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Purdue project could help pets serve as disease watchdogs

stics, a nationwide network of laboratories used by more than 18,000 private veterinary practices.

Medical records were transferred to Purdue, where they were stored and converted for analysis with the help of COMSYS Information Technology Services, a consulting firm located in Houston.

Based on the data, researchers found:

  • A clear pattern of association between flea and tick infestation in pets compared to the incidence of Lyme disease in humans, with a two-month lag and peak rates occurring during warmer months. This information allows veterinarians to anticipate unusual occurrences of diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans and design treatment methods. Public health officials also could be alerted so they could provide timely information to the public and spray affected areas for ticks. In addition, specimens such as these can be used for profiling a broader variety of diseases that are potentially transmitted to humans by fleas and ticks, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
  • A 3.3 percent increase in the number of positive tests from 2002-2004 for a disease called canine leptospirosis. Leptospirosis can be transmitted from dogs to humans. The disease is currently the leading cause of acute kidney failure in dogs and also can damage the liver. Most animals and humans recover from leptospirosis if it is diagnosed early and treated with antibiotics. This research will help develop early warning signs and aid in the development of vaccines that target emerging new strains of leptospirosis. The data also documents an increase in the disease over the past 10 years, probably related to increasing contact between dogs and wildlife such as raccoons, Glickman said.
  • A correlation between the number of cases of influenza-like illness in cats and similar symptoms in humans in the Washington, D.C., area where Banfield has numerous hospitals. This pattern suggested common environmental causes of infl
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Contact: Maggie Morris
maggiemorris@purdue.edu
765-494-2432
Purdue University
24-Mar-2006


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