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Denver, CO, United States

Fitzgerald K.T.,VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital
Topics in Companion Animal Medicine | Year: 2013

Longline fishing utilizes monofilament lines that can be as much as 62 miles long. The line itself is buoyed by Styrofoam or plastic floats. Usually, at about every 100. ft, a secondary line is attached and hangs down from the mainline. The lines are baited with mackerel, squid, or shark meat and have as many as 10,000 hooks. Every 12-24 hours, the line is hauled in, mechanically rebaited, and set back into the water behind the vessel. The baited hooks can be seen by albatross and other seabirds as they are placed in the water or being hauled out. When the birds dive for the bait, they are hooked, dragged behind the fishing boat, and drown. Spectacularly nonselective, longline fishing techniques also hook many other forms of marine life-"bycatch" (sea turtles, seals, dolphins, penguins, sharks, and many other nontarget finfish). It is estimated that 300,000 seabirds (including 100,000 albatross) die on longlines each year. Albatross are among the longest-lived birds. They can live up to 60 years and some species do not start breeding until they are 10 years old. They have a low reproductive rate and many species only breed every other year. In addition, a species like the Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) rears its chicks for an average of more than 270 days. Albatross pair for life and may take years to find a new partner if their mate is killed. Owing to their incredibly low reproductive rate, albatross are particularly vulnerable to longline fishing. Currently, it is believed that 4 albatross drown per 100,000 hooks set. This is more than 400 birds a week. The current mortality rate for adult birds is not sustainable and for some species, the birds are dying faster that they can repopulate. Currently, 19 of the world's 22 albatross species are threatened with extinction. This year longline fishing ships will set 10 billion hooks worldwide. Various mitigation measures (bird-scaring lines, weighted, faster-sinking line, setting lines deeper out of the bird's sight, reduction in the amount of offal discarded from fishing boats, night fishing, and restriction of longline operations from areas where nesting and foraging birds are congregated during the breeding season, among others) have been proposed and attempted. There is no one panacea for the effects of longlining and mitigation efforts are most successful when used in combination. Some of these mitigation measures have shown very promising results. Some experts feel that government legislation, regulation, and enforcement in conjunction with incentives for the fishing industry to incorporate and implement mitigating techniques have the best chance in ameliorating the problem. The public is surprisingly unaware of this wanton and wasteful exploitation of the ocean's resources, and the worldwide demand for seafood continues to rise. Meanwhile, globally, fishermen voice the same complaints: fewer fish, smaller fish, shorter fishing seasons, bizarre developments in their seasonal appearance and dispersal, and fewer overall species seen. These are all the classic signs of overfishing. Each year it is estimated that some 90 million tons of wild fish are harvested from our planet's oceans. Nearly 30 million tons of this is discarded as the incidental bycatch of nontarget species. If international curbs are not placed upon wasteful fishing practices, we are doomed to learn a painful maxim. "The ocean is not infinite." Veterinarians must become involved in worldwide conservation efforts, acting locally, while thinking globally. © 2013.


Fitzgerald K.T.,VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital
Topics in Companion Animal Medicine | Year: 2013

Polar bears are one of the most iconic animals on our planet. Worldwide, even people who would never see one are drawn to these charismatic arctic ice hunters. They are the world's largest terrestrial carnivore, and despite being born on land, they spend most of their lives out on the sea ice and are considered a marine mammal. Current global studies estimate there are around 20,000 animals in some 19 discrete circumpolar populations. Aside from pregnant females denning in the winter months to give birth, the white bears do not hibernate. They spend their winters on the sea ice hunting seals, an activity they are spectacularly adapted for. Research on these animals is incredibly difficult because of the inhospitable surroundings they inhabit and how inaccessible they make the bears. For many years, the sum of our understanding of the natural history of polar bears came from tracks, scats, the remains of their kills, abandoned dens, and anecdotal observations of native hunters, explorers, and early biologists. Nonetheless, the last 40 years have seen a much better picture of their biology emerge thanks to, first, dedicated Canadian researchers and, later, truly international efforts of workers from many countries. Veterinarians have contributed to our knowledge of the bears by delivering and monitoring anesthesia, obtaining blood samples, performing necropsies, investigating their reproduction, conducting radiotelemetry studies, and examining their behavior. Recently, new technologies have been developed that revolutionize the study of the lives and natural history of undisturbed polar bears. These advances include better satellite radiotelemetry equipment and the development of remote-controlled miniature devices equipped with high-definition cameras. Such new modalities provide dramatic new insights into the life of polar bears. The remarkable degree of specialized adaptation to life on the sea ice that allowed the bears to be successful is the very reason that the bears are so vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Polar bears have few alternatives if their habitat (the sea ice) and their access to their ringed seal prey rapidly disappear. Predictions that polar bears may be able to adjust and sustain themselves on alternative food sources are not based on reality. Spring breakup of the sea ice is happening much earlier as well as fall freezeup is getting later, thereby prolonging the open water period that the bears are shore bound. If trends continue and the ice continues to disappear, the effect on polar bears would be devastating. Veterinarians must stay involved in polar bear studies and in multidisciplinary conservation studies dealing with threatened and endangered species worldwide. On account of their training, veterinarians can offer a unique skill set that can provide access to a number of technologies critical to conservation efforts. The oath veterinarians take on graduation from veterinary school charges them to be sworn to the "conservation of animal resources" and in the education of the public. We are only as good as the oaths we keep. © 2013.


Anderson C.L.,VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital | Mackay C.S.,Colorado State University | Roberts G.D.,Washington State University | Fidel J.,Washington State University
Veterinary and Comparative Oncology | Year: 2015

Imaging studies in humans with anal and rectal cancer indicate that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a more sensitive technique than abdominal ultrasound (AUS) for the detection of abdominal lymphadenopathy. The purpose of this retrospective study was to directly compare the efficacy of these two techniques in detecting abdominal lymphadenopathy in dogs with apocrine gland adenocarcinoma of the anal sac (AGAAS). Six dogs with histologically confirmed AGAAS and histopathologic confirmation of metastasis to abdominal lymph nodes (LNs) had AUS and abdominal MRI. AUS identified lymphadenopathy in two of six dogs, whereas MRI identified lymphadenopathy in all the six dogs. Lymphadenopathy was predominantly sacral in location, with involvement of the medial iliac and hypogastric LNs in only two cases. These data suggest that MRI is more sensitive than AUS for detecting sacral abdominal lymphadenopathy in dogs with AGAAS. As such, MRI could be considered in any patient with AGAAS for initial staging of this disease. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Gustavsen K.A.,Wildlife Conservation Society | Saunders A.B.,Texas A&M University | Young B.D.,VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital | Winter R.L.,Texas A&M University | Hoppes S.M.,Texas A&M University
Journal of Veterinary Cardiology | Year: 2014

Objectives: To describe characteristics of echocardiography and cranial coelomic radiography in a cohort of iguanas. Animals: Twenty apparently healthy adult green iguanas (Iguana iguana) from a reptile sanctuary. Methods: Physical examination, radiography, two-dimensional and color Doppler echocardiography were performed to assess cardiac structures and function, and any related normal or abnormal findings were recorded. Results: Echocardiographic examination was possible without sedation and allowed visualization of the great vessels, atria, and ventricle. Some structures could not be evaluated in a minority of the iguanas due to individual differences in bony conformation and imaging quality. Suspected abnormal echocardiographic findings in 3 iguanas included pericardial effusion (n = 1) and enlarged caudal vena cava and/ or sinus venosus (n = 2). Objective measurements were repeatable as assessed by within-subject coefficient of variation, and reliable as assessed by intraobserver intraclass correlation coefficient. Left atrial and ventricular measurements were significantly correlated with body weight. Valve regurgitation was common, with atrioventricular valve regurgitation present in 53% (9/17) and aortic or pulmonic valve regurgitation in 71% (12/17) of otherwise normal iguanas. A heart murmur was not appreciated during examination of any of the iguanas. Heart size cannot be measured radiographically due to superimposition and silhouetting of other coelomic structures. Echocardiographic or radiographic findings consistent with mineralization of the great vessels were present in 76% of iguanas (13/17). Conclusions: Echocardiography in iguanas is well tolerated without sedation and allowed both subjective evaluation and structural measurements. Valve regurgitation and great vessel mineralization were commonly observed in this cohort of apparently healthy adult iguanas. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Fitzgerald K.T.,VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital | Shipley B.K.,Denver Zoological Gardens | Newquist K.L.,VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital | Vera R.,VCA Firehouse Veterinary Hospital | Flood A.A.,VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital
Topics in Companion Animal Medicine | Year: 2013

On account of their unique anatomy, physiology, natural history, ecology, and behavior, rattlesnakes make ideal subjects for a variety of different scientific disciplines. The prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) in Colorado was selected for investigation of its relationship to colonies of black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) with regard to spatial ecology. A total of 31 snakes were anesthetized and had radiotransmitters surgically implanted. In addition, at the time of their capture, all snakes underwent the following: (1) they had bacterial culture taken from their mouths for potential isolation of pathogenic bacteria; (2) similarly, they had cloacal bacterial cultures taken to assess potentially harmful bacteria passed in the feces; and (3) they had blood samples drawn to investigate the presence of any zoonotic agents in the serum of the snakes. The results of the study and their implications are discussed here. Traditionally, a low incidence of bacterial wound infection has been reported following snakebite. Nevertheless, the oral cavity of snakes has long been known to house a wide variety of bacterial flora. In our study, 10 different bacterial species were isolated from the mouths of the rattlesnakes, 6 of which are capable of being zoonotic pathogens and inducing human disease. More studies are necessary to see why more rattlesnake bites do not become infected despite the presence of such pathogenic bacteria. The results of fecal bacteria isolated revealed 13 bacterial species, 12 of which can cause disease in humans. Of the snakes whose samples were cultured, 26% were positive for the presence of the pathogen Salmonella arizonae, one of the causative agents of reptile-related salmonellosis in humans. It has long been reported that captive reptiles have a much higher incidence than wild, free-ranging species. This study shows the incidence of Salmonella in a wild, free-ranging population of rattlesnakes. In addition, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia was isolated. This bacterium is associated with wound and soft tissue infections that can lead to sepsis, endocarditis, meningitis, and peritonitis. In addition, this bacterium has been increasingly implicated as an opportunistic pathogen to humans during pregnancies, hospitalizations, malignancies and chemotherapy, chronic respiratory diseases, and presurgical endotracheal intubation. Furthermore, S. maltophilia has an intense resistance to broad-spectrum antibiotics, the results of our study showed the bacterium was resistant to multiple antibiotics. Our results indicate that anyone working with snake feces, dead skin, or their carcasses must follow reasonable hygiene protocols. Rattlesnakes tested for West Nile antibodies had positive results but these were invalidated owing to possible cross-reactivity with other unknown viruses, interference with snake serum proteins, and the fact that the test was not calibrated for rattlesnake serum. Still, the interesting implication remains, should we be regularly testing these animals as sentinels against potentially zoonotic diseases. The results of this study clearly show the value of veterinarians in a multidisciplinary study of this sort and the particular skill set they can offer. Veterinarians must get involved in conservation studies if the biodiversity of the planet is to be preserved. © 2013.

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