Monthly Archives: December 2014

Ailing white rhino undergoing treatment at San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s 40-year-old northern white rhino, Nola, is being treated with antibiotics while veterinarians await test results to help determine why she had lost her appetite and was less active recently. Veterinarian Meredith Clancy, who obtained mucus from the animal, says keeping Nola comfortable while waiting for the test results is the staff’s primary concern. Nola is one of five living northern white rhinos. Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model)/L.A. Now blog (12/29)

Possible ground zero for Ebola outbreak identified

A hollow tree in Meliandou, Guinea, may have been where a 2-year-old boy encountered a free-tailed bat and contracted Ebola, touching off the current outbreak in West Africa, according to research published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine on Tuesday. The boy was the first known person with Ebola in this outbreak, and the tree stood meters from the boy’s home until it caught fire and burned down. Villages observed a mass of bats fleeing the tree during the fire. CBS News (12/30)

Prions may be zoonotic

The small-ruminant prion disease scrapie, a neurodegenerative condition similar to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, might cause disease in humans, according to a new study in Nature Communications. In an animal study, the research team found the infectious agents were transmissible and the infectious prions were undistinguishable from those that cause sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Science 2.0 (12/24)

We do have scrapie in our sheep here in the US.

Common Foods We Eat that are Toxic to Pets

Watch your plates! According to the U.S. News and World Report, the following “people” foods are the

most toxic for dogs and cats


Chocolate contains theobromide, a chemical that can damage a dog’s lungs, heart, kidneys and nervous system. Baking chocolate is the most toxic to canines, but owners should avoid feeding their pooch any kind of chocolate.


This is probably surprising to many, but adult cats are lactose intolerant. They can’t break down milk sugar, and thus dairy products can cause dehyIt dration and diarrhea in your felines

Grapes and raisins

It can take just four to five grapes or raisins for your dog to get extremely sick. Small amounts can lead to irreversible kidney damage in most dogs. Take your canine to the vet immediately if it eats grapes, and especially raisins, as the latter are more easy to gobble up quickly in large amounts.

Bones and Fat

Bones and fat usually cause upset stomach, diarrhea and vomiting in cats. Bones are also dangerous for cats because they can lead to choking, or create obstructions and lacerations, in your feline’s digestive tract.

Macadamia Nuts

Not usually fatal, macadamia nuts can still cause severe illness in your dog. A mere handful of these nuts can lead to vomiting, muscle and joint pain, swelling and lethargy.


Any form of onions (raw, cooked, powdered, etc.) is unsafe for your cat. A small amount of this root vegetable can easily cause onion poisoning. Onion poisoning breaks down a cat’s red blood cells, causing anemia, weight loss, lethargy and more.


Similar to onions, a small amount of garlic can quickly cause internal problems in your cat. Feline stomachs are easily upset by garlic, and the ingredient can also cause red-blood- cell damage.


The sugar-free sweetener xylitol found in gum can stimulate a dog’s pancreas to secrete insulin. This effect can lead to low blood sugar and severe liver damage.

Coffee or any drink containing caffeine

A large dose of caffeine is usually fatal to cats. Small amounts of the substance can lead to restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations and tremors. For your cat’s safety, all drinks with caffeine should be kept out of paw’s reach.

Raw Eggs

Cats can get food poisoning from the salmonella or E. coli sometimes found in raw eggs. Additionally, the avidin found in egg whites can prevent your feline’s absorption of vitamin B, leading to skin problems and fur loss.

Wine Etc

The ethanol found in alcohol can cause rapid damage to your dog’s respiratory and central nervous systems. Alcohol is absorbed by the body very quickly, so it is important to call the vet immediately if you believe your canine has imbibed any alcohol.

Yeast dough

Just like in alcohol, yeast dough contains ethanol. Consumption of yeast dough by a dog can result in lethargy, weakness and low body temperature. Immediate medical attention should be sought if your dog ingests any yeast dough.

Where would humans be without chickens?

Andrew Lawler, author of “Why Did the Chicken Cross the World? The Epic Saga of the Bird that Powers Civilization,” sheds light on the humble chicken, which he says has played a more vital role in human history than any other animal — including cats, dogs, cows and pigs. From the dinner table to backyards to infectious disease laboratories, “humans can’t do without chickens,” Lawler said. National Geographic News (free registration) (12/21)

Researchers still hope to save northern white rhino

Only five northern white rhinoceroses remain alive after the recent death of Angalifu at the San Diego Zoo, but the animal left behind genetic material that scientists hope to use to save the species. In one possible scenario, tissue collected from Angalifu would be used to create stem cells and then sperm and eggs for fertilization and implantation in surrogate animals. Other possibilities for the rhinos and other species include using sperm and eggs to create embryos or breeding northern and southern white rhinos, although the result would be a hybrid animal. San Diego Union-Tribune (12/20)