DEAR READERS: Reporter Dennis Anderson’s article “Preparation the key to fun, safe deer opener” (Star Tribune, Nov. 3) omitted an important public health warning: Deer can be infected with the COVID-19 virus. Perhaps this omission was to avoid causing panic -- or putting a dent in the hunting industry’s profits, if would-be hunters decided to avoid contact with deer and forgo the hunt. Revenue from hunting and fishing licenses supports the state government’s public lands and wildlife management programs.
Either way, there are too many deer in many states, with many animals even entering suburban gardens in search of food. Because deer hunting is needed to control their numbers, it is time to give protection to natural predators -- especially wolves, grizzly bears and mountain lions/cougars -- that will help keep wildlands healthy, whether public, state, federal or private.
Mismanagement of these overabundant, over-browsing, forest-destroying deer has facilitated the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) across the country. The causal agent is a prion that could mutate, like the prion that decimated the U.K.’s beef and dairy industries, and infect livestock and people.
The number of white-tailed deer infected with COVID-19 variants exceeds human infections threefold, while human-to-deer transmission appears to be occurring. Virus circulation in deer is significant because it can spread to livestock and other wildlife. (See these studies: "Accelerated evolution of SARS-CoV-2 in free-ranging white-tailed deer" by Dillon McBride et al, published in August in Nature Communications; and "Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in free-ranging white-tailed deer in the United States" by Aijing Feng et al, published in July in Nature Communications.)
An analysis of wild white-tailed deer by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service determined that SARS-CoV-2 variants appeared to perpetuate in the deer and be exchanged back and forth with humans, in some cases.
All deer hunters, in every state and regardless of vaccination status, need to be mindful of the risks involved in dismembering their kills. All involved in handling the meat should consider wearing protective gloves and masks.
GOOD NEWS FOR HORSES
The practice of soring, or deliberately inflicting pain on horses to force an exaggerated gait, has been illegal in the U.S. for five decades, but some trainers exploit loopholes in the law's enforcement. A proposed rule from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is intended to eliminate such loopholes. The comment period for the proposed rule ended on Oct. 20, bringing it one step closer to passing.
The AVMA and the American Association of Equine Practitioners condemn the practice of soring and support the proposed changes. (Full story: AVMA.org, Oct. 19)
DEAR DR. FOX: I wanted to share the horrors we went through with our cat for the past three weeks.
We first noticed drainage coming out of her right nostril. It was mostly clear, and she was sneezing quite a bit. We took her to our vet, and they thought she had an upper respiratory infection. We gave her antibiotics and went on our way.
One week later, the drainage had increased and turned bloody, and her appetite was starting to decrease. We called the vet again, and they had us pick up another antibiotic/immune system boost to add to her food.
That Sunday, she stopped eating, stopped drinking and began isolating herself. She was not going to the bathroom as much. At that point, nothing was helping. She was dying, and we knew it.
I kept crying, trying to think of anything we had done differently around the house that might have triggered all this, and that’s when it hit me: About a month ago, my husband had found some good-smelling plug-in fragrance diffusers. I immediately unplugged them, opened the windows and turned on some fans.
By that evening, our cat was able to walk to us. The next morning, she woke me up at 4:45 a.m., meowing and hungry. Her nasal drainage had stopped, she was eating, her balance was improving and she wanted attention.
After further investigation, we learned that several of these diffusers are toxic to animals, and that they cause more severe reactions in cats because they are at nose level to them. -- A.T., Washington, D.C.
DEAR A.T.: Thank you for your story, which I will post. I think many of these products can trigger asthmatic reactions and nasal sinus issues in cats and their human companions. I see so many being advertised on TV and just shake my head in disbelief.
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