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m a n a g i n g c o m m o n p o i s o n i n g s i n c o m p a n i o n a n i m a l s The 10 most common toxicoses in catsValentina Merola, DVM, DABT, and Eric Dunayer, MS, VMD, DABT Cats are sensitive to many toxic agents, sometimes in barbiturates, propofol, or both can be used. Diazepam is ways unique to their species. In addition, cats are generally ineffective for the tremors but should be used if less likely than dogs to expose themselves through curious ingestions, but cats will nibble on potentially deadly Additional care should include monitoring the patient’s agents, such as lilies. Cats also can jump to high places and body temperature and administering intravenous fluids to obtain materials assumed to be out of reach. And because of protect the kidneys from myoglobinuria due to muscle their grooming behavior, cats with dermal exposure are breakdown. Atropine is not antidotal for permethrin; no true antidote exists. The prognosis is generally good with aggres- In this article, we describe 10 common toxicoses in cats.
The agents discussed were selected based on the 10 mostfrequent feline exposures reported to the ASPCA Animal Poi- son Control Center (APCC) in the past four years.
Besides permethrin products, manyother flea control products are on the pyriproxyfen, which have low oral and dermal toxic poten- tial in mammals. Insecticide ingredients may include organophosphates or carbamates, pyrethroids, imidacloprid, in spot-ons and 3% or more permethrin in dips, are applied fipronil, and selamectin, all of which when used appropri- to cats accidentally or by individuals who ignore the warn- ately (including low-concentration pyrethroid products) have ings on the label. In some instances, cats have developed a low risk of causing serious problems.4,5 signs of permethrin toxicosis after being in close contact with In general, topical flea control products applied according (sleeping near or grooming) a dog recently treated with a to label directions will not cause systemic effects in cats.4,5 Any permethrin spot-on product. Initial signs may appear within topically applied product can cause either dermal irritation or a a few hours but can take 24 to 72 hours to manifest. Full- dermal hypersensitivity-like reaction. If dermal signs appear, body tremors are the most common finding, although wash the product off with a mild detergent. If the irritation is seizures may also occur.1 Other pyrethroids, including phe- localized, the contents of a vitamin E capsule or a corticosteroid nothrin and etofenprox, can cause a similar syndrome in cats cream can be applied. If the irritation is more widespread, cor- ticosteroids or antihistamines may be used systemically. Treatment consists of bathing the cat in a liquid hand If a cat licks a topically applied product, a taste reaction— dishwashing detergent (e.g. Dawn Dishwashing Liquid— characterized by hypersalivation, agitation, and occasionally Procter & Gamble) to remove the sebum in which the prod- vomiting—may develop. These signs are simply a reaction to uct is distributed. If the cat is symptomatic, delay the bath the bitter taste and can sometimes be quite dramatic. Remov- until the tremors have been controlled. The tremors are best ing the product from the tongue by giving the cat milk or liq- treated with slow intravenous boluses of methocarbamol uid from a tuna fish can should resolve the signs.
(Robaxin-V—Fort Dodge Animal Health; total initial dose 55to 220 mg/kg).1 Repeat the methocarbamol as needed, but do not exceed a dose of 330 mg/kg/day or respiratory de- pression may occur.3 If methocarbamol is not effective, then Wyeth) is a bicyclic antidepressant avail-able in tablets and capsules of 25, 37.5,50, 75, 100, and 150 mg. Venlafaxine acts “Toxicology Brief” was contributed by Valentina Merola, DVM, DABT,and Eric Dunayer, MS, VMD, DABT, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, 1717 S. Philo Road, Suite 36, Urbana, IL 61802. The department editor take inhibitor as well as a weak dopamine reuptake in- is Petra A. Volmer, DVM, MS, DABVT, DABT, College of Veterinary hibitor. Cats seem to readily eat venlafaxine capsules (ASPCA Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61802.
APCC Database: Unpublished data, 2003-2005). Less than one37.5-mg capsule is enough to cause mydriasis, vomiting, tachypnea, tachycardia, ataxia, and agitation (ASPCA APCC veals elevated creatinine, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), and Database: Unpublished data, 2002-2005). Signs generally phosphorus concentrations; the creatinine concentration is begin within one to eight hours after exposure (later if an often elevated disproportionately to the BUN concentration.7 extended-release formulation was ingested). Urinalysis may show cellular casts beginning about 18 hours Emesis may be initiated in asymptomatic patients. Acti- vated charcoal is effective; repeat the dose in four to six Treatment consists of immediate decontamination, in- hours if the animal was exposed to an extended-release for- cluding emesis and activated charcoal. Start fluid diuresis as mulation. Be sure to monitor heart rate and blood pressure.
soon as possible, and continue it for at least 48 hours. The Cyproheptadine (1.1 mg/kg orally or rectally up to three or prognosis is good with prompt, aggressive treatment. Once four times a day) can be used as a serotonin antagonist, and renal failure develops, some recovery is possible but may acepromazine or chlorpromazine can be used to treat agita- take weeks, and the cat may require peritoneal dialysis for tion. Generally, the prognosis is good with close monitoring support.7 The development of oliguria or anuria is a poor contain a liquid that glows in the dark.
fur if exposed to a spill. Liquid potpourri July and at Halloween. Cats frequently bite into the jewelry.
may contain high concentrations of cationic detergents, es- The main ingredient is dibutyl phthalate, an oily liquid that sential oils, or a combination of both.9 Cationic detergents has a wide margin of safety with an oral LD in rats of are corrosive to the oral mucosa and can cause severe gas- greater than 8 g/kg.6 So ingesting the contents of a piece of trointestinal upset, drooling, central nervous system (CNS) glow jewelry should not cause any serious effects. The depression, and hypotension. Cats may exhibit dermal irrita- chemical has an extremely unpleasant taste, and most cats tion and ulceration as well as severe corneal ulceration if will not ingest more than a small amount. skin or eye exposure occurs. Essential oils may cause gas- Almost immediately after biting into a piece of glow jew- trointestinal and oral irritation and CNS depression.9 elry, cats exhibit signs of a taste reaction, including hypersali- If the exposure is detected quickly, dilution with milk or vation, agitation, and, occasionally, vomiting. The behavioral water should be performed; do not induce vomiting or admin- changes are likely due to the cat’s reacting to the unpleasant ister activated charcoal. Hospitalize symptomatic cats. Sucralfate taste. A tasty treat such as milk, liquid from a tuna fish can, slurries can be used to coat and protect oral and esophageal le- or other palatable food can ameliorate the taste reaction. Re- sions while they heal. Pain management with opioids can move any liquid on the fur with a wet washcloth to prevent make the cats more comfortable. Monitor the white blood cell re-exposure; take the cat into a darkened room to help you count and begin antibiotics if signs of infection are evident.
Give intravenous fluids for hydration. Cats may be anorectic forseveral days, so forced feeding or alimentation through a feed- ing tube may be needed until the cats recover. Endoscopy may be required to evaluate esophageal damage, but be sure to avoid further damage to or perforation of a devitalized esopha- called lilies, renal failure has been seen gus. The prognosis with supportive care is good unless only with Lilium species (e.g. Easter lilies, Stargazer lilies, tiger lilies, Asiatic lilies, Oriental lilies) and Hemerocallis species (day lilies).7 Ingesting any part of the plant (including the pollen) may cause signs, and even the smallest of exposures should be After ingesting lilies, cats generally develop vomiting and rarely, by self-ingestion, often with ca- depression within two to four hours. Often the cats seem to recover and then begin to deteriorate rapidly about 24 to 72 can cause gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting, diar- hours after the exposure with signs of polyuria, polydipsia, rhea, ulceration, hemorrhage, and ulcer perforation. Acute and more severe depression.8 A serum chemistry profile re- renal failure can occur at higher dosages. Some NSAIDs have been associated with CNS signs such as seizuresand comas at high doses in cats. The more commondrugs that can cause this syndrome include carprofen,ibuprofen, deracoxib, naproxen, etodolac, meloxicam,and indomethacin.10,11 In general, cats have a low tolerance for NSAIDs. For example, cats are thought to be at least twice as sensitiveto ibuprofen as dogs are.10 Gastrointestinal ulceration canoccur in cats exposed to 4 mg/kg of carprofen; acuterenal failure can develop at doses greater than 8 mg/kg(ASPCA APCC Database: Unpublished data, 2001-2005).
Because of this sensitivity, most exposures require aggres-sive treatment. Initial treatment should consist of gastric decontamina- tion. If spontaneous vomiting has not begun and the in-gestion was less than four hours earlier, induce emesis.
Then administer activated charcoal and give repeateddoses when exposure involves an NSAID that undergoesenterohepatic recirculation. To prevent gastrointestinal ul-ceration, administer an acid reducer such as an H2blocker (e.g. ranitidine or famotidine) or proton-pump in-hibitor (e.g. omeprazole), as well as sucralfate and miso-prostol (1 to 3 µg/kg orally b.i.d.)12 for seven to 10 days.
Monitor the cat for signs of gastrointestinal hemorrhage,such as melena or a decreased packed cell volume. Initi-ate fluid diuresis at twice the maintenance rate for at least48 hours to prevent renal damage, and monitor the re-sults of renal function tests.11 As with NSAIDs, acetaminophen isoften administered to sick cats bytheir owners. Acetaminophen has anarrow margin of safety in cats. Oneadult tablet (325 to 500 mg) could be lethal. Clinical signs such as depression, vomiting,dyspnea, brown discoloration of the mucous mem-branes and blood due to methemoglobinemia, respira-tory distress, swelling of the face and paws, and hepaticnecrosis can develop at almost any level of exposure.11Signs of methemoglobinemia generally occur withinhours of exposure, and liver damage may take a coupleof days to manifest. In asymptomatic cats, emesis may be initiated and ac- tivated charcoal administered. If methemoglobinemia ispresent, start oxygen therapy combined with a bloodtransfusion or polymerized bovine hemoglobin solution(Oxyglobin—Biopure) administration. Begin N-acetylcysteine (e.g. Mucomyst—Bristol-Myers Squibb)therapy immediately in any case of acetaminophen expo-sure in a cat. Dilute the N-acetylcysteine solution to a 5%concentration with 5% dextrose or sterile water; this will ■ Circle 107 on Reply Card
yield a 50-mg/ml solution. The loading dose is 140 mg/kg followed by 70 mg/kg every six hours for seven additional doses. Administer N-acetylcysteine orally unless either a bac- teriostatic filter or a sterile solution of N-acetylcysteine pression, attention deficit disorder, and (Acetadote—Cumberland Pharmaceuticals) is available. Ad- junctive therapy includes intravenous fluids, cimetidine (to in- hibit CP450 liver enzymes that activate acetaminophen to the amphetamine, methamphetamine, and 3,4-methylene- toxic metabolite), and ascorbic acid, which may be used to dioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), also known as Ecstasy. Am- help reduce methemoglobin to hemoglobin.11 The prognosis phetamines act as CNS stimulants by increasing catecholamine release, inhibiting catecholamine reuptake, and increasing re-lease of serotonin.15 Almost any exposure in a cat can result in clinical signs such as agitation, hyperthermia, tremors, seizures, tachycardia, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, and coma (ASPCA APCC Database: Unpublished data, 2002-2005). Treatment should include gastric decontamination if the neurotoxin) or cholecalciferol (a vitamin animal is asymptomatic, but a rapidity in the onset of clinical signs may limit the possibility for this. Monitor cardiovascular lants can cause coagulopathy by inhibiting the recycling of and CNS signs closely. Also monitor body temperature, and vitamin K and blocking the synthesis of clotting factors II, maintain it in a normal range. Administer acepromazine or VII, IX, and X. Clinical signs generally occur three to seven chlorpromazine for agitation, and barbiturates may be used to days after exposure when circulating clotting factors are de- control seizures.16 Cyproheptadine may be used as a serotonin pleted. Bleeding may occur in any location, so signs may be antagonist. Treat cardiac arrhythmias as needed (e.g. propra- nonspecific and include weakness, lethargy, and dyspnea.13 nolol if tachycardia is present). Intravenous fluids will help Hemorrhage is most common in the lungs, so cough or res- promote elimination. Consider administering ammonium chlo- piratory difficulty is a common finding.14 Frank hemorrhage ride or ascorbic acid to acidify the urine and promote elimina- or ecchymoses may be seen. Lameness may occur if bleed- tion if acid-base balance can be monitored. The half-life of the ing occurs in a joint, and various neurologic signs may be drug and the duration of signs depend on the urinary pH, and noted if bleeding occurs in the brain or spinal cord.13 signs may be seen for 12 to 48 hours or more.16 The prognosis Anticoagulant rodenticide poisoning can be diagnosed with aggressive supportive care is good in most cases.
by measuring the prothrombin time (PT). PIVKA (proteinsinduced by vitamin K absence or antagonism) and 1. Richardson JA. Permethrin spot-on toxicoses in cats. J Vet Emerg Crit
Thrombotest (Axis-Shield) time are other screening tests for anticoagulant toxicosis. PT and PIVKA tests are most 2. Volmer PA. Pyrethrins and pyrethroids. In: Plumlee KH, ed. Clinical
veterinary toxicology. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby, 2004;188-190. sensitive to depletions of factor VII because it has the 3. Plumb DC. Veterinary drug handbook. 5th ed. Ames: Iowa State Uni-
4. Meerdink GL. Anticholinesterase insecticides. In: Plumlee KH, ed.
If performed within two to four hours of exposure, de- Clinical veterinary toxicology. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby, 2004;178-180. contamination by inducing emesis and administering acti- 5. Wismer T. Novel insecticides. In: Plumlee KH, ed. Clinical veterinary
toxicology. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby, 2004;183-186. vated charcoal is effective at reducing the amount absorbed 6. Rosendale ME. Glow jewelry (dibutyl phthalate) ingestion in cats. Vet
systemically. Otherwise, treatment with vitamin K (3 to 5 7. Volmer PA. Easter lily toxicosis in cats. Vet Med 1999;94:331.
mg/kg orally divided twice daily) is antidotal. Vitamin K1 8. Rumbeiha WK, Francis JA, Fitzgerald SD, et al. A comprehensive study
should be given for 14 days after warfarin exposure, for 21 of Easter lily poisoning in cats. J Vet Diagn Invest 2004;16:527-541. 9. Richardson JA. Potpourri hazards in cats. Vet Med 1999;94:1010-1012.
days after bromadiolone exposure, and for 30 days after 10. Villar D, Buck WB, Gonzalez JM. Ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen
brodifacoum and all other anticoagulant exposure or un- toxicosis and treatment in dogs and cats. Vet Hum Toxicol 1998;40:156-161.
11. Roder JD. Analgesics. In: Plumlee KH, ed. Clinical veterinary toxicol-
ogy. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby, 2004;282-284. Also test the PT or PIVKA about 48 hours after cessation of 12. Boothe DM, Jenkins W. In: Adams HR, ed. Veterinary pharmacology
and therapeutics
. 7th ed. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1995;1025.
vitamin K treatment to determine whether the patient was 13. Means C. Anticoagulant rodenticides. In: Plumlee KH, ed. Clinical vet-
treated long enough. If an animal presents in hemorrhagic erinary toxicology. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby, 2004;444-446.
14. Merola V. Anticoagulant rodenticides: deadly for pests, dangerous for
crisis, treatment is generally supportive and should consist of whole blood or plasma transfusions and stabilization as 15. Hoffman BB, Lefkowitz RJ. Catecholamines, sympathomimetic drugs,
and adrenergic receptor antagonists. In Hardman JG, Limbird LE, Molinoff
needed as well as vitamin K .13 If treatment is started before PB, et al, eds. Goodman & Gilman’s the pharmacological basis of thera- coagulopathy, the prognosis is excellent. The prognosis is peutics. 9th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1996;219-221.
16. Volmer PA. Drugs of abuse. In: Peterson ME, Talcott PA, eds. Small an-
guarded if the patient is already bleeding.
imal toxicology. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders Co, 2001;198-201. ■


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