Monday, August 31, 2009

Digging on the Dogs


Mountain exits.


Pearl enters.


Den pipe located.



A short day in the field with a small possum found in a dirt sette in the woods. I carried the possum up to the edge of a field where it will provide food for the local fox.

Possums are "meals on wheels" for fox, hawk, bobcat and coyote, and have astounding rates of reproduction. They are not very formidable creatures, though they do have more teeth than any other mammal in this hemisphere.

** How Many Possums Per Spoon?
** Playing Possum?
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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Coffee and Provocation


  • The U.S. Fish and Wildife Service Makes My Head Explode:
    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has come up with an online "game" called Neighborhood Explorer, which is supposed to get kids to spend more time outside. The mind reels. And to make it worse, the game is ugly, long-winded, paternalistic, and boring. Nice!

  • Why Does This Never Happen to Me?
    When Terrierman dreams, he dreams of going out digging on the dogs only to discover a forgotton Viking hord of silver. I will be digging on a Civil War battlefield today. I will find nothing of cash value.

  • Knitting With Dog Hair:
    Better a Sweater From a Dog You Know and Love Than From A Sheep You'll Never Meet

  • Wing Nuttery:
    The black helicopter people have their own canine correspondent who thinks chaining out dogs is good, that Jesus will save you and your dogs from tyranny, and that people should be allowed to treat their dogs as inhumanely as they want (more here). The good news for people who also believe this: common sense pagans have created Eternal Earth-Bound Pets so that paranoid black helicopter end-timers can be assured that when they ascend to heaven for The Rapture their dogs and cats will be taken care of here on earth. Yes, a small fee is involved, but isn't it worth it for the peace of mind?

  • Coal People Are Really Ugly:
    According to Appalachian Voices, the Faces of Coal web site, which purports to show "real people" who depend on the coal industry, is actually populated by pictures pulled from a stock photo web site. None of these people have anything to do with the coal industry, which suggests that either: a) West Virginia mining families are not beautiful, or; b) this coal industry front group hired a really lazy PR company, or; c) all of the above.

  • Anthony Bourdain Goes to Montana:
    Anthony Bourdain goes to Livingston, Montana to hang out with Russell Chatham, Jim Harrison, and the folks at local ranches, diners and fly shops, from backcountry guides to chefs who serve antelope heart. The show cannot be reduced -- it has to be savored whole. See video 1, 2. 3, 4 and 5. Hat tip to Tom Chandler at The Trout Underground Fly Fishing Blog for pointing to this.
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Why Cavill Was Cut from Pedigree Dogs Exposed



It turns out that David Cavill, the editor of Our Dogs, is a complete moron.

But don't take my word for it. Watch the video, above, for yourself.

Here's a man who says he can judge the health and suitability of a woman in 1/7th of a second. A dog? Two minutes is all that is needed.

Right.

And this is a man who claims he is good judge of a hunting breed? Does he actually hunt them?

Cavill then goes on to say that scientists are only interested in "breeding for physical perfection."

Eh?

Jemima Harrison, the interviewer, assumes Cavill has simply mis-spoken. It happens to all of us. "You mean for health?" she enquires, logically assuming that Cavill would then go on to note that in working dogs minor health issues in a sire or dam might sometimes have to be weighed against other factors such as bidability, nose, size, or gameness.

But no, Cavill, says, veterinary surgeons know nothing about canine health. And his evidence for this is his own breed, the Finnish Spitz, a dog so befouled with genetic problems that in Finland, where it is still used as a hunting dog, they have culled hard to get rid of the kind of serious health problems that Cavill is so eager to sweep under the rug.

A dog with a known inherited eye problem, that was voted Best in Show at Crufts is "absolutely fantastic" he says, and never mind the genetic wreckage.

And how does Cavill fob off the fact that this top Crufts winner is widely known as "the blind dog?" He simply says he knows an old man at Crufts who is blind and "he is having a wonderful time" at the show today. So no problem if a dog is blind as well!

Jemima Harrison cannot quite believe what Cavill is saying, and she gives him a chance to backtrack and clarify. Surely he does not mean a blind dog should be winning Crufts?

But no, Cavill, is as thick as brick and as stupid as a rock. He bulldozes right ahead with his confused logic. Who does he say is the model of health perfection in humans? Stephen Hawking!

Stephen Hawking? No! Surely I am joking? No one could put Stephen Hawking out as a model of health perfection.

But no, it's true. See for yourself at the video, above. The bit in question is right around 5:30.

And then, just to put a cherry on top, David Cavill describes the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel as "by and large a very healthy breed."

A very health breed? Over 80 percent of Cavaliers come down with heart problems, to say nothing of the neurological issues.

And when this is pointed out, what is Cavill's answer? He laughs it off. Well, "it doesn't show!"

One could not invent David Cavill. He stands as a monument to what is wrong in the world of pedigree dogs.

His only fault is that he is not very articulate and his logic train is so broken down that he seems to be a caricature of everything wrong in the world of pedigree dogs.

If Jemima Harrison had included this clip in Pedigree Dogs Exposed, she would have been accused of trolling to find the stupidest and most inarticulate person she could find.

And who could argue that she had? No one!

And so Cavill did not make the cut, but thanks to the Cold Wet Nose blog, this little bit of video has now made it out into daylight. This is what David Cavill has been demanding everyone should get an opportunity to see? Excellent!

Well played Mr. Cavill. You are well and truely a moron.

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Antibiotics Past the Expiration: Proving the Rule



A good comment came in to my original reply to Scotte Weese at the "Worms and Germs" blog who, without doing any research at all, and without contacting me, decided to blast this web site and blog for explaining how to get good antibiotics, without prescription, to treat dogs with small cuts and lacerations.

For those left scratching their heads:



So what was the good comment from a reader? It came from Mary who wrote to note:

While I agree with your post, I just wanted to mention that one of the drugs you name, Doxycycline, is one of the few that should not be used after its expiration date. Drugs in the tetracycline family can cause kidney damage when used after they expire.


Full credit to Mary who reads on her own. As I note in my reply to her:

"Tetracycline drugs are not drugs I normally use on my dogs (see original post ) and YES tetractycline and doxycycline are not drugs that can be kept for a decade past expiration, as most other antibiotics can, BUT it appears they too are good for quite a bit longer than their expiration dates.


As I noted in my reply, doxycycline is bought in very large amounts by the U.S. Government, and if it is kept at regular room temperature in a sealed container (as all antibiotics in your home are, I trust) it too is good for more than a year past its expiration date.

But don't take my word for it. Since so few people read anymore, I have pictures.

The following photos are lifted from a PowerPoint Presentation (PDF version) created by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.



This is the kind of warehouse where Strategic National Supply antibiotics and medical materials are stored.



These are a couple of doxycycline containers from the Strategic National Supply of antibiotics.



This is an original doxycycline label from the Strategic National Supply of antibiotics. Note that the drugs are to be stored at room temperature: 68-77 degrees.



This is an extended expiration date doxycycline label from the Strategic National Supply of antibiotics. Expiration dates on antibiotics are routinely extended for several years as part of the Shelf Life Extention Program (SLEP) as previously noted on this blog.

As I have noted on this blog in the past, doxycycline is a very useful drug to have in your home veterinary kit for two non-wound issues: Lyme disease treatment, and as an adjunct to effective and low-cost heartworm treatment.

Doxycycline, labeled for birds, can be bought from any veterinary supply place that caters to dogs, such as Doctors Foster and Smith, Revival Animal Health, Lambert Vet Supply or even Amazon.com.

This is the same medicine, made in the same factories, and at the same dosage, as antbiotics sold by your veterinarian or local pharmacy.

As always, follow directions and dose the right drug for the proper problem at the right amounts and for the required amount of time. Read the instructions and follow them!
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Damn Farm Mechanization!

Farms are not just places. They are not land title or economic theory.

They are a continuum.

Dinosaurs and mammoths once roamed the farms I hunt, followed by native Americans, African Americans, and European Americans who fought, bled, cried and died in the fields, forests and hedgerows where I now hunt my dogs.

The stones at the edges of my fields were not pushed their by a tractor. They were picked up or dug out by hand, rolled and stacked onto wooden sledges, and pulled to their current location by sweating men working teams of horses.

I dig my dogs in fields and forests where the Civil War was fought.

In my part of America, farm labor is not an abstraction. It is a wound that has healed, but the scars still remain.

In the last week, I have been told that we used to treat our animals better than we do today and that our food once tasted better too.

Not true.

But saying it is one thing, while showing it is another.

And so I have decided to start an occasional pictorial series on American farms with each series showcasing one crop or animal, farmed or raises all over the U.S, with the pictures organized in chronological order.

We will start with cotton.


Cotton picking, Georgia, 1865-70


Cotton picking, Texas, 1907


Cotton picking, Oklahoma, 1916


Cotton, crop dusting for the new boll weevil , 1928


Cotton pickers and wagons, Tennessee, 1931


Cotton field plowing, South Carolina, 1932


Child cotton pickers, Arkansas, fall harvest, 1935.


John Rust and the first cotton picking machine, 1937


Cotton labor and wagon, Georgia, 1941


Cotton picking machine loads wagon, Georgia, 1956


Cotton weeding with overseer, Alabama: 1970


Weeding cotton fields, Mississippi, 1973


Loading cotton from machines, Mississippi, 1995


Cotton bales, North Carolina, 1990


Cotton, tractor spraying, Mississippi, 1991


Mechanical cotton picker, California, 1999


Spraying cotton fields, Mississippi, 2000


I do not begrudge farmers their air-conditioned cabs from which they can now plow, harvest and spray their fields to kill weevils and worms.

Nor do I beat by breast in anguish because genetically modified crops may soon make spraying pesticides a thing of the past.

I do not romanticize hoeing long rows by hand, nor do I worry too much about the impact that glyphosate (RoundUp) has on wildlife.

You see, America's farms now have more deer on them that at any time in the last 100 years.

They also have more turkey, fox, raccoon, duck and geese.

And the farms are strong.

They produce more hay, corn, soybean, wheat, chicken, pigs, eggs, fruit, vegetables, milk and beef than ever before.

And because they produce so much, more land is now allowed to lie fallow.

Look at the pictures above.

What farm do you want to work on?

Which one is more productive?

Which one has more wildlife?'

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Terrierman Makes It to Field Notes!

A huge hat tip to Chad Love at the Field and Stream Field Notes blog for giving us a nice mention and link earlier today. Much appreciated!

Also a hat tip to Chad for the very funny parody video of these "wild man" nature shows that are now on TV today. Perfect!


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A Short History of a Pet Product

The Problem:
The problem of dog overpopulation is a real one. However, the noble goal of preventing unwanted dog pregnancy does not justify the means being used. Millions of brutal forced castrations and female genital mutilations take place every year in America. We need to put a stop to these atrocities and give every living creature the respect it deserves. Just as forced sterilization isn't the answer for human population control, it's not the solution for dogs. Instead, we should respect dogs' rights as living beings by honoring their instincts and sexuality and provide them with safe, effective birth control.

The Solution:
Dog condoms come in three sizes to fit small, medium, and large breeds. Almost every dog will find a comfortable, well-proportioned condom to meet their needs. The condoms also come in lubricated and meat scented varieties to enhance pleasure for both dog partners.

The Product Recall:
Dog Condoms, Inc. is announcing a voluntary recall of its Dog Condoms® canine prophylactics, due to an unacceptable failure rate reported during preliminary release in test markets. Use of these recalled condoms may result in unwanted canine pregnancies. Additionally, meat-scented Dog Condoms® may present a choking hazard, especially for smaller dogs.

To read all about it >> http://dogcondoms.com/
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The High Cost of Veterinary Ignorance



I have good news this flu season. And the good news is that the U.S. Government is not paying too much attention to Scott Weese over at the "Worms and Germs" blog.

His advice: Throw away all your medicines as soon as they hit their expiration date.

Instead, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is listening to the FDA's Francis Flaherty and his team which have actually done the work on drug expiration dates.

So too is the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Instead of tossing out billions of dollars worth of drugs, such as Tamiflu and antibiotics, the U.S. Government is keeping those drugs on the shelf, secure in their efficacy despite the fact that many are years past their "expiration" date.

Why is this good news for America?

Simple: Not only does this save tax dollars, but it may also save lives.

To put a point on it: If the U.S. followed Scott Weese's advice to throw everything down the drain as soon as a manufacturer's expiration date was crossed, we might not have the Tamiflu we now need as we enter this Fall's flu season.

How many American lives might that cost?

Who knows, but with up to 90,000 deaths now predicted by the CDC due to Swine Flu this Fall, I think the number "zero" is not in the mix.

Even when told about the FDA expiration date research and the Strategic National Stockpile of drugs kept by the Center for Disease Control, Scott Weese has not bothered to find out what kind of drugs are kept, or how long they are kept for.

Here's a hint: Thousands of TONS of antibiotics and other drugs (such as Tamiflu) are kept for YEARS past their putative expiration dates.

The fact that many common drugs, including Tamiflu, pill, capsule and caplet antibiotics, are safe and effective for years past the manufacturer's suggestion, is not closely held information.

As Johns Hopkins Health Alerts notes.

Think of expiration dates -- which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires be placed on most prescription and over-the-counter medications -- as a very conservative guide to longevity....

In a study conducted by the FDA on a large stockpile of medications purchased by the military, 90% of more than 100 medications were safe and effective to use years after the expiration date. More recently, the FDA approved two-year extensions on expiration dates for a number of drugs, including the antibiotics Cipro (ciprofloxacin), penicillin, and tetracycline ....

If your medications have been stored under good conditions, they should retain all or much of their potency for at least one to two years following their expiration date, even after the container is opened.


The good news is that HHS has pre-positioned flu drugs, antibiotics, and other emergency medical supplies in 50-ton "Push Packs" around the nation. As The Richmond Times Dispatch notes:

The Strategic National Stockpile contains medications and supplies that would be needed in a mass disaster or other emergency. Examples of emergencies include a pandemic flu outbreak, hurricanes and terrorist attacks.

The stockpile includes such drugs as the flu medicine Tamiflu and the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin, as well as medical supplies, such as those for administering drugs intravenously or for keeping a patient's airway open.

Virginia, for instance, received 280,000 treatment courses of flu drugs from the federal stockpile in the recent H1N1 swine-flu scare. The state already had nearly 800,000 treatment courses of antivirals in its own stockpile.

A stockpile can consist of drugs on hand in an existing inventory, or it can be vendor-managed inventory that a state has contracted to purchase.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal stockpile is routinely checked to make sure the items are within their recommended shelf life. That's done by making quarterly checks on some items and an annual inventory, which includes inspections of environmental conditions, security and overall package maintenance.

Now that it looks as if the stockpile drugs sent to states might not be needed anytime soon [note: this article was written in May of 2009], what happens, for instance, to the 280,000 extra treatment courses Virginia received?

States will likely get to keep the drugs, a state official said.

The shelf life of some stockpile drugs can be extended beyond their expiration date under the Food and Drug Administration's Shelf Life Extension Program. That effort started as a way for the Department of Defense to save money by not having to throw away drugs that were still usable just because the expiration date had passed.

Tamiflu has qualified for that program. Batches or lots of Tamiflu in the stockpile that meet rigorous testing standards can have the shelf life extended from five years to seven years.

When drugs from the stockpile are used, it's done under FDA Emergency Use Authorizations. The FDA issues special letters to consumers and special prescribing instructions for health-care providers.


In fact, as the FDA web site notes, Tamiflu expiration dates, even for oral suspensions (liquid) are being extended by two years.

Tamiflu is not an antibiotic, of course, but the point is even more true for pill, capsule and caplet antibiotics, which have proven shelf lives that extend for YEARS past the manufacturer-contrived or pharmacy-invented expiration date printed on the side of the bottle.

As Dr. Francis Flaherty, Director of the U.S. FDA's expiration testing program noted a few years back:

"Manufacturers put expiration dates on for marketing, rather than scientific, reasons. It's not profitable for them to have products on a shelf for 10 years. They want turnover."


In short, short expiration dates are, for the most part, little more than a scam.

The fact that potent pill antibiotics are being stored for YEARS past the manufacturer's made-up expiration date is not a closely held secret. As the White House web page on the Strategic National Stockpile notes:

[Strategic National Stockpile] efficiency measure is focused on reducing the cost of replacing inventory by extending the shelf life of products that remain efficacious after their original manufacturer's expiration date through a Shelf Life Extension Program (SLEP). By extending the shelf-life of a product, the program does not need to spend money to replace that product as quickly or as often. The program's assets now include large amounts of antibiotics that cannot be rotated back into the market and chemical/nerve agent with no commercial use. Where possible, the program rotates stock in the market to avoid expiration of supplies through its vendor managed inventories. ... The program's annual efficiency measure is dollars saved per dollar invested in the Food and Drug Administration's Shelf Life Extension Program (SLEP) for available projects.


The Shelf Life Extension Program (SLEP) has found that cipro, a common pill antibiotic, is good for more than seven years past its putative expiration date.

Doxycyclin, amoxycillin, penicillin, and cephalexin are similarly long-lived if kept in a medicine bottle at normal room temperature.



It's not just Uncle Sam that stores Tamiflu and antibiotics for years at a time. The City of Los Angeles, for example, notes that its pre-positioned antibiotics have a shelf life of approximately four (4) years.

The National Institute of Health notes that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a contract with Bayer, the maker of Cipro, to rotate its stock every three years -- two years longer than the expire date you will find on the same drug if you buy it at your local pharmacy.

This last point is not a small matter.

I find it hard to believe that Scott Weese does not know the difference between a manufacturer's expiration date (2-3 years) and the even more bogus date put on by dispensing pharmacies (typically 6-months or a year) which are designed to get patients to toss good medicines down the drain even faster.

I am going to be charitable here, however, and assume ignorance rather than malevolence.

After all, as pharmacist and U.S. Army Colonel George Crawford has noted:

"Nobody tells you in pharmacy school that shelf life is about marketing, turnover and profits."


And clearly no one tells you in veterinary school either. Scott Weese is living proof of that!

Bottom line: Just because a guy is a veterinarian does not mean he knows anything about drug expiration dates, generic drugs, drug manufacturing, or drug marketing.

No doubt Mr. Weese got into veterinary school by blindly regurgitating everything he was told.

If that's the case, I suspect there a few more medical mysteries he has yet to discover.

What? You say vaccinating every dog and cat every year is not needed and increases immunity disorders? How can that be true?

What? Branded drugs are no different than their generic analogs? That cannot be right!

What? A pet's generic drug needs can be filled for a few dollars at the local WalMart or Costco? There's no need to get your meds directly from the vet? Can that possibly be true?

What? Manufacturers have a financial reason to suggest you should toss out perfectly good drugs and buy more? Dispensing pharmacies have this same incentive? Unbelievable!

The good news is that on this last question, at least, the U.S. Government has voted with its wallet and with its eyes wide open.

As a consequence, perhaps a few lives may actually get saved this Fall. And wouldn't that be nice?!

A final note: A flu vaccine is the best way to make sure you stay healthy this Fall. If you are unlucky enough to come down with the flu, antibiotics will NOT help as the flu is caused by a virus.

Tamiflu might help to alleviate symptoms. That said, rest, a lot of hot fluids, and chicken soup will generally work wonders in a week or so. Give that a try.




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Starvation Man: A Fool in the Wilderness


This man is not Daniel Boone.

I have written in the past about the various fake "wild man in the wilderness" shows, from National Geographic's phony 'Wolf Man' stunt to the contrived toxicity of the poisonous snakes routinely handled by Steve Irwin, to the absolutely ridiculous fakery of Bear Grylls whose advice will almost always kill or maim you in short order.

The latest bit of idiocy comes from Channel 4 in the U.K., which sent "adventurer" Ed Wardle into the Canadian wilderness armed with a rifle, a fishing rod, and a well-stocked pack.

Seven week later, he had to be airlifted out of the woods because he was starving.

It seems this man did not know how to hunt and did not know how to fish.

But you would never have known that if you listened to him before he set out:

"I imagine I have a long future of fish-eating in front of me. It's going to be trout and grayling for 12 weeks.

"But meat's a relatively easy thing to get your hands on too. There are hares, squirrels and gophers. They're good to eat because they're fatty.

"The porcupines are easy to catch because they don't move very fast. As long as you're careful with the spines, they're a good source of food. You hit it with a big stick, roll it over, slice it open and peel the skin back, the same as you would any mammal."


Right.

Does this man actually know how to set a snare? Does he know how to make a fish trap? A deadfall?

Does he know how to load a gun? Does he know where animals feed and where they bed?

Does he know how to conserve energy? How to keep clean? How to make a shelter that will last? How to keep a fire going?

The answer to all of these questions was a resounding NO.

Instead of staying in one location and building up a store of food before moving on, he seems to have moved all the time. His shelters were crude and he seems to have had no knowledge at all of wildlife, guns, snares, traps or hunting.

Apparently he thought it was a simple matter of going out into the woods and picking food off the bushes, while having the wildlife run into your dinner pan fully skinned and lightly breaded.

Ed Wardle seems to have had no notion that thick forests are almost devoid of easy-to-hunt wildlife.

Raised on Animal Planet television shows and faked canned hunts he had seen on TV, he must have though the world was teaming with suicidal wildlife.

Wardle also does not seem to have much knowledge of self. A week alone without another person, a television, a radio, a book, a phone, or the Internet is enough to make some people slide off the hinge. A month or two of that, and some folks will turn past the bend. That is especially easy to do if your calorie intake is crashing, and massive amounts of physical work are being done because you are constantly moving through the wilderness. I know. I have been there.

Here's a hint: The people who made it in the wilderness alone were trappers who lived in trapper cabins.

Put out 12 leghold traps, two dozen snares, and bunch of bank lines, and you will never go hungry.

Fish and berries? Sure. Go for it. You can try to shoot some big game too, and learn to smoke it.

But in the wilderness, it was always traps and snares that kept meat on the table.
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Future Secretary of Agriculture



This brilliant young mind is an involved citizen testifying before the City Council in Santa Cruz, California but, as Mark Churchill notes, "she's destined to one day become Secretary of Agriculture."

And where do great minds like this come from?

Good news: They are locally grown, right here in the U.S.A.!

Just consider this course title and description from Occidental College just a few hours up the road from Santa Cruz. Now here's good fertilizer for young minds!

180. STUPIDITY. Stupidity is neither ignorance nor organicity, but rather, a corollary of knowing and an element of normalcy, the double of intelligence rather than its opposite. It is an artifact of our nature as finite beings and one of the most powerful determinants of human destiny. Stupidity is always the name of the Other, and it is the sign of the feminine. This course in Critical Psychology follows the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, Gilles Deleuze, and most recently, Avital Ronell, in a philosophical examination of those operations and technologies that we conduct in order to render ourselves uncomprehending. Stupidity, which has been evicted from the philosophical premises and dumbed down by psychometric psychology, has returned in the postmodern discourse against Nation, Self, and Truth and makes itself felt in political life ranging from the presidency to Beevis and Butthead. This course examines stupidity.

You would think this has to be a parody. But no, it's in the online course catalogue.
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Is the "Worms and Germs" Blogger Incompetent?



Is the author of the "Worms and Germs" blog incompetent?

That's the uncomfortable question I was left wondering after reading a recent post about antibiotics for dogs in which the author, Scott Weese, parades out his ignorance of antibiotics.

You see, it seems to come as a complete surprise to him that expiration dates on antibiotic pills, capsules and caplets are, essentially, a scam.

It also seems to be a complete surprise to him that most of the common antibiotics prescribed for humans are exactly the same as the ones used for dogs.

How can he not know this?

The fact that expiration dates on pill antibiotics are a marketing fraud has been widely know for years.

All you have to do is Google "expiration dates antibiotics" and the first citation given is from a Harvard heath letter entitled "Drug Expiration Dates - Do They Mean Anything?"

That post summarizes a 20-year study done by the FDA for the U.S. military:


"It turns out that the expiration date on a drug does stand for something, but probably not what you think it does. Since a law was passed in 1979, drug manufacturers are required to stamp an expiration date on their products. This is the date at which the manufacturer can still guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug.

"Most of what is known about drug expiration dates comes from a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration at the request of the military. With a large and expensive stockpile of drugs, the military faced tossing out and replacing its drugs every few years. What they found from the study is 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.... So the expiration date doesn't really indicate a point at which the medication is no longer effective or has become unsafe to use.... Is the expiration date a marketing ploy by drug manufacturers, to keep you restocking your medicine cabinet and their pockets regularly? You can look at it that way."

The Wall Street Journal put this story on their front page a few years back.

But don't take my word for it: You can read the article, in its entirety, right here.


"Do drugs really stop working after the date stamped on the bottle? Fifteen years ago, the U.S. military decided to find out. Sitting on a $1 billion stockpile of drugs and facing the daunting process of destroying and replacing its supply every two to three years, the military began a testing program to see if it could extend the life of its inventory. The testing, conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, ultimately covered more than 100 drugs, prescription and over-the-counter. The results, never before reported, show that about 90% of them were safe and effective far past their original expiration date, at least one for 15 years past it.

"In light of these results, a former director of the testing program, Francis Flaherty, says he has concluded that expiration dates put on by manufacturers typically have no bearing on whether a drug is usable for longer. Mr. Flaherty notes that a drug maker is required to prove only that a drug is still good on whatever expiration date the company chooses to set. The expiration date doesn't mean, or even suggest, that the drug will stop being effective after that, nor that it will become harmful."

Medscape has a post here (PDF).

The U.S. Department of Defense has a post here.

The AMA has raised questions about how much medicine is being tossed down the sink.

And on the Government of Alaska's web site, they note that the supply of antibiotics they have on hand is good for five years.

So what's going on at the "Worms and Germs" blog? How can Scott Weese not know this?

The answer, I think, is illuminating.

You see, on some important issues, veterinarians are often taught very little. The entire "course" given on canine nutrition, for example, may be a single lecture from a dog food salesman. The lecture on flea and tick remedies may be a lecture from a Merial salesperson who will detail "the spread" to be made from selling non-prescription Frontline as if it were a prescription drug (hint: it's not).

As for antibiotics, vets will learn by heart the branded and generic names of variouus drugs, and what they treat, but they may not learn other essential information.

And, as alarming as it may sound, that's true for many human doctors too.

Pharmacist and U.S. Army Colonel George Crawford, who used to be in charge of the Department of Defense's pharmaceutical Shelf Life Extension Program (SLEP) notes :


"Nobody tells you in pharmacy school that shelf life is about marketing, turnover and profits."


Right. Apparently no one does in veterinary school either.

You would think veterinarians and doctors might learn about this stuff in a Continuing Medical Education (CME) course, right?

Except there is a little joker in the deck.

You see, those CME courses are heavily subsidized by drug and vaccine makers, who help pay the speaker fees and travel costs for many of the lecturers.

Drug and vaccine makers make money when people throw good medicine down the drain, and they make money when dogs are over-vaccinated.

The business of canine health care is business, and good health and integrity often take the hind post.

Everyone in the system -- vets, pharmacies, and manufacturers -- profit when dogs are over-vaccinated and non-expired medicines are thrown down the drain.

Billions of dollars are wasted every year as a consequence.

The problem with over-vaccination and flushing good medicines down the drain is more than money, of course.

That's what makes the apparent ignorance of Scott Weese at the "Worms and Germs" blog so disturbing.

Throwing good antibiotics down the drain unnecessarily adds to the antibiotic load in our sewers, streams and rivers -- the very kind of thing that can help establish a beach head for real pathology in our own communities.

Surely a "Worms and Germs" expert knows that pathogens are not building up immunity to drugs because people are treating real flesh wounds, urinary tract infections and ear infections with antibiotics given in the proper dosage and the proper duration? It's not that!

Instead, it's because tons of antibiotics are being put into chicken and cattle feed in order to promote weight gain in otherwise healthy animals.

And it's because huge amounts of antibiotics are being tossed down the drain for no reason other than drug companies have "short dated" them with phony expiration dates.

If Scott Weese does not know about expiration dates, how much does he really know about the epidemiology of zoonotic diseases?

This is a fair question.

You see, the military's work on antibiotic expiration dates relates back to the military storage of vast amounts of antibiotics in case of germ warfare, such as Anthrax -- a very serious zoonotic disease.

With over a billion dollars of antibiotics of every type in storage, the U.S. Department of Defense wanted to know if they really had to throw away all that Cipro, Doxycycline, Amoxycillin, Clavamox, and Cephalexin.

The short answer: NO.

For the record (and I trust you will think this is good news) there is also a civilian stockpile of antibiotics.

The CDC's Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) has a vast quantity of antibiotics to protect the American public if there is a public health emergency (terrorist attack, flu outbreak, earthquake) severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.

After September 11th, many states also decided to stockpile antibiotics in case the national supply chain was somehow interrupted.

None of these drugs are tossed out every year, every two years, or even every four years.

As noted, pills, capsules and caplets of antibiotics keep a very long time.

You would think someone who teaches about zoonotic diseases at the University of Guelph (where is that?) would know this basic information.

But you would be wrong.

The good news
is that experienced dog men and farmers don't spend too much time listening to Canadian academics.

After all, who would ever go to a vet that was shocked to discover that Southern States and every dog supply catalogue in the country ( see here, here, here, here) and even Amazon.com (see here) has antibiotics for sale without prescription to treat common farm and kennel ailments?

That has been true our whole lives, hasn't it?

Someone tell the associate professor.

For the record,
I do not advise using antibiotics thar are four or five years old.

What I do say, however, is that pill, capsule or caplet antibiotics "are going to be fine as long as they are no older than a year or so past the expiration date."

Is that a bold statement? No, not at all.

You see, antibiotic manufacturers typically short-date their drugs with an expiration date that is two years past the date of manufacture, and never mind if the drugs are still fine three, four, or five years later.

Pharmacists, however, short-date the antibiotics even further, putting on a phony expiration date that is only one year from the date of issue.

In short, a two-year time frame is generally within a few months of the pill or capsule antibiotic manufacturer's own recommendation. And it is always well within the full potency of any antibiotic sold in America or Canada today.

Update: 4The High Cost of Veterinary Ignorance

Farming Like People are Hungry



From The Altoona Mirror, in Pennsylvania:

Farmers will face a 100 percent increase in demand for food worldwide by 2059, and researchers in the dairy industry say genetic technology will be the key to stepping up production.

Of the United Nations' projection that 100 percent more food is needed, 20 percent of it will come from increasing agricultural production land and 10 percent will come from upping the production intensity of existing land, said Lisa Holden, a Penn State associate professor of dairy and animal science.

"And the other 70 percent? It will come from utilizing science and new technology," Holden said. "We'll learn how to do things better."

Better, of course, means hybrid plants and animals that produce more, mature faster, grow longer, and are easier to plant and harvest.

How will that be done? Is is possible?

We shall see.

Recombinant DNA will certainly be used (it is already part of every meal you eat), but old methods of boosting production have their place too.

To read more see:

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Defective Dog on the Defective Sofa



Ouch. That's got to hurt.

This Daily Telegraph headline is a direct jab at DFS Crufts (aka "Direct Furnishing Supplies Crufts").

Peter Wedderburn notes that Dog World is saying that the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) report due in October is going to say there is a serious welfare problem associated with the breeding and sale of dogs, and that this is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently by the government.

How will it it be addressed?

The answer seems to be through basic consumer protection legislation. An AGPAW spokesperson is quoted as saying that “animal welfare problems cannot be looked at in isolation of protection of consumer rights”.

Fair enough. That doesn't seem like over-reaching.

Which is not to say that I think it will do much good. Quite a number of states have "puppy lemon laws" in the U.S. already, including California, Florida, New York, New Jersery and Pennsylvania. The effect of these laws is to put owners of sick, lame and diseased dogs into a Faustian bargain: turn the dog back over to the breeder to be killed, or else whistle past the misery and either accept a defective dog or pay out of pocket all veterinary bills.

But, as Peter Wedderburn notes, if people can be made to take back a defective car, why not a defective dog?

It’s well-known that animals are categorized in the same way as any other goods as far as “consumer rights” are concerned, but perhaps this concept can be developed in a more clearly defined way. For example, furniture must be “of satisfactory quality, fit for its purpose and as described”. If a defect develops, you are entitled to have it repaired, or if it cannot be repaired, you are entitled to a refund. Why should the same conditions not apply to the purchase of dogs?

If a Labrador develops hip dysplasia, then it is not “fit for its purpose”. If a Sharpei requires surgery to correct inturned eyelids by the age of six months, then it can hardly be described as “satisfactory quality”. And if a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel develops Syringomelia (the most dramatic inherited condition to be highlighted on the Pedigree Dogs Exposed programme), then surely a defect has developed, and you should therefore be entitled to a refund.

The Next Generation Commuting Vehicle



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Norman Borlaug, I Presume?


I ghosted the editorial below for the President of the National Audubon Society just before I gave a short talk before a breakfast crowd of about 300 at World Food Day in Des Moines, Iowa some years back.

As I crossed the hotel lobby, I spied an older gentleman also in the lobby. As it was just the two of us, I gave him the once-over.

"Norman Borlaug, I presume," I said as I streched out my hand. He was genuinely suprised that I knew who he was, and we prattled on a bit about forest and agriculture and population before I had to run and he did too.

As I finished up my little speech about 45 minutes later, I turned around on the podium, and who was there but Dr. Borlaug! It seemed he was a bit intrigued by the topic of my talk, and had come in to see it for himself. Of course he had been spotted and rodeo'd into saying a few words himself! The man has forgotten more on the topic than most anyone else on the planet knows.

So much for that story! This was the one and only time I have shared a stage with a Nobel Laureate.

Example

The Key to A Sustainable World

This month in Des Moines, Norman Borlaug is scheduled to bestow the 'World Food Prize' on a fellow agronomist.

If you're like most Americans, you've probably never heard of Norman Borlaug despite the fact that he is one of only three living Americans to have won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Borlaug is widely credited for being the father of the Green Revolution, which jumpstarted agriculture in the developing world. Thanks to Borlaug and his sponsors at the Rockefeller Foundation, India and Pakistan doubled and then tripled grain production in the late '60s and '70s. As a result, massive famines were averted in much of the developing world.

Because of his agricultural innovations, Borlaug has probably saved more human lives than anyone who has ever lived.

But Borlaug can claim credit for more than saving human life: He has saved a lot of the natural world as well. Because of dramatic boosts in agricultural output made possible by the Green Revolution, a lot less land has fallen under the plow. Borlaug himself calculates that if 1961 agricultural yields still prevailed today, three times more land in China and the United States, and two times more land in India, would be needed to equal current cereal production.

The collision between agriculture and the environment is hardly over, however. Borlaug calculates that food production will have to increase 57 percent between 1990 and 2025 just to maintain current per capita levels of food consumption. For diets to actually improve among the hungry and destitute in the world, global food production may have to increase by 100 percent.

Can this be done? Probably - but not without a price.

Borlaug himself notes that in Asia, where half of the world's population lives, "there is very little uncultivated land left to bring under the plow." In fact, Borlaug notes that in West Asia there may already be 52 million acres that should be taken out of cultivation to prevent further soil erosion.

The United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization calculates that food production can stay just ahead of population growth if 80 percent of future gains come from more intensive agricultural practices and 20 percent from arable land expansion (turning forests and savannah into farms).

Intensive agriculture and land expansion have environmental consequences, of course. The U.N. Environmental Program says intensification will lead to the use of more pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.

For example, U.N. officials note that during the '80s, while Central America's agricultural production grew 32 percent, pesticide use doubled. During this same period, Guatemala's dense forest cover declined from 42 percent of the nation to 29 percent.

Is there a way out? Can we take care of human needs and protect the environment?

Borlaug says the answer is family planning.

"There can be no lasting solution to the world food problem until a more reasonable balance is struck between food production and human population growth," Borlaug says. "The efforts of those on the food-production front are, at best, a holding operation which can permit others on the educational, medical, family planning and political fronts to launch an effective, sustainable and humane attack to tame the population monster."

Borlaug is right. The problem is that Congress is not listening.

Since 1995 Congress has cut support for international family planning by one third even as world population continues to grow by more than 76 million people a year. Among the 20 leading industrialized countries in the world, the United States is last when international family planning donations are counted as a percent of the gross national product.

Meanwhile, across the globe, more than a billion teenagers are entering their reproductive years - the largest cluster of teens in world history.

The choices these young people make in the next decade will determine the fate of our natural world for generations to come. The good news is that most of these young people want to determine their future family size. The bad news is that America is doing very little to help.

In his 1970 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Borlaug called on the world to "bring into balance population growth and the carrying capacity of the environment on a worldwide scale." If the world could do this one thing, Borlaug said, "Mankind itself would qualify for the Nobel Peace Prize."

Thirty years later Congress still has the opportunity to help humanity win that prize. Without a doubt, it remains the most important prize not yet won.


Example
Norman Borlaug in Africa.

Is that a Ponzi Scheme In Your Pocket?

I knew about the Bernie Madoff fraud long before the rest of the world, but my sources apparently missed a few details about the man himself. The latest detail comes from The Gothamist:

Warning: This is extremely TMI, so those with delicate constitutions may prefer not to continue reading. Bloomberg News has an excerpt of Sheryl Weinstein's book—Madoff's Other Secret— about her alleged affair with Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff. Weinstein writes, "Bernie had a very small penis. Not only was it on the short side, it was small in circumference. That he was now pointing it out to me was telling. It clearly caused him great angst. I wanted to be careful how I responded. Men and their penises have a strange and unique relationship...[However] I liked this man and didn’t want to emasculate him. His tiny penis hadn’t prevented me from climaxing...On the bright side, oral sex would be a breeze." Way to look on the bright side! Weinstein met Madoff while handling finances for the Hadassah organization (she invested millions of the group's money with Madoff). Madoff's lawyer said Weinstein's claims were just "allegations she has made. I certainly hope she was more discreet about her obligations to Hadassah than she was about her sex life [which is] far less interesting." Zing! [Via Daily Intel] .
So much for any hope he ever had of having a cool prison name, like "Stimulus Package."
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Circus Dogs!



A nice little clip. Hat tip the the Cold Wet Nose blog. The little black dog is a Patterdale terrier.

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Survival of the Richest



Here's the Gospel of Prosperity taken to its logical conclusion.

What's funny is:

  1. The Tea Baggers who vocally support these folks, and;

  2. The Tea Baggers who know they are being mocked, but who are too stupid to understand the mockery. In a very shallow pool, these people are already out of their depth!

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Omnivore's Delusion?


Farm, Excelsior, Missouri

In The American, the Journal of the American Enterprise Institute, there is a very nice essay from someone you almost never hear from when it comes to farming theory: a Real Farmer.

Not a backyard gardener with a rototiller and a little MiracleGro applied from a hose end sprayer.

Not a young mother with three cats, and a part time job at WalMart.

Not a poet who jets around the country and who thinks no one should be using electricity.

A Real Farmer.

Someone who knows how to disc a field, how to sharpen the blades on a bush hog, and how to clear a jammed combine.

Blake Hurst, who can currently be found driving a combine somewhere in Missouri, writes:

I’m dozing, as I often do on airplanes, but the guy behind me has been broadcasting nonstop for nearly three hours. I finally admit defeat and start some serious eavesdropping. He’s talking about food, damning farming, particularly livestock farming, compensating for his lack of knowledge with volume.

I’m so tired of people who wouldn’t visit a doctor who used a stethoscope instead of an MRI demanding that farmers like me use 1930s technology to raise food. Farming has always been messy and painful, and bloody and dirty. It still is.

But now we have to listen to self-appointed experts on airplanes frightening their seatmates about the profession I have practiced for more than 30 years. I’d had enough. I turned around and politely told the lecturer that he ought not believe everything he reads. He quieted and asked me what kind of farming I do. I told him, and when he asked if I used organic farming, I said no, and left it at that. I didn’t answer with the first thought that came to mind, which is simply this: I deal in the real world, not superstitions, and unless the consumer absolutely forces my hand, I am about as likely to adopt organic methods as the Wall Street Journal is to publish their next edition by setting the type by hand.

He was a businessman, and I’m sure spends his days with spreadsheets, projections, and marketing studies. He hasn’t used a slide rule in his career and wouldn’t make projections with tea leaves or soothsayers. He does not blame witchcraft for a bad quarter, or expect the factory that makes his product to use steam power instead of electricity, or horses and wagons to deliver his products instead of trucks and trains. But he expects me to farm like my grandfather, and not incidentally, I suppose, to live like him as well. He thinks farmers are too stupid to farm sustainably, too cruel to treat their animals well, and too careless to worry about their communities, their health, and their families. I would not presume to criticize his car, or the size of his house, or the way he runs his business. But he is an expert about me, on the strength of one book, and is sharing that expertise with captive audiences every time he gets the chance. Enough, enough, enough.


Read the whole thing and learn a little about real farming from a Real Farmer.