5.  Helping Fellow VPHers With Grad Projects – During the summer I helped Cohort of 2010 MPH-VPHer Colleen with her culminating project, which was to survey randomly selected Columbus city parks for zoonotic ascarids (roundworms that can pass from animals to humans) in the soil in order to characterize risk and epidemiology of the disease in urban Ohio.  I assisted by processing soil samples to be mounted on slides and scanned them under a microscope looking specifically for zoonotic roundworms such as Toxocara and Baylisascaris species.  Unexpectedly, we did not find any roundworms…good for public health, bad for research.  I still had a lot of fun working with Colleen and her husband, while refreshing my lab skills!  One thing is for sure; VPHers are involved in some pretty cool stuff!

This is the microscopic view of centrifuged soil samples; the orange football looks like a canine whipworm egg (non-zoonotic) to me.

This is the microscopic view of centrifuged soil samples; the orange football looks like a canine whipworm egg (non-zoonotic) to me.

 

4.  Relay for Life – Despite the rainy downpour, I had a fantastic time participating in OSU’s Relay for Life event last April.  A member of the 2011 MPH-VPH Cohort is a survivor of childhood cancer and organized Team Believe to help raise funds for the American Cancer Society.  There was a great turnout of support from fellow cohort members, friends, family and faculty; as a team, we raised over $2,500!  Although the beginning of the event was soggy and heart-heavy with remembrance of loved ones lost to cancer, it progressed to hope and celebration of survivors and finding a cure.  The luminaria was especially touching.  I probably didn’t walk enough laps around the field to counter all the cupcakes I ate, but they were soooo gooood!

Check out those cupcakes and goodies – yummy!

Check out those cupcakes and goodies – yummy!

 

3.  PPE DemonstrationPPE stands for personal protective equipment, which you must wear if you plan on investigating a potentially highly contagious disease out in the field or in a lab.  Students in the Biosecurity and Environmental Health class got to participate in a demonstration of properly donning, maneuvering, sampling and doffing in a Class C suit.  It wasn’t a by the book demo since we used recycled tyvek suits, unfitted and uncylindered respirators and duct tape (which isn’t chemical resistant) to seal seams, but we still got a good taste for the real effect.

Thumbs up, good to go!

Thumbs up, good to go!

 

2.  Cohort Hoodies! –  There’s nothing like wearing the same clothing to bring people together, especially when “Wash Your Hands” is scrawled on the lower back!  FYI, placement of that statement on the hoodie was not my idea, although I do support the message very much!

I kinda wish I could see the look on people’s face as they walk behind me when I’m out in public.

I kinda wish I could see the look on people’s face as they walk behind me when I’m out in public.

 

1.  Graduate Practicum Allowed Me to Present Research in Alaska - I was very fortunate to have a graduate practicum with the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace this past summer (check out my sister blog here for more details on that experience).  My objective was to analyze historic vectorborne and zoonotic disease data in SAS and assist with a report to be published on their website.  I was even more blessed when I had the chance to travel to Alaska to give an oral presentation on my research at the American Indian Science & Engineering Society’s National Conference in Anchorage.  Opportunities abound in the VPH program, don’t miss your chance and apply for the Cohort of 2013 today!

Alaska is beautiful, you must go.

Alaska is beautiful, you must go.

Those are my top 5 experiences in OSU’s Veterinary Public Health program so far.  I’m sure once I graduate, that will take the number one spot…maybe.  Thank you all for stopping by to read, like, follow and comment on my blog!  Since the semester is nearing its end, my posts to this blog will become less regular.  Be sure to stop by again in the future though!

Two weeks ago on Tuesday, I had the opportunity to see a bill long in the making on its way to passing in the statehouse of OhioS.B. 130, also colloquially known as the Puppy Mill Bill, has roots in veterinary public health.   It was written around 7 years ago for the purpose of tightening regulations on high volume dog breeders, especially in regards to improving living conditions of the animals by defining appropriate conditions and by giving the Ohio Department of Agriculture more enforcement capabilities through a license fee & violation fines schedule.

State flags in front of a section of the Ohio Capital building

I attended the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Meeting, the purpose of which was to hear all testimony concerning the bill and possibly amend the bill and vote on it.  This was my first trip to the Ohio capital building, an impressive structure of Greek-style stonework, and my first time seeing state politics in action, so I honestly didn’t understand a lot of what was going on.  I found my way to a small room where a TV news crew was setting up and a lot of men and women in suits were mingling.  I was lucky to get a seat, because once the meeting started, there was standing room only.  Representatives from the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Ohio Veterinary Medical Association and concerned citizens came with prepared speeches pointing out points of contention but generally supporting the bill as it stood.  There were a few people that were completely against the bill and one in particular whose offbeat articulation elicited raised eyebrows from the crowd and gavel banging from the speaker of the house!  I stayed for part of one day, but several days of testimony have been heard for each version of the bill that has been introduced.

Many people may only see the animal welfare side of this bill, but it has the potential of protecting human health as well.  By preventing deplorable conditions that exist in too many puppy mill situations, there is a reduction in the risk of transmitting zoonotic diseases such as brucellosis, salmonellosis and cryptosporidiosis, giardia and ringworm to potential buyers.  In fact, one testimony read by a witness cited concern about human brucellosis risk that could result from a documented increase in cases in Michigan dogs. Ultimately, these cases could be traced back to animals that originated in Ohio and Indiana.  More than likely those animals came from a poorly managed commercial breeders.  Those cases may have been prevented had stricter laws been in place.

There are many other larger facets to this bill worth exploring, but I wanted to illustrate how VPH can have an impact through current legislature and how long and confusing government processes can be!  I’m certainly not downplaying the main issue of this legislation, to protect animals, because that is definitely a cause worth rallying for.  The quality of this bill and the direction it is taking is also up for debate; it has supporters and those opposed on both sides of the spectrum, from animal breeders to veterinary medical professionals.

East entrance to the statehouse.

Last year’s tasty meal enjoyed by my family!

As most American families will sit down and enjoy a traditional turkey meal together this week in the spirit of thanks, I wanted to point out all the work that goes into making sure the bird is properly raised, processed and prepared for safe consumption.

The safety of our food may be the last thing on our mind, especially with a meal looking like that!  But it is worthwhile to look behind the scenes of the process that 249 million turkeys undergo annually in the United States.  This is a $5 billion industry!

The veterinary public health impact on a Thanksgiving turkey begins before the bird has even hatched.  Good biosecurity protocols are in place to keep the birds healthy as they move from hatchery to brooding facility (1 day to 6 weeks) to growing facility to finishing and processing. Here is a link to a video that covers the following timeline of producing a turkey.  An All In, All Out (AIAO) method is standard, meaning flocks, hatches, groups, etc., move as a single unit from one production unit to another.  Between groups, the equipment in that production unit is cleaned and sanitized to prevent any possible transmission of diseases.  AIAO is an essential biosecurity tool used in animal production!

  • Commercial turkey reproduction is universally conducted via artificial insemination (AI) because we have bred meat turkeys to be so heavy in the breast that it is physically impossible for toms (male turkeys) to breed naturally.  I don’t think this is a great direction to be heading in turkey production, but consumers want bowling ball-sized turkeys and producers make sure that’s what they get.
  • Fertilized eggs are sent to a turkey hatchery where chicks emerge after incubating for 28 days. Vaccinations are typically administered through the eggshell or within a day of hatching.  Vaccines help limit spread of disease among birds, therefore keeping production costs down for producers and food prices down for consumers.
  • A turkey chick is called a poult.  Poults are transferred to a long wharehouse-like growing facility and stay under heat lamps enclosed in a breeder ring.  The poults grow rapidly and within 5 to 6 days the ring is removed so they have more space to roam. No steroids or antibiotics are used to enhance growth; they grow quite rapidly all on their own.
  • For the finishing phase, toms and hens are separated since the males will spend more weeks growing and reaching a higher weight. The hens are ready for market at 14 to 17 weeks while the toms are ready between 20 and 24.
  • In large facilities, a veterinarian may be employed to routinely inspect the flock to ensure overall health. Veterinarians are also involved in developing biosecurity protocols, recommending vaccinations, and treating sick birds following USDA and FDA guidelines.
  • When the turkeys are plump enough, they are sent to a USDA inspected facility to be processed.  Each facility has a designated veterinarian (although vets often are in charge of more than one facility) that is responsible for overseeing slaughter practices and the food inspectors.  There is a lot of veterinary public health going on at slaughter facilities, but I’ll spare you the gory details!
  • Then the birds are packaged and shipped to your local store under refrigeration.  Each shipment of meat and poultry should have a manifest recording time and temperatures and this documentation continues at the store.  Local health departments can inspect stores to make certain that meat is stored and displayed at correct temperatures; a further step ensuring our food has been safely handled.
  • You pick out the perfect bird!  This may be my favorite part besides eating a delicious slice of turkey.

This one looks like a winner.

  • Then it’s up to you to defrost and cook the bird properly.  The CDC has a webpage dedicated to safely preparing your turkey dinner.  If you decide to eat out, then you can trust that the restaurant you are eating at has been properly inspected by a public health official.

That’s a lot of work going into one roasted bird!  One thing I will count among my many thanks this year is trust in the safety of the food I eat.  Enjoy the parade this year and may your plate be full!

My dog gives the perfect impression of how I feel after a scrumptious turkey dinner!

Everyone loves Snoopy!

Epidemiologists (aka disease-hunters) use a nifty tool called surveillance to track diseases and government offices use regulations to help prevent disease.  These two tools are important in preventing outbreaks and mitigating them when they do occur.

Not the tracking I was thinking of, but close enough!

Surveillance is the art and science of tracking diseases of interest, monitoring their trends and providing this information in a usable form.  There are many ways to classify surveillance: it can be passive or active, conducted on a local or national scale, or track actual confirmed cases of disease or symptoms of interest.  Passive surveillance is considered receiving routine reports of disease and active surveillance is the action of seeking new cases of disease.  One of my favorites is syndromic surveillance, which can help identify early signs of an outbreak by tracking clinical data, such as ER admission codes and non-clinical data such as trends in drug sales such as anti-diarrheal medications.

Animals at state and county agricultural fairs are sometimes swabbed and sampled for diseases that have the potential to be outbreak-worthy.  A fair is a perfect mix of humans and animals sharing germs, a zoonotic virus or bacteria’s dream!  It is good to know that animals are checked for overall health when admitted to a fair and some species may require a health certificate from a veterinarian.  Currently, there is a research study in Ohio to investigate what types of influenza virus strains pigs might carry.  These samples are tested and typed and go into a database to track trends  – an important part of epidemiologic surveillance.  This information will soon be published and have public access.  A surveillance-like forum that you might find interesting is ProMED-Mail.

Make sure to wash your hands frequently when you visit a fair! Even if you don’t touch the animals, someone else might have and used the doorknob, pen, hand railing, etc. before you.

Regulations might get a bad rep as being “red tape” or constrictive, but veterinary public health regulations were put in place for our well-being.  An infectious disease example of a VPH regulation would be importation of animals or animal products into the United States.  The U.S. is free of Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD)* and we want to keep it that way!  FMD is not zoonotic, but our cattle, sheep and pig populations are completely naïve, meaning if introduced, FMD would wreck havoc on our economy due to millions and millions of sick animals.  Therefore, there are strict rules and requirements if susceptible animals (cloven-hoofed) are imported into our country.  In fact, we won’t even allow animals to be exported here if they come from an FMD-endemic area.

*Plum Island, NY is home to the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, a federal research facility where FMD is studied, but this is the ONLY place where FMD exists on U.S. soil, and it is highly controlled and secure.  Woe to the person that brings this disease here!!

A lonely sheep at the Ohio State Fair, disease-free and rockin’ that hairdo!

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to give an oral presentation on my summer practicum research with the U.S. Air Force at my first-ever conference.  I analyzed 12 years of U.S. Air Force vectorborne and zoonotic disease surveillance data, published an article that can be accessed here, and traveled north to Alaska to share my findings.

I was very lucky to receive an invitation and travel scholarship to attend the 34th annual American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) National Conference in Anchorage, Alaska from November 1-3, 2012.  AISES is a non-profit organization that seeks to increase the number of Native Americans in the science, technology, engineering & math (STEM) fields through mentoring, professional development, scholarships and internships and has helped open countless doors for students like me.

Beautiful Anchorage, AK.

It was a trip filled with “firsts” for me, including my first time visiting Alaska, eating reindeer sausage, presenting published research I assisted with, winning an Honorable Mention for an oral presentation, attending an AISES National Conference, learning about the local Alaskan Native culture, and flying a redeye (my least favorite memory)!

What an honor to be recognized!

A Bright Future for Native America

I also enjoyed catching up with friends from my alma mater, Colorado State University, and making new connections with colleagues and professionals.  I felt energized being surrounded by so many Natives and positive role models interested in the sciences, including the few American Indian females who serve as faculty members in science departments at colleges and universities across the nation.  The poster and oral presentations were very impressive and ranged from pre-college to PhD participants.

Reunion

It wasn’t all suits and shiny shoes, I was able to check out the dazzling landscape and wildlife that Alaska has to offer.  I made a trip to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) with friends and family to see wood bison, moose, caribou, elk, musk ox and lynx!

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I can’t wait to make another trip to the Last Frontier, but next time it will be in SUMMER!  Alaska gives a new meaning to frigid, although I’m sure I didn’t experience all that Mother Nature is capable of.  I’d like to give a shout out to one of my tribes, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, for sponsoring my travel scholarship, thank you!

With Halloween upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to illustrate a world without veterinary public health and how scary it might look…perhaps a lot like the post-apocalyptic zombie-filled desolate landscapes filling our TV and movie screens nowadays.  Not really, but it makes for a great illustration, right?!

I can’t picture a world without VPH, but I imagine it would mean a lot less confidence in the safety of the food we eat, the milk we consume, the animals we come into contact with, the water we drink, and more.  Emerging zoonotic diseases would be making more headlines and more people would know about diseases like Baylisascaris (raccoon roundworm), Q Fever and leptospirosis because they would be more prevalent.  Simply put, an unhealthy state of affairs would become more obvious.

Check out this plague of pumpkins!

In the spirit of Halloween, my friends and I carved pumpkins to the theme of Scary VPH.  There’s a puking pumpkin (could it be a foodborne illness?), an unassuming raccoon face (could it be rabid?), and an ominous beware sign topped by the biohazard symbol (could it contain the next pandemic?).

A better view of the biohazard symbol.

So this Halloween, whether you have your eye on Frankenstorm, or the storm of trick-or-treaters that’s brewing at your front door, remember that the world is a little less scary and a lot more safe with effective public health measures like veterinary public health.

FYI, the best people to have on your side during a zombie apocalypse are veterinarians; the American Veterinary Medical Association has laid out their top 5 reasons here.  My favorite reason is that they are the best at avoiding BITES!

Brains! Nom nom nom…

Will Be…

Challenging

Since 60-70% of all emerging diseases are zoonotic, there will be plenty of work to go around for veterinarians, physicians and allied health professionals!  Diseases that we should be particularly careful about are respiratory diseases with easy airborne transmission.  Recent examples of diseases that circulated in animals and then jumped species to humans and then easily spread among humans are SARS and some influenzas such as H1N1 (pigs are origin) & H5N1 (birds are a source).

Waterfowl commonly circulate the H5N1 virus.

Funded

…Or maybe not, depending on economic and political changes.  Over the past few years, federal and state support of public health programs has been on the decrease due to shrinking budgets and competing endeavors.  But, veterinary science has been increasingly recognized as important to the field of public health and several programs have been developed to support this interest.  H.R. 525 Veterinary Public Health Amendments Act of 2011 is a bill proposing to expand the Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Program to include veterinary public health professionals in the program, but hasn’t been fully passed or implemented yet.  Currently, a large portion of the workforce is nearing retirement age, meaning many great job opportunities will be opening up in a field where you can make a difference.

Progressive

Many professionals and pre-professionals in the field of veterinary public health see the future of the discipline becoming more expansive and comprehensive.  They predict that more veterinarians will turn to public health practice and that veterinary medicine will take a more prominent role in the field of public health.  Currently at Ohio State, an example of progress in bridging the gap between veterinary medicine and human medicine is Dr. Armando Hoet’s research, which adds to the knowledge base of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureas (MRSA) by demonstrating how animals and human-animal interactions can contribute to the spread of MRSA.

Intriguing

New terms like Zoobiquity (or Zoob for short) describing the One Health concept may feel awkward at first, but we’ll find our groove.  We just have to remind or teach ourselves and our colleagues that animals and humans have coexisted for thousands of years, sharing germs and interacting on equal and unequal terms.  We may look starkly different on the outside, but we have a shared biology and our medicines should reflect that similarity.

Look at this cool little guy! He doesn’t look anything like us, but he carries some of the same bacteria that we do.

I saw the best vanity plate in a parking lot the other day, “GOT EPI”.  I thought it was a perfect topic for my next blog post and a great question.  Epidemiology, or epi as it’s known in shorthand, is one of the tenants of public health and veterinary public health.

What is epi?

This is another great question.  During one of my grad courses, our professor asked us to formulate our own definition of epidemiology and veterinary epidemiology.  To me, epidemiology is the study of how diseases move through populations and the application of that knowledge to prevent further cases.  For example, epi taught us that washing our hands regularly is the best way to prevent the spread of the common cold.  This is a message among many that public health professionals continue to educate the public on so they know how to stay healthy.  Veterinary epidemiology is the same thing, but incorporates veterinary science when dealing with zoonotic diseases among people or diseases among animal populations.  Epi uses a lot of statistics, graphs, counting, measuring and causal theories to determine which factors need targeting in order to reduce the prevalence of disease.

It hits home.

Epidemiology is so important in the state of Ohio that multiple agencies convene at The Ohio State University once a month to update each other on news and findings concerning health events among people and animals within the state and nationally.  Shareholders in attendance include USDA (Vet Services and Wildlife Services), ODA, ODH, OSU Colleges of Public Health and Veterinary Medicine, and military personnel.  These meetings have been hosted at OSU by the Veterinary Preventive Medicine Department continuously since 1999 and are officially known as the Applied Field Epidemiology Program.  Topics discussed weekly include surveillance, control, and actions taken in regards to Avian Influenza, West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and Chronic Wasting Disease activity.

A gathering of Elk in Estes Park, CO. Elk can become infected with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD); an animal disease that mimics some zoonotic diseases. Northern Colorado is a hotspot for CWD.

Interesting news I learned from last week’s meeting is that in light of the tragic situation that occurred in Zanesville, OH last year when an owner released more than 50 wild and potentially dangerous animals to the public, including lions and tigers. Recent legislation has given the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) regulatory authority over wild and dangerous animals held in captivity.  All owners must now meet minimum care requirements, receive a permit for their wild and dangerous animal from ODA or take them out of the state.  Owning wild animals is a topic of discussion for another forum, but ownership of wild and potentially dangerous animals exemplifies the importance of veterinary public health and its place in legislature.

It is just plain awesome.

Seeing Dustin Hoffman versus a capuchin monkey is just plain awesome.  If you haven’t seen the movie Outbreak, then you should Netflix it right now.  The synopsis is two government scientists are combating a deadly airborne zoonotic virus that has found its way from Africa to the U.S. via stowaway monkey.  It is on the verge of pandemic and a quarantine is placed on a small town.  Panic ensues.  You are probably more familiar with the movie Contagion, which is inspired by true events.  This movie takes it one step further by showcasing a pandemic situation. Major players in this film include the WHO, CDC and Epidemiology Intelligence Service (EIS) officers.  I would love to be an EIS officer someday!

The main message of the movie is to wash your hands!  In both movies, epidemiology and outbreak investigations played a critical role.  I hope you have a greater appreciation and understanding of epidemiology and the role it can play in your daily life.

No, this isn’t a weird VPH version of Duck, Duck, Goose (…or could it be?).   These are the favorite zoonotic diseases of three of my Veterinary Public Health colleagues!  This past week I had the chance to sit down with two VPH students and a faculty member to chew the cud and discuss their views on their field of study.  I spoke with:

  • Veterinary Preventive Medicine Clinical Assistant Professor Dr. Jeanette O’Quin, Cohort of 2008 graduate
  • Cohort of 2010 MPH-VPH member and newly minted veterinary student Colleen Shockling Dent
  • Cohort of 2011 Representative & member Kimberly Eaken

Common themes that arose during the interviews included wishing that more people knew about how veterinary public health impacts their daily lives, a belief in the One Health concept, a love for zoonotic diseases, and a passion for science demonstrated through their many activities!

Read on to see if you can match the VPHer with her favorite zoonotic disease!

Kimmie and her partner in crime are completing a biosecurity exercise in one of the MPH-VPH courses.

This past weekend, Ms. Eaken expanded her VPH knowledge and networked with veterinary public health professionals and students at Cornell University’s Zoonotic Disease Symposium.  Before attending this symposium, she remarked that she was unsure exactly what she wanted to do in the field of public health, but that changed when she heard about the Applied Epidemiology Fellowship program offered jointly by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), a program she now plans on applying to.  Ms. Eaken expressed her motivation for working in public health in the government sector.  “When you think of diseases, you think of CDC.”

Ms. Eaken will also be participating in the OSU Farm to Table program in Costa Rica in less than a month, along with other VPH students.  The program is designed to be a comparative study of food production systems between the United States and Costa Rica.  Components of the trip include tours of aquaculture facilities, abattoirs, market areas and restaurants.  Bring me back some coffee!

Favorite Disease:  “Hanta-what?”  Before enrolling in Ohio State’s MPH-VPH program, Ms. Eaken had never heard of Hantavirus and she became intrigued by its prevalence in the American Southwest.  She used this disease in a project during her Infectious Disease Modeling class.

Colleen when she was last year’s MPH-VPH program Coordinator, leading students through the biosecurity exercise.

Before becoming a VPH student at Ohio State, Ms. Dent worked as a biologist in Monterey, CA and was looking for the next step in her career and education.  Having the choice between Conservation Biology and Veterinary Public Health for a Master’s degree, Ms. Dent chose VPH because she saw that it could open more doors for her.  And it opened one of the biggest doors of all!  Ms. Dent is currently a first year professional veterinary medical student at The Ohio State University.  Looking back on her time in the VPH program, Ms. Dent recalls how close the cohort became and was excited to finally meet others with similar interests, proclaiming “I found the nerds!  It was awesome.”

Her dream job is to work for a state wildlife agency.  Some advice she has for incoming and prospective students is to  “be open-minded, meet different people and network.  Many don’t realize how important [your colleagues] are going to be when they get out.”

Favorite Disease:  It was hard for Ms. Dent to pick between Rabies and Ebola, but with the recent discovery of Bas-Congo in Africa (a possibly zoonotic virus & seemingly cross between rabies and ebola), the choice became clearer.  “It’s like my two favorite diseases had a baby!”  Thus far, Bas-Congo seems most related to Rabies.

Animals tend to have more free range and interaction with people and other animals in less developed countries, like this scene in Ecuador. The dog doesn’t have a collar or rabies tag so her vaccination status is unknown, don’t pet her!

Already having her DVM and working in the public health field, Dr. O’Quin started the MPH-VPH program because she wanted to broaden her understanding and expand her career options.  About completing her degree Dr. O’Quin stated “I feel more like a veterinarian than I did before.”  She went on to say that had she known more about public health before she went into practice, it would have made her a better clinician because public health is infused in all aspects of veterinary medicine.  Her insight underscores the need for veterinary medical schools to incorporate more public health teachings into their curricula.

For Dr. O’Quin, veterinary public health means “a safer and healthier world” for animals and people.  She also sees it as an expanding field that is a good career choice for veterinarians and non-veterinarians alike.  “It prepares you to do so many different things.”  Even though Dr. O’Quin currently has her dream job, it must feel good to know that a degree like an MPH-VPH gives you the flexibility to work in a variety of sub-fields in public health.

Favorite Disease:  By process of elimination, you can figure out that Rabies is a favorite of Dr. O’Quin’s.  Much of her previous position required conducting surveillance & risk assessments for Rabies as well as implementing prevention and control measures in the state of Ohio. Her Masters thesis dealt with rabies as well. She sums it up by saying  “Rabies is bad”.

No music, no stopping, just me and the open road… well ok, it was a closed course on the road!  I participated in the Cat Welfare Association’s (CWA) 2012 Cat Caper 5K Race this past Sunday and had a blast!  At first sight, it probably should have been called the Dog Jog because there weren’t any cats running with their owners, just dogs.  Like this cute Dachshund Hot Dog!

If he knew he was running for cats, he’d split his bun!
(Courtesy Charper Images)

Purpose and mission of CWA, founded in 1945, is to care for feral and abandoned cats in Franklin County.  According to CWA, there are almost a million stray or feral cats in Franklin County; that’s a lot of potential for zoonotic disease transmission and is a sizeable public nuisance!  Without organizations like the Cat Welfare Association, cities like Columbus might not be as nice to live in.

Never a good idea when a feral cat wants to play with your pet!

I surprised myself and beat my personal goal of finishing under 35 minutes, with a final time of 31:42.  The course itself was a scenic tour of residential Clintonville with a steep descent and ascent (that hill was wicked!).

The beginning and the end of the race.
(Courtesy Charper Images)

Not too far into the race, I encountered my first veterinary public health moment.  After rounding a corner, I noticed that one of the racing dogs decided to pop a squat and take a dump on the right hand side of the road.  If you gotta go, you gotta go.  Luckily the owner had a doggie bag with him.

Did you know that laws targeting dog owners to pick up after their pets are not only for the sake of keeping our communities looking nice but also for the sake of veterinary public health?  Dogs are capable of harboring zoonotic parasites in their intestines such as roundworms like Toxocara canis.  Eggs are deposited in the feces, and these eggs can larvate in the soil into their infectious form.  If this soil happens to be in a public park or green space that people also use, they can become exposed to the larvae and become infected with the parasite.

After dodging that bullet, I continued on my journey and reached the end, finishing 83rd overall.  I didn’t know this, but at the end, there were handing out free (pasteurized) Velvet Ice Cream!  Had I known this, I bet I could’ve made 82nd place.  It was a fine reward for running my tail off in my first 5K race in Ohio!  I had such a great time that I wouldn’t mind running with the pack again.  It felt good that my registration fee was going towards an organization whose mission supports public health.

Crossing the finish line!
(Courtesy Charper Images)

Please do your part by picking up after your pet!  Thank you Charper Images for many of these photos!

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