AR-News: (US) Michigan Dept. of Ag. confirms first ever canine case
of West Nile Virus
Snugglezzz at aol.com
Snugglezzz at aol.com
Fri Aug 29 16:27:46 EDT 2003
Michigan Department of Agriculture confirms first ever canine case of West Nile virus
By Patrick Center
(Lowell, August 28, 2003, 6:16 p.m.)It is the first ever confirmed canine case of west Nile in Michigan, and it could be the first canine case in the U.S. this year. Last year, seven dogs came down with west Nile. While it is rare, dog owners can protect their pooch from the deadly virus.
"Nikki is what they call a Field, Red Irish Setter," explains dog owner, Carole Mueller-Brumbaugh of Grattan Township, "She's ten years old and a one time champion show dog. So she's just a wonderful pet and a very, very dear family member." But after sleeping hours on end and refusing to eat, this family member began showing signs she was terribly sick. "Because she started to walk crooked and she was dragging her right side," said Mueller-Brumbaugh, "We thought she might have had a stroke?"
The Irish Setter was brought to the Animal Hospital of Lowell for testing. The result of the test revealed Nikki had not suffered a stroke. Instead, this dog was suffering from Michigan's first ever confirmed case of west Nile virus.
We've learned not all dogs will show signs of illness, but symptomatic dogs, like Nikki, will exhibit neuralgic disorders, "Where they lose control of the hind end walking like they're drunk," explained veterinarian Bruce Langlois, D.V.M., "To paralysis, to seizures, muscle tremors, things like that." Presently, there is no vaccine for dogs or a specific treatment said Langlois, "So it's symptomatic treatment and basically it's high doses of anti-inflamatories to reduce the inflammation in the spinal chord."
Mueller-Brumbaugh says she has done everything possible to protect Nikki from mosquitos spreading the virus. She's even applied repellents with the most effective ingredients, "I spray us both down with Deet and she uses all the precautions, but you can't protect yourself all the time." Vets like Langlois tell us the only approved protection for dogs is a product called K-9 Advantix, "It comes in a little tube like oil that you spread along the back of the dog. They absorb it and it does a real good job of keeping the mosquitos off and it lasts for a month." The price? About $10 per treatment.
Langlois also advises dog owners protect their pooch by limiting exposure to mosquitos. He recommends bringing dogs indoors from dusk 'til dawn. As for Nikki, the doctor says she'll make a full recovery.
West Nile animal vaccine gives hope for humans
By Patrick Center
(Grand Rapids, August 8, 2003, 7:54 p.m.) The West Nile virus is spreading faster than health officials expected. In the last week, the number of human cases in the U.S. has tripled and that's why research is underway to create a human vaccine.
The West Nile virus is spreading faster than health officials expected. In the last week, the number of human cases in the U.S. has tripled to 164 in 16 states. Michigan and many east coast states remain unscathed. Why? Some will argue that four years of attempts to control the spread are paying off. The use of larvacides in ponds killing mosquito populations could be one reason. Then there's a better educated population, residents protecting spraying their bare skin with mosquito repellents or protecting their skin with long sleeve shirts and pants.
These measures work well, but won't stop the virus completely. That's why there is research underway to create a human vaccine. That vaccine will most likely be based on a vaccine currently being used to protect zoo animals. The vaccine was first introduced to birds housed at the Houston Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Now most zoos use the vaccine, including Grand Rapids' John Ball Zoo.
Richard Bennett is Veterinarian for John Ball Zoo, "It's been shown to be pretty effective." "This is provisionally approved," admits Bennett, "It isn't totally approved yet." Even so, after using the vaccine for one year, few animals have dies from the WNV.
"The fact that there's a vaccine that can be effective in animals gives us hope that we can develop a vaccine for humans," said David Baumgartner of Saint Mary's Medical Center. He explained developing any vaccine takes time. Pharmaceutical companies balance the need versus the potential for dangerous side effects. It could take years to approve and market a West Nile vaccine for humans, and by then, there may not be much of a need at all?
A question we asked after taking a closer look at Center for Disease Control maps detailing the areas hardest hit by WNV. Last year the bulk of outbreaks and fatalities were concentrated along the east coast, through the midwest and into the deep south. There were cases out west but not many. This year Colorado is a hot spot for human cases, while along the east coast where the virus originated four years ago, there are none. "So you would expect in areas where the virus has been around for a while, fewer people are going to be susceptible to it," concluded Baumgartner. But why?
Baumgartner said it's nature at work, our bodies adapt, "We know that most people who get infected with the virus don't get sick, but build up immunity to it." The population in Colorado has had little time to build up immunity. Dr. Bennett said we should all keep this in mind, too, "A virus doesn't want to kill its host because now it has no place to live."
Still, both Bennett and Baumgartner agree there is a need for a vaccine to protect Americans most susceptible, those with immune deficiencies and the elderly. A need that could take years to fill.
More information about the AR-News