Well I’ve just finished semester 2 of vet school, now its just for exams and then I’ll have finished my first year of vet school! It’s still not really sunk in though I am looking at the lists of stuff we should know for our exams and having a moment of “how did we manage to cover all that?”. I’ve also managed to get some part time work over the summer to help with my tuition costs which I am glad about, my only problem is that there are just 24 hours in a single day.
In the next week I’ve got to catch up on my missed anatomy & histology tests from where I attended BSAVA Congress, and then the Monday after I start my finals with Latin. This is something I am not looking forward to as I really struggle with written latin as I am dyslexic so am going just give it my best shot! After that I have my Anatomy 1 final which is on the musculoskeletal system (aka all the bones, muscles and ligaments of different animals) and all the interspecies differences… This is the massive pile that I need to memorise for it!
Luckily I just need the muscles, ligaments and bones from the two big books, however one of the biggest test questions is asking what the differences are between animals. This is especially true of the skull which is composed of 17 parts with each having differences between species some of which are obvious in the shape of the head and others not so obvious with differences in the canals that the nerves and vessels lie in. Then there are differences with the muscles as different animals have different lengths of neck etc.
After this I have my Veterinary Genetics exam scheduled for the 6th June which is another big exam where I will be random asked 3 questions from a possible 80 covering different topics from dog coat colors through to the legislation for selecting which males to breed from! Its something that I find interesting however the amount of information that needs to be memorised here is absolutely staggering with the amount of different genetic diseases!
Hopefully after this exam is done I will have a bit more free time and so can write more diary posts which have been suffering with my current workload!
This week here in Kosice is the USE YOUR CITY week, in addition to several religious holidays such as the orthodox easter, the Vet School Party and several opening events to mark the start of summer. This afternoon walking through the park I came across a battle re-enactment (apparently it happened a few times over a couple of days) with this horse. Take a watch of the video here paying attention to the horse (WARNING: This video may be disturbing for some viewers!):
Have you watched the video (if not take a look above)? Now if you noticed the horses response of fright to each loud noise from the cannon or guns you will see that the horses instinct is to bolt. This behaviour is only prevented by the highly skilled rider, however by pacing and dancing on the legs you can see the enormous stress that the horse is under.
Within the UK the Five Freedoms granted by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 provide the provision for an animal to have “Freedom from fear and distress” which in this case I do not believe has been provided. To be honest though I am not sure of the legislation over here however if I had better Slovak I definitely would have kicked up a stink! Animals are often used in dramatics, however this should never restrict their freedom.
In fact there were 2 police horses that stood close by that did not respond to the loud explosions at all demonstrating the ability to habituate horses to stimuli to prevent distress and fear as demonstrated here. I would love to hear your opinions here so please add your thoughts in the comments below!
Today we started looking at Virology, which is the study of viruses. Within the veterinary field this is extremely important as there are significant zoonotic diseases (diseases that pass between humans and animals) that are viral. Some of the best known of these is Rabies (Rhabdoviridae), Yellow Fever (Flaviviridae), Rotavirus, and Poxiviridae which is the case of chicken pox/small pox etc.
Now the significant thing with viruses is that they are extremely small, which is because they lack the common features associated with other bacteria to allow replication and respiration. Instead viruses inject themselves into other cells which they then simply hijack to turn them into a virus replicating machine! This is because viruses are composed solely of either DNA or RNA, and depending on the family either 1 or two strands of this. Once a virus particle enters a cell, this genetic material enters the nucleus and the viral replication starts.
This leaves us with two problems when working with viruses, first of all we have the extremely small size – in some cases 100′s of times smaller than bacteria – which means to have a chance of seeing a virus we need to use an electron microscope. The second problem is actually cultivating or growing the virus, as the virus particle does not contain replication or respiration organs we cannot simply feed it like we do with bacteria. Instead when working with viruses we need to provide it with cells to use to replicate and grow in.
Now there are several different possible solutions here (some more distasteful than others) however the most common method is to use kidney cells. These are prepared using sterile technique from kidneys from various dead animals. The kidney is first cut up (or pulped) into extremely small pieces, which are then washed with trypsin (a digestion enzyme) and the cells from this collected in the liquid and centrifuged. This cell solution is then spread in a single layer onto a glass culture plate and the virus particles applied for growth.
At the moment I am still unsure as to how replication occurs in these cells after the death of the body that contains them and the removal of the blood supply that feeds them… However I will find out soon as my curiosity is now raised!