Louise Pasteur, a Frenchman who was neither a physician nor a veterinarian moved into the spotlight to help find a vaccine for Rabies. He began the study of Rabies when two rabid dogs were brought into his laboratory. One of the dogs suffered from the dumb form of the disease: his lower jaw hung down, he foamed at the mouth, and his eyes had a rather vacant look. The other dog was furious: he snapped, bit any object held out to him, and let out frightening howls (McCoy 65).
Through the studies already observed, rabies was transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal, and that the incubation period varied from a few days to several months. Beyond this, nothing definite was known. Then M. Bouley, a professor of veterinary science, noted a germ or organism in the saliva of a rabid dog. Pasteur confirmed Bouley’s findings by collecting some mucus from a child bitten by a rapid dog, and injecting it into rabbits. The results of this experiment ended with all the rabbits dying within 36 hours. This experiment established two facts: an organism was present in the saliva of rabid animals, and it could be transmitted to another animal or a human being through a bite (McCoy 66).
Further research led Pasteur to the conclusion that the rabies organism was located in other parts of the infected animal’s body besides its saliva. Experiments on the skulls of rabid dogs shoed that the brain contained the rabies virus. Pasture then cultured some viruses from several rabid dogs’ brains. The virus was then injected into rabbits. In every case the rabies would appear within 14 days (McCoy 67).
After several experiments, Pasteur went on to perfect a rabies vaccine. He first demonstrated to physicians and veterinarians that the rabies could be cultured from the brains of living dogs. Pasteur successfully proved that his antirabies vaccine could now be safely administered and animals could be vaccinated against the disease.
Once the vaccine was perfected, Pasteur turned the task of finding a vaccine for human patients. After considerable research and patients, Pasteur eventually developed a human vaccine against rabies. The vaccine would be given through a system of inculcations and would prevent the disease in a patient recently bitten by a rapid dog (McCoy 67).
This system became known as the Pasteur Treatment for rabies. Although there is still no cure for this disease in animals or humans, the disease can be prevented if the vaccines are given early enough. The most recent update for rabies, is how the vaccination is administered. The vaccine now only has to be given every three years to animals who had already been vaccinated once when they were puppies or kittens.
Coccidiosis is an infection of microscopic parasites called coccidia that invade the intestines of dogs and cats. The most common type of coccidia in dogs is Isospora canis, while cats are most frequently affected by Isospora felis (Vet Centric 1). Coccidiosis rarely affects a healthy dog or cat, but it can lead to gastrointestinal problems and death in sick adult animals. Puppies and kittens also are at risk for serious infection.
Animals that are affected by a coccidia may experience problems such as watery diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, dehydration, anorexia, decreased or absent appetite, abdominal pain, anemia, mental depression, and in severe cases death. To diagnose coccidiosis, a fecal flotation examination identical to the roundworm fecal exam is performed. Coccidia may be difficult to detect because these parasites are much smaller than the roundworm eggs and from all other eggs passed from worms (Vet Centric 1).
Transmission of coccidia begins when coccidia, are passed in the feces from an infected dog or cat into another animals environment, where they can develop and be consumed by another animal. Transmission also can occur when a dog or cat eats a rodent that has been infected with the parasite.
The prognosis for an animal that has a healthy immune system is good. For puppies, kittens, and older animals that have a weak immune system, the prognosis is poor without treatment and death may occur. With treatment, however, the prognosis is good. The key to prevention is proper sanitation and an environment free of feces. Once the parasites pass in the feces, they quickly develop into the infective stage. Mature parasites are very dangerous because they are resistant to most cleaning products and they can survive for months to years. The use of ammonia and steam cleaning also helps kill the infectious parasites. Dogs and cats should not be permitted to eat rodents because of the high probability of them being carriers of the parasites. The treatment of infected canine and feline mothers soon after parturition may help prevent the spread of coccidia to the young (Vet Centric 1).
Right now there are not any medicines that will kill coccidia. But there are medicines called Sulfa drugs, which can inhibit coccidial reproduction. Once the disease stops expanding, it is easier for the patient’s immune system to fight the disease away. This also means, that the time it takes to clear the infection depends on how many coccidia organisms there are to start with and how strong the patient’s immune system is. A typical treatment course lasts about a week or two but the medication should be given until the diarrhea stops plus an extra couple of days. Medication should be given for at least five days total (Vet Centric 2).
Cats can be infected with feline corona virus, a contagious virus that runs the risk of developing feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). Kittens may be more susceptible to developing FIP because their immune systems are less developed, and there may be a genetic predisposition for purebred kittens to get the disease. FIP is a rare and deadly form of a corona virus. In most cases, the corona virus itself is not serious, but FIP is usually fatal. FIP causes the cat’s immune system to attack its own cells, damaging blood vessels throughout the body. Without adequate blood flow, many of the body’s organs can be severely damaged and go into some kind of failure. Once a cat shows signs of FIP they generally die from it quickly (Vet Centic 3).
There are two forms of FIP; both of them are equally life threatening. The effusive, or “wet,” form occurs when fluid is produced in the body. Signs of effusive FIP are a swollen abdomen, fever, weight loss, and breathing difficulties. Clinical signs of the effusive form of FIP can vary, but typically include, depression, anorexia, weight loss, fever, dyspnea, and tachypnea. The second form, which is non-effusive, or “dry,” can lead to neurological disorders such as seizures and brain damage. The signs of non-effusive FIP are similar to effusive FIP with the exception of eye problems, a yellow color to the eyes or skin, and neurological signs such as difficulty walking and seizures.
The clinical signs of non-effusive FIP may include pyrexia, weight loss, depression, anorexia, ocular lesions, icterus, and neurological signs such as ataxia and seizures (Vet Centric 3).
FIP is a frustrating disease to veterinarians and animal owners. It is not yet understood why certain cats with the corona virus develop FIP while others do not. There is no cure or a completely effective vaccine for this fatal illness. There is not even a diagnostic procedure, short of an autopsy, that will determine the presence of FIP; resulting in diagnosis which is based on suspicion and clinical signs.
The FIP virus can be transmitted during grooming, through the ingestion of infected feces, from sneezing, and from close contact with items such as litter boxes and food bowls used by cats with the disease. The virus can survive in the environment in dry conditions for long periods of time. Less commonly, a mother cat can pass on the disease to her unborn kittens through nursing. The way newborn kittens from infected mothers are handled from birth determines whether they will become infected with the corona virus. One to two weeks before delivery, the birthing area should be kept free of cats and should be disinfected with a bleach solution made by adding one part bleach to 31 parts water. If the mother cat tests positive for the corona virus, the newborns should be removed from her at five to six weeks of age to prevent infection; before this time period, they will be protected from the disease by the mother’s antibodies (Vet Centric 3).
To determine if a cat has FIP is never 100% accurate, but the correct way to eliminate other thoughts of diseases is by taking a thorough history, performing a complete physical examination of the cat and taking blood tests that detect abnormalities in body organs, such as the kidney or liver. For cats that have symptoms of effusive FIP, a diagnostic procedure requires taking a sample of the fluid that is building up within the cat’s abdomen and testing this for analysis of the cell types and protein content present within the fluid. For cats that show signs of the dry form of the disease, an organ biopsy of the kidneys and lymph nodes can be taken and sent to a pathologist to look for the microscopic changes that occur in cats with FIP. This procedure is not always recommended because it creates stress that can worsen a sick cat’s condition. At this time, there are no specific diagnostic tests except for an autopsy that can determine whether a cat has FIP. The blood tests that are available simply determine if the cat has been exposed to the corona virus. Exposure to the corona virus, however, does not mean necessarily that the animal has FIP; typically, the corona virus leads to other minor disorders, such as intestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting. It’s hard to differentiate these two diseases because they are so identical in signs and symptoms.
To prevent the spread of FIP, it is suggested to have your cats vaccinated against the virus called Primucell, which is given intranasal (Vet Centric 3). This intranasal offers local protection in the nose and back of the throat, which are common sites of entry for the virus. It is also suggested to not have a multi cat household. The more cats living in your household brings more diseases and chance of FIP in the house. Another prevention is testing cats before breeding them so there is not question of illness. Testing the cats before breeding them will determine if they have the corona virus, which is an indication of FIP.
The treatment for cats with significant clinical signs of FIP is usually unrewarding. Because there is no cure for the virus, treatment must take the form of supportive care. Drugs that suppress the immune system and help decrease the inflammation have been used with limited success.
Feline immunodeficiency virus is a viral infection that causes immune dysfunction. It was first reported in 1965 as a viral infection that was found to be caused by the Feline leukemia Virus (FeLV) (Vet Centric 4).
FeLV is transmitted through intimate contact with an infected cat. The most common entries for infection are bite wounds and nasal cavities. Close contact with a FeLV positive cat can also provide a risk of infection. Kittens may be infected from the mother before birth, or from the mother’s milk. The virus itself is easily disinfected and dies within minutes upon exposure to dry surfaces. FeLV is not transmissible to people or other animals besides cats.
It is estimated that after a single exposure to an infected cat, there is a 10% chance of developing FeLV infection. Fortunately, almost 60% of the time cats that are exposed to FeLV can sometimes fight off early infection before the virus becomes blood borne (Vet Centric 4). There is no cure for FeLV, but there is a vaccine proven to prevent the disease. Most of the medical care is to help reduce illness and maintaining a stable life, which consists of proper nutrition and a calm environment. Since the FeLV virus is somewhat similar to the AIDS virus that humans carry, some of the same drugs are used in cats as well as humans.
The best way to prevent cats from developing feline leukemia is to keep them indoors and away from other cats that could be carrying the virus. If there is another cat in the house that has feline leukemia, do not allow the animals to share litter boxes, water or food bowls.
There are a few types of mange that can occur in both dogs and cats, which are classified according to the type of mite that causes it. The different forms of mange are demodectic, head, and cheyletiella mange. Each form of mange is diagnosed and treated differently, but they are all curable.
Demodectic mange is very common in dogs and extremely rare in cats. It is caused by a mite that lives deep in the hair and pores of the animal’s skin. The infection that occurs in cats is usually mild and localized. Symptoms in the localized form include thinning of the hair, which eventually turns into loss of the hair around the eyes and eyelids. Due to the hair loss, they are given a “moth-eaten appearance”( Carlson and Giffen 100).
Taking skin scrapings and identifying the characteristic mite under a microscope makes the diagnosis for demodectic mange. In treating the mange, Canex or Goodwinol, which are topical preparations can be used in mild cases ( Carlson and Giffen 100). The majority of cases take about three months to heal. However, if the case is persistent, a veterinarian should treat it.
Head mange, which is also called Feline Scabies is a skin ailment caused by the Notoedres cati head mite. It most commonly occurs in older adult male cats and entire litters of kittens. The symptoms include crusty areas on the edge of the ears and face that may begin to continuously spread to other areas such as the head, neck, feet, and perineum. The dominant sign of this form of mange is intense itching that causes hair loss and the appearance of bald spots. The severe itching is caused by female mites that tunnel a few millimeters under the skin to lay eggs, which begin to hatch in five to ten days. After the eggs hatch, the baby mites mature and lay eggs of their own, which causes the process to repeat over and over again until treatment prevents it.
Head mange is extremely contagious. Since it is primarily transmitted through direct animal to animal contact, dogs and people can even be infested by it, but for only short periods because the Notoedres mites can only reproduce on cats. Skin scrapings or skin biopsy can make the diagnosis in difficult cases. In treating the mange, the scabies affected area must be clipped and the cat should be entirely bathed in warm water using shampoo or soap to loosen the crusts on the infected areas. Cortisone is useful to relieve the intense itching. Also, sores that appear from self-mutilation should be treated with a soothing topical ointment ( Carlson and Giffen 100).
Cheyletiella mange (Walking Dandruff) is caused by a large reddish mite that lives on the skin. The mites cause mild itching and a tremendous amount of dry scaly material that literally looks like dandruff. The thickest areas of dandruff appear on the back neck and sides of the dogs and cats. This form of mange is most common in dogs, but in rare cases cats can also contact it. The life cycle of the Cheyletiella mite is similar to the head mange mite and takes four to five weeks before it is over. Walking Dandruff is highly contagious and can also infect humans. The signs include itching and red, raised bumps. Fortunately for cats, the mites can not live for more than two weeks.
Walking Dandruff can be diagnosed by locating the mite in dandruff scrapings collected on paper and viewed under a magnifying glass. Control of the mites is achieved by using the same methods for head mange. Cats should be treated with an insecticide dip once a week for three to four weeks. Also, the premises should be treated with an insecticide ( Carlson and Giffen 101).
Ear mites are highly common in cats and when dogs contact them, it is usually from cats. They are highly contagious from animal to animal. The mites are impossible to see with the naked eye, but they cause a black, waxy, granular that looks like coffee grounds in the ear canal that is very noticeable (Daly 120-121). Dogs don’t usually have a bad smell or discharge in their ears. However, the ear canal becomes very red and inflamed. Due to the irritation, they will continuously shake their heads and scratch their ears.
There are several forms of treatments for ear mites. The ears should be flushed thoroughly to remove the discharge. A drug called Ivermectin can be given orally or subcutaneously to eradicate the infection (Daly 121). Since the mites also live on the hair around the head and neck, flea-control products should be used to kill them and prevent them from reinfecting the ears. There are also natural ways of killing the ear mites. A mixture of one half ounce of almond or olive oil and four hundred IU vitamin E makes a mild healing treatment for both dogs and cats. With this mixture, heat it to room temperature and put about half a dropper full in the ear while massaging the ear canal. Then, gently clean out the opening of the ear with cotton swabs to remove debris. Once the ears are cleaned out, an herbal medicine called Yellow Dock can be used to kill the mites (Pitcairn 264). The ears should be treated once every three to four days for three to four weeks.
Worms are internal parasites that live in the intestines of animals. They are commonly found in animals especially when they are young and tend not to be serious. The most common types of worms that dog and cat contact are roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm, and whipworm.
Roundworms appear in most puppies and kittens. The worms are usually not obvious and must be diagnosed by a veterinarian through a microscopic examination of the feces. The infestations can be light, medium, or heavy. When it is heavy, outer signs such as an enlarged belly, poor weight gain, diarrhea, and vomiting can be spotted. In some cases, whole worms can actually be vomited or passed through the feces, which look like white spaghetti that is several inches long and wiggle when they are voided from the animal (Pitcairn 330).
Hookworm infestations tend to be a serious problem because the worms suck the animal’s blood and cause severe anemia. The loss of blood in the intestines of young animals with severe infestation causes the stool to look black and tar-like (Pitcairn 330). Also, their gums will become pale, which is a sign of anemia, and they will appear weak and thin.
Tapeworms grow in the small intestine. Each worm has a “head” that remains attached to the intestine and dozens of egg-filled segments that break off and pass out with the feces when they are ripe (Pitcairn 330). The segments that are passed out resemble cream-colored maggots and when they are dried out, they look like white rice.
Whipworms are very common, but don’t usually cause any symptoms. The only symptom that tends to occur is persistent, watery diarrhea, which usually means there is something wrong with the animal’s immune system.
There treatments for each kind of worm that infests an animal’s body. For roundworm, Cina 3X, which is a wormseed, can be given one tablet at a time three times a day for at least three weeks. To help pass out the worms, a half to two teaspoons (depending on the animals size) of wheat or oat bran can be added to their daily meals. In treating tapeworms, a variety of worm discouragers can be added to the animal’s food such as pumpkin seeds (1/4 to 1 tsp), wheat-germ oil (1/4 to 1 tsp), and vegetable enzymes (1/4 to 1 tsp) such as figs and papaya. Also, Filix mas 3X, an herbal remedy, can be given one tablet at a time three times a day.
Carlson, Delbert and Giffen, Jamies. “Cat owners home veterinary Handbook.” New york,NY: Howell Book House Inc., 1986
daly, carol. caring for your sick cat.
Fairgrieve, Midi. the natural way for cats and dogs
Mccoy, J. J The world of the veterinarian.