Archive for April 26, 2010

Linky Stuff

A few things to tide you over while I work on some other projects:

Once again, writers at The Onion scoop real scientists.

Dogs are not allowed to run for mayor in Canada.

Dog rescued from burning home is successfully treated by firefighters. More first responders are being trained in pet first aid and CPR and an increasing number of fire departments are purchasing equipment needed to save pets. This is good for pets and pet lovers.

In some not so good news – as tick populations explode in many parts of the country (including ours) – tick bites are also becoming more dangerous. According to the Grand Forks Herald:

In 2008 and 2009, Minnesota saw its first two recorded cases of Powassan encephalitis, which comes from deer ticks and can cause severe neurological illness. Last year a child from Dakota County also died from a rare case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, most commonly spread by dog, or wood, ticks. The number of tick-borne diseases in Minnesota rose to record levels in 2008.

According to the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine:

Like most other arthropod-borne viruses, POW virus may cause no symptoms, or only mild illness, in some individuals. However, when the virus penetrates the central nervous system (CNS), it can cause encephalitis. POW encephalitis is often associated with significant long-term illness and it has a fatality rate of 10% to 15%. Of those patients who survive, many suffer permanent brain damage. There is no vaccine or specific therapy.


When POW virus attacks the CNS, it causes cell death, inflammation and swelling within the brain (encephalitis). Themembranous coverings (meninges) of the brain and spinal cord may also become inflamed (meningitis). Symptoms usually beginsuddenly 7-14 days following infection, and include headache, fever, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, and sleepiness. As the diseaseprogresses, more severe symptoms develop, such as breathing distress, tremors, confusion, seizures, coma, paralysis, and sometimesdeath.

Symptoms of different arboviral infections are difficult to distinguish. Therefore, laboratory tests are necessary to confirm diagnosis. These tests are not commercially available, but testing can be performed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when requested through state public health laboratories. Blood tests that detect antibodies to POW virus are most often used. Occasionally, POW virus may also be isolated from blood, cerebrospinal fluid, or other tissue.

There are no specific treatments or medications for Powassan encephalitis. Therapy is supportive only, directed at relieving the symptoms. This includes good nursing care, administration of intravenous fluids, respiratory support (ventilator), and prevention of secondary infections (pneumonia, urinary tract, etc.). Steroids may sometimes be used to reduce swelling in the brain.

Lovely. Now instead of just having a bad case of the heebie-jeebies when I find ticks on the dogs or myself – I can be completely paranoid that we’re going to come down with a potentially lethal, incurable disease.

I hate ticks

April 26, 2010 at 11:03 pm 6 comments

Because A Dog’s Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste


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April 2010