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Epidemiological evaluation of cat health at a first-response animal shelter in Fukushima, following the Great East Japan Earthquakes of 2011.


The Great East Japan Earthquakes of March 11, 2011 caused immense harm to the community and subsequent nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture extended the damage. Local residents were forced to evacuated without pets and the left behind animals were rescued from the restricted zone one month later. Unplanned animal rescue and unregulated sheltering caused secondary damage to animals such as disease epidemics at impounded animal shelter. The purpose of this study was to retrospectively evaluate the incidence of upper respiratory infection (URI) and diarrhea in cats at the first response animal shelter in Fukushima, and investigate factors affecting the duration of disease and determinants of treatments performed. Eighty percent and 59% of impounded cats developed URI, 71% and 54% of cats developed diarrhea, and 91% and 83% of cats had at least one disease in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Uses of multiple drug administration (more than five drugs) was associated with prolonged URI and diarrhea. Multiple antibiotics, antihistamines, interferon, and steroids were associated with relapse of and prolonged URI. Developing a standardized treatment protocol for commonly observed diseases at Japanese animal shelters to prevent and control diseases, to promote animal welfare, and protect public health in the face of future disasters is overdue.

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