Animal Health

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1992:

* Over a year and a half after the mid-
Atlantic raccoon rabies pandemic hit south-
eastern Connecticut and was expected to
spread throughout New England, confirmed
outbreaks have yet to hit Massachusetts,
Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. All
four states have had only the usual handful of
rabies cases, mostly involving bats and foxes.
Bat rabies has been endemic in parts of New
England for decades, while outbreaks of fox
rabies have been sporadic along the Canadian
border at least since the 1950s. While some
rabid raccoons have been found in northern
New England during the past year, they are
not known to have carried the mid-Atlantic
strain of the disease, and there is no evidence
that the forms they appeared to have are wide-
ly distributed in the raccoon population.

Preparing nonetheless, New Hampshire and
Massachusetts now require that all cats must
be vaccinated against rabies, while Vermont
is expected to pass similar legislation soon.
Meanwhile, Vermont Republican senatorial
candidate John Gropper seized upon the rabies
panic as pretext for wearing a 9-millimeter
pistol during campaign appearances, at which
he railed against gun control. After quipsters
suggested that frothing at the mouth might not
be restricted to rabid animals, Gropper even-
tually exchanged the pistol for an umbrella.
* Investigators are still trying to figure
out why unidentified diseases possibly spread
by streptococci bacteria afflicted greyhounds
and racehorses throughout New England last
summer. Seven nearby states barred the
import of greyhounds and horses from the
affected region after 13 dogs died and 1,100
others fell seriously ill at the Plainfield
Greyhound Park in Connecticut. Many of the
dogs had been allegedly forced to race despite
signs of illness. Only two horses died, one at
Rockingham Park in New Hampshire and the
other at Suffolk Downs, Mass., but at least
200 others stabled at the same facilities got the
disease. Oddly, however, the disease did not
spread to the track at nearby Foxboro, N.H.
A similar viral infection that apparently didn’t
include the killer component meanwhile hit an
estimated 150 dogs at Lincoln Park in Rhode
Island. Nineteen similar cases at the
Pensacola Greyhound Track in Florida were
the result of trainers neglecting vaccinations,
according to the Fla. Dept. of Business
* Veterinary opthalmologist Margi
Gilmour of the Coral Springs Animal
Hospital in Coral Springs, Fla., donated her
skills in mid-August to give vision to a three-
year-old baboon who had been blinded by
cataracts. Fellow veterinarian Terri Parrott of
the nearby Pembroke Park Animal Clinic took
in the baboon, who still needs a good home,
after she was abandoned by a man who had
dressed her in human clothes and kept her as a
* The College of Veterinary Medicine at
Washington State University in Pullman,
Wash., is seeking funding for a $2.2 million
Center for the Study of Animal Well-being.
According to Dr. Borje Gustafsson, dean of
the WSU veterinary college, the center will
investigate the relationship of animal health to
“production and performance under varying
environmental conditions.” Exactly how such
research would be conducted has not been
specified, but WSU is among the U.S. leaders
in providing alternatives to the use of healthy
animals in practice surgery.
* Cornell University researcher
Katherine Houpt has discovered that cats
who eat tuna are less active and take longer to
eat than beef eaters. Houpt also “found higher
concentrations of mercury in the brains of
tuna-eating cats,” she reported, “suggesting
that mercury in the feline brains leads to slug-
* “More than 300 hereditary canine dis-
eases are known, and about 10 new ones are
discovered each year,” according to P u p p y
R e p o r t author Larry Shook. He blames
inbreeding for making such diseases epidemic
in at least 50 breeds, which account for 86%
of all puppies registered by the American
Kennel Club.
* Critikon Inc., of Tampa, Florida, has
introduced the first pressure-cuff machine for
checking the blood pressure of cats, dogs,
and horses. The machine, Dinamap, costs
$2,975, so your local veterinarian may not get
one for a while yet. But then, Resusci-Rover,
an electronic manequin for teaching canine
CPR, costs $875. The Palm Beach County
chapter of the American Red Cross reported
that Resusci-Rover courses were among its
most popular activities, until Hurricane
Andrew rearranged the schedule.
* Hill’s, a division of Colgate-Palmolive,
is now marketing a syringe-administered food
called Prescription Diet for pets who are tem-
porarily kept from eating by injury or ill-
ness—an estimated 1.5 million animals per
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