Prescription drugs for humans topped the ASPCA’s report on the top 10 pet poisons in 2013, ranked by call volume to the organization’s Animal Poison Control Center. Insecticides took second place, followed by over-the-counter drugs for humans; household products; human food (such as onions, garlic, grapes and the sugar substitute xylitol); veterinary products and drugs; chocolate; mouse and rat poison; plants and lawn and garden products. Additional items appeared on a list compiled by Trupanion, which noted the dangers of caffeine, antifreeze, yeast dough and other things found around the home. KING-TV (Seattle)/The Pet Dish blog (3/23)
Teams are assessing damage and caring for oiled birds as experts warn of the ecological effects from Saturday’s 168,000-gallon oil spill into Galveston Bay. The spill, while much smaller than the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, occurred close to the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary — an important site for avian and other species — during migration. Houston Audubon volunteers are shooting loud guns in an attempt to keep birds away from the Bolivar Peninsula. Oil harms birds by degrading their waterproofing oils, which increases their vulnerability to cold. In addition, birds ingest the oil when grooming, which can cause internal problems. National Geographic News (free registration) (3/24)
Removing animals infected with Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease selected for a more difficult-to-detect variant, according to research by Australian scientists. “Devils were removed from the population as soon as lesions appeared; however, cancers that grew more slowly avoided detection, remained in the population and became increasingly prevalent,” said Beata Ujvari, whose research on the topic was published in the journal Evolutionary Applications. Ujvari noted that the study may have implications for cancer research in humans, who may increasingly develop drug-resistant tetraploid tumors selected for by chemotherapy. ABC (Australia) (3/17)
Twenty-five years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, sea otter and salmon populations have rebounded, but other species, including shrimp, crab, herring and the pigeon guillemot, have not. Alyeska Pipeline Service now requires double-hulled tankers to carry North Slope oil, and they must be escorted by tugs. Alyeska conducts two major spill drills a year. Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas)/The Associated Press (3/20)
An 8-day-old female gorilla who was delivered by cesarean section at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has significantly improved after surgery for a collapsed lung and treatment with antibiotics for pneumonia. “She’s getting a lot of calories and you can see that she changes every day,” said veterinarian Nadine Lamberski, the park’s associate director of veterinary services. The mother, who experienced a difficult labor, has rejoined the other gorillas. Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model)/L.A. Now blog (3/19)
The recent death of Jinyi, a 7-year-old female panda at the Zhengzhou Zoo in China, was associated with several bacterial species as well as toxoplasmosis, marking the first time toxoplasmosis has been documented in a panda. Tissue samples from Jinyi were evaluated at the Veterinary Institute of the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in northeastern China. The infections likely caused the vomiting and gastrointestinal bleeding experienced by the animal, leading to her death from heart and lung failure. Asia News Network/China Daily (3/14)
Note: cats are usually the source of the toxoplasmosis and I would speculate there are feral cats in the area.
Washington State University’s animal disease lab confirmed the presence of infectious bursal disease virus in a Washington state poultry flock, marking the first time the virus has been found in the U.S. outside of California. Birds 3 to 6 weeks old are most susceptible and develop lethargy, diarrhea and immune suppression, which renders them prone to other infections. The virus has a 25% to 30% mortality rate among flocks and raises concerns for producers, who can protect animals with vaccination, but it doesn’t pose a threat to human health, according to officials. The Oregonian (Portland)/The Associated Press (3/15)