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  • Author or Editor: Melissa A. Miller x
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Abstract

Objective—To estimate cat population size, management, and outside fecal deposition and evaluate attitudes of cat owners and nonowners to stray animal control, water pollution, and wildlife protection.

Design—Cross-sectional survey.

Sample Population—294 adult residents of Cayucos, Los Osos, and Morro Bay, Calif.

Procedures—Telephone survey.

Results—The region's cat population was estimated at 7,284 owned and 2,046 feral cats, and 38% of surveyed households owned a mean of 1.9 cats/household. Forty-four percent of cats defecated outside >75% of the time. Annual fecal deposition (wet weight) by owned cats in the 3 communities was estimated to be 77.6 tonnes (76.4 tons). Cat owners were more likely to oppose cat licensing and impounding stray cats and support trap-neuter-return for stray cats and less likely to be concerned about water pollution, than were noncat owners.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Feral cats represented a sizeable proportion (22%) of the free roaming cats in this area and could be contributing 30.0 tonnes (29.5 tons) of feces to the environment per year. However, feral cats are not the principal source of fecal loading because owned cats defecating outdoors contribute an estimated 77.6 tonnes (76.4 tons) or 72% of the annual outdoor fecal deposition.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To describe cardiac lesions and identify risk factors associated with myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in beach-cast southern sea otters.

Animals—Free-ranging southern sea otters.

Procedure—Sea otters were necropsied at the Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center from 1998 through 2001. Microscopic and gross necropsy findings were used to classify sea otters as myocarditis or DCM case otters or control otters. Univariate, multivariate, and spatial analytical techniques were used to evaluate associations among myocarditis; DCM; common sea otter pathogens; and potential infectious, toxic, and nutritional causes.

Results—Clusters of sea otters with myocarditis and DCM were identified in the southern aspect of the sea otter range from May to November 2000. Risk factors for myocarditis included age, good body condition, and exposure to domoic acid and Sarcocystis neurona. Myocarditis associated with domoic acid occurred predominantly in the southern part of the range, whereas myocarditis associated with S neurona occurred in the northern part of the range. Age and suspected previous exposure to domoic acid were identified as major risk factors for DCM. A sample of otters with DCM had significantly lower concentrations of myocardial L-carnitine than control and myocarditis case otters.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Cardiac disease is an important cause of death in southern sea otters. Domoic acid toxicosis and infection with S neurona are likely to be 2 important causes of myocarditis in sea otters. Domoic acid–induced myocarditis appears to progress to DCM, and depletion of myocardial L-carnitine may play a key role in this pathogenesis. (Am J Vet Res 2005;66:289–299)

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To estimate the analytic sensitivity of microscopic detection of Toxoplasma gondii oocysts and the environmental loading of T gondii oocysts on the basis of prevalence of shedding by owned and unowned cats.

Design—Cross-sectional survey.

Sample Population—326 fecal samples from cats.

Procedures—Fecal samples were collected from cat shelters, veterinary clinics, cat-owning households, and outdoor locations and tested via ZnSO4 fecal flotation.

Results—Only 3 (0.9%) samples of feces from 326 cats in the Morro Bay area of California contained T gondii–like oocysts. On the basis of the estimated tonnage of cat feces deposited outdoors in this area, the annual burden in the environment was estimated to be 94 to 4,671 oocysts/m2 (9 to 434 oocysts/ft2).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Despite the low prevalence and short duration of T gondii oocyst shedding by cats detected in the present and former surveys, the sheer numbers of oocysts shed by cats during initial infection could lead to substantial environmental contamination. Veterinarians may wish to make cat owners aware of the potential threats to human and wildlife health posed by cats permitted to defecate outdoors.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To assess the refractive state of eyes in various breeds of dogs to identify breeds susceptible to ametropias.

Animals—1,440 dogs representing 90 breeds.

Procedures—In each dog, 1 drop of 1% cyclopentolate or 1% tropicamide was applied to each eye, and a Canine Eye Registration Foundation examination was performed. Approximately 30 minutes after drops were administered, the refractive state of each eye was assessed via streak retinoscopy. Dogs were considered ametropic (myopic or hyperopic) when the mean refractive state (the resting focus of the eye at rest relative to visual infinity) exceeded ± 0.5 diopter (D). Anisometropia was diagnosed when the refractive error of each eye in a pair differed by > 1 D.

Results—Mean ± SD refractive state of all eyes examined was −0.05 ± 1.36 D (emmetropia). Breeds in which the mean refractive state was myopic (≤ −0.5 D) included Rottweiler, Collie, Miniature Schnauzer, and Toy Poodle. Degree of myopia increased with increasing age across all breeds. Breeds in which the mean refractive state was hyperopic (≥ +0.5 D) included Australian Shepherd, Alaskan Malamute, and Bouvier des Flandres. Astigmatism was detected in 1% (14/1,440) of adult (≥ 1 year of age) dogs; prevalence of astigmatism among German Shepherd Dogs was 3.3% (3/90). Anisometropia was detected in 6% (87/1,440) of all dogs and in 8.9% (8/90) of German Shepherd Dogs.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Refractive states of canine eyes varied widely and were influenced by breed and age. In dogs expected to have high visual function (eg, performance dogs), determination of refractive state is recommended prior to intensive training.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To compare serum cardiac troponin I (cTnI) concentrations between sea otters with and without cardiomyopathy and describe 2 cases of cardiomyopathy with different etiologies.

ANIMALS

25 free-ranging southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) with (n = 14; cases) and without (11; controls) cardiomyopathy and 17 healthy managed southern sea otters from aquariums or rehabilitation centers (controls).

PROCEDURES

Serum cTnI concentration was measured in live sea otters. Histopathologic and gross necropsy findings were used to classify cardiomyopathy status in free-ranging otters; physical examination and echocardiography were used to assess health status of managed otters. Two otters received extensive medical evaluations under managed care, including diagnostic imaging, serial cTnI concentration measurement, and necropsy.

RESULTS

A significant difference in cTnI concentrations was observed between cases and both control groups, with median values of 0.279 ng/mL for cases and < 0.006 ng/mL for free-ranging and managed controls. A cutoff value of ≥ 0.037 ng/mL yielded respective sensitivity and specificity estimates for detection of cardiomyopathy of 64.3% and 90.9% for free-ranging cases versus free-ranging controls and 64.3% and 94.1% for free-ranging cases versus managed controls.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Cardiomyopathy is a common cause of sea otter death that has been associated with domoic acid exposure and protozoal infection. Antemortem diagnostic tests are needed to identify cardiac damage. Results suggested that serum cTnI concentration has promise as a biomarker for detection of cardiomyopathy in sea otters. Serial cTnI concentration measurements and diagnostic imaging are recommended to improve heart disease diagnosis in managed care settings.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research