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Wednesday
Jun252014

Amphibian Microbiomes as Indicators of Individual and Environmental Health

Sarah Leyman, The Ohio State University

Cases/Abstracts, Winner

 

AMPHIBIAN MICROBIOMES AS INDICATORS OF INDIVIDUAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

Sarah Leyman1, Barbara Wolfe1, Paula Mouser2 

1The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, 1900 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, USA

2The Ohio State University Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodectic Engineering, 2070 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH, USA

Amphibians depend on their cutaneous microbial community as a first line of immune defense against disease. However, very few studies have been performed to characterize the bacterial genera found on the skin of different amphibian species and under different water quality conditions.  The goal of this study was to classify the bacterial genera present on the skin of two Lithobates species living in lakes of highly variant water characteristics on a reclaimed surface mine.  A second objective was to develop a baseline frog microbiome library on the site prior to shale gas exploration in order to monitor microbiome changes in association with environmental disturbance. Northern green frogs (Lithobates clamitans melanota) and American bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeiana) were caught from 10 different lakes on the Wilds in Cumberland, OH.  Skin swabs were collected following a sterile saline solution rinse for bacterial characterization and to test for Batrachochytrium dendrobatiditis (Bd), the etiologic agent of amphibian chytridiomycosis.  Pharyngeal swabs were taken to test for ranavirus, another emerging disease of amphibians, and blood samples were collected to assess the heterophil-lymphocyte ratio as an indicator of stress. Water quality parameters were documented and water samples collected for chemical analysis at the time of frog capture for each site. The DNA was extracted from the bacterial swabs and sequenced using 454 pyro-sequencing.  At least one frog from each site tested was positive for Bd, but no frogs were positive for ranavirus.  Water quality among sites varied with regard to pH (4.10 to 8.66), conductivity (137.5 μS/cm to 3.51 mS/cm), ionic content, and dissolved organic carbon (0.13 mg/L to 11.7 mg/L).  Our study identified over 300 different genera of microbes representing 68 orders present on frogs on this site. Water quality parameters were found to be associated with differential microbial colonization and physiologic parameters.

*Click the thumbnail pictures below to see full size images*


Tuesday
Jun242014

The Human-Animal Bond

Brandon Thornberry, University of Missouri

Experiences, Winner

 

I am reminded on daily basis how blessed I am to be joining the field of veterinary medicine. What an incredible opportunity and challenge it is to become a part of a profession that embodies a pledge so far beyond the health and well-being of animals. Our community has entrusted the veterinarian to be a beacon for compassion and generosity, and most importantly, to be the guardian of the human-animal bond.

I would like to share a story about an experience I had recently that has solidified for me the beauty of the bond between animals and people. I volunteered with several other veterinary students on a Saturday afternoon to visit a foster home for abused and abandoned children. We brought a few of our pet dogs along to be able to share our passion for animals with each of these children, who ranged in age from four years old to a senior in high school. The afternoon was unforgettable. The children were laughing and playing with these dogs they had met just hours before. They were smiling from ear to ear as I let them use my stethoscope. One young girl who was about ten years old called me over to alert me that she was having trouble hearing the heart beat on our furry friend, Cooper. I knelt down beside her, gently rearranged her ear-pieces that were facing the wrong direction, and then I said calmly, “Alright doctor, let’s test it out to make sure I have a heart beating inside me.” She giggled and lightly pressed it against my chest and one of her lips started to curve up into a shy smile. Then I said, “I bet you have quite a heart beating inside you, too! Am I right?” I noticed her other lip start to move toward a grin as she pressed the stethoscope to her Mizzou Tiger shirt. Then I said, smiling at her and positioning the chest piece of the stethoscope under the dog’s elbow, “Alrighty, now let’s find Cooper’s heartbeat under all of that fur!” Her face lit up into a beautiful smile when she heard his heartbeat. I think there is tremendous beauty hidden within experiences when you expect to be changing someone else’s life, when in fact, they are being the agent of change in your life. I approached that afternoon with the joy of being able to bring these animals to these children so they could celebrate in the unconditional love that animals provide to me each day. What I was not prepared for was how much of a positive impact these children’s interactions with our animals were going to have on me and my ever-broadening career aspirations.

The experience at this foster home did not simply ignite a spark within me; it was fuel for a fire that has been burning ever since I was young, growing up around my parents’ skin cancer charity foundation and my father’s veterinary hospital. Losing loved ones to cancer, humans and animals alike, has truly moved my life into a very special direction within veterinary medicine. Perhaps more specifically, I have taken a tremendous fascination with the field of comparative oncology because it combines so many of my passions for people, animals, discovery, and teaching.  Although my career path is by no means set in stone, I strongly believe the definition of the human-animal bond can be taken to a whole new level on this journey within comparative oncology that unites advances in both animal and human health into one medicine.  My drive to unite medicine and preserve this aspect of the human-animal bond is forged by the bravery of so many people and animals that have touched my life.

I recognized at a young age the sacredness of the bond between animals and humans and I wanted my passion for animals to be my medium for service and change within people’s lives. Whether I am involved in helping a ten year old girl feel the heartbeat of a furry friend she just met or I am treating an old Labrador Retriever’s arthritis so he can still go on the annual hunting trip with the boys, I will happily dedicate my life to defending and intensifying the human-animal bond within every animal and person I meet.

Tuesday
Jun242014

The Human-Animal Bond

Brandon Thornberry, University of Missouri

Experiences, Winner


I am reminded on daily basis how blessed I am to be joining the field of veterinary medicine. What an incredible opportunity and challenge it is to become a part of a profession that embodies a pledge so far beyond the health and well-being of animals. Our community has entrusted the veterinarian to be a beacon for compassion and generosity, and most importantly, to be the guardian of the human-animal bond.

I would like to share a story about an experience I had recently that has solidified for me the beauty of the bond between animals and people. I volunteered with several other veterinary students on a Saturday afternoon to visit a foster home for abused and abandoned children. We brought a few of our pet dogs along to be able to share our passion for animals with each of these children, who ranged in age from four years old to a senior in high school. The afternoon was unforgettable. The children were laughing and playing with these dogs they had met just hours before. They were smiling from ear to ear as I let them use my stethoscope. One young girl who was about ten years old called me over to alert me that she was having trouble hearing the heart beat on our furry friend, Cooper. I knelt down beside her, gently rearranged her ear-pieces that were facing the wrong direction, and then I said calmly, “Alright doctor, let’s test it out to make sure I have a heart beating inside me.” She giggled and lightly pressed it against my chest and one of her lips started to curve up into a shy smile. Then I said, “I bet you have quite a heart beating inside you, too! Am I right?” I noticed her other lip start to move toward a grin as she pressed the stethoscope to her Mizzou Tiger shirt. Then I said, smiling at her and positioning the chest piece of the stethoscope under the dog’s elbow, “Alrighty, now let’s find Cooper’s heartbeat under all of that fur!” Her face lit up into a beautiful smile when she heard his heartbeat. I think there is tremendous beauty hidden within experiences when you expect to be changing someone else’s life, when in fact, they are being the agent of change in your life. I approached that afternoon with the joy of being able to bring these animals to these children so they could celebrate in the unconditional love that animals provide to me each day. What I was not prepared for was how much of a positive impact these children’s interactions with our animals were going to have on me and my ever-broadening career aspirations.

The experience at this foster home did not simply ignite a spark within me; it was fuel for a fire that has been burning ever since I was young, growing up around my parents’ skin cancer charity foundation and my father’s veterinary hospital. Losing loved ones to cancer, humans and animals alike, has truly moved my life into a very special direction within veterinary medicine. Perhaps more specifically, I have taken a tremendous fascination with the field of comparative oncology because it combines so many of my passions for people, animals, discovery, and teaching.  Although my career path is by no means set in stone, I strongly believe the definition of the human-animal bond can be taken to a whole new level on this journey within comparative oncology that unites advances in both animal and human health into one medicine.  My drive to unite medicine and preserve this aspect of the human-animal bond is forged by the bravery of so many people and animals that have touched my life.

I recognized at a young age the sacredness of the bond between animals and humans and I wanted my passion for animals to be my medium for service and change within people’s lives. Whether I am involved in helping a ten year old girl feel the heartbeat of a furry friend she just met or I am treating an old Labrador Retriever’s arthritis so he can still go on the annual hunting trip with the boys, I will happily dedicate my life to defending and intensifying the human-animal bond within every animal and person I meet.

Monday
Jun232014

She had me at "Hello"

Renee Poche, Louisiana State University

Life as a Vet Student, Honorable Mention

 

From an early age, I knew that I wanted to become a veterinarian.  While my friends were playing with Barbie dolls, I was crawling under the house to help a mother cat move her kittens.  When visiting my grandmother in the country, I easily scooped up one of her chickens and sang to it (while rocking like a baby).  I told squirrels that I loved them and wanted to take them home with me.  My love of animals led me to be serious about my studies and dedicated to a career path in veterinary medicine. 

While I was in my undergraduate studies, I worked at a veterinary clinic. On occasion, someone would drop off a stray with the hope that we could find a foster home.  It was during the summer when a litter of puppies were dropped off to the clinic.  They had been abandoned near a camp in the swamps of Louisiana.   The puppies had just opened their eyes and they were virtually hairless with infestation of scabies.  They were in a horrible health condition.  As well as being underfed, they had intestinal worms and their bellies were swollen.

The vet decided to treat them and find homes for the five puppies (one had already died).  They were kept in quarantine so that the other animals (or humans) would not run the risk of being infected.

They were a breed called “Catahoula Leopard Dog”, which is the Louisiana State Dog.  This is recognized as the only native domesticated North American breed of dogs and were developed for herding cattle and hogs by Native Americans and early settlers in North Louisiana.

The Catahoulas are a beautiful dog with short coats, sometimes spotted, in a variety of colors like blue, yellow, chocolate, or red.  They also have haunting or “glass” eyes in distinctive colors of blue, brown, or amber.  Some of them come with odd eyes – each one is a different color, or two-colored “cracked eyes”.

Although I already had a dog (actually a quirky Jack Russell terrier), I became attached to “Abigal” who is a red Catahoula with amber eyes, because I was so involved in the care of these special puppies. With the proper care and medicine, I saw the puppies grow and become healthy.

She had me at “Hello” because Abigal was a very sweet puppy, though timid.  As she would cling to me, I became equally attached to her and decided to take her home and introduce her to the head of my household – Moby, my Jack Russell, who was not impressed.  Once it was bedtime, I set up separate bedding, one for each of the dogs.  There was some confusion and switching around as Abigal ended up sleeping on the smaller bed while Moby stretched out on the larger bed. 

There were early challenges with Abigal’s health as she had a urinary tract infection—which meant lots of accidents and clean up!  When she was six months old, I brought her to be spayed and there were complications as she was actually in heat.  It seemed as though there was always something going wrong with her—not to mention having to give her daily anxiety medication because of her serious fear of separation.

Although this lovely Catahoula has been a challenge because of her anxious moments, she is a blessing to me, for she is such a gentle dog.  I nicknamed her “Sister” because she is Moby’s playmate (no one believes me when I proclaim that the two mismatched dogs are siblings).  Although Abigal is still timid, she enjoys shaking hands and  playing with her toys.   A clap of thunder will send Abigal squeezing behind me on the sofa or hiding under a table. 

It is great to see her venture out at the dog park and run with other dogs.  But she always keeps her eyes searching for me and approaches any blonde girl for comfort.

Abigal has made many visits to LSU Vet School as a practice dog in the lab for eye and ear exams.    She is now four years old and a healthy and happy dog.  My time with her has been very rewarding and I have learned a lot from her, including patience and hands-on experience in working with a challenged dog. 

Although I give a lot to her, she gives me even more.  Going through my first year of vet school, I have had stress like never before!  Coming home to this silly, smiling dog, day after day, brings me joy while giving me the encouragement I need to keep up the hard work.

I couldn’t imagine life without my nervous girl.

Sunday
Jun222014

Watercolors - Raymond Carver, Maya Angelou, Amy Hempel

Casey Drummond, Washington State University

Creative Corner, Winner