The Fan Hitch Volume 4, Number 1, December 2001

Official Newsletter of the Inuit Sled Dog International

Table of Contents

Editorial
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Featured Inuit Dog Owners: Jill and Daniel Pinkwater
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Never Let Go: A Pedestrian Experience
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Points of View:  John Senter; Kathy Schmidt
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When a Fight Isn't a Fight
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Arctic Brucellosis Update
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High Arctic Mushing: Part 1
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Book Review: Uncle Boris in the Yukon
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Page from a Behaviour Notebook: Do Dogs Have Emotions?
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IMHO: Dog Sled Racing vs. Sled Dog Racing


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Editor's/Publisher's Statement
Editor-in-Chief: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
Print Edition: Imaged and distributed by the IPL students of the Ulluriaq School, Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik
The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog International, is published four times a year. It is available at no cost online at: http://thefanhitch.org.

Print subscriptions: in Canada $20.00, in USA $23.00, elsewhere $32.00 per year, postage included. All prices are in Canadian dollars. Make checks payable in Canadian dollars only to "Mark Brazeau", and send to Mark Brazeau, Box 151 Kangiqsualujjuaq QC J0M 1N0 Canada. (Back issues are also available. Contact Sue Hamilton.)


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The Inuit Sled Dog International

The Inuit Sled Dog International (ISDI) is a consortium of enthusiasts whose goal is the preservation of this ancient arctic breed in its purest form as a working dog. The ISDI's efforts are concentrated on restoring the pure Inuit Dog to its native habitat. The ISDI's coordinators welcome to your comments and questions.

ISDI Coordinator Canada:
Geneviève Montcombroux, Box 206, Inwood, MB R0C 1P0; gmontcombroux@gmail.com
ISDI Coordinator USA:
Sue Hamilton, 55 Town Line Road, Harwinton, CT 06791, mail@thefanhitch.org

                                                               Corel photo

More on Arctic Brucellosis

reported by Sue Hamilton

This article is a follow up to one that appeared in the last issue of the Fan Hitch (Vol. 3, No. 4, August 2001). Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that can infect many species, including humans, dogs, arctic marine mammals and caribou. 

In response to my inquiry regarding the possible impact of Brucellosis on Arctic sled dogs, I received the following information from Dr. Lena Measures, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Marine mammals-health, Institut, Maurice Lamontagne Institute, Mont-Joli, Quebec, Canada.

"Brucellosis is a disease caused by bacteria belonging to the genus Brucella.  One species, Brucella canis, infects dogs as its principal host but generally causes few clinical signs or disease in dogs. There are a number of other species, with principal hosts being domestic herbivores (cattle, swine, goats, sheep) and wild herbivores (desert wood rat). These species can spill over into a wide variety of animals including domestic or wild herbivores (bison, elk, moose, muskox, reindeer, caribou, rodents, rabbits and hares, etc.), wild and domestic carnivores and humans. Depending on the host and species of Brucella, disease in animals can be non-existent, mild or serious with some infections causing abortions, reproductive problems, arthritis, abscesses, etc. In humans an intermittent fever occurs with weakness, fatigue, general malaise, joint pain, and neurological effects (irritation, nervousness and depression), but not all species of Brucella are pathogenic to humans.

In the Canadian north, barren-ground caribou and reindeer are infected with Brucella suis  biovar-4 which can spill over into carnivores such as wolves, dogs and bears. Inuit have been found seropositive to this species and strain of Brucella (which means they have been exposed and have antibodies in their blood). Some clinical cases in Inuit have been reported. Recently, new species of Brucella have been found in the marine environment, infecting cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and pinnipeds (seals, sea lions and walrus). These new species have not been completely described, characterized, nor their pathogenicity (disease-causing ability) determined in these hosts nor their potential pathogenicity in spill-over hosts. Some researchers proposed the name Brucella pinnipediae for the Brucella in pinnipeds and Brucella cetaceae for the Brucella in cetaceans. A human was documented as being infected by a marine Brucella while handling infected marine mammal tissues. A mild flu-like illness resulted and was treated with success. Some species of Brucella cause little disease, even in their principal host. Other species of Brucella can be serious pathogens in their principal host and in some spill-over hosts. For example, B. suis biovar-4 (caribou are the principal host) is more pathogenic and invasive in humans than B. abortus (cattle are the principal host).

I would suspect that northern sled-dogs, including the Canadian Inuit dog, have already been exposed to B. suis biovar-4 and the marine Brucella. These bacteria have probably been present in wildlife for some time and likely are not a problem for carnivores."

Dr. Measures did give me the name of someone to contact for more information.  If and when I receive a response and if there is any additional information to report, you'll read it in the next Fan Hitch.
 

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