Mystery of the wasting house-cats
Certain illnesses in household pets could be warnings of household or neighborhood toxic exposures to people.
An article in a special issue of the New York Times magazine on the link between human and animal health looks at the unexplained rise of hyperthyroidism, a wasting disease in house cats.
Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, director of the UW Center for One Health, was interviewed for his studies of animals as sentinels of environmental health and disease. He is on the faculty of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences in the UW School of Public Health, and Family Medicine in the UW School of Medicine, and Global Health, which is jointly administered between the two schools.
The article mentions the online Canary Database, named for the birds sent into mines as a check for breathing hazards. Rabinowitz said it is still important for human public health researchers to pay attention to unexplained disease outbreaks in animals for what they might be trying to tell us about unhealthy environmental conditions.
Read the New York Times Magazine article.