DEAR READERS: From my daily inbox, I select various animal, environmental and public health reports from scientists around the world. Here are some recent ones that I hope you will appreciate.
-- Two puppies, one 15 weeks old and the other 6 months, are being treated for salmon poisoning disease at Washington's Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County. The disease is caused by eating raw fish infected with a parasite that hosts pathogenic bacteria. While rare, the disease is nearly always fatal if left untreated. (Full story: KIRO-TV Seattle, March 22)
-- A highly virulent form of toxoplasmosis -- caused by COUG, a strain of the microscopic parasite Toxoplasma gondii -- caused the deaths of four California otters, researchers reported in Frontiers in Marine Science. The otters were found in separate locations between 2020 and 2022. COUG, which had never been detected anywhere near the California coast before, was first discovered in Canadian mountain lions in 1995. Veterinarian Devinn Sinnott, a co-author of the study, says the findings raise concerns about the potential effects on this threatened species, as well as the health of other animals that are susceptible to Toxoplasma parasites. (Full story: The Hill, March 22)
-- Kaytee Products recalled one lot of Birders' Blend wild bird feed in 8-pound bags due to potentially high levels of aflatoxin, which can harm birds if consumed in large amounts. (Full story: PetAge.com, March 21)
-- Pet food recalls often begin relatively small, only to be expanded shortly thereafter. Three examples: On Feb. 8, Purina issued a recall for their Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets EL Elemental Dry Dog Food due to excess vitamin D. More than a month later, Purina expanded the recall. On March 3, 2021, Bravo Packing issued a recall for All Performance Dog and Ground Beef Raw Pet Food due to salmonella contamination, then expanded the recall two weeks later. And on Dec. 30, 2020, Midwestern Pet Food issued a recall for multiple brands due to aflatoxin contamination, then expanded the recall about two weeks later.
For details on this troubling practice, read "Expanded Recall: A Twofold Failure" truthaboutpetfood.com/expanded-recall-a-twofold-failure.
-- The first cases of a new disease caused solely by eating plastics has been discovered in wild seabirds, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials. Researchers examined the stomachs of young flesh-footed shearwaters in Australia and found that the more plastic the birds had ingested, the more scarring they had in their digestive tracts. The disease, which the researchers named plasticosis, could make the birds more vulnerable to infection and hinder their digestion. "While these birds can look healthy on the outside, they're not doing well on the inside," says study co-author and ecologist Dr. Alex Bond. (Full story: The Guardian, March 3)
DEAR DR. FOX: Your essay on our relationships with animals was outstanding! Thank you so much for clearly communicating the understanding that having a compassionate and respectful relationship with all living things makes us better humans. I will be sharing this far and wide! -- L.B., La Conner, Washington
DEAR L.B.: I appreciate your kind words. I write from the heart to help improve people's understanding and respect for all creatures great and small. You might enjoy my book "Animals and Nature First" and some of the essays under "Ethical Issues" and "Spiritual Issues" posted on my website (drfoxonehealth.com).
Public attitudes toward other animals are significantly improving, along with the realization that many species are close to extinction because of us. In my many decades of advocating reverential respect for all sentient beings and presenting scientific evidence of the intelligence and emotions of many species, the main opposition that I have faced has come from individuals who simply did not want to know about the true nature of the animals they were exploiting.
(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.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)