Friday, March 13, 2015

Feline calicivirus, cat cafe, visible veins, free horse course and fish welfare

kitten cute closeup kitten face
The need for a "dose of feline" is so great that cat cafes are popping up everywhere.
Feline calicivirus (FCV) commonly causes disease in cats, albeit typically mild signs such as gingivitis, upper respiratory tract signs (sneezing), transient fever and ulcers in the mouth. But some cats are affected more severely, with extensive ulcers (making it painful to eat), painful swelling of joints and associated lameness, pneumonia, and chronic gingivostomatitis (inflammation of the gums and mouth). There is also FCV-virulent systemic disease which has been fatal.

In Australia cats are routinely vaccinated for FCV and this is important in controlling the virus and reducing the severity and duration of clinical signs. But this is a highly mutable virus so vaccines are not 100 per cent effective.
To date there is no effective, specific antiviral treatment although we are looking. The agent mefloquine shows promise in vitro. You can access the paper free online until April 29 by using this link.

feline calicivirus gingivitis
Marked gingivitis (inflammation of the gum - see the bright red section just above/below the teeth?) in a cat swabbed positive for calicivirus.
On the feline front, word is out that Sydney will have its own “cat cafĂ©” soon where people can pop in, pay a fee and visit cats. The cats will be from rescue organisations, be kept in a room with about eight cats and have access to a human free section. I am wondering if they will be up for adoption and how long cats will be kept on display in terms of their lifespans? More here.

In other news, a colleague just pointed out this amazing technology which allows doctors to visualise the veins of patients as they place IV catheters and give injections. This is especially important for administration of cytotoxic drugs like chemotherapy agents, or drugs that cause damage if they are injected perivascularly (rather than into the vein). A full body version of this stuff would also make a fantastic Halloween costume!

I wonder if it would work as well on animal skin?

If you are into all things equine, Coursera is offering a free course on caring for horses. Check it out here.

Archer fish
This cheeky little Archer fish at the Territory Wildlife Park lined me up and spat at me with impressive accuracy.
On the fish front, the University of Sydney’s Human Animal Research Network, in conjunction with Sydney Environment Institute, is hosting a seminar on fish welfare on June 4 from 5-6.30pm.

There has been a significant expansion in worldwide per capital fish consumption, and a very strong expansion in industrial aquaculture. International agencies such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation have argued that fisheries and aquaculture should play a significant role in future "in eliminating hunger, promoting health and reducing poverty"(UN FAO, 2014). At the same time there has been a great deal of public interest in fishing and environmental sustainability, including in issues such as overfishing,  the impact of fishing practices such as trawl and drift netting; and recently, the impact of climate change on the sustainability of small scale local fishing industries.However, there has been less focus internationally on the welfare of fish used for human consumption, and the ethics of using fish for food. This interdisciplinary forum will offer an opportunity to critically examine current welfare provisions in the context of fisheries and aquaculture, recent research on fish cognition, and possible approaches in the ethics and politics of fishing. 
The speakers are Associate Professor Celeste Black (Unversity of Sydney) – "Fish, Welfare and the Law”; Associate Professor Culum Brown (Macquarie University) – “Fish Cognition and Welfare”; and Dr Dinesh Wadiwel (University of Sydney) – “Do Fish Resist?”

For more info or to register, click here.