Notebook: June 2023

News briefs from across the industry and beyond. This month’s articles include: CDC Warns of Emerging Threat of Cat-Transmitted Sporotrichosis; UC Davis Study of Symblepharon in Kittens Breaks New Ground; New Research Shows Environmental Impact of Small Animal Parasiticides; and more.

Characterizing Abnormal Neural Networks in Dogs with Anxiety


In a study published in the journal PLOS One, researchers at Ghent University in Belgium report abnormalities in functional neural networks of dogs diagnosed with anxiety. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, they found that anxious dogs had stronger connections between the amygdala and other regions of the anxiety network than healthy dogs did.

Twenty-five healthy and 13 anxious dogs were volunteered by their owners. The researchers examined the resting state of healthy and anxious dogs via noninvasive fMRI.

Dogs that exhibited fear and anxiety toward strangers, as well as excitability, were more likely to have brains showing abnormal network metrics in the amygdala.

The study authors commented, “We constructed functional brain networks using graph theory metrics to compare the differences between anxious and healthy dog groups. Our findings could provide more insight into the topological organization of the functional brain connectome in anxiety disorder…in both animals and humans and help the development of more personalized and effective therapies.”

Photo credit: libre de droit/iStock via Getty Images Plus

CDC Warns of Emerging Threat of Cat-Transmitted Sporotrichosis


In a recent teleconference, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned about an emerging epidemic of cat-transmitted sporotrichosis (CTS), a major public health threat in Brazil and in other parts of South America.

The CDC describes the most concerning CTS as an infection from the fungus Sporothrix brasiliensis that can affect humans, cats, and other mammals. CTS from Sporothrix brasiliensis typically causes skin lesions, but it can also spread into the nasal mucosa and lymph nodes and even cause disseminated infections that involve the bones, lungs, or central nervous system.

People can get CTS from an infected cat through a bite or scratch, after direct contact with fluids, or from inhaling the fungus, typically after a cat with obvious sores on its face shakes its head.

A 2023 study published in the journal Medical Mycology Case Reports describes the first three cases of CTS outside South America and the first ever cases of CTS in the United Kingdom. Those three cases were “likely acquired from an indoor domestic cat which had previously lived in South-Eastern Brazil [for] three years.” The authors conclude, “this suggests that [CTS] can lay dormant for many years and has implications for global public health.”

In the fungal diseases section of the CDC website, a one-page fact sheet for veterinarians, “Emerging Transmissible Sporotrichosis in Cats Caused by Sporothrix brasiliensis,” describes recognizing and treating the disease and advises, “Given the travel and exposure patterns of humans and cats, US physicians and veterinarians need to be prepared to recognize and treat infections caused by S. brasiliensis.”

Photo credit: Graphic courtesy of CDC


“We should indeed keep calm in the face of difference, and live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity.”

—George Takei

Despite Rising Popularity, Brachycephalic Breeds at Greater Risk for Disease


Pet insurance giant Nationwide’s veterinary analytics team recently released a two-part white paper on disease risks in brachycephalic dog breeds. The paper, titled “In the know about noses: Burrowing into brachycephalic dog breeds,” examined data from 50,000 brachycephalic dogs to see if they were at greater risk for certain diseases than nonbrachycephalic dogs.

Not surprisingly, the analysis showed that these dogs are indeed at greater risk for conditions such as respiratory disease, esophageal disease, and ocular disease, to name a few.

In addition, “extreme brachycephalic breeds,” which include English bulldogs, pugs, and French bulldogs, face far greater risk of these diseases than regular brachycephalic dog breeds. And, extreme brachycephalic dogs who have brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS), are at even greater risk. According to Nationwide’s pet insurance claims, extreme brachycephalic dogs with BOAS showed a dramatic increase in the risk of certain respiratory, gastrointestinal, and spinal disease comorbidities.

The analysis comes on the heels of increased popularity of brachycephalic breeds among pet owners. According to the American Kennel Club, the French bulldog has now supplanted the Labrador retriever as the most popular breed in the United States.

The white paper can be viewed online at

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3D Prep Aids Dog’s Complicated Liver Repair Surgery

Olivia M. Hall recently reported the following news from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. When Sarah Kopa, DVM ‘23, adopted Kate, an eight-month-old black Labrador retriever puppy, she noticed that Kate lacked energy and tired easily. Kate had been diagnosed not long before with a single, large-diameter, intrahepatic portosystemic liver shunt. By the time Kate was adopted, her condition was well managed, but Kopa, a student at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, was concerned.

At the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, Nicole Buote, DVM, DACVS, associate professor in the Section of Small Animal Surgery, described a minimally invasive procedure to help Kate. She would perform the coil embolization with a catheter inserted in a neck vessel.

That procedure revealed a problem. “Kate…had a complicated shunt with a very tight turn,” Buote said. “It traveled right under one of the great vessels in the abdomen, the caudal vena cava.” She decided to try again, this time after input from computed tomography scans was processed by computers and turned into two different 3D prints. “3D printing helped us really see the anatomy we had to deal with,” Buote said.

In the second procedure, the surgical team addressed Kate’s shunt by placing a catheter in a blood vessel in the neck and inserting flexible wires into the abnormal vessel and the caudal vena cava under X-ray guidance. The surgeons placed a metallic stent into the caudal vena cava and positioned special coils into the shunt, creating a blood clot and closing off the shunt to improve blood flow to the liver. “The placement went smoothly once we had the right plan, positioning, and equipment,” Buote said.

Kate has recovered well, with normalized liver values and fewer medications.

“I’m so grateful for everything Kate’s whole team did to take care of her and get us to this point,” said Kopa.

FDA Approves First Generic Cyclosporine Oral Solution for Treating Allergic Dermatitis in CatsGettyImages-943910282.jpg

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic cyclosporine oral solution for cats. Modulis for Cats is indicated for the control of certain skin conditions resulting from feline allergic dermatitis.

Cats with feline allergic dermatitis may intensely lick, chew, and scratch at their itchy skin and hair. As a result, affected cats can develop excoriations, miliary dermatitis, eosinophilic plaques, and self-induced alopecia.

Modulis for Cats is an immunosuppressant drug containing the same active ingredient (cyclosporine) in the same concentration and dosage form as the approved brand name drug product, Atopica for Cats, which was first approved on August 8, 2011.

Cats prescribed Modulis for Cats should be at least six months old and weigh at least three pounds. It is only available by prescription from a licensed veterinarian.

People handling, administering, or exposed to Modulis for Cats should take precautions to avoid accidentally ingesting the drug. Users should also wash hands after administering Modulis for Cats. People with known hypersensitivity to cyclosporine should avoid contact with the product.

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TAMU Teams with CDC for Companion Animal COVID-19 Surveillance Study

Nine Texas A&M University researchers contributed to the COVID-19 companion animal surveillance study led by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study is the first to summarize nationally compiled surveillance data on the epidemiologic and clinical characteristics of natural COVID-19 infection in companion animals.

Texas data, collected by Texas A&M researchers, contributed the greatest number of animal cases reported by any state. The Texas A&M COVID-19 & Pets Project, which began in the summer of 2020, was partially funded by the CDC and proved instrumental in providing the Texas data.

“The COVID-19 & Pets Project…included active household pet sampling for two years,” explained Sarah Hamer, MS, PhD, DVM, DACVPM (Epidemiology), a veterinary epidemiologist at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

Two other faculty members helped to guide the research: Rebecca Fischer, PhD, MPH, DTMH, from the School of Public Health, and Gabriel Hamer, MS, PhD, from Texas A&M’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Dogs and cats can and have become infected from their owners throughout the pandemic but often experience mild, self-limiting illness with no strong evidence of onward transmission.

“We’ve detected more than 100 cases in cats and dogs in Texas,” said Hamer. “This high level…is simply a result of our active efforts to test companion animals living in households with confirmed cases of COVID-19—often only a day or two after their owner tested positive—early and well into the pandemic.”

The study concluded that animals whose samples test positive for infection with SARS-CoV-2 are commonly exposed to people who have tested positive for the virus.

Hamer pointed out, “[Dogs and cats] are the animals that people have closest relationships with. Many pathogens—SARS-CoV-2 included—require close contact for transmission to occur, so living with our pets, and sharing our bedrooms and beds with them…can provide opportunities for transmission.”

The study also stated that more data is needed to determine the likelihood and frequency of pet-to-pet or pet-to-person transmission within households.

UC Davis Study of Symblepharon in Kittens Breaks New Ground


The UC Davis veterinary hospital recently treated Gratitude, a seven-month-old rescue kitten with symblepharon in her left eye, Rob Warren reported in UC Davis Vet Med news. This blinding condition occurs soon after birth when the conjunctiva—the pink tissue surrounding the eye—fuses with other nearby surface structures of the eye or eyelid. It is likely secondary to a feline herpesvirus infection on the ocular surface. Symblepharon’s outcomes are scantily documented in academic veterinary literature. In 20 years, only five published articles have described symblepharon research, covering just 20 kittens.

To help better describe the disease and its potential treatments, UC Davis veterinary scientists recently reported on 40 kittens with symblepharon seen at UC Davis over two decades. Published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, this study doubles the number of kittens ever described with the condition.

“There is a misconception that this disease is not treatable or that it has a high rate of recurrence,” said David Maggs, BVSc (Hons), DACVO, a professor of ophthalmology at UC Davis. “We were able to…determine that this is not one homogeneous disease. Many of these cases were previously being referred for enucleation (removal of eye), but we discovered that almost all these kittens have…eyes that can be saved.”

The researchers classified five types of symblepharon. “By carefully identifying which type of symblepharon a kitten may have, the surgery to correct two of the types could be performed by a general practitioner,” said Karen Vernau, DVM, DACVIM, a clinical professor of neurology/neurosurgery. “This could allow shelter veterinarians to correct the condition at the time of neutering.”

Taking the lead on the research paper was UC Davis undergraduate student Hikaru (Ray) Shiraishi, who has developed a strong interest in veterinary ophthalmology and is currently taking on another research project related to kitten eyes.

As well as her eye treatment, Gratitude also had a diaphragmatic hernia corrected by the soft tissue surgery service and recovered in the intensive care unit. After making a full recovery, Gratitude was adopted by a UC Davis staff member.

Photo credit: ilkermetinkursova/E+ via Getty Images

NAVTA and Virox Technologies Launch New Program to Create Infection Prevention Leaders


Hospital-associated infections (HAIs) in veterinary medicine affect patients, clients, and staff with damaging health, economic, and social consequences. According to an article on HAIs published in Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, it is estimated that 10–70% of HAIs can be prevented with the help of better infection prevention practices resulting in safer workplaces.

To advance infection prevention best practices, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), in partnership with Virox Technologies, has launched the Infection Prevention Leader Certificate Program.

This online program is designed to provide animal care professionals with the knowledge needed to reduce the risk of spreading infection and create a safer workplace for their team, patients, and clients. The certificate program consists of four complimentary RACE-approved courses, which include:

  • Infectious Disease Control: Pathogens &Disease Transmission
  • Infectious Disease Control: Infection Prevention
  • Infectious Disease Control: Cleaning, Disinfection & Sterilization
  • Infectious Disease Control: Implementation & Communication

Upon completion of the four courses, students will receive a certificate as well as five continuing education credits. Enrollment in the program is complimentary to all animal care professionals.

“In partnering with Virox, NAVTA intends that this certificate course gives veterinary team members a better understanding of HAIs and their prevention” said Jamie Rauscher, LVT, president of NAVTA. “In addition, the opportunity to make the course free to all team members is something that we readily agreed to [in order to] make it more accessible to everyone.”

“Veterinary professionals are on the frontlines fighting diseases on a daily basis. Arming them with infection prevention best practices is now more important than ever,” commented founder and CEO of Virox Technologies, Randy Pilon. “As a leader in setting new standards in disinfection and infection prevention, Virox Technologies is proud to work with NAVTA on this exciting new program.”

For more information on the program, search “Infection Prevention Program” on NAVTA’s website.

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New Research Shows Environmental Impact of Small Animal Parasiticides

The Grantham Institute at Imperial College London recently published a briefing note, “Are urban areas hotspots for pollution from pet parasiticides?” The authors report that chemicals from small animal parasiticide products have been found in urban waterways in the UK, in concentrations high enough to cause environmental harm.

In light of these findings, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is calling for more research into the impact of parasiticides on the environment and is encouraging its members to use these medicines responsibly.

“Parasiticide treatments do an important job in preventing, treating, and protecting both animals and humans from illnesses and conditions linked to parasites,” said BVA’s Senior Vice President Justine Shotton, BVSc. “There are still many knowledge gaps surrounding parasiticide products, so this research—although shocking—by the Imperial College is welcome.”



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