The immediate short-term health risks of wildfire smoke are well-understood by medical experts.At the same time, there is still a lot that needs to be studied concerning potential long-term health issues resulting from repeated smoke exposure. Researchers at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine may have found one way to gain some insight, by looking at how wildfires affect the health of cats. Dr. Ronald Li is an associate professor of small animal emergency and urgent care at UC Davis. He and his team began studying cats with wildfire injuries in 2017.“Back in 2017, our school started seeing a lot of cats rescued from the 2017 Tubbs Fire and at the time, we were collaborating with our cardiology team and we started noticing a portion of these cats experiencing congestive heart failure,” Li said.Those common symptoms led the UC Davis team to look for a potential cause. They found that many cats showed signs of swelling in the heart known medically as cardiomyopathy. “But also what’s surprising is we found lots of blood clots,” Li said.Li said those blood clots that developed in the cats’ hearts are the result of overactive platelets, cells that produce clotting in damaged blood vessels. They confirmed those findings with more injured cats that came in following the 2018 Camp Fire. But there is good news for those cats, Li said. Their heart conditions can be treated, even reversed, using a simple Aspirin regimen. But if left untreated, this smoke-induced clotting can become deadly quickly. Li said this should be a reminder to cat owners to have their animals evaluated by a vet if they have been exposed to intense smoke. Because cats are often close companions for people, observing their post-wildfire illnesses can help provide some insights into potential human risks.“Animals and humans are exposed to the same environment,” Li said. “I think it raises an alarm of cardiovascular emergencies being increased dramatically, respiratory diseases being increased dramatically during wildfire seasons.” Watch the video above for the full story.

The immediate short-term health risks of wildfire smoke are well-understood by medical experts.

At the same time, there is still a lot that needs to be studied concerning potential long-term health issues resulting from repeated smoke exposure. Researchers at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine may have found one way to gain some insight, by looking at how wildfires affect the health of cats.

Dr. Ronald Li is an associate professor of small animal emergency and urgent care at UC Davis. He and his team began studying cats with wildfire injuries in 2017.

“Back in 2017, our school started seeing a lot of cats rescued from the 2017 Tubbs Fire and at the time, we were collaborating with our cardiology team and we started noticing a portion of these cats experiencing congestive heart failure,” Li said.

Those common symptoms led the UC Davis team to look for a potential cause. They found that many cats showed signs of swelling in the heart known medically as cardiomyopathy.

“But also what’s surprising is we found lots of blood clots,” Li said.

Li said those blood clots that developed in the cats’ hearts are the result of overactive platelets, cells that produce clotting in damaged blood vessels. They confirmed those findings with more injured cats that came in following the 2018 Camp Fire.

But there is good news for those cats, Li said. Their heart conditions can be treated, even reversed, using a simple Aspirin regimen.

But if left untreated, this smoke-induced clotting can become deadly quickly. Li said this should be a reminder to cat owners to have their animals evaluated by a vet if they have been exposed to intense smoke. Because cats are often close companions for people, observing their post-wildfire illnesses can help provide some insights into potential human risks.

“Animals and humans are exposed to the same environment,” Li said. “I think it raises an alarm of cardiovascular emergencies being increased dramatically, respiratory diseases being increased dramatically during wildfire seasons.”

Watch the video above for the full story.



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