Posted in cats, dogs, pet health

Is it zoonotic? Or not?

I spent a day at home on Monday with what could be termed a sick stomach, plus other uncomfortable symptoms I’m not going to mention. I’m not sure, but maybe it was a result of partying with eleven 4-year-olds and their parents on Sunday, two of whom had left a similarly sick mommy home that day? I knew I should have washed my hands plenty more times than I had, but I was having fun.

It reminded me, not too pleasantly, of a rotavirus we’d gotten from our son at that age. There’s a reason the germ is nicknamed for a very effective household drain cleaner. After tossing my cookies Sunday night, there was little left in me. Much of Monday was lost to sleep. (Ah, sleep! It can make you feel so much better. When you can get it.)

I followed my illness with a thorough cleaning of the bed linens and towels. Hoping the bug hadn’t been passed on to my hubby, I wasn’t thinking too much about anyone else.

But by Thursday, there was a distinct trail of clues, suggesting that my illness had possibly spread – to one of the cats. Spots of vomit on the carpet. A big pool of it on the bedspread. Stinky kitty litter lumps in the litter pans.

A very nervous cat, off his feed and looking guilty, slunk under the bed.

I ticked off the possibilities in my head. Two cats sleep in special spots: the laundry basket goes to Marbles; Daisy gets her beauty sleep on top of my dresser. The only one left was the scaredy-cat Casper, the one who spent his baby days living a feral life. Monday he had been my best buddy while I convalesced.

Still, I wondered. Did he eat some of Marbles’ special diet food? Did he get into our meds and eat something he shouldn’t? Was there melamine in his pet food, a la the disastrous 2007 pet food recall? Or did he succumb to whatever had made me sick too?

I’m not a scientist. I don’t know for certain what made me ill. But rotaviruses do infect many species. Numerous studies have been made of rotavirus strains, and genetic analysis indicates high similarity of human rotavirus strains with certain bovine, porcine, feline, equine, and lapine rotaviruses.

I couldn’t get said cat to the vet for any kind of exam. The effort to get him in a carrier scared the @*%$&# out of him. In my haste to clean up the odious mess, I flushed away the only sample I could have delivered to the vet.

Liberal amounts of baby wipes and paper towels later, I allowed Casper some dignity and left him alone, mainly because he had succeeded in cramming himself between the cabinet and the bathtub. There was no room to even think of removing him. The smells emanating from the area kept all of us at bay.

A few sponge baths for his stinky tail later, he emerged. He ate, tentatively. He seems okay now.

But I learned my lesson: no matter what, WASH YOUR HANDS.



a little off-center, but full of good intentions