Wonderful World Wednesday
White Dog said, "Geese helping pups? Really?"
She and I were discussing Parvo and the horrible disease it is for puppies. We think more about those kinds of things now that there is a baby in our house, but the fact is that parvo is a highly contagious viral disease whose outbreaks across the country are becoming increasingly frequent. Parvo is fatal to dogs unless they receive treatment of costly antibiotics and since the outbreaks often occur at shelters and rescues the cost of treatment often leads to mass euthanizations.
When we read the BIG Story from Associated Press, we cheered at the potential cure for the parvo disease as well as for the links showing promise in treating human illness...
The BIG Story: Trial results promising for curing puppies’ parvo
By David Kolpack. ABRIDGED. June 1, 2014, The Associated Press. http://bigstory.ap.org
GRAND FORKS ND (AP)—A North Dakota company that discovered an antibody technology while trying to cure flocks of dying geese is using its research for a more warm and fuzzy purpose, saving puppies.
Early tests performed on about 50 puppies in seven states for Grand Forks-based Avianax have resulted in a 90 percent cure rate for canine parvovirus, which spreads through animal waste and direct contact between dogs, usually at kennels, shelters, and shows. Some puppies die from the virus and others are euthanized because the antibiotics and other medicine needed to treat it can be too expensive—sometimes up to $2,000—and take too long.
It isn’t clear how many dogs contract parvo annually, since the disease isn’t required to be reported. At the Kansas City Pet Project, one of eight test sites and among the largest shelters in the united States, about five cases per month wind up on the “Parvo ward.” Officials with the Missouri shelter believe the treatment will led to a dramatic increase in their “parvo graduates.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a conditional permit for the field trials that are taking place in sites in Missouri, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Texas, North Carolina, and Arizona.
The company’s path to puppy love began a decade ago after a mysterious disease—later found to be West Nile Virus—spread among flocks at the South Dakota-based Schlitz Goose Farms, the largest goose producer in North America. Farm owners found researchers at the University of North Dakota who were interested in their project.
The group, led by Dr. David Bradley, discovered antibodies in the geese that they could purify and put back into other birds. The treatment worked.
Avianax quickly found promising links between goose antibodies and treatments for other diseases, including rabies, dengue fever, avian flu, and some cancers. Because they didn’t have the money or time to explore testing for human diseases, the group set their sights on the veterinary market and eventually settled on saving puppies.
Treating parvovirus currently can cost, at a minimum, $500 for antibiotics, intravenous fluids, painkillers, and stomach medicine and generally takes six days, said Dr. Darin Meulebroeck, chief medical officer at Avianax. The trials have shown the new drug can work as quickly as two days, he said. The trial tests run through November.
Avianax has “stuck in there” with the help of key researchers and believes it is on the verge of saving human lives with a similar antibody—although it could take more than five years to reach the market. The U.S. Army is interested in using the technology for Andres virus, which has been found to lead to a fatal respiratory disease. Safety trials are scheduled for the next two years.