DEAR DR. FOX: I live in Cottage Grove, Oregon, surrounded by farmed forests that lately have been sprayed with large amounts of herbicides. Since 2014, we have had sprays a mile away drift onto our property or come down in the rain. I see the effects on our plants in the spring and fall.
I saw your article on chronic wasting disease and wondered if my goats have this sickness. This spring, two goats in my herd have lost a lot of weight and are moving very slowly. They are older -- one is 11 years old and the other is 8 -- but goats this age can still be very healthy.
I suspect they have CWD. Should I take one to the university vet for testing? How does one test for this? -- K.G., Cottage Grove, Oregon
DEAR K.G.: Chronic wasting disease from deer is reportedly not transmissible to goats. For details, visit aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/nvap/NVAP-Reference-Guide/Control-and-Eradication/Chronic-Wasting-Disease.
But the herbicide (and possible insecticide) drift from the nearby managed forests could be affecting the population of beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms in your goats' digestive systems, causing them some dysbiosis. Infusing them with boluses of regurgitated food from healthy, nonexposed goats may help.
If I were you, I would determine exactly what chemicals were sprayed near your property, then contact the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University. I will send you several reference citations that may be helpful.
K.G. REPLIES: Sadly, the older goat died. She had been fine two months ago; her symptoms began after I started noticing damage on plants again this spring. I did contact the Oregon State vet clinic, and they suggested I send the animal's head to the diagnostic lab for analysis. I will keep you posted on what they find.
Unfortunately, the forestry management group lists many herbicides they might possibly use, but they don't tell us which ones they actually use. In the past, they have used glyphosate, clopyralid, hexazinone and many others. They often mix them.
I have grown food for over 25 years, and three separate times, neighbors in different areas applied herbicides with backpack sprayers in their own yards. Each time, a couple weeks later, my garden suffered. I know what it looks like; I have years of photos I have taken of the damage on plants. It truly is heartbreaking to see the damage on trees and plants, both cultivated and wild.
Now, living here in the country, I see it every year since 2014, when the first spray helicopter flew over our home to a spray site a mile away. We all became sick with vomiting, and about two weeks later, the plants looked sickly. They have since sprayed off and on in the spring and fall, and I hear they are about to start using drones.
We formed these groups to try to change forestry practices: freedomfromaerialherbicides.org and protectlanecountywatersheds.org.
A CARING COVENANT FOR ALL CAT OWNERS
For cats' health and welfare, for the protection of wildlife and of public health, every municipality should have an Owned Cat Ordinance forbidding all such cats from roaming free off their owners' property. This would be a reasonable, responsible covenant for all who care for cats.
Per a new law in the U.K., all cat owners must have their cats microchipped by June 10, 2024. Owners found not to have complied will have 21 days to have a chip implanted, or otherwise face a fine of up to 500 pounds. For more, visit www.gov.uk/government/news/treasured-pets-now-safer-as-microchipping-for-cats-becomes-compulsory.
This mandatory microchipping is a small step, and should be followed by advocating for legislation for the containment of all owned cats. The multiple risks and potential harms of free-roaming cats far outweigh any proclaimed behavioral/psychological benefits for such cats.
(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.)