Ohio ADDL April Update


Ohio Department of Agriculture   -   April 2016

In this issue

  • Algal Bloom Exposure
  • Tularemia
  • Meet Pathology
  • Swine Influenza

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Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory

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Reynoldsburg, OH 43068

Phone: (614) 728-6220

Fax: (614 ) 728-6310



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Potential harmful algal bloom exposure this summer in pets and livestock

Dr. Diane Gerken, DVM, ADDL Toxicologist

Blue-green algae blooms in ponds, lakes and standing water are predicted to occur in Ohio again this year which means the potential for serious and sometimes deadly health effects in large/small animals and humans.  Blue-green algae have the potential to produce many toxins – the two most commonly found are microcystins and anatoxin A.  Ingestion of microcystins results in severe liver disease (clinical signs include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and pale mucous membranes) and often death.  Anatoxin A ingestion results in central nervous system effects (clinical signs include muscle tremors, rigidity, lethargy respiratory distress and convulsions) often resulting in death. Gastrointestinal contents (or rumen contents) can be analyzed for either of these toxins using submitted samples or whole animal submission for necropsy to the ADDL. Whether it is a pet or farm animal that is affected,  a positive diagnosis is recommended so steps to prevent additional animal or human exposure can be instituted as soon as possible. 


In addition, detection of microcystins in water is possible using an ELISA-based assay.  For testing of water sources, a list of laboratories can be found on the EPA website.  Find information about pets and harmful algal bloom exposure here.

Absence and presence of blue green algae in water
Comparison of water without (left) and with (right) blue green algae present.

Tularemia in an adult gray fox

Dr. Jeff Hayes, DVM, MS, ADDL Pathologist

Francisella tularensis, the causative agent of the disease tularemia, was isolated from the liver of an adult female gray fox that was found dead in Gallia County in February, 2016. External examination showed generalized muscle wasting, marked dehydration, and a moderate number of fleas in the hair coat. Necropsy showed scant adipose tissue, gastroenteritis including gastric ulcers, and mild enlargement of mesenteric lymph nodes. Histopathology revealed <1 mm multifocal necrotizing lesions in the liver (too small to visualize grossly), and widespread necrosis in the cortex of the mesenteric lymph node. Microscopic changes were consistent with tularemia, so culture of liver tissue was performed. F. tularensis was isolated from the liver at the ADDL, corroborated by positive MALDI-TOF identification and  PCR results, and was confirmed as F. tularensis by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL).


Francisella tularensis can infect a wide range of animals (>190 mammalian, 23 avian, 3 amphibian and 88 invertebrate species) , including a report of infection in wild gray foxes in Minnesota (Schlotthauer et al, Journal of Infectious Diseases, 1935). However, it primarily causes disease in rabbits and rodents. This is the first isolation of this organism at the ADDL since 2010, when isolations were made from two cats and a cottontail rabbit in Montgomery County, Ohio. Transmission of tularemia can occur by various routes, such as by the bites of arthropods and insects, including mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, deer flies; by contact with blood or tissues of infected animals through the skin (intact or lacerated);  through conjunctival membranes; by inhalation; or by ingestion of contaminated meat and water.


The fox was found to have several other infections, including canine distemper virus, intestinal Taenia and Dipylidium tapeworms as well as nematodes, and Demodex mites within hair follicles. Finding several typical endemic disease and parasite agents does not rule out the need for thorough laboratory examination to detect disease agents that can cause serious disease in humans. This case points out the need to take care when handling any sick or dead animal, particularly wildlife.


Focus of necrotizing hepatitis in an adult female gray fox (200X magnification)
Focus of necrotizing hepatitis in an adult female gray fox (200X magnification)

Meet the Pathology Section

Pathology Section
Top row, L to R: Dr. Alice Roudabush, Scott Fox, Dr. Jeff Hayes, Shawn Smith, Dr. David Newman; Bottom row, L to R: Amanda Gillard, Ali King, Dr. Craig Sarver

Ali King, ADDL Veterinary Pathology Assistant

The Pathology department is comprised of four Veterinary Pathologists, two Veterinary Pathology Assistants, and two Histotechnicians.  Our pathologists specialize in the diagnosis of diseases, through necropsy examinations of fresh and fixed animal tissues.  Our department addresses many components of disease in multiple animal species and birds which include causes of illness and death, biopsies, morphologic changes, in animals both living and dead.   Our histotechnicians prepare the microscopic tissues slides, and perform specialized tissues stains and immunohistochemistry to aid in diagnostics.

Increased incidence of swine influenza (SIV)

Melanie Prarat Koscielny, ADDL Virology Laboratory Scientist

Recently, ADDL has seen an increased incidence in the number of swine influenza virus (SIV) positive cases from pig samples submitted for diagnostic testing.  Three strains of SIV viruses are currently circulating in Ohio: H1N1, H3N2, and H1N2.  In addition to the SIV, the 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus (H1N1 2009pdm)  has also been detected in several pig farms. It is possible that this virus has crossed the species barrier and transmitted to pigs by infected human. it is important for  people who work with or have close contact with pigs to be vaccinated for type A influenza virus (seasonal flu). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone working closely with pigs get their annual influenza vaccine.