Escaping my birthday… (Day 219)

Hlavna (main street) in the sun in Kosice, Slovakia

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Well today was my birthday, if it wasn’t for facebook I would have got away with skipping it. Not only am I 26, however in Slovakia (and in fact a lot of Eastern Europe) you lose eligibility to student discounts when you turn 26. This means that the trams have just doubled in price for me from 25 cents up to 50 cents, along with losing discounted entry to various attractions. This evening I had a quite meal out in town which was pretty awesome (my favourite Italian restaurant) with quite a few people from my class! Especially when the weather is like this and all the restaurants here have tables in the street…

Hlavna (main street) in the sun in Kosice, SlovakiaBefore this however today felt long, it started at 8am this morning with a look at bumblebee’s and how the different types of bee’s are used. We then looked at the different treatment options for diseases in bee’s along with the application of treatment to bee’s. Surprisingly it (at least in theory) is easier to administer antibiotics to bee’s than it is to cats which is pretty cool. There are different options from setting a drug saturated strip on fire within the hive to placing strips where the bee’s will come into contact with them.

We then had fish where it was about parasitic infections which is one of the common problems with fish. We then had physiology with a rescheduled Animal Nutrition practical after it so after starting at 8am we finished around 6pm this evening…

Diseases of Fish, Fish Euthanasia and the Physiology credit test (Day 212)

Aqua Sed fish Anaesthetic and Euthanasia

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Today is my favourite day of the week, and I wanted to take the time to talk about the role that a vet plays in fish medicine, and something that I feel is important – the euthanasia of sick fish. Fish is a major food group for humans, and the production also is of economic importance. In addition to this with fish being commonly kept as pets it is important that someone can treat them and this responsibility as with other animals lies with vets. Training here we started Diseases of Fish in our second semester; this I believe is because fish anatomy is different to everything else and so we do not need to have completed our three semesters of anatomy first.

With such a large number of fish species, and anatomical differences between the species its almost like a separate module to general veterinary education. We’ve covered taxonomy, environment, aquaculture (farming systems), anatomy, clinical diagnosis and are now looking at diseases. I’ve always had a fascination with fish ever since I read about fish surgery for the first time, its honestly pretty amazing. Instead of a gas or injectable anaesthetic a water soluble anaesthetic is used with the fish placed in it until it becomes unconscious, this liquid then is pumped through the gills for the duration of the surgery to maintain anaesthesia. After this the fish is then placed into clean water to recover from the anaesthetic.

Euthanizing sick fish

Something I wanted to talk about briefly is the euthanasia of sick or ill fish. When a fish gets sick it can be very obvious that something is wrong, whilst some people are aware that vets do treat fish many are not and so try to do the best they can to relieve the suffering. It is commonly proven that fish are intelligent and can feel pain and distress (read Boiled alive, crabs, lobsters and the ability to feel pain) and so when thinking about stopping the suffering of a dead fish its important to do so pain free. Generally the best way to do this is by giving an overdose of anaesthetic such as Aqua Sed below. This is available under the veterinary medicine small animal exemption scheme so anyone can buy it, and in fact I would recommend any pet shop selling fish, fish hobbies, and vet surgery to have a bottle or two in stock to use. Most people with pet fish in the home will most likely not come across this until it is a matter of relieving suffering, and so will not have this ready to use. In this case the best solution is for hard blunt trauma to the head with a heavy rod, it seems medieval I know, however during discussions last week major trauma causes immediate cessation of brain activity. People sometimes suggest suffocation by taking the fish out of water (really painful!!!) or freezing (which causes intense pain when cells crystallise and burst). So again, the best way to euthanize fish is anaesthetic overdose (maybe your pet shop/vet can do this for you) or blunt trauma to the head and brain.

Aqua Sed fish Anaesthetic and Euthanasia
Fish can be given Aqua Sed from Vetark as an overdose to allow painless euthanasia

This afternoon I did my physiology credit test which I did manage to study for a couple of hours last night. Today I ended up with a C as I did miss a couple of points from further reading which I would usually have managed to do. However it is another exam off my list giving me extra free time to start studying for my finals!

The start of clinical diseases of bee’s and fish (Day 184)

Diseases of Honeybees - American Foulbrood

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This was a very special day for me, when I started studying years ago I started on the path to following my dream, then last June I got accepted into vet school, and on September 13th 2012 I started vet school. Today I started clinical topics; in vet school you have the theory or pre-clinical stuff, and then you have the clinical stuff when you start looking at treating patients. Diseases of Bee’s today was looking at diagnosing and treating different diseases in bee’s, and in diseases of fish today we looked at common problems of fish and how to do a clinical exam. I’ve got just 7 semesters of vet school left now before I am released onto the animal population.

Onto talking about diseases of bee’s, as bee’s are so small its difficult to carry out a clinical exam – or in fact notice problems – whilst they are alive so we are taught to look at the hives and any dead bee’s. Bee’s are very clean with the drones and worker bee’s cleaning out the dead from the hive, hence why you may find a pile of dead bee’s in front of the entrance to a hive. Several of these diseases are notifible (government or state has to be notified) and often the only treatment is the destruction of diseased colonies. One of the diseases we looked at today was American foulbrood which affects the brood and is extremely contagious with the bacteria forming spores which can live for years. The larvae become infected by swallowing these spores and basically rot in the cell before they reach the next life stage leaving behind a glue-like substance which the other bee’s cannot clean away. This is commonly diagnosed by looking at the cells for sunken concave caps on the cells often with holes in them (image below), and then using a matchstick to test for the gluey substance, if found a sample is then sent to a laboratory for cultivation to confirm the diagnosis.

Diseases of Honeybees - American Foulbrood
Concave, perforated wax caps indicative of american foulbrood

Following this in diseases of fish today we started looking at common problems and how to clinically exam a fish for disease. Depending on the species this can be easy or difficult with the size of the fish, and starts with observing the fish in its natural environment of water. Problems with fish vary from not being able to swim straight, swimming upside down, parasites, or even things like cancer with growths. Surprisingly there are quite a few owners that have opted for surgery on their fish to have lumps and bumps removed which is pretty cool. Next week we will be looking at fish anatomy with dissections to look at the different organ systems and the swim bladder.