cats with depression, lethargy, poor appetite, abnormal heart rhythm and fluid in the lungs, all of which are signs of myocarditis. The owners of many pets with confirmed myocarditis seen at The Ralph Veterinary Referral Centre had confirmed or suspected COVID-19, and six of 11 animals tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 alpha variant or antibodies to the virus, researchers reported in Veterinary Record. (Full story: NBC News, Nov. 5)
-- Veterinary vaccine maker Zoetis is donating hundreds of doses of an experimental SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, made specifically for animals, to zoos across the country, enabling the facilities to vaccinate big cats, bears, ferrets, mink, primates and other vulnerable animals. Zoo staff and visitors can transmit the virus to animals. Scientists will be gauging the efficacy of the vaccine, which is based on synthetic spike proteins, against emerging variants at more than 80 institutions in 27 states. (Full story: National Geographic, Aug. 20)
-- I do not see the need to vaccinate cats and dogs against COVID-19, since the documented incidence of them dying from it is extremely low. Most have a mild infection or no symptoms at all. Those with comorbidity factors similar to those seen in humans may have more severe infections, but eventually recover. (See relevant study summary at pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34647475.) Since it is humans who are now infecting animals, getting vaccinated and wearing masks in public places to avoid bringing the virus home are the best ways to protect our animal companions.
-- What people eat, and what they feed their animals, can certainly affect their immune systems. Obesity, in particular, can reduce the protective effectiveness of vaccinations. According to Dr. L. Bailey, "among 134,209 inpatients with COVID-19, mortality was more frequent among patients with obesity and diabetes." (See study summary at pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34537362.) And health care workers surveyed by Dr. H. Kim in several countries had a lower incidence and severity of COVID-19 infection if they were vegetarians. (See study summary at nutrition.bmj.com/content/4/1/257.)
Changing our diets to mainly plant-based, organically certified whole foods is the obvious way to go -- for health's sake and for the sake of animals wild and domesticated.
I will end on these sage words: "Each of us can have a positive impact upon these fundamentals by demonstrating and inspiring an enhanced mindfulness, beginning most basically with what we eat and how all of our daily choices and actions may be affecting animals and natural habitats. Ultimately, the survival, not only of other life forms on this planet, but also of our own, will depend upon humanity's ability to recognize the oneness of all that exists and the importance and deeper significance of compassion for all life." -- excerpted from "What the COVID-19 Crisis Is Telling Humanity" by David O. Wiebers and Valery L. Feigin, appearing in the July 2020 volume of Neuroepidemiology
'ONE HEALTH CENTER OF EXCELLENCE' PROPOSED
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has submitted an amendment, listed as SA 4087, to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022. The amendment would help strengthen the security of our nation's public health by:
-- Establishing a One Health Center of Excellence at the FDA to develop programs and enhance strategies to research, monitor, prevent and respond to emerging public health threats, such as zoonotic disease outbreaks;
-- Encouraging the new office to conduct and support research to better understand emerging public health threats, such as zoonotic disease outbreaks, as well as other biological, chemical and radiological threats to public health;
-- Supporting recruitment and training for personnel engaged in such research, monitoring, prevention and response efforts; and
-- Facilitating collaborative relationships with relevant federal and state agencies.
The One Health Commission and the One Health Initiative Autonomous Pro Bono Team support adequate funding for and enactment of legislation aimed at protecting the nation's public health.
(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.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)