Lab notes

Lab notes


A spike in bacterial diseases

UF veterinarians have reported a recent spike in cases of leptospirosis in dogs treated at UF’s Small Animal Hospital. This emerging bacterial disease affects multiple animal species as well as humans. “In a typical year, we see almost no cases of leptospirosis in dogs at UF,” said Carsten Bandt, D.V.M., an assistant professor of emergency medicine and critical care at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine. “We have now seen 12 cases, just within the past six months.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not collect data on dogs, although the information may be reportable in animals in some states, said Christopher Cox, a health communications specialist with the CDC. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted to humans by animals. Because of this, families with infected pets should be careful handling the urine of these animals, Bandt added. Anyone seeking more information should contact his or her veterinarian or the emergency and critical care service at the UF Small Animal Hospital at 352-392-2235.


A new tool for parents

For parents, thinking about their child’s disease rarely stops at the clinic. They carry their concerns home with them. In fact, most parents of children with Type 1 diabetes use Internet forums to gain knowledge of their child’s disease and to find social support among other parents, UF researchers have found. They examined how parents used these forums in a study, which was published in the journal Pediatric Diabetes. UF researcher Amanda Balkhi surveyed 102 participants for the study. Of the 102 parents, 38 percent reported social support as the biggest benefit of the forums. Thirty-one percent cited the knowledge they gained there as the primary reason they used the forums and 22 percent of parents cited a mix of support and knowledge as draws to the forum. The study’s findings can better establish how much these forums affect parents’ care of their children. This is important because of the quality of information parents expect to find in the online forums, said Gary Geffken, Ph.D., chief of medical psychology within the department of psychiatry for UF Health.


The pros of protons

Five years after having proton therapy for early- and intermediate-risk prostate cancer, 99 percent of men are living cancer-free and with excellent quality of life, according to a UF Proton Therapy Institute study published in February. Three-quarters of those with high-risk prostate cancer are also disease-free. The study, published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, adds to the body of evidence pointing to a significant role for proton therapy in the effective and efficient treatment of prostate cancer, said Nancy P. Mendenhall, M.D., lead author and medical director of the UF Proton Therapy Institute. “These proton therapy results compare very favorably with IMRT results, particularly for intermediate risk-disease, where disease control rates of 70 percent to 85 percent are typical,” Mendenhall said. IMRT is intensity modulated radiation therapy, a form of radiation that uses photons, or X-rays, to deliver radiation. Proton therapy uses protons, particles of an atom, to deliver radiation.