Justin Padgett, Auburn
There is little doubt after completing a Veterinary Pathology course that the field lies at the heart of all things veterinary medicine. Whether the specific discipline be public health or internal medicine, the skills learned and required in anatomic and microscopic pathology act as “iron sharpening iron” to enhance any DVM’s skills in a chosen trade. Pathology requires a keen knowledge of gross and microscopic anatomy, a meticulous understanding of diseases and their routes of infection, and a detailed knowledge of the body’s responses to pathogenic stimuli. It is for these reasons that I seek out any opportunity to spend extra time in the pathology laboratory and witness disease processes firsthand. I had a chance to pursue this goal this past winter break when I participated in an externship with the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission (ALPC).
I was made aware of the opportunity to spend time with the ALPC through the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP) website. The ACVP site is a great resource for any student looking to match with hosting pathology institutions that range in orientation from government to industry and research to zoo animal.
Entry, Creative Corner
Brittany Murphy, Georgia
O to the farm we go
To run over the fields high and lo.
But wait! Bark, bark, growl
Around this strange, leggy creature I prowl.
My human just laughs and soon I see,
Horses are fun and their poop is TASTY!
Grain, hay, molasses….oh what delicious glories
Alas, later, my tummy didn’t agree with me….
Jana Mazor-Thomas, Tufts
Last June, I was lucky enough to go on what is pretty much my dream externship: working with Dr. John Bryan of the National Park Service, on the California Condor recovery project at Pinnacles National Monument.
For those who are not obsessed with birds, the appeal of this is probably a little hard to imagine. Condors are huge, stinky, sometimes angry birds. They live primarily on carrion and the bacteria in their mouths are the ones that are nasty enough to out-compete all the bacteria that grow on dead animals. They're also unbelievably beautiful, critically endangered, the largest bird in North America - and a fantastic story about how medical care and the dedication of hundreds of people kept this apex species from extinction and now on the road to recovery. So for a bird nerd? Yes, the elective of a lifetime.
The biggest source of mortality for the condors is still lead poisoning from bullets left in carcasses by hunters. Medically, most of the work done revolves around treatment for lead poisoning. At least twice a year, the condor crew try to trap every condor in their management area and check their lead levels, then chelate them if need be. Sadly, their lower cutoff for birds that need chelation has to be well above what we consider acceptable in other raptors, because otherwise, nearly every condor would still be in captivity for treatment, and the goal of this project is to return these birds to a life in the wild that does not require human intervention.
Capturing and restraining an easily-stressed bird with a ten-foot wing span is not a job for the faint of heart!