All About Velvet Disease and Your Betta

Velvet is a very common disease among betta fish. However, it can affect many kinds of fish, even young ones. Anabantoids, goldfish, zebrafish, and danios are likely to be infected with velvet.

This disease can appear as a gray or golden-velvet coating on the fin areas, or body. It can sometimes look like gold dust has been sprinkled on your betta fish. If this gold layer is difficult to see, it will become very visible if you project a flashlight beam on your aquarium when the environment is dark.

Unfortunately, Velvet is a disease that can kill your betta if left untreated.

Symptoms of Velvet Disease

  1. A gray or golden velvet coating on the body and fins
  2. Sudden weight loss or loss of appetite
  3. Fins that are clamped
  4. Lethargy
  5. Peeling off of skin
  6. Breathing difficulties
  7. Wounds on the skin
  8. Betta scratching against objects that are hard

In the beginning stages of this disease, you may notice your betta fish rubbing itself against hard objects. This happens because he is trying to remove parasites. However, as the disease spreads, the fish may become almost motionless and have no appetite, lose weight and sadly, could die.

How to Prevent Velvet Disease

First, place your infected fish into a quarantine tank for at least two weeks. This is where you will treat him. Next, test the quality of your water regularly. Lastly, keep your betta fish fed with a nutritious and balanced diet.

Velvet can only occur if your tank conditions are poor. This condition is quite infectious, so by having a quarantine tank ready to go, you can greatly reduce the chances of the disease spreading throughout the entire aquarium. For this reason it is very important to immediately remove any fish that may seem infected and place them in a quarantine tank.

Treating Velvet Disease

Although many people don’t realize it, water temperature plays a large role in helping to treat an infected Betta. It is important to keep the temperature of the water on the warmer side, usually between 82 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Lighting also plays a big role. Keep your lighting dim for a few days. That will aid your fish as well. Lastly, add the right amount of aquarium salt. The rule of thumb is for every gallon of water in your tank, add 1 teaspoon gradually over a three-hour period.

Velvet is a highly contagious disease, and it can develop into an advanced stage before you ever realize it is happening. Therefore, it’s vital to apply treatment procedures as soon as you notice any signs. An effective treatment is malachite green. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the amount of time it should be used to make sure your betta fish is completely healed before re-entering him into your original aquarium.

Checking for signs at an early stage can help prevent any disease from occurring. The greatest thing you can do for your betta fish is to pay attention and try to prevent the disease from ever manifesting in the first place.

MSC Meta Study Shows Safety

A new meta study has analyzed the safety of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) from 1,012 patients in 36 studies from 14 countries around the world, with both adults and children and on a wide variety of diseases and conditions. The systematic study used both randomized as well as nonrandomized control trials and it appears to show the complete safety of these mesenchymal stromal cells, with the most common occurring reaction being transient fever.

The study is titled Safety of Cell Therapy with Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (SafeCell): A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials, and it indicates that mesenchymal stromal cells are in no way linked to dangerous diseases or fatal infections.

It confidently states that researchers were not able to identify any association between MSC treatment and any possible development of disease or abnormality, specifically “acute infusional toxicity, organ system complications, infection, death, or malignancy”. But there was a significant association between very short-lived fever after MSC had been administered.

Having systematically reviewed the randomized control trials (RCT) and non-RCTs, these results were confirmed by the researchers. They found that six out of seven RCTs and all the non-RCTs participating in the study described equal or fewer deaths with MSC treatment compared to the control treatment given. However it appears that the “completeness of adverse event reporting” in the study that were included was variable.

What is particularly encouraging is that apart from this transient fever, these current clinical trials suggest very strongly that the administration of MSCs is safe.

The cells used for the research study came from a wide variety of sources, both autologous as well as allogeneic. Sixteen of the studies used autologous MSCs, five used matched allogeneic and eight used unmatched allogeneic MSCs, while seven of the studies used a combination of matched and unmatched cells.

This is extremely significant for a number of reasons. Besides providing us with a much better understanding of the mechanisms of action of the MSCs in the body, and meaningful insight into how they appear to have limited cellular differentiation ability, the meta study shows how the MSCs home to inflammation sites. What makes this even more meaningful is the fact that more and more research is showing how inflammation is at the root of a number of diseases.

In addition to this, there are several other important findings that have been revealed by the study:

  1. The use of unmatched MSCs supports the contention of a number of other  researchers that they are “immune-privileged”.
  2. It appears that the way they work is via immunomodulatory and paracrine mechanisms.
  3. They secrete bioactive molecules that make them especially effective when it comes to treating inflammation-based diseases.
  4. There was no association shown between MSCs and the formation of tumors.

This is a very exciting meta study that demonstrates what a number of researchers and clinicians have claimed over the past years. It strongly supports my own personal belief that stem cells are the foundation of a new multi-billion dollar industry that is going to transform medicine, cosmetics and new anti-aging technologies in the 21st century.

Cockatiel Diseases – A Description of 3 Pet Cockatiel Illnesses

Cockatiels are generally hardy birds which helps make them one of the most popular pet birds. However, there are illnesses that are specific to the species. Getting to know what is normal for your bird (and normal is different for birds even of the same species) will help you to know when there is a problem and allow you to get help quickly. Here are 3 descriptions of diseases and their symptoms.

Pacheco’s Virus has proven to be nearly 100% fatal because of its hard to detect symptoms and aggressive attack on the bird’s system. Caused by the herpes virus, it is generally spread from one bird to another through spoiled food, water, and droppings; and birds that are stressed seem more susceptible. There has been some success in treatment with the use of a vaccine, but it causes side effects that are almost as problematic as the disease itself, mainly tumors at the injection site, paralysis, and death. It is the larger parrots that seem to have most of the negative reactions to the vaccine. The best defense seems to be a powerful offense on the owner’s part by staying alert for any changes in your bird’s eating patterns, elimination, energy level, or onset of discharge of any kind and then getting your bird professional help immediately.

Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease often abbreviated as PBFD is cause by a virus–psittacine circovirus 1 (PsCV-1), that attacks the immune system that presents with loss of feathers, deformed development of beaks, nails, and claws. Birds showing any of these symptoms should be immediately tested for the disease as early detection increases the chance of survival exponentially. This disease spreads through airborne dander, feather, dried fecal matter and secretions from the infected bird, easily infects other birds, but cannot be passed to humans. The good news is that often young birds survive and form a natural immunity to the disease.

Psittacosis sometimes referred to as Parrot Fever or Bird Fancier’s Lung (BFL), is a disease that all species of birds are susceptible to, and one that can be passed to humans as well. Pet birds are the most frequent transmitters of the disease especially many types of Parrots. Because it is caused by virus-like bacteria, it can be effectively treated with antibiotics when detected early. There is a good recovery rate for birds and humans. Spread from minute particle of infected fecal matter that dries and becomes airborne, it is a menace to other birds as well.

Lyme Disease in Dogs and Humans

It is summer time and that means walks in the woods, camping and all those glorious trips on nature trails enjoying the sights and sounds of nature. However, lurking in some areas there lies a nasty tick that can cause both humans and animals an opportunity to become very ill.

It is an illness that is caused by a bite from an infected tick and it does not care who you are human or dog. This problem surfaced around 1975 when a group of children in a Lyme, Conn., suffered a severe outbreak of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. This unusual grouping eventually lead researchers to identify the bacterial cause in 1982 and thus led to the name “Lyme disease.” In 1984 it found its way into the canine population and since has skyrocketed. It is a serious and deadly disease if left untreated.

According to statistics released by a pet insurance provider (Veterinary Pet Insurance) in 2008, Lyme disease is the most common canine infectious disease for the third year in a row. Forty-sever percent of all the claims Veterinary Pet Insurance received were for tick born infectious diseases. Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis (caused by the Brown Dog tick and the lone star tick, infection enters the white blood cells and causes anemia and other complications) and anaplasmosis (caused by deer ticks, the disease is similar to Lyme disease) are among the three leading infectious tick diseases.

What is the cause? Warmer climates, urbanization and an increase in the rodent and deer populations are the primary causes. A female tick can lay approximately 3,000 eggs per season and once the tick population gets established there is a big problem in removing them. Once a disease that was established in a few areas has now managed to move through the entire Northeast, the Midwest and in areas of California and Oregon.

What is Lyme disease? It is a disease caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi which is transmitted into the bloodstream by the saliva of the infected tick by means of a prolonged bite. It cannot be transmitted from dog to dog or to humans from dogs. It comes from the tick bite itself and reacts differently in humans than it does in dogs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only two ticks are known to carry this bacterium, the blacklegged deer tick, found throughout most of the United States and the Western blacklegged tick found only in the Western states. Granted that there are other ticks that carry

different types of bacteria, but only these two ticks carry Lyme disease.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs? It is difficult to diagnose. Common symptoms are fever, limb discomfort, lameness, swelling in the joints, lack of energy and loss of appetite. Since these symptoms are common to many other canine diseases it may take a while to determine the actual cause of the problems. Lyme disease can take up to 5 months after exposure to surface.

A simple blood test can detect if a dog has been exposed to the bacteria and treatment can begin. Dogs are usually treated with an antibiotic (usually doxycycline) and will begin to show improvement within a few days after receiving treatment.

The interesting thing is some dogs can test positive for the disease and never appear sick, as their bodies are capable of fighting off the bacteria. It is recommended however, that if your dog tests positive and several other tests show the same result it is best to have your dog treated, but that is a matter of personal judgment.

What are the complications of Lyme disease in dogs? Lyme disease does not cause permanent arthritis in dogs. The type of arthritis or lameness caused by this disease is non-erosive arthritis; it does not cause damage the bone. The swelling and lameness will go away with treatment.

The potential problem related to Lyme disease is kidney complications if left untreated. These problems can be fatal to your dog. It is necessary to have your vet do a routine urinalysis if your dog has contacted Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is a dangerous disease, but when caught early and treated most dogs achieve full recovery.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease in humans? Lyme disease in humans affects different areas in the body as it progresses. The place where the tick has bit the human usually causes a reddish rash and “flu-like” symptoms.

Medically it is described in three phases as: (a) an early localized disease with a skin inflammation; (b) early problems of the heart and nervous system, which could include palsies and meningitis and (c) later a disease that causes motor and sensory nerve damage and brain inflammation as well as arthritis.

Many people do not even recall a tick bite, as some ticks can be as small as the period at the end of this sentence. Some people do not develop a reddish rash, but even the rash will disappear by itself with no treatment at all. Some people suffer from flu like symptoms and possible swollen glands plus a headache. If you are like most people you “get over” these things without the aid of your doctor and this is where the seriousness of this disease begins.

As the bacteria spreads through your body it begins to affect your heart muscle causing and inflammation, which can cause abnormal heartbeats and heart failure. The nervous system can develop facial paralysis, abnormal sensations due to the disease of peripheral nerves, meningitis and confusion. If this is not enough, you can also develop chronic arthritis and suffer from anxiety and depression.

How is Lyme disease diagnosed in humans? If you live in an area where Lyme disease if known and show up at the doctor’s office with the usual red rash the diagnosis is simple. If you have been bitten by a tick be certain to tell your doctor. In most cases without your doctor knowing if you have been bitten or if you have been in an area where Lyme disease is known, they will review your history and try the process of elimination to exclude certain diseases. Blood tests are not significant in the early stages of the disease, though can be helpful in the later stages. Currently the best test is what is called the Western Blot assay antibody test.

How is Lyme disease treated in humans? In most cases Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics that work really well in the early stages of the disease. If the disease has progressed undetected for awhile, it maybe necessary to take some intravenous drugs and pain-relieving medicines can also be given.

How do you protect your dog and yourself? Since dogs carry ticks into the home, it is wise to check your dog every time it comes in. A tick check is simply done by going through your dog’s fur and parting it with your fingers. Begin at the ears and head while working your way down, on black dog’s use a flashlight to help you see the ticks. If you find one do not stop as you may find more, ticks love company. Use some sticky tape to help remove the tick or use tweezers making certain you remove the whole tick, legs and all. Do not try burning them off with a match or cigarette.

Keep your grass cut; trim bushes around your house so that they get a chance to get some sun. Ticks love damp dark places. If you live near a wooded area keep the area around your home free from the growing brush; a stone or mulch path surrounding the area is a good idea.

Use year round flea and tick preventatives. If you live in an area where Lyme disease ticks are prevalent there are vaccines available to help prevent the disease. A vaccine along with the flea and tick preventative will go a long way in protecting your dog. Though it is known that the vaccines do not always work, they are worth a try. The vaccines are usually given twice, a few weeks apart and then once a year and are recommended if you live in areas known for the disease.

Regarding us humans wear protective long pants, long sleeves and boots if you are venturing into the woods and if you pick up a tick be certain to remove it at once. Spraying an insect repellent that contains DEET will help too. If you get a tick and remove it, save the culprit in a jar so that is can be identified as not all ticks carry Lyme disease. It takes approximately 48 hours once a tick becomes attached to you or your dog to transmit the bacteria, that is why checking yourself and your dog is so important. The quicker you remove them the better off you both are.