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Saturday, December 20, 2008

$10,000 of veterinarian bills-Can You Help Out?

The Humane Society of North Central Iowa is asking for the community's help.

The recent outbreak of parvovirus with the dogs and the e. coli outbreak among the cats have generated almost $10,000 of veterinarian bills.
Volunteers will be making calls from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. today to local residents who have donated in the past or who have been identified as animal lovers to ask for help to cover the costs to save the animals.
"The local vets have been very helpful providing discounts for the shelter animals and providing antibiotics," said Laurie Hagey, interim executive director for the shelter. "But when you think about how much it costs to provide one cat with medication and then you times that by 70 cats, it can get very expensive very fast."

All the cats housed at the shelter are being treated with antibiotics as a precaution, but only 20 cats have shown symptoms of an e. coli infection, she said. Of the cats who have been infected, five have died, and three of those were feral cats.

Hagey said the feral cats may have been cause of the outbreak and attempts to isolate the new animals for seven to 10 days were not successful.

"We don't have the ability to restrict air circulation at the shelter, so it's hard to completely isolate any animal," Hagey said.

Dr. Culley Holm, veterinarian at Holm Animal Hospital, said e. coli is a common virus found on just about every surface but is normally not deadly or even associated with respiratory symptoms much like the symptoms shown by the animals.

He said he suspects there is another virus at work and the culture that was grown at Iowa State University to determine the disease may have been contaminated with e.coli.

E. coli causes severe diarrhea that can turn deadly when not treated with antibiotics. The cats may not have e. coli, Holm said, but they are getting better with the prescribed antibiotics.

The facility housing the cats has been closed to the public while the cats recover, Hagey said. The cat shelter is expected to reopen Friday.
The dogs at the shelter suffered an outbreak earlier and nine dogs were infected with parvo. Of the nine dogs, four died, but the rest have recovered and adoption has continued in that facility, she said.

It was believed that the outbreak started when a stray dog was brought to the facility and isolation efforts didn't stop the infection.

A new shelter is being planned, and construction should begin in the spring, Hagey said. The new shelter will have separate isolation and quarantine wards for recently arrived or sick animals, and airlocks will reduce the opportunity for contamination between groups of animals.

People who would like to donate to the shelter can send their gift to the Humane Society of North Central Iowa , P.O. Box 3013, Fort Dodge. People can also call 570-6471 or 570-4106 between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

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