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Infectious Diseases

  • Giardiasis is an intestinal infection in humans and animals, caused by a microscopic protozoan parasite. The parasite occurs worldwide and is a common cause of "Traveler's Diarrhea" in people. Outdoor enthusiasts who inadvertently consume contaminated water may develop "beaver fever", which is another name for giardiasis in people.

  • Heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis) are a blood-borne parasite that reside in the heart or adjacent large blood vessels of infected animals. Recent studies of cats with heart and respiratory diseases have found an incidence of heartworms that is far greater than previously thought. Veterinarians now strongly recommend that all cats receive year-round monthly heartworm preventives. There are excellent heartworm preventives now available for cats, making prevention of heartworm disease safe and easy.

  • Heartworms are blood-borne parasites that reside in the heart or adjacent large blood vessels of infected animals. There is no drug approved for treating heartworms in cats and surgical removal is generally the best option. Veterinarians now strongly recommend that all cats receive year-round monthly heartworm preventative in areas where mosquitoes are active all year round. Cats that live in colder areas, where mosquitoes are seasonal, should be given monthly preventives for at least six months of the year.

  • Heartworm disease is serious and potentially life-threatening to dogs. Treatment involves several components to combat potential bacterial infection, kill the heartworm larvae (microfilaria), kill the adult heartworms, and then test to confirm successful treatment. Complete rest for a dog undergoing treatment is essential. The prognosis for dogs after heartworm treatment is generally good if the pet owner follows all veterinary recommendations closely.

  • Hepatozoonosis in dogs is caused by ingestion of one of two organisms: H. americanum and H. canis. Both parasites are more common in the southern United States. The clinical sign and treatments for dogs with hepatozoonosis differ depending on the parasite species causing the infection. In either case, with appropriate treatment, the prognosis is generally good.

  • Canine herpesvirus, or canine herpes, is a systemic, often fatal disease of puppies caused by the canine herpes virus. It may remain latent in tissues after a dog is infected and may be passed on to other dogs, particularly to fetuses developing in the mother's uterus. Clinical signs in puppies include difficulty breathing, nasal discharge, anorexia, soft stools, crying, seizures, and sudden death. Symptoms in adult dogs include coughing and sneezing, miscarriage, lesions on the external genitalia, conjunctivitis, and corneal ulcers. The disease may be prevented by avoiding contact with infected dogs. Pregnant dogs should be isolated to prevent infection.

  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR) is an infectious disease caused by feline herpesvirus type-1. It is a major cause of upper respiratory disease in cats and is the most common cause of conjunctivitis. The typical symptoms of FVR involve the nose, throat, and eyes, and include sneezing, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis, excessive blinking, squinting, and discharges from the eyes and nose that range from clear and watery to thick and purulent (containing yellow/green pus). Treatment consists of supportive care, hydration of the environment, and control of secondary bacterial infections with antibiotics and antibiotic eye medications. An effective vaccine exists and is recommended for all cats.

  • Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by histoplasma, a fungus found in moist soils and especially prevalent around the Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, and St. Lawrence Rivers, as well as the southern Great Lakes. Fungal spores are inhaled or ingested and cause infection in many sites including the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, eyes, joints, and spleen. Clinical signs can include fever, lethargy, anorexia, weight loss, coughing or trouble breathing, diarrhea, and straining to defecate. Diagnosis includes routine bloodwork, urinalysis, X-rays antigen testing, and cytology or histopathology. Treatment requires long term anti-fungal medication such as itraconazole. Prognosis is guarded depending on the severity of the symptoms. This disease is transmissible to humans, especially if they are immunocompromised.

  • Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by histoplasma, a fungus found in moist soils and especially prevalent around the Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, and St. Lawrence Rivers, as well as the southern Great Lakes. Fungal spores are inhaled or ingested and cause infection in many sites including the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, eyes, joints, and spleen. Clinical signs can include fever, lethargy, anorexia, weight loss, coughing or trouble breathing, diarrhea, and straining while defecating. Diagnosis includes routine bloodwork, urinalysis, X-rays, antigen testing, and cytology or histopathology. Treatment requires long term anti-fungal medication such as itraconazole. Prognosis is guarded depending on how ill the patient is. This disease is transmissible to humans, especially if they are immunocompromised.

  • Hookworm is a parasitic infection of the gastrointestinal tract of cats. Their name is derived from the hook-like mouthparts they use to anchor themselves to the lining of the intestinal wall. How the infection is spread along with clinical signs, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention are covered in this handout.



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