Sunday, February 3, 2013

The usefulness and danger of herbal medicine.

This is just a short post to draw attention to an excellent post by Edzard Ernst discussing the pitfalls of traditionally practiced herbal medicine. The only thing I would like to add is that the evidence for effectiveness and knowledge of potential toxicity is even less well known in animals than in humans. Especially in cats, which over the course of their evolution as obligate carnivores have lost some of the enzymes most other animals use to metabolize plant compounds.

 As the research Dr. Ernst discusses demonstrates, traditional methods of individualized herbal treatment simply do not work, and should be avoided. The risks of toxicity, interaction and contamination are much higher than the basically random chance of benefit. This risk/benefit ratio is likely even more negative when treating animals, for which there is little to no strong evidence of efficacy, and potentially a higher risk, especially in cats of harm.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rabies case in Florida

A sad story from Florida illustrating the importance of keeping Rabies vaccinations up to date. The dog involved in this case had not been vaccinated in 7 years, and contracted Rabies after being exposed to a raccoon. Two other dogs in the house were apparently not currently vaccinated and had to be euthanized, and the entire family is undergoing post-exposure treatment for Rabies. Some folks insist that a single Rabies vaccine is effective for life-this case illustrates (along with other evidence of declining immunity after 3-4 years) that that idea is potentially disastrously wrong. While it is worth studying the duration of immunity conferred from rabies vaccines, and the 3 year requirement may be somewhat arbitrary, immunity does decline over time, and modern rabies vaccines are a very safe, inexpensive form of protection against a deadly disease. It is not safe to assume that all vaccines are equally effective, and individual and breed variations in response to vaccination mean that while some dogs may have immunity for many years, others need more frequent boosters. This individual variation is the reason for the common 3 year booster requirement for dogs-while some dogs have immunity that lasts longer than this, some will start to lose protective immunity around this time.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How to investigate wildlife (or cryptozoology) sightings.

In light of the recent Jaguar sighting in southern Arizona, I thought it was interesting to get this email from the Arizona Game and Fish Department on how they investigate reports of rare and/or endangered species. Note that eyewitness sightings need to be corroborated with other forms of evidence for such sightings to be officially confirmed. Good quality photographs or video, or other physical evidence are required to confirm these sightings. It is interesting that animals as small as domestic cats are often mistaken for lager cats, and that reports from the public go up dramatically after a sighting, confirmed or not, is reported in the media.
(Click on the email for a larger view)