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Medical and behavioral surveillance of dogs deployed to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon from October 2001 to June 2002

Cynthia M. Otto, DVM, PhD, DACVECC; Amanda B. Downend, BA; James A. Serpell PhD; Lisa S. Ziemer, VMD; H. Mark Saunders, VMD, MS, DACVR

Revue : Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

A prospective double cohort study tries to evaluate early medical and behavioral effects of deployment to the World Trade Center, Fresh Kills Landfill, or the Pentagon on responding search-and-rescue (SAR) dogs.

The first cohort included SAR dogs responding to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks (deployed), and the second cohort included SAR dogs trained in a similar manner but not deployed (controls). Enrollment occurredfrom October 2001 to June 2002.

Dogs were examined by their local veterinarians; thoracic radiographs and blood samples were shipped to the University of Pennsylvania for analysis. Handlers completed medical and training histories and a canine behavioral survey.

Deployed dogs were older and had more search experience than control dogs. Serum concentrations of globulin and bilirubin and activity of alkaline phosphatase were significantly higher in deployed dogs, independent of age and training. Despite significant differences in several blood parameters, values for both groups were within reference ranges. No pulmonary abnormalities were detected on radiographs, and no significant differences in behavior or medical history were detected between groups.

Within the first year following the September 11 attacks, there was no evidence that responding dogs developed adverse effects related to their work. Mild but significantly higher serum concentrations of globulin and bilirubin and activity of alkaline phosphatase in deployed dogs suggested higher antigen or toxin exposure. These dogs will be monitored for delayed effects for at least 3 years.

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:861-867

 

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