Rodents carry disease. I’m not going to go down the Internet rabbit hole and debate whether the guinea pig is a rodent or not, but I will let this quote from the CDC do it for me:
This outbreak is a reminder that pet rodents such as guinea pigs, regardless of where they are purchased or adopted, can carry Salmonella bacteria even when they look healthy and clean…Pet rodents are not recommended as pets for children younger than 5 years, and should not be kept in childcare centers.
Yes, the adorable pet guinea pig/rodent you are keeping as a pet could be carrying the Salmonella bacteria. Nine people in ten states have reported Salmonella cases linked to pet guinea pigs, prompting an advisory from the CDC. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain. The illness usually lasts four to seven days and most people will recover without treatment. In some cases, hospitalization may be required. Salmonella can be more severe for children under than five, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems.
The CDC’s advice for pet rodent owners: wash your hands, don’t eat or drink while playing with your pet rodent, and be aware that any surfaces your pet rodent scurries across could be contaminated. Most importantly (in my opinion): “do not kiss, nuzzle, or hold pet rodents close to your face.”
I nearly vomited at least twice reading about a woman, Abby Beckley, who discovered worms in her eyes and pulled them out one by one. Beckley is from Oregon and spends time around cattle and horses. She first noticed the worms crawling across her eye when she was working on a fishing boat in Alaska, and thought they might be worms from salmon. Initially, doctors were skeptical about Beckley’s eye worm claims and couldn’t see them.
“I felt one squiggle across my eye, and I told the doctors, ‘You need to look right now!’ ” Beckley said. “I’ll never forget the expression on their faces as they saw it move across my eye.”
Beckley repeatedly visited the doctors in an attempt to flush the worms out of her eyes, but they kept reappearing, and she continued to remove them herself, pulling them one at a time from her eye.
The worst part, she says, was wondering what the worms might do to her body, “so close to my brain and eyes.”
Samples were sent off to the CDC who finally identified the worm species as Thelazia gulosa. They are unique to cattle and have never been found in a human eye before, as far as we know. A CDC worker described the discovery as “really exciting” saying “that it is a new species that has never infected people before. It’s a cattle worm that somehow jumped into a human.” Yes, really exciting indeed.
The treatment, doctors told Beckley, was to continue removing any worms she found herself:
Twenty days after pulling the first worm from her eye, Beckley discovered the final wiggling worm. Once that was out, her ordeal was over. She knows because she’s not found another since. Her vision remains good, with no other complications.
All in all, a great ending to a truly nauseating story.
I am a cat person. I’ve always had cats or lived around cats. They can be peculiar, and stand-offish, and downright adorable. Dogs have always seemed cute to me, but not exceptional in the way cats can be. Two years ago, I developed a new appreciation for dogs during an Outward Bound dog-sledding and cross-country ski trip. One of my goals is to one day adopt one of the retired Outward Bound sled dogs. They are intelligent, extremely hard-working and sociable, and are hard not to fall in love with instantly.
A new study, which will come as no surprise to dog lovers, says that having a dog can be fantastic for your health, especially for people who live alone. The study showed that:
For people living alone, owning a dog can decrease their risk of death by 33% and their risk of cardiovascular related death by 36%, when compared to single individuals without a pet, according to the study. Chances of a heart attack were also found to be 11% lower.
I confess I’m jealous of the way dogs interact with their owners, like they actually acknowledge and appreciate them. There’s no questioning this with dogs. I know my cat loves me deep down, but sometimes I’m not so sure. She often looks at me like she is plotting ways to kill me, a look all cat owners are familiar with.
Dog owners have a generally higher level of physical activity which may be one reason for the results. Have you ever walked a cat? I have, it’s certainly not the same as walking a dog, though potentially more amusing. Along with increased physical activity, the study suggested that “increased social-well being and immune system development” contributed to “protection against cardiovascular disease and death.”
One factor behind this may be because dogs bring dirt into homes and they lick you, which could impact your microbiome — the bacteria that live in your gut — and thus your health. “It may encourage owners to improve their social life, and that in itself will reduce their stress level, which we know absolutely is a primary cause for cardiovascular disease and cardiac events,” said Dr. Rachel Bond, Associate Director of Women’s Heart Health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who was not involved in the research.
For those of you grossed out when you see dog lovers welcoming those dog licks, remember that it may be saving their life.