The fur remover is an excellent gift for cat lovers
New strain of canine distemper virus arrives in North America | Cornell Chronicle
By Patricia Waldron |
A young dog imported from South Korea into western Canada last October brought along a dangerous hitchhiker: the Asia-1 strain of canine distemper virus (CDV), which until then had not been reported in North America.
Scientists at Cornell’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center (AHDC) identified the virus in samples from the dog, which they suspect was part of a shipment of animals rescued from a Korean meat market by an animal welfare organization. Dogs that are already immunized against CDV likely are not at risk from the Asian strain, but if the virus comes into contact with wildlife, it may take a serious toll on wild carnivore populations.
“Well-meaning people are trying to save animals, but when you move animals, you move their infectious disease,” said Edward Dubovi, director of the virology laboratory at the AHDC and a professor of population medicine and diagnostic sciences. “If this particular Asia-1 strain got out into the wildlife population, then it’s here forever, because you can’t get rid of it once it hits wildlife.”
About two weeks after the sick dog’s arrival in Canada, it developed a cough and was lethargic. Ten days later, it developed muscle twitches, then seizures and ultimately was euthanized. The AHDC tested samples collected from the animal; they were negative for canine influenza virus but gave strong positive results for CDV. Genetic analysis by Randall Renshaw, Ph.D. ’92, a research associate at the AHDC, indicated that the virus was nearly identical to the Asia-1 strain of CDV circulating throughout East Asia.
Canine distemper virus is highly contagious and commonly travels between hosts through the aerosols emitted when dogs bark and cough and through urine and feces. The disease starts with respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and pneumonia, and progresses into gastrointestinal illness and neurological problems. Most dogs in the United States receive vaccines for CDV to protect against native North American strains.
Though CDV outbreaks occasionally pop up in animal shelters, the virus persists primarily in wildlife populations, particularly in the Northeast where canine cases of CDV are extremely rare. It circulates among numerous carnivore species, causing die-offs of raccoons, grey foxes, skunks, coyotes, wolves and other animals.
Though Dubovi was unable to find out more information about how the dog arrived in Canada, he expects that it came from a Korean dog meat farm. Animal rescue organizations have worked for years to remove dogs from farms that supply dog meat markets in South Korea and other Asian countries. Due to changing attitudes toward dogs, the demand for dog meat is dropping, which enables animal welfare groups to buy out farms and help farmers to transition to new careers.
Though well-intentioned, these efforts place animals in North America at risk for foreign strains of disease. The United States receives rescued companion animals from all over the world, and any of these animals could be carrying viruses, bacteria and parasites not commonly seen in North America. Animals raised for meat in countries with lax antibiotics regulations are at especially high risk of carrying drug-resistant strains of bacteria.
The canine influenza virus that first appeared in the Chicago area in 2015 was traced back to rescued Korean dogs.
“The genetic analysis clearly linked the virus to recent Korean H3N2 influenza strains,” said Dubovi. “That particular strain of flu had been circulating in Asia, China and Korea for probably 10 years prior to its arrival in the U.S.”
Dubovi estimates that the recent canine influenza outbreak has cost U.S. dog owners up to $75 million nationwide for diagnostic testing and vaccinations.
Keeping new infectious organisms out of the U.S. is challenging because there is virtually no federal oversight of imported companion animals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees only the trade of livestock products to protect U.S. ranching and dairy operations.
For dogs entering the United States and Canada, a rabies certificate is the sole requirement. In some countries, however, people buy fake certificates, as indicated by a handful of rabies-infected dogs that arrived from India, Iraq and Egypt in the last two decades.
Rescue dogs flown in from other countries frequently pass through airports in New York City and Los Angeles. In theory, California and New York could pass regulations for importing companion animals, but these laws would not apply to border crossing in other states.
“It’s a 50-state free-for-all with regard to companion animals,” Dubovi said. “It’s a very unsatisfactory situation if you’re trying to control infectious diseases in our domestic cats and dogs.”
Concerned pet owners could also pressure rescue groups to enact better testing and quarantine protocols when transporting foreign animals to the United States, Dubovi said.
It is not yet known whether the Asia-1 strain of the canine distemper virus has been contained or if it is here to stay in North America. This case is “the canary in the mineshaft,” Dubovi said.
“There’s probably a whole host of other things we haven’t tested for,” he said. “If we aren’t looking for it, we aren’t going to find it until it’s too late.”
Patricia Waldron is a freelance writer for the College of Veterinary Medicine.
17,000,000,000,000 (17 trillion) radioactive shots per second (Bq) of Caesium 137 (Cs-137) is the lower limit of what the UK Environment Agency proposes to allow Sellafield to send out to the Irish Sea per year. The upper limit is 24,000,000,000,000 Bq. Any one of these shots could cause genetic damage leading to life-shortening cancers or other disabilities. This is but one type of radioactive material which Sellafield Nuclear Site is discharging to sea and air, which we are using as an example. The impacts upon fisheries beyond the Irish Sea are made clear by the map, further below. Caesium 137 (Cs-137) discharges to the Irish sea have actually increased by 69% from 2014-2018. Between 2017-2018, alone, they have increased by 33%. The proposed limit would allow an increase in discharge more than five times greater than the current discharge – in violation of the OSPAR convention, as is the increase…
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These animals were destined for the Middle East, where they would be slaughtered while fully conscious, but their nightmare started minutes into their journey. Only moments after departing Romania, the ship began to sink, drowning many who were trapped under water, and crushing thousands more as the vessel lay stricken on its side in the water.
Capsized live export ship – causing unimaginable pain and suffering.
While the crew all escaped unharmed, the sheep were left stranded on board. The fear and panic these animals would have experienced is unimaginable.
After international outcry, welfare groups were finally allowed to return. A dedicated and painstaking rescue effort saw 254 survivors rescued from the wreckage.
Rescued but grievously injured sheep in a lifeboat.
But as the rescue mission wraps up, the future of these sheep remains uncertain.
Help save the survivors from being sent back to a live export ship.
The live export trade is cruel, unnecessary and inherently risk-laden – as this appalling disaster has once again revealed.
For an industry who sees animals as nothing more than ‘cargo’, it is a tragic but familiar scene. Left to sink with the ship, these gentle animals didn’t stand a chance from the moment they were sold into the live export trade.
With your help, we will call for justice for these animals, and hold those responsible to account.
Rescued and terribly injured sheep resting on the dock.
This tragedy occurred only a few months after the Romanian government approved a shipment of thousands of sheep to the Middle East – despite searing summer temperatures that put these animals at risk of cooking alive.
Over 14,000 sheep were trapped and drowned.Cooking alive: The heat these gentle sheep are forced to endure onboard live export ships is unimaginable and excruciating.Deaths onboard ships and trucks are commonplace for the animal victims of the live export trade.
Cooking alive: The heat these gentle sheep are forced to endure onboard live export ships is unimaginable and excruciating.
Every one of the animals who has suffered and died on board this ship, deserves a voice. Because unless this industry is stopped, these ‘ships of death’ will continue to sail, and animals will continue to suffer in the very worst ways imaginable.
For now, we must ensure the surviving sheep are given a life of safety – they’ve endured too much suffering already. Beyond this disaster, our work remains to prevent more animals suffering this cruel fate, or worse, in the live export trade.
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