Paleo, vegan, gluten-free: Owners are putting animals on human regimens and fueling a huge pet-wellness industry. But some health experts are concerned.
White-tailed deer on Staten Island have become the first wild animals with documented Omicron infections. The coronavirus has now been found in deer in 15 states.
White-tailed deer could become a reservoir for the virus, putting people and animals at risk, health experts say.
Some pet owners have extended vaccine worries to their furry pals. When is it appropriate to skip a dog or cat’s shot, and when is it absolutely crucial?
Right before Thanksgiving, we reported on how Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium solved the Curious Case of the Missing Chloroquine. The antiparasitic drug is typically added to the water for new animals in quarantine, but it was mysteriously disappearing. The culprit: hungry, hungry microbes. The post included a throwaway line about how the aquarium vets also had the lowdown on how to give an electric eel an MRI.
That bit seemed to resonate with readers, and we received several queries about how, exactly, this feat might be accomplished. You asked. We wanted answers. So we turned to Bill Van Bonn, the clinical veterinarian in charge of the aquarium’s Center for Animal Health and Welfare, which boasts a state-of-the-art animal hospital for monitoring the health of all the animals in the exhibits and treating them as necessary. Dr. Van Bonn and his colleague, Dr. Karisa Tang, were happy to oblige.
Van Bonn describes the veterinary team at the aquarium as “family practitioners” rather than specialists, although they are able to draw on world-class expertise as needed from the greater Chicago area. And since there isn’t a lot of diagnostic and treatment precedent in the literature for many of the animals in their care, they practice comparative medicine by necessity.
Dog trainers are turning to video sessions to work with pets and their owners.
Veterinarians, ranchers and farmers say they are struggling with the effects of the surging demand for ivermectin, a deworming drug.
Helen Macdonald said she has until 4:30 p.m. Thursday to put him down herself or agricultural authorities, who fear bovine tuberculosis, can show up to kill him at any time.
Pet pharmacy Mixlab has developed a digital platform enabling veterinarians to prescribe medications and have them delivered — sometimes on the same day — to pet parents.
The New York-based company raised a $20 million Series A in a round of funding led by Sonoma Brands and including Global Founders Capital, Monogram Capital, Lakehouse Ventures and Brand Foundry. The new investment gives Mixlab total funding of $30 million, said Fred Dijols, co-founder and CEO of Mixlab.
Dijols and Stella Kim, chief experience officer, co-founded Mixlab in 2017 to provide a better pharmacy experience, with the veterinarian at the center.
Dijols’ background is in medical devices as well as healthcare investment banking, where he became interested in the pharmacy industry, following TruePill and PillPack, which he told TechCrunch were “creating a modern pharmacy model.”
As more pharmacy experiences revolved around at-home delivery, he found the veterinary side of pharmacy was not keeping up. He met Kim, a user experience expert, whose family owns a pharmacy, and wanted to bring technology into the industry.
“The pharmacy industry is changing a lot, and technology allows us to personalize the care and experience for the veterinarian, pet parent and the pet,” Kim said. “Customer service is important in healthcare as is dignity and empathy. We kept that in mind when starting Mixlab. Many companies use technology to remove the human element, but we use it to elevate it.”
Mixlab’s technology includes a digital service for veterinarians to streamline their daily medication workflow and gives them back time to spend with patient care. The platform manages the home delivery of medications across branded, generic and over-the-counter medications, as well as reduces a clinic’s on-site pharmacy inventories. Veterinarians can write prescriptions in seconds and track medication progress and therapy compliance.
The company also operates its own compound pharmacy where it specializes in making medications on-demand that are flavored and dosed.
On the pet parent side, they no longer have to wait up to a week for medications nor have to drive over to the clinic to pick them up. Medications come in a personalized care package that includes a note from the pharmacist, clear and easy-to-read instructions and a new toy.
Over the past year, adoptions of pets spiked as more people were at home, also leading to an increase in vet visits. This also caused the global pet care industry to boom, and it is now projected to reach $343 billion by 2030, when it had been valued at $208 billion in 2020.
Pet parents are also spending more on their pets, and a Morgan Stanley report showed that they see pets as part of their family, and as a result, 37% of people said they would take on debt to pay for a pet’s medical expenses, while 29% would put a pet’s needs before their own.
To meet the increased demand in veterinary care, the company will use the new funding to improve its technology and expand into more locations where it can provide same-day delivery. Currently it is shipping to 47 states and Dijols expects to be completely national by the end of the year. He also expects to hire more people on both the sales team and in executive leadership positions.
The company is already operating in New York and Los Angeles and growing 3x year over year, though Dijols admits operating during the pandemic was a bit challenging due to “a massive surge of orders” that came in as veterinarians had to shut down their offices.
As part of the investment, Keith Levy, operating partner at Sonoma Brands and former president of pet food manufacturer Royal Canin USA, will join Mixlab’s board of directors. Sonoma Brands is focused on growth sectors of the consumer economy, and pets was one of the areas that investors were interested in.
Over time, Sonoma found that within the veterinary community, there was space for a lot of players. However, veterinarians want to home in on one company they trust, and Mixlab fit that description for many because they were getting medication out faster, Levy said.
“What Mixlab is doing isn’t completely unique, but they are doing it better,” he added. “When we looked at their customer service metrics, we saw they had a good reputation and were relentlessly focused on providing a better experience.”
Researchers who work on the genomes of domestic and wild cats say their DNA holds clues to human as well as feline health.
Cats and dogs can be infected by the coronavirus — but cats are more susceptible to infection, a new study suggests.
Jittery pet owners are asking vets, animal poison control centers and Twitter. Read on for answers.
The big problem for professional women isn’t old-fashioned discrimination. It’s bigger than that — but there is a way forward.
The pet boom spurred by the pandemic has brought more attention to care for our four-legged friends. Veterinary companies are opening clinics, drawing more investors to vet real estate.
Digitail, a cloud service for veterinary surgeries and customers, has raised $2.5M in a Seed round led by byFounders and Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI fund), joined by Partech and a series of angels including as Dr. Ivan Zakharenkov (Smartflow). The startup was already backed (pre-seed round in 2019) by Fast Track Malmo. Digitail is currently used by 2,000 veterinarians in 16 countries.
Digitail says its “all-in-one” practice management system for animal hospitals and veterinary practices “helps vets simplify their workflow, drive automation, and engage with pet parents, even when they are not at the practice.”
For pet owners Digital had a Health Card for pets, a customer app that is directly connected to the PIMS and acts as a digital ID for the pets. This holds the pet’s medical history, and allows the owner to communicate with the vet through the in-app chat, book their next appointment, and store any other important information about their pet.
The founders are Sebastian Gabor (CEO and co-founder), Ruxandra Pui (CPO and co-founder). They are joined by Alexandru Gheorghita, DVM, in-house veterinarian specialist.
Gabor said in a statement: “Pet care is still being run like in the 90s. Because of the lack of a holistic vision and approach, there is no data unification and no collaboration between the key players of the industry. As a result, vets still need to rely on outdated tools while collaboration and innovation is stopped.”
According to some estimates, some 39% of pet owners in the United States are millennials. Digitail is thus finding business among veterinarians surfing a new generation of customers who expect to be able to make bookings and arrangements with their vet via an app. Just as with apps aimed at doctor’s surgeries, Digitail’s platform handles that incoming customer data and also allows the surgery to run. The pet care industry is predicted to reach a value of $200 billion by 2025.
With new puppies and kids at home, doctors are worried about treating more children for dog bites.
The British author and veterinarian didn’t always let the facts get in the way of a good story. It caused some occasional friction.
Deaths at a Sierra Leone sanctuary that stumped people for 15 years have now been linked to a bacterium that seems to cause similar ailments in humans.
A provision deep in the coronavirus stimulus package puts the United States Anti-Doping Agency in charge of regulating thoroughbred racing.
Pets have provided much-needed emotional support this year. But they need to be taken care of, too. Meet one of their doctors.
By studying the numerous ways animals keep their eyes wet and healthy, scientists hope to help address human vision problems.
Usually during an economic downturn, people tend to spend less on health care for pets. This time, the opposite is happening.
There are other persistent, grave health crises brewing besides the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic: Antibiotic resistance is one, and the troubling trend is that it’s on the rise, leading to an increase in so-called ‘superbugs’ that are difficult to treat. IBM Research, working in partnership with Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, has developed a synthetic macromolecule polymer that can potentially be used to significantly increase the effectiveness of existing antibiotics, rendering them able to fight off emerging superbugs.
In a new paper published in academic journal Advanced Science, the IBM researchers detail their work in creating a polymer that can be combined with course of antibiotics that are used to treat non-resistant strains of infections, in does equal or even lower to those that are found to be effective in treating the varieties of the infections that lack the ability to overcome antibiotics.
The macromolecule works by essentially hitching itself to the enzymes that bacteria modify when they are treated using antibiotics, but not completely eliminated. That’s a big reason why you’re always told to take the entire course of an antibiotic when it’s prescribed: If it isn’t completely wiped out, it can rebound and develop resistance to the treatment used when it comes back.
The IBM polymer basically shorts out the protective measures developed by the bacteria when to counter the effects of the antibiotic, returning (or potentially even slightly improving) their efficacy.
This is still relatively early research that’s been done in the highly controlled environment of the lab, and would require a lot more development and testing, including proper clinical trials involving human patients before it actually becomes anything to be used in the real world. But these lab-based results provide a very promising basis upon which to build that work, having shown demonstrated efficacy with real multidrug-resistant bacterial infections.
When it comes to finding a vaccine for chlamydia, the world’s most popular sexually transmitted infection, koalas may prove a key ally.
Whether your dog is new or old, these tips will help ease its transition from lockdown to normal life.
This virus is deadly, long-lived and highly contagious, but it doesn’t affect people or other animals.
How to care for your new cat or dog during and after lockdown.
A team at Duke University detected the virus in the dog this month.
The animals appear to have mild symptoms and likely caught the virus from their owners. And there’s no evidence pets can pass it to humans.
The country is home to most of the world’s wild tigers, and wildlife authorities announced steps to protect them.
Ask yourself these questions and think about these issues before you adopt. Your life — and that of your new pet — will be better for it.
There’s a new COVID-19 test from healthcare technology maker Abbott that looks to be the fastest yet in terms of producing results, and that can do so on the spot right at point-of-care, without requiring a round trip to a lab. This test for the novel coronavirus causing the current global pandemic has received emergency clearance for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and will begin production next week, with output of 50,000 per day possible starting next week.
The new Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test uses the Abbott ID NOW diagnostics platform, which is essentially a lab-in-a-box that is roughly the size of a small kitchen appliance. It’s size, and the fact that it can produce either a positive result in just five minutes, or a negative one in under 15, mean that it could be a very useful means to extend coronavirus testing beyond its current availability to more places including clinics and doctor’s offices, and cut down on wait times both in terms of getting tested and receiving a diagnosis.
Unlike the rapid tests that have been used in other countries, and that received a new type of authorization under an FDA guideline that doesn’t confirm the accuracy fo the results, this rapid testing solution uses the molecular testing method, which works with saliva and mucus samples swabbed from a patient. This means that it works by identifying a portion of the virus’ DNA in a patient, which means it’s much better at detecting the actual presence of the virus during infection, whereas other tests that search the blood for antibodies that are used in point-of-care settings can only detect antibodies, which might be present in recovered patients who don’t actively have the virus.
The good news for availability of this test is that ID NOW, the hardware from Abbott that it runs on, already “holds the largest molecular point-of-care footprint in the U.S.,” and is “widely available” across doctor’s offices, urgent care clinics, emergency rooms and other medical facilities.
In total, Abbott now says that it believes it will produce 5 million tests in April, split between these new rapid tests and the lab tests that it received emergency use authorization for by the FDA on March 18.
Testing has been one of the early problems faced by the U.S. in terms of getting a handle on the coronavirus pandemic: The country has lagged behind other nations globally in terms of per capita tests conducted, which experts say has hampered its ability to properly track and trace the spread of the virus and its resulting respiratory disease. Patients have reported having to go to extreme lengths to receive a test, and endure long waits for results, even in cases where exposure was likely and their symptoms match the COVID-19 profile.
Right now the world is at war. But this is no ordinary war. It’s a fight with an organism so small we can only detect it through use of a microscope — and if we don’t stop it, it could kill millions of us in the next several decades. No, I’m not talking about COVID-19, though that organism is the one on everyone’s mind right now. I’m talking about antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
You see, more than 700,000 people died globally from bacterial infections last year — 35,000 of them in the U.S. If we do nothing, that number could grow to 10 million annually by 2050, according to a United Nations report.
The problem? Antibiotic overuse at the doctor’s office or in livestock and farming practices. We used a lot of drugs over time to kill off all the bad bacteria — but it only killed off most, not all, of the bad bacteria. And, as the famous line from Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park goes, “life finds a way.”
Enter Felix, a biotech startup in the latest Y Combinator batch that thinks it has a novel approach to keeping bacterial infections at bay – viruses.
It seems weird in a time of widespread concern over the corona virus to be looking at any virus in a good light but as co-founder Robert McBride explains it, Felix’s key technology allows him to target his virus to specific sites on bacteria. This not only kills off the bad bacteria but can also halt its ability to evolve and once more become resistant.
But the idea to use a virus to kill off bacteria is not necessarily new. Bacteriophages, or viruses that can “infect” bacteria, were first discovered by an English researcher in 1915 and commercialized phage therapy began in the U.S. in the 1940’s through Eli Lilly and Company. Right about then antibiotics came along and Western scientists just never seemed to explore the therapy further.
However, with too few new solutions being offered and the standard drug model not working effectively to combat the situation, McBride believes his company can put phage therapy back at the forefront.
Already Felix has tested its solution on an initial group of 10 people to demonstrate its approach.
“We can develop therapies in less time and for less money than traditional antibiotics because we are targeting orphan indications and we already know our therapy can work in humans,” McBride told TechCrunch . “We argue that our approach, which re-sensitizes bacteria to traditional antibiotics could be a first line therapy.”
Felix plans to deploy its treatment for bacterial infections in those suffering from cystic fibrosis first as these patients tend to require a near constant stream of antibiotics to combat lung infections.
The next step will be to conduct a small clinical trial involving 30 people, then, as the scientific research and development model tends to go, a larger human trial before seeking FDA approval. But McBride hopes his viral solution will prove itself out in time to help the coming onslaught of antibiotic resistance.
“We know the antibiotic resistant challenge is large now and is only going to get worse,” McBride said. “We have an elegant technological solution to this challenge and we know our treatment can work. We want to contribute to a future in which these infections do not kill more than 10 million people a year, a future we can get excited about.”
A project funded by the Gates Foundation will soon begin issuing at-home testing kits for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, according to a report in the Seattle Times.
The study, based on a nose-swab should be able to return results in up to two days and will be shared with health officials who can then notify people who test positive. Individuals who have been infected will then be encouraged to answer an online questionnaire to give health officials information about their movements so that those officials can identify and notify other people who may need to be tested or quarantined, according to the Seattle Times report.
“Although there’s a lot to be worked out, this has enormous potential to turn the tide of the epidemic,” Scott Dowell, who leads the coronavirus response effort from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation told the Seattle Times.
There’s no clear timeline for the project’s launch as the Foundation looks to finalize the supporting software and draft a final questionnaire for people who request the tests. The Foundation estimates that it could run up to 400 tests per-day, according to Dowell.
The Gates Foundation isn’t the only entity moving quickly to develop at home test kits. In a Twitter thread on Saturday, serial healthcare entrepreneur Jonathan Rothenberg outlined a similar approach, and is apparently now in discussions with a manufacturer on how to bring it to market.
Seattle and the surrounding area has been the epicenter for the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. The state has confirmed 71 cases and 15 deaths from the disease as of Saturday. At least one health expert estimates that Seattle could have as many as 600 cases, based on computational modeling.
“One of the most important things from our perspective, having watched and worked on this in other parts of the world, is the identification of people who are positive for the virus, so they can be safely isolated and cared for, and the identification of their contacts, who can then be quarantined,” Dowell told the Seattle Times.
The project to do develop at-home testing evolved from a two-year-old research project from the University of Washington that was intended to track the spread of diseases like influenza, according to the Times reporting.
All told, the Gates Foundation has poured about $20 million into the effort. The foundation has also committed $5 million to the local response efforts to combat the disease in the area — including the expansion of testing and analysis.
Fear-ridden dogs and cats at the hospital may get toys to distract them or a range of menu options.