DEAR READERS: Interacting with animals can reduce stress and feelings of isolation, and having a pet may bring additional rewards by serving as a social bridge and encouraging physical activity, says Dr. Jen Brandt, the AVMA's director of member wellbeing initiatives. A recent Twitter chat hosted by the AVMA and the American Psychiatric Association delved into the mental health benefits of pet ownership, including for veterinary and mental health professionals. (Full story: AVMA News, April 11)
IN-HOME CATS, DOGS MAY REDUCE INFANTS' FOOD ALLERGIES
There were some interesting findings in a recent Japanese study entitled "Associations between fetal or infancy pet exposure and food allergies."
The study's conclusion reads as follows:
"This study showed that the association between pet exposure during fetal development or early infancy and the incidence risk of food allergies until the age of 3 years differs depending on the combination of two factors: pet species and allergen type. Dog exposure might reduce the incidence risks of egg, milk and nut allergies; cat exposure might reduce the risks of egg, wheat and soybean allergies; hamster exposure might increase the risk of nut allergy. However, this study was a questionnaire-based survey, and we did not perform an objective assessment. Further studies using oral food challenges are required to more accurately assess the incident of food allergies." (Full story: PLOS One, March 29)
DEAR DR. FOX: I read your column regularly, and I don't even have a pet. Your column is so educational. You state facts. It infuriated me that a reader in March considered what you write "politics."
Your response was perfect, but I'll bet that reader was so blinded by misinformation that he didn't understand it, nor care to try. What a country of people we have turned into. I feel sorry for my kids and grandkids.
Everyone was warned in 2000 that climate events were coming, but naysayers kept coming up with ways to refute the facts. -- J.F., Naples, Florida
DEAR J.F.: Your kind words of support are appreciated. Yes, we should all be concerned about the declining state of the world and of every country -- environmentally, economically and politically, and also in terms of public health standards and wildlife protection. The collision of overpopulation and overconsumption has brought on what I call the Three D's of Disaster: Dystopia, Dysbiosis and Dysphoria.
Author and critic Marya Mannes put it this way: "The Earth we abuse and the living things we kill, will, in the end, take their revenge; for in exploiting their presence we are diminishing our future."
Many feel we are indeed now facing nature's retribution, and the call for humane, ethical planetary care is long overdue. We can no longer afford to live in denial or condone a business-as-usual attitude that jeopardizes the quality of life for the generations to come.
TIME TO END TURKEY HUNTING?
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates 21% of all U.S. hunters (about 2.5 million people) pursue wild turkeys, making it the second-most sought-after game, after deer. The estimated turkey population in Minnesota -- having been restocked with birds from Missouri in the early 1970s -- is around 70,000 birds. In 2022, some 60,000 registered hunters took a total of 13,488 turkeys statewide -- over 19% of the entire population.
According to Wild Birds Unlimited, "an adult turkey is one of the most voracious tick predators around." An individual turkey may eat 200 ticks every day. They also consume earthworms. Considering the rising incidence of tick-borne diseases across the U.S., and the harm to forests caused by invasive European earthworms, would it not be enlightened self-interest to stop hunting these magnificent birds and protect them out of respect and appreciation of their beneficial ecological services?
FUNGUS ALERT: ANOTHER CLIMATE CHANGE CONSEQUENCE?
In 2022, blastomycosis affected four people, one of whom died, and five dogs in the same neighborhood in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, according to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Blastomycosis is caused by the Blastomyces fungus, which thrives in moist soil and decomposing wood and leaves. It is endemic in Wisconsin and in areas around the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys. "Clinicians and veterinarians should consider blastomycosis among patients who have compatible symptoms and live in or have traveled to areas where the Blastomyces fungus is endemic," said CDC epidemiologist Hannah Segaloff. (Full story: HealthDay News, April 3)
With climate change leading to flooding in many states, conditions are becoming more favorable for the proliferation of potentially harmful fungal infections such as blastomycosis.
(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.)