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  • Author or Editor: Paul Ettestad x
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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To describe the epidemiology, clinical signs, and treatment practices in dogs with Yersinia pestis infection in New Mexico.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—62 dogs with plague in New Mexico.

Procedures—Confirmed case animals had isolation of Yersinia pestis from a clinical specimen, a positive direct fluorescent antibody test result, or a minimum 4-fold change between acute and convalescent serum antibody titers with clinically compatible illness. Retrospective review of cases of laboratory-confirmed plague from 2003 to 2011 was performed with a standardized chart abstraction form. Epidemiologic, clinical, and treatment data were evaluated.

Results—62 confirmed cases of canine plague were identified from 2003 to 2011. Most cases (85%) were confirmed by serologic titers alone or in conjunction with other testing methods. Clinical signs included fever (100%), lethargy (97%), anorexia (77%), lymphadenopathy (23%), vomiting (13%), diarrhea (8%), and abscesses (2%). Most case animals (73%) were treated with multiple antimicrobials. Sixty (97%) case animals survived; of the 2 nonsurvivors, one was euthanized and another died. Potential sources of exposure to Y pestis included hunting, rodent or rabbit exposure, and residence in rural areas.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that dogs with exposure to Y pestis can develop moderate to severe illness or die as a result of infection. Veterinarians practicing in and examining animals from the western United States need to be familiar with the epidemiology of plague and query owners about potential plague exposures when consistent clinical signs are present. Veterinarians are often the first to recognize signs of plague among sentinel populations and have the opportunity to intervene and prevent zoonotic disease transmission.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association



To characterize the epidemiology, clinical signs, and treatment of dogs with Francisella tularensis infection in New Mexico.


87 dogs in which 88 cases of tularemia (1 dog had 2 distinct cases) were confirmed by the New Mexico Department of Health Scientific Laboratory Division from 2014 through 2016 and for which medical records were available.


Dogs were confirmed to have tularemia if they had a 4-fold or greater increase in anti–F tularensis antibody titer between acute and convalescent serum samples or F tularensis had been isolated from a clinical or necropsy specimen. Epidemiological, clinical, and treatment information were collected from the dogs' medical records and summarized.


All 88 cases of tularemia were confirmed by paired serologic titers; the first (acute) serologic test result was negative for 84 (95%) cases. The most common reported exposure to F tularensis was wild rodent or rabbit contact (53/88 [60%]). Dogs had a median number of 3 clinical signs at initial evaluation; lethargy (81/88 [92%]), pyrexia (80/88 [91%]), anorexia (67/88 [76%]), and lymphadenopathy (18/88 [20%]) were most common. For 32 (36%) cases, the dog was hospitalized; all hospitalized dogs survived.


Dogs with F tularensis infection often had nonspecific clinical signs and developed moderate to severe illness, sometimes requiring hospitalization. Veterinarians examining dogs from tularemia-enzootic areas should be aware of the epidemiology and clinical signs of tularemia, inquire about potential exposures, and discuss prevention methods with owners, including reducing exposure to reservoir hosts and promptly seeking care for ill animals.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To determine percentages of domestic cats and dogs vaccinated against rabies, identify barriers to vaccination, and assess knowledge about rabies in a semirural New Mexico community after a skunk rabies outbreak.

Design—Cross-sectional, door-to-door, bilingual, community-based participatory survey.

Sample—366 residential properties in Eddy County, NM.

Procedures—The New Mexico Department of Health and CDC administered surveys and analyzed data.

Results—Individuals at 247 of the 366 residential properties participated in the survey. One hundred eighty of the 247 (73%) households owned a dog (n = 292) or cat (163). Cats were more likely than dogs to not have an up-to-date rabies vaccination status (prevalence ratio, 3.2; 95% confidence interval, 2.3 to 4.4). Cost and time or scheduling were the most frequently identified barriers to vaccination. One hundred sixty (65%) respondents did not know livestock can transmit rabies, 78 (32%) did not know rabies is fatal, and 89 (36%) did not know a bat scratching a person can be an exposure. Only 187 (76%) respondents indicated they would contact animal control if they saw a sick skunk, and only 166 (67%) indicated they would contact animal control if bitten by a dog they did not own.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Findings indicated that rabies vaccination prevalence among pet dogs and cats was low, despite the fact that the region had experienced a skunk rabies outbreak during the previous 2 years. In addition, substantial percentages of respondents did not have correct knowledge of rabies or rabies exposure.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association