Of pets, mosquitoes and Ebola

First Posted: 8/13/2014

On the animal front:

— The local veterinary practices will be providing rabies shots at all of the fire departments again this year. These will run Aug. 25 to Aug. 29. If you got a one-year vaccination last year at the fire departments, this would be a great opportunity to get the three-year shot, thus keeping your animal current. State law requires dogs, cats and ferrets to be currently vaccinated if 4 months or older. A listing of the specific fire department dates was published in last week’s The Robesonian. The cost is $8, which is significantly less than charges that can be incurred outside of these clinics.

— The Spay Neuter Incentive Program will run Sept. 2 through Sept. 13. The SNIP event is a discounted spay-neuter clinic that is provided irrespective of income. The veterinary practice of your choice should be contacted for an appointment. Over 2,000 procedures have been provided over the past eight events and four years.

— With the euthanizing of horses in both Bladen and Carteret counties because of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, comes the reminder that horses should be vaccinated against this disease, West Nile Virus and others. Horses, unfortunately, have become the sentinel animal for some of the mosquito-spread diseases. Eastern Equine Encephalitis is often fatal for both horses and humans so preventing mosquito bites (in humans) and vaccinating against the disease (in horses) is paramount.

More mosquito news:

— North Carolina is up to 15 cases of Chikungunya, but none have been locally acquired. Since there is no treatment, many individuals who acquire it never report it. Here is an interesting fact to wrap your arms around: There were two cases in December 2013 in St. Martin, the first cases identified in the Americas. By July, there have been more than 1 million cases reported in the same geography. It really is fast-moving and unstoppable. Florida has had two cases of locally acquired Chikungunya virus, meaning an infected person was bitten by a mosquito that subsequently bit another human.

— While there have been several cases of malaria and dengue fever reported in the state, none have been locally acquired. Worldwide, these are still huge problems.

On to Ebola:

— This disease became a U.S. concern when two infected workers were brought back to the states for treatment. Currently, family members who exhibit no symptoms are being quarantined for three weeks, which is the time-frame wherein problems should manifest themselves if they had contracted the disease.

Three such people are being monitored in Charlotte. The concern for all of North Carolina is that more than 40 local churches have missionaries serving in the infected countries and who will be returning home. The disease cannot be contracted casually, but rather one must come in direct contact with bodily fluids, diarrhea or vomit of an infected person.

The treatment aspect has brought into question medical ethics questions. Some people have been provided with experimental Ebola drugs and vaccines although they are untested. The World Health Organization states that it is ethical because there is a 50 percent death rate associated with the disease.

The bigger ethical dilemma is, who should receive it? One of the drug manufacturers supplied just enough for a couple of Americans and a Spanish priest, who has since died. The vast majority of infected and dead are Africans, who have not received any experimental treatments. While there is certainly a bias at play here, the simple truth is, there are not enough supplies to meet the needs and demands — but who should be deciding who receives the assistance? The World Health Organization has sidestepped this issue for the present, but it will have to be addressed in the near future.