Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New York Vet Johannes Gives 2 Collies Drug Known to Cause Potentially Deadly Reactions in Members of the Breed

The New York State Veterinary Board charged New York Vet Eugene Johannes with "practising the profession of veterinary medicine with gross incompetence" when he gave ivermectin to two collie dogs. Johannes did not contest these charges and signed a consent order.

While working as a vet in Allegany County New York in 2005, Johannes gave this Ivermectin to two collie dogs, and "failed to recognize a known potential lethal side effect," the charges state.

Like many veterinary board documents, these documents do not say whether one or both of the collies did in fact, die, or become very ill. But A COMPLAINT was filed that led to this finding -- so what do YOU think likely occurred? I think something VERY bad, because otherwise, owners do not usually file complaints.

This is why I tell readers of veterinary disciplinary files to ASSUME THE WORST when reading a board decision or document that does not spell out the impact of the vets actions on the pet, or the outcome for the pet. I believe these boards -- motivated by a desire to protect members of their own profession -- deliberately leave out information on WHAT the consequences of the vet's actions were, because they consider this information inflammatory. Well, it is VERY IMPORTANT that we pet owners understand that things like "gross incompetence" have very real consequences for very real patients (and their loving families), whether or not those consequences are spelled out. ASSUME THE WORST.

According to the Cassette, A Magazine for Collies, as quoted on the website of Minnesota/Wisconsin Collie rescue: "It is estimated that 30-50% of the collie breed have a deadly reaction when given the medication Ivermectin." Based on that statistic, if he gave this drug to two collies, I'm assuming one of them is dead now. (See http://www.mwcr.org/be_aware.htm)

Indeed, it seems from the wording of the Board's charges that one or more of the collies did in fact have this reaction, because it says that Johannes "failed to recognize a . . . side effect."

If one of these collies did in fact have this reaction, what did he or she likely experience?

According to http://www.k9web.com/dog-faqs/breeds/collies.html: "salivation, dilated pupils, vomiting, tremors, and difficulty walking (ataxia). Severe signs of toxicosis included weakness, inability to stand (recumbency), nonresponsiveness, stupor, and coma." And, ultimately if not properly treated, death.

PetPlace.com has a page on ivermectin, including a little slide show (two pics, one of which shows a collie suffering from ivermectin toxicity; the second page says "Ivermectin should be avoided in collies.") http://www.petplace.com/dogs/ivermectin-toxicity/page1.aspx#

The board gave Johannes a 2 month active suspension (followed by a 22 month STAYED suspension during which he can work) and fined him only $500.

So, the question I have is: Was "Dr." Johannes so dumb that he didn't KNOW about the ivermectin toxicity in collies, OR was he so careless that he knew, but he still gave the drug to the collies and then failed to monitor and treat for side effects?

Either way, I wouldn't take my pets to this guy.

Links: http://www.op.nysed.gov/jan07.htm