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Dr. Fox: Understanding animal to human disease transmission
Dr. Fox

Dr. Fox: Understanding animal to human disease transmission

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Dear Dr. Fox: I had hemorrhagic fever while stationed in Korea in 1951. It took researchers about 25 years to find out what caused the virus and how it was transmitted. I would think those scientists who are trying to determine if a virus can be transmitted from mouse to mouse, or mouse to humans, would want to look into the Korean experience.

When the droppings or saliva from particular mice dries up and is breathed in, it causes the virus to take hold in another mouse or human. Not all mice are carriers; it is obvious some are immune to certain viruses. B.E., Naples, Florida

Dear B.E.: You are fortunate to have survived. Many diseases are airborne, like influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and anthrax bacillus, while others are transmitted by various insects. Our collective fear and adversarial attitude toward other species has led to overreliance on insecticides, rodenticides and other poisons, along with various drugs to treat these infections and illnesses, which are profitable for manufacturers.

But there is no substitute for good personal hygiene, a keystone of public health along with clean air, pure water, safe food and sanitary homes and public places. When we keep a polite distance from other species and respect, rather than encroach on and disrupt, their habitats, we take a step toward reducing the chances of zoonotic (animal-to-human) disease.

Natural pet cleaners and deodorizers 

For readers who are looking for cleaning and odor-removal options: Fresh Wave’s plant-based products use nontoxic plant oils to clean surfaces and neutralize odors. Products include sprays, gels, shampoos, litter box deodorizers and more.

If you want to make your own dog shampoo, try veterinarian Dr. Ihor Basko’s recipe (recently published in Innovative Veterinary Care): Mix 12 ounces of Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap (in lavender, hemp or baby variety); 2 ounces of aloe vera juice; 2 ounces of green tea; 2 ounces of Java plum tea; and 2 teaspoon of olive oil.

The pH of shampoos for dogs should be between 6.5 and 7.5, but I disagree with Dr. Basko that dogs should be bathed every three or four days. Bathe only as needed, when the coat is greasy or smelly, but groom well every day.

As for cats, a sprinkling of baking soda under the litter in the box helps reduce odors. Never use a covered litter box to contain odors, since this can create an unpleasant ammoniated environment for cats.

Send email to or letters to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106


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