Educational Articles

Infectious Diseases

  • Botulism is a rare condition that can cause paralysis in dogs. It is caused by ingesting the botulinum toxin, which is produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum that can grow on raw meat and dead animals. The toxin can cause muscle paralysis and lead to death. It is difficult to diagnose and there is no vaccine available, although an antitoxin is available if the condition is identified before signs develop.

  • Brucellosis is a contagious bacterial infection that can cause a number of reproductive problems, including infertility and abortion in breeding dogs. Male dogs infected with brucellosis develop epididymitis, an infection of the testicle. Female dogs infected with brucellosis develop an infection of the uterus. The infection is usually diagnosed by a blood test (rapid slide agglutination test). Treatment with antibiotics is not significantly effective and infected dogs should be removed from the breeding population. In the United States, brucellosis is a reportable disease.

  • Campylobacter infection or Campylobacterosis is a bacterial intestinal infection cased by Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter upsaliensis. It is a major cause of human bacterial enteritis although it is considered a normal bacterium in the intestinal tract of many animals and birds.

  • Candida albicans is a common environmental fungus that can affect the digestive tracts of birds. It is a common cause of 'sour crop' or a crop infection (ingluvitis), especially in young birds. Candida can be a primary or secondary cause of crop infections. Often, other diseases compromise the bird's immune system and predispose a bird to secondary Candida infection (candidiasis).

  • Capillaria is a small internal parasite, related to intestinal worms. Capillaria, however, can live in a number of areas within the body, including the bladder and respiratory tract. There are multiple species of Capillaria; some species affect cats, some affect dogs, and some can affect both species. These parasites are acquired from the environment, when a cat eats the Capillaria eggs directly or eats an earthworm infected with the parasite. Treatment is simple and effective, though diagnosis can be challenging.

  • Capillaria is a small internal parasite, related to intestinal worms. Capillaria, however, can live in a number of areas within the body, including the bladder and respiratory tract. There are multiple species of Capillaria; some species affect cats, some affect dogs, and some can affect both species. These parasites are acquired from the environment, when a dog eats the Capillaria eggs directly or eats an earthworm infected with the parasite. Treatment is simple and effective, though diagnosis can be challenging.

  • Cat bites are puncture wounds that can cause bacterial infections with Pasteurella multocida that can spread within the tissues or into the blood stream. Any bite should be cleaned immediately and assessed by a physician as soon as possible, as antibiotics are frequently needed to treat infection. Your doctor may recommend vaccination with tetanus or rabies prophylaxis. Your doctor will report any bite to the local health department and your cat will have to undergo a quarantine – the length of which depends on their rabies vaccination status.

  • Cat scratch disease (CSD) is caused by the bacteria, Bartonella that is transmitted by cat fleas and other biting insects. Cats act as reservoirs for the bacteria. Humans are exposed to the bacteria through flea feces contaminating skin lesions or their eyes. Signs include fever, lethargy, enlarged lymph nodes, and lesions on the conjunctiva and skin. The disease is usually self-limiting; however, some people will require antibiotics especially if they are immunocompromised. Tests are available for diagnosis in humans as well as in cats. Strict flea control, good hygiene, keeping your cat indoors, and keeping your cat’s nails trimmed are among the most important ways to try to prevent CSD.

  • The normal lens in the eye of any animal is clear and colorless. A cataract is an increase in the density or opacity of the lens; it is often observed as whiteness within the pupil. Cataracts are often seen in canaries and less often in Amazon Parrots, African Grey Parrots, and Macaws. Cataracts decrease the visual acuity of the bird and may eventually lead to blindness.

  • Chagas disease, also known as American Trypanosomiasis, is an infection that is primarily observed in Latin America. In recent years, however, this infection has been observed at various sites in the Southern United States. Chagas disease is spread by the bite of certain insects, including the Mexican Kissing Beetle and other related insects. The clinical signs of Chagas disease are variable and non-specific. There is currently no consensus on the best method of treatment for Chagas disease.