Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cairns Cats Dinner for Snakes

Cairns Snake catcher David Walton has reported a surge in snake attacks on Cairns cats.  Snakes are common in the rainforest around Cairns.  If your property is close to bushland, parks, creeks or farms snakes are likely moving nearby at night.  Snakes will find your property more attractive if there is plenty of shelter from plants and long grass, and particularly if there is food in the form of rats, wildlife or birds including poultry and cage birds.  Spilt feed from pets like birds, poultry and horses also encourages rats and thus snakes.
Minimise the snake risk around your house by keeping an area with short grass or paving around the house (if trees hang over your deck, window or roof snakes will feel welcome) and keep you cat inside, at least at night: both cats and snakes are nocturnal so its common they meet at night.
Many of the Cairns pets which go missing (often presumed stolen)are taken by snakes, or suffer tick paralysis or car accidents.  Indoor cats miss most of this excitement and thus often live longer.  Read more below or read the original article at the Cairns Post
Also check out this amazing video of a huge snake which recently ate a pet cat!

Cat-killing pythons on the rise in Cairns

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

© The Cairns Post


LOCK up your moggies - cat appears to be the flavour of the month for the Far North's pythons.

About nine felines have been consumed in backyards across Cairns in the past five weeks.

The culprits are scrub pythons, hungry for prey that has been flushed out of the city’s rainforests and bushy areas because of heavy rainfall.

Cairns Snake Removals operator David Walton said he had never seen as many attacks as there had been this month.

Most of the snakes that have consumed cats are more than 3m long.

Mr Walton said as snakes were nocturnal hunters, owners should keep their pets indoors at night.

Dr Dallas McMillan from the Cairns Veterinary Clinic advised owners to make their yards as unattractive to snakes as possible.

Hunger pangs: This scrub python had to go without yesterday when professional snake catcher David Walton stepped in to save a cat as a potential meal. Picture: TOM LEE

Cairns Cats which at risk of Feline AIDS virus (FIV)

Feline AIDS virus (FIV) in cats
Feline Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), the cause of Feline AIDS is a significant problem in outdoor cats worldwide.  The deadly virus has many similarities to HIV, the cause of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in people, but there is no risk that humans will catch feline AIDS.  FIV is spread a little more easily than HIV: cats are often infected by bites, grooming as well as sexual activity as FIV is present in significant amounts in saliva, unlike HIV.
Infection prevalence of FIV in Cairns Cats
FIV is surprisingly common in outdoor cats: while it only affects 2-3% of domestic cats worldwide, when tests are done on at-risk cats the incidence of infection can be 15-25%.  I estimate the prevalence of FeLV infection in all outdoor Cairns cats to be around 10%, but no formal survey has been done.  Vets tend to only test when they already suspect infection in at risk cats.  The at risk cats include:
  • outdoor cats
  • Stray cats
  • cats with bite wounds
  • cats exposed to infected animals
  • Sick cats
Preventing FIV infection in cats
The good news about Feline AIDS Virus is that it is largely preventable by keeping your cat inside where it can't be exposed to infected cats: and if your cat does go outside there is an excellent vaccine available from your vet. 
Because this virus requires close contact, only outdoor cats (or partly outdoors: eg only out during the daytime, or "never leaves the yard"... Remember other cats will roam into your yard and attack your cat!  Its amazing how many cats show up at vet clinics with abscesses from cat fights and are described as indoor cats!) or those in contact with other cats need vaccination.
Cairns cat vaccination guidelines.
If your cat is indoors but boards at a cattery, it won't need FIV vaccine, just the normal F3 or F4 cat vaccine for the highly contagious Cat Flu and Feline enteritis infections.  All cats should be vaccinated for these diseases as they are easily spread and cannot be easily treated.
There is a similar infection called Feline Leukemia virus (FeLV): both these diseases are caused my retroviruses and there is no cure.  The risk factors for both are similar.  FeLV is a greater risk to kittens and causes a high fatality rate within a couple of years of infection.  FIV is a danger to cats of all ages but infected cats can live for many years with good veterinary care.
As infected cats can spread disease and are prone to serious infections from things like cat fights they must be kept indoors.  Special attention to dental hygeine and general health are important.
Feline Leukemia virus (FeLV)
FIV and FeLV can be heartbreaking infections: I've treated many older cats which struggled with health issues caused by poor immunity with FIV, cats which have died of Leukemia from FeLV infection, and even had to recommend whole litters of kittens be put down because they had FeLV and would die young and possibly spread the disease.  Some owners have even adopted a cat with Feline AIDS or Leukemia only for it to infect their other cat!
Vaccinating for FIV and FeLV takes 3 initial visits 2 weeks apart, then annual boosters.  The vaccines are generally safe and well tolerated.

Both FIV and FeLV are serious threats to outdoor cats.  If you haven't vaccinated your cat you should have them tested and vaccinated.  Contact your vet with any questions.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cairns' dangerous animals: are they really that bad?

The Cairns Post ran an interesting article about the actual impact of dangerous animals in Cairns like sharks, crocodiles and stingers on human fatalities, pointing out that deaths are rare and you have more to be worried about from skin cancer and car accidents.  Stingers were identified as a real threat which has significant annual impact.
Similarly with pets, pet owners are often worried about some fairly rare events:

Common fears of Cairns pet owners.

Some of the common concerns we get in Cairns are:
Snake Bites
Spider Bites
Malicious poisoning
Theft of dogs

Common causes of Cairns pet losses and deaths
While all these are possibilities, they are surprisingly rare in Cairns (and many suspected cases are never confirmed).  Of course, you should take sensible precautions against these types of events, but for every 10 pets I've heard about which were "baited", 9 of them had hookworm or parvovirus, and likewise when people report their pet was stolen many of them have run away, and either got lost or found a new home.  Many of these would find their way home if they were microchipped.
Likewise, tick paralysis causes dozens of pet deaths in Cairns every year.  We are in a quiet time for ticks at the moment, but if we get a stretch of dry weather we can expect to see a peak in the number of paralysed pets, so be prepared.
So preventable causes of pet loss are more significant than the some of the more common concerns Cairns Pet owners have.
Wandering due to inadequate fencing, pets not being desexed, with the result pets are lost or hit by a car, or get tick paralysis are a major issue.  Many lost pets are found but cannot get back to their owner because they are not microchipped.
Make sure you cover the common problems first to keep your pet safe.

Dallas McMillan
Cairns Veterinary Clinic 
Read Cairns Vet pet advice and Pet news on the web.

Operators worried new shark movie might hurt Far North tourism

Daniel Bateman

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

© The Cairns Post


<strong>Killer of the deep:</strong> Shark attacks have caused 82 fatalities in Qld since 1847.

Killer of the deep: Shark attacks have caused 82 fatalities in Qld since 1847.

IT'S the stuff of nightmares: being stranded at sea after your boat has sunk and watching friends mauled and killed by a ravenous shark in front of your eyes.

This was the very real fate that befell two thirds of the crew onboard the New Venture, a trawler that sank 5km west of Broadhurst Reef, off the coast of Townsville, 27 years ago. There was only one survivor, skipper Ray Boundy, who was rescued on the swim to shore.

The tale seems tailor-made for a horror movie, so it should come as no surprise to find the sinking of the trawler was actually the inspiration behind The Reef, an Australian-made movie which opened in Cairns cinemas last Thursday.

Tourism operators are understandably worried about the effect the horror film, which bears the tagline “pray that you drown first”, will have on the Far North’s tourism industry. Director Andrew Traucki has assured there were far more dangerous things out there to worry about, such as cyclones.

It may be a difficult point to argue, following an attack on a female wakeboarder north of Newcastle last Wednesday, further adding fuel to the killer shark image.

But, realistically, just how dangerous are sharks in comparison to some of the other killers known to frequent our waters?

Read the full article at Cairns Local news, the Cairns Post

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cairns Vet Puppy Preschool classes: enquire now

Cairns Vet Clinic and Gordonvale Vet surgery both run puppy preschool classes to help you train and socialise your pup.  These are a great way to
teach your pup some life skills and learn to deal with new situations.  In particular, it teaches young dogs that the vet clinic is a fun place to go, which means subsequent visits will be less stressful for both of you.

Read Cairns Vet pet advice and Pet news on the web.

Cairns Vet house calls: did you know we did this?

Cairns Veterinary Clinic house call services

We recently did a client survey and one of the frequent requests we got was to do house calls: this surprised us as we already do house calls!
House calls are great if your pet doesn't travel well, or you can't drive, or you have a whole litter of puppies.  Many clients particularly appreciate a house call when the time comes to put their faithful friend to sleep.
There are times a house call might not be suitable, such as when your pet is very unwell and needs hospitalisation, xrays or special equipment to treat.  We can usually advise you of this over the phone and make you an appointment.
Read more about Cairns Vet house calls

Please phone us if you have any questions about house calls on 4032 9999

Read Cairns Vet pet advice and Pet news on the web.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dogs need leashes in public: toddler mauled in park

This tragic story is an important reminder of our responsibility as pet owners to ensure our pets are properly supervised in public spaces.  For most areas (that aren't recognised off-leash areas) this means your dog needs to be on a lead.  I see many people ignoring this important safety precaution with excuses like "my dog is friendly", "he always comes when he's called" etc.  These assessments are usually made in best case scenarios, and it only takes a couple of things to change for the well behaved friendly dog to be in trouble.  Eg.
Irresistable white fluffy dog running around yapping: "Friendly dog" chases to play, white fluffy is terrified and starts a fight.
  • Someone else has their dog off leash: turns out the two dogs don't like each other: fight ensues.
  • Your dog chases after a cat then gets flattened by a truck.
  • A cranky stray dog wanders up, picks a fight with your dog.   You try to break it up and get severe bite wounds from both dogs.
  • Your dog becomes bizarrely agitated by the unfamiliar site of a toddler on a swing and attacks ("he's never done that before!")
Maybe its just because I'm a vet and regularly see the outcome of these everyday situations gone wrong, but I cringe when I see dogs wandering around 20 metres from their owners.  99 times out of a hundred things will be fine, but sooner or later something unpredictable happens. 
People also tend to ignore the minor warning signs that their dog has potential to be dangerous, such as nipping or growling when handled in ways it doesn't like (such as nail clipping, vet visits, or being taken off the couch).  Many of the so called "out of the blue" dog attacks have clear patterns of problem behaviour which have been ignored.
So please, make sure you train your dog to be a good citizen and handle your dog appropriately in public.  Its your responsibility as a pet owner and the dog may be the one who benefits most (note the dog in this case will likely be euthanased and the owner prosecuted)
Dallas McMillan

Dog Attack: Sydney mum tried to save baby from dog

A mother tried in vain to stop a dog from repeatedly biting her toddler in a vicious mauling at a western Sydney park.

Asma Rashid's 16-month-old son was playing on a swing in Macquarie Fields about 7.30pm (AEDT) on Monday when the Alaskan Malumute attacked.

"He was using the swing and suddenly the dog came ... I tried to save my baby, but the dog was so big," the distressed woman told the Seven Network.

It took half an hour for the dog to be brought under control despite a neighbour trying to fight it off with a chair.

"He kept biting and biting and biting," Ms Rashid told Channel Nine.

The toddler was left with bites to his head, arms and neck.

Police officers gave him first aid before he was taken to Liverpool Hospital and later transferred to Westmead.

A 40-year-old Macquarie Fields man has been charged with owning an attacking dog, keeping an unregistered dog and being the owner of a dog in a prohibited area.

He was given a Future Court Attendance Notice to appear in Campbelltown Local Court on April 20.

Help your dog enjoy vet visits

Dogs can love going to the vet!  Sound impossible?  We have many dogs who can't wait to come in, we've even had dogs come to the vet when they run away from home?  How can this be acheived?  Regular visits to the vet for fun things, like weigh ins, pats and treats helps.  Its also vital you train your dog to accept being checked all over, restrained, laid down on their side when required.
A great way to do this is to daily go over your pet searching for ticks (even if its not tick season).  Check in their ears, under their armpits, between their toes , under their tail and around and inside their mouth.  If your pet is used to this (they will come to enjoy it) it makes it easy for you or your vet to check for problems like ticks, wounds, grass seeds, sore ears and bad teeth.
The following article from Dogster.com has some great ideas too.
Read Cairns Vet pet advice and Pet news on the web.

Top Five Things To Teach Your Dog That Will Improve Their Visits at the Vet’s Office

By Colleen S Koch, DVM, KPA CTP

Bringing your pup into the vet clinic doesn’t have to be a scary thing.  When pups come into our clinic we want them to leave in a better emotional state than when they came in. Our ultimate goal is to have adult dogs that drag their owner in, instead of having the owner drag their dog in.  Overall we have been pretty successful over the last 20 years. Most of the dogs that started out as pups at our clinic, do drag their owners into the clinic.

There are things that you can do to help make your pup or dog’s experience even better. By working with your pup on these simple behaviors their experience at the vet clinic should be like a walk in the park, instead of a drag down misery lane.

Top five things you can teach your dog to increase his enjoyment at veterinary visits:

1) Touch- a simple thing that is so important. Of course everyone touches their pups and loves to hug and hold them.  It is important that your dog is comfortable being touched anywhere and everywhere. Yes, everywhere that includes the unspeakable places such as under the tail. Bottom line is if they lick it or scratch it in public it is fair game for us to touch it.

We will also need to examine and touch their eyes, ears, toes/nails, tail, and mouth including opening it up and looking in. These are often sensitive as well as common problem areas where we need to administer medicine.  If your pup is used to being touched in these places then the exam should not be frightening for them. If they are painful or having problems and they are already comfortable with people touching these areas it is a lot easier on everyone.  Otherwise it will require us to teach them to allow us to touch them while they are painful; this can be a very challenging task for us and very frightening for the pup.

Handling by strangers, taking treats and letting them hold your pup, helps to socialize them. 20 cookies by 20 strangers before 20 weeks of age, is a good rule of thumb.

Tight hugs should mean good things. Hugs are not natural for dogs; in case you didn’t notice dogs don’t hug other dogs.  Hugging is a human thing.  Most of the time in our clinic we try to minimize restraint as much as possible. Occasionally there are times when we will need to hold your dog tight for a certain procedure.  Teaching your dog to be comfortable with this in advance will reduce his stress during the procedure.

2) Stand still- sounds easy, but for some pups, I think they’d rather have their teeth pulled!

Many times when doing an exam I like the dog to be in the standing position. It also enables me to look for structural discomfort as well as see and feel abnormalities from left to right. Standing still also makes it easier for you to apply topical medications on your dog’s back. This very easy trick helps during bath time, attaching a leash, grooming and when you stop to chat with a friend on a walk.

3) Down positions – seems like a like a silly thing, but it too has a lot of applications.

Ideally all three variations of down- left side down and right side down and belly up.  Hopefully you will never have to have your dog in any of these positions but if you do they will be more comfortable. It is much easier to look for ticks, fleas, sores, take radiographs (x-rays),  trim toe nails and groom.

Asking your pup for the down position can be very scary in a strange place. However if your dog thinks of this as fun trick they will be more willing to perform it in a vet clinic.

4) Clicker trained dogs make everyone’s life easier.  Clicker trained dogs know that a click= what you want.  If I need your dog to do something, and I am not able to communicate adequately, because they are afraid, or painful, it is frustrating for all. With a clicker trained dog, all I have to do is click and they instantly go “OOOOOHHHH OK now I understand what you want!”

5) Hand target with nose. This is a really easy trick to train that has many applications.

If dogs know how to hand target it helps us to move them around the clinic; on scales, into kennels, from one kennel to another, and makes them more comfortable in stressful situations.

It is much easier to apply Elizabethan collars as well as put on muzzles if your dog knows how to target.  Dogs that know how to hand target can be easily distracted by the “trick” during uncomfortable situations, or moving past another “scary” dog or thing.   You can also use this to help your dog learn to stand still, for any purpose.

What other behaviors can our readers think of which make vet visits easier for your dog?  Please share in the comments! For another great article on reducing stress at vet visits, check outthis new article from The Whole Dog Journal, authored by veterinary behaviorist Sophia Yin.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Why is there no doggy in the window? Greens propose bans on pet sales to children in ACT

Greens party proposes banning pets from shop windows and sales to children in the ACT: read the article below: what do you think?

Pet welfare laws 'ineffective, short-sighted'

 ABC March 7, 2011, 7:50 am  http://au.news.yahoo.com/queensland/a/-/australian-news/8962417/pet-welfare-laws-ineffective-short-sighted/

The proposed laws would ban pet stores from displaying puppies in shop windows, and prohibit the sale of animals to children.

ABC News © Enlarge photo

The ACT Government will oppose new animal welfare laws put forward by the Greens, labelling them as short-sighted and unnecessary.

The Greens have introduced a draft bill to the Legislative Assembly to make the Territory's animal welfare laws the toughest in the country.

The proposed laws would ban pet stores from displaying kittens or puppies in shop windows, and prohibit the sale of animals to children.

The Animal Welfare Bill also calls for the mandatory de-sexing of cats and dogs at the point of sale and aims to increase fines for people who commit animal cruelty.

The Australian Companion Animal Council (ACAC) has made a submission claiming the proposal unfairly targets pet shops.

Mr Stanhope says the bill will be ineffective as pet shops only account for 15 per cent of the sales of kittens and puppies.

"Pet shops and pet shop owners are certainly the most easily to be regulated. Probably the best regulated and the most responsible," he said.

"So we think it's a very unfair focus on a very small, well regulated and well run sector of the pet industry."

Mr Stanhope says the bill has been poorly thought out.

"The Greens' bill will essentially wipe pet shops out in the ACT. That's the ultimate effect. The business case that they operate under - for those that use or sell pets - does almost require them to do that, for them to be sustainable," he said.

The Greens have accused the government of hand picking public submissions that suit its own argument, like the one from the ACAC.

MLA Caroline Le Couteur says most submissions support their call for tighter regulations on the sales of pets.

"Without a doubt that was the most negative that we got. Basically the rest have all been pretty positive.

"I think they're representative of a small part of the industry only and my understanding from feedback we have had that not all of their members would agree with what they have publicly said on this," she said.

Ms Le Couteur says tighter regulations for pet shops is only a small part of the legislation.

"We want to make sure that every pet in Canberra is a wanted a pet. About 1,500 dogs and about a similar number of cats are euthanised each year in the ACT because they are simply unwanted and homeless," she said.

"We want to reduce that and so so I'm very concerned that the Stanhope Government is just playing politics with this."

Pets lost in earthquakes, floods, cyclones

Microchipping helps prevent pet loss.  Registration and tagging help prevent pet loss.
Is your pet easily identified in the case of loss?  If not book them in for a microchip and buy a collar.
Don't wait till the next cyclone or (fill in unexpected event here).
Read Cairns Vet pet advice and Pet news on the web.

Too many pets lost in natural disasters - vets

March 8, 2011

by Laurie Dixon

A lack of animal identification in Australia's recent natural disasters highlights the need for better microchipping and tagging, the country's leading veterinary organisation says.

Many animals displaced during recent flood and cyclone events in Queensland, Victoria and the Northern Territory had no identification, severely hampering the rescue and recovery effort, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) says.

"It's concerning that so many pets brought in to surgeries and shelters during the recent crises weren't identifiable because they hadn't been properly microchipped and registered," AVA spokeswoman Dr Jodie Wilson said.

"It's really important for family pets, working dogs, horses and livestock to be microchipped and tagged so that they can be identified if they go missing during a natural disaster.

"It's also important to keep your contact details up-to-date on the microchip registry, so you can be contacted when your pet is found."

Microchipping is particularly important because during natural disasters like floods and cyclones, identification collars can easily be lost.

Microchipping can easily be done when you take your cat or dog for its annual check-up.

For vets and shelter workers, being able to quickly identify animals in an extreme situation is important. The animals may be injured or traumatised and need to be returned home as soon as possible.

"The trauma of living through these types of events is huge for pets and their owners. Vets and shelter staff want to be able to reunite people with their animals as soon as possible so that the healing process can begin," Wilson said.

Dr Graham Lauridsen, from the Innisfail and Tully Veterinary Surgery, says he is still treating lost cats and dogs following Cyclone Yasi, and only a couple of them have been microchipped.

"With all the fences down after the cyclone and the flooding, lots of animals were brought into the surgery for treatment. A couple of these were microchipped and we were able to return them to their owners within a couple of hours, but unfortunately the majority weren't identifiable," he said.

"Many of these animals have strayed a long way from their homes, and council shelters are only able to accommodate them in the local area for around three days. After this most are sent to rehoming shelters out of the area.

"Once this happens, there is very little chance of them ever finding their way home. That's why it's really important to make sure your pets are microchipped so this doesn't happen to your animal," he said.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pet and human health risks after wet weather

Cairns pets and residents are at heightened risk of serious diseases like leptospirosis, dengue fever, heartworm, infected wounds and tropical diseases.
Be sure to control insects and ensure your dog is protected against heartworm and (if there are rats around) leptospirosis.
Read Cairns Vet pet advice and Pet news on the web.

Health risks remain after floodwater subsides

by Rebecca Jenkins

There a range of health issues to consider as a result of this summer's big wet. Some of which could also affect those living outside the worst-hit areas.

Published 10/02/2011


This summer Australia has experienced some of its worst flooding in several generations.

While the worst conditions have been in Queensland and Victoria, communities in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania have also been affected.

And unfortunately for those who have been affected by the extreme weather, there are a range of health issues that are likely to continue long after the rain stops falling and the floodwaters recede.

Research suggests that over the next few months a range of physical and psychological health problems will continue to plague already devastated communities.

One recent study of flooded UK residents found 64 per cent felt the disaster had adversely affected their health, with stress, anxiety and depression the most common complaints. These people also reported physical ailments including dermatitis, worsening asthma, arthritis and chest infections.

And even those living in areas that haven't been directly affected by flooding could experience an increase in the incidence of mosquito-borne viruses or household mould, which can make some people quite ill.


Bacterial infections

The dirty water, mud and silt that floods bring into our homes, backyards, streets, parks and local playgrounds can cause a range of conditions, including diarrhoeal disease and skin and soft-tissue infections.

Dr Bernie Hudson, an infectious diseases physician at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital, says any cuts and scratches acquired in a flood-affected area should be cleaned immediately and covered to avoid infection.

You need to seek medical attention if any such cut becomes painful and red and if you develop a fever, he advises.

Floodwater and contaminated soil can also be a source of leptospirosis, caused by a pathogen found in rat urine, Hudson says.

These bacteria usually enter the body through small breaks in the skin, causing a flu-like illness that Queensland Health says should be treated with antibiotics as early as possible.

In northern Australia, the water and soil-borne bacterial disease meliodosis can also be a problem following flooding, Hudson says. Queensland Health says people have died from meliodosis after previous Queensland floods; those most at risk are people with diabetes, liver disease or any kind of immune suppression.

When you are cleaning up after a flood, be sure to thoroughly clean any part of your body that has been exposed to flood water, mud or silt. And make sure your immunisations – especially tetanus – are up-to-date.


Injury prevention

The mud brought in by floodwaters also makes surfaces – such as footpaths, roads and floors – very slippery and falls are not unusual in flood clean-ups. Good shoes can help prevent falls as can using a walking pole (a broom stick does the job).

Public health physician Dr Robert Hall, a senior research fellow at Melbourne's Monash University, says it's essential people wear appropriate clothing when cleaning up areas affected by floods.

"You need to wear proper boots and shoes and have proper tools to do the job. All of those kinds of injury prevention things are really quite important," Dr Hall says.

A BMJ editorial from 2000 noted the number of orthopaedic injuries, such as broken bones, from flooding in the US state of North Carolina increased steadily over time, peaking several weeks after the disaster as people started to clean and repair their homes.

WA Health also offers this additional advice when cleaning up:

  • Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after each clean-up session and always before eating or preparing food.
  • Do not use petrol or diesel-powered equipment, such as generators or pumps, in enclosed spaces.
  • Wear a mask when working with heavy mould.
  • Be alert to snakes, spiders and rats that may have taken refuge in your home.

Go to Queensland Health's Disaster Management for a extensive information and advice on how to stay healthy after floods, storms and other natural disasters.


Mosquito-borne viruses

The stagnant water left behind by floods and rain also provides an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes, increasing the risk of the mosquito-borne diseases such as Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus.

Common symptoms of both diseases include joint pain and inflammation, as well as tiredness and muscle aches, public health authorities say.

And in north Queensland, recent rain from Cyclone Yasi could provide the perfect breeding ground for dengue mosquitoes.

The best way to stop the spread of mosquito-borne viruses is to stop mosquitoes breeding. Around your home you should empty or discard any containers that can hold water, such as pot plant drip trays, buckets, bottles, cans and tyres. You should also keep open drains and roof gutters clean and use mosquito-proof mesh to cover rainwater tank inlets and overflows.

To protect yourself from mosquito bites wear loose, light-coloured clothing, use insect repellent and stay indoors behind screens when mosquitoes are around. You should also consider repairing defective insect screens around the house and using insect spray to kill mosquitoes in the home.

The most effective mosquito repellents contain 20-50 per cent DEET, according to a recent literature review in the Journal of Travel Medicine. Preparations containing higher concentrations of picaridin or PMD – an active ingredient of lemon eucalyptus oil – are the next best choices.


Rising damp

Mould will also be an issue for many people after the recent rains, even those who have not been affected by floodwaters. It is also the scourge of many Australian homes year-round.

Mould in damp buildings can trigger nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, wheezing and respiratory infections. It can also worsen asthma and allergic conditions, Victoria's Department of Health says.

People most at risk include those with weakened immune systems, allergies, severe asthma and chronic, obstructive or allergic lung diseases.

But past experience suggests that widespread mould growth will not necessarily be bad news for your health, says Professor Connie Katelaris, professor of allergy and immunology at the University of Western Sydney and Campbelltown Hospital.

"[After Hurricane Katrina in the United States] mould was everywhere, houses were absolutely full of it, but miraculously and interestingly, very few clinical problems actually came from that," she says.

Nobody really knows why, but it's possible that the community was so stressed by the trauma of the hurricane, their stress hormones altered their reaction to the allergens, dampening their allergic response, she says.

Nevertheless, Katelaris says people with asthma and allergies should keep taking their medications as prescribed and follow asthma action plans, despite the disruption from the floods. Cleaning is the only way to remove mould from homes, Katelaris says.

Small areas of mould can be cleaned using a damp cloth and detergent solution, vinegar solution or alcohol solution, Victoria's Department of Health says. Mould treatments available in stores can bleach mould, but may not kill it.

It's also important to remove sources of moisture that are allowing mould to grow. After flooding, clean and disinfect all affected surfaces inside the house, including floors, walls, the kitchen, bathroom and laundry, the department advises.

For many the road to recovery will be an arduous one, but the evidence suggests there are things you can do to protect yourself from illness and injury along the way.

Vets report Parvo cases in wake of Queensland flooding

Queensland Vets have reported a spike in deadly parvovirus infections in dogs in the aftermath of widespread flooding.  Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus which can survive for years in the environment.  Infected dogs develop severe bloody diarrhoea and become very ill and may die in spite of veterinary treatment, which can cost over a thousand dollars.
The Queensland floods have caused a lot of displacement of dogs, resulting in animals being exposed to new environments and germs, often with poor sanitation.
Dogs should be vaccinated for parvovirus and other common diseases annually after their initial 2 or 3 puppy vaccinations.
If your dog is exposed to rats or their environment (like bush, creeks and cane paddocks) you should also vaccinate them for Leptospirosis.
"Lepto" is a deadly disease of dogs and humans which is easily caught from water contaminated by rat urine, especially during wet weather.
Ask your vet for more details.


Flooding spreads deadly pet virus

IPSWICH vets have reported a recent spike in canine parvovirus cases, with the floods cited as a possible cause.

Veterinary surgeon Catherine Tiplady with her Chihuahua Poppy who has been vaccinated against parvovirus.

IPSWICH vets have reported a recent spike in canine parvovirus cases, with the floods cited as a possible cause.

Dogs usually pick up parvovirus from the soil, with early symptoms including loss of appetite and lethargy, followed by bloody diarrhoea and vomiting.

If left untreated, the virus can be fatal within a matter of days but while there is no cure, most dogs will recover with specialised treatment.

Silkstone Veterinary Surgery vet Sam Allmark said the current weather conditions were ideal for the spread not only of parvo, but also hookworm.

“At the moment we are seeing two or three cases of parvo a day – there has been a definite increase over the last month or so,” Ms Allmark said.

“The best way to stop it is to stay on top of prevention; make sure vaccinations are up to date.”

Animal Welfare League (AWL) Ipswich veterinary nurse Lisa Boyes said it was possible that floodwaters had aided the spread of parvovirus, given the fact she had also noticed a recent increase in cases.

Ms Boyes said several pet owners had brought puppies into the AWL vet who had displayed early symptoms as mild as going off their food.

“There is no diarrhoea so they leave it for a few days – and then it can be too late,” she said.

“There is a fairly good survival rate, but that all depends on what condition the dogs are in when they arrive.

“There is no cure for parvo, all we can do is give them fluids and antibiotics and medication to stop the diarrhoea.”

Puppies less than 12 weeks old are most at risk of dying from parvo.

Death can occur from dehydration and weakness and electrolyte disturbances.

Once a dog gets parvo and survives, its natural defences build up and it is less likely to suffer symptoms of the virus again, however, vets strongly recommend that all dogs are fully vaccinated.

Puppies usually have their first needle at six to eight weeks, returning for booster shots a month apart for the next three months, followed by one booster shot per year.

Warning signs

High temperature

Loss of appetite

Lethargy, lack of interest in toys, playing

Monkey Business over

Good news about the return of a Cotton top Tamarin stolen from a Queensland zoo!

'Conchetta' the Cotton Top Tamarin

Victim of illegal pet trade: Conchetta the Cotton Top Tamarin was stolen last year and was handed back to police. Source: The Daily Telegraph

SHE was kidnapped, saw her partner's murder, and lost her babies but after four months Conchetta has been found.

The tiny cotton-top tamarin was yesterday handed over to the Symbio Wildlife Park near Wollongong, from where her new owner believed Conchetta had been stolen in May.

Vets yesterday confirmed the 12-year-old monkey had indeed been stolen - but from a Queensland zoo in October.

Conchetta's true identity was uncovered when her current owner, a 34-year-old Victorian man, flew to Wollongong to hand over the pet a friend bought on the internet.

After research, the new owner realised his unusual monkey was a critically endangered cotton-top and must have been stolen from a zoo.

Eight monkeys were stolen from Symbio Zoo last year. Seven were found but a male, Rico, is still missing, leading the man to think he was his pet.Assistant general manager at Brisbane's Alma Park Zoo, Dena Loveday, yesterday was elated Conchetta was found.

She said Conchetta's partner Tonto was found beaten to death in a suburban backyard days after the October 10 theft and they feared then-pregnant Conchetta was also killed.

"Pretty much we had given up hope for Conchetta after what happened with Tonto," Ms Loveday said.

"That species don't do well without their mates, they pine away, don't eat and often die."

Conchetta will be quarantined at Symbio until a vet gives her the all-clear to go home. It is unlikely her twins survived.

Ms Loveday said she may have aborted them through stress or given birth but been unable to look after them.