Student’s Fulbright project tackles potential epidemics in Trinidad and Tobago

pFrom the stray-strewn streets of Trinidad and Tobago to cow-covered pastures of rural New York dairy farms, Miguella Paula-Ann Mark-Carew has journeyed far in her quest to understand and combat disease epidemics across the world. Ever since she came to Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine through a veterinary summer program when she was 17, Mark-Carew wanted to return as a full-time student. While attending Dartmouth College, she spent two respective summers  conducting epidemiological research with Drs. Paul Bowser and Ted Clarke, and her positive experiences with Cornell faculty further sealed her aspiration. In 2007 she came to Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine as a doctoral student in the field of comparative biomedical sciences.

An aspiring epidemiologist, Mark-Carew studies Giardia parasite infections at the group and population levels to help understand and control potential epidemics. Giardia protozoa infect the small intestine of humans and other animals, causing stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating, fever, nausea, and vomiting for two to four weeks. It commonly spreads via water contaminated by raw sewage or animal wastes. It can also spread between individuals, quickly putting populations at risk. Mark-Carew’s Giardia studies took her from the New York Watershed to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago to study the parasite’s prevalence and genetic makeup in dairy cattle and other mammals.

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After receiving a Fulbright grant funding an independent epidemiological project, Mark-Carew returned to the Caribbean state of Trinidad and Tobago to take on a growing health concern facing her family’s homeland. Her Fulbright project involves efforts to quantify, manage, and control the population of thousands of stray and free-roaming dogs in streets across the country. These dogs can carry Giardia and other diseases humans can catch, posing a serious potential public health risk, according to Mark-Carew. Beyond its medical and epidemiological significance, the project involves sociological surveys with political potential. Mark-Carew interviews residents and tourists about their perspectives on several concerns, including stray dog issues, testing to identify parasites, and the value of continuing her efforts to count the number of strays, all with the hope of inspiring policy changes to address the stray problem.

“I adopted three puppies when they were a month old from an active dog abandonment site,” Mark-Carew mentioned. “One is with me now in Ithaca, and the other two are scheduled to fly home with me after my visit this coming January. I literally brought my work home with me!”

 

Other Projects

Mark-Carew has also been involved with a project called “Caring Collars Loving Leashes” that was started by her mother, Marlene Mark, to promote the human-animal bond.

“We encourage owners to walk their dogs and obtain ID tags for free collars we give out so they can find their dogs if they get lost,” said Mark-Carew. “Over 150 collar and leash sets were split between the two branches of the Trinidad and Tobago Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TTSPCA). We’d like for it to be an annual campaign during May, National Pet Month in the US.”

 

Inspired by a talk Mark-Carew gave at Cornell about her project, five Cornell students have visited Trinidad and Tobago to lend a hand. Sophie Tilitz, a rising freshman undergraduate interested in animal science, helped for six weeks from February to April 2011. In January 2011, second-year veterinary student Jasmine Bruno and third-year students Sarrah Kaye, Erin Lashnits, and Sarah Dumas spent two weeks on the islands with Mark-Carew collecting parasite samples from dogs, cattle, and water buffalo, processing samples in the lab, counting roaming dogs in the streets, and volunteering in an intensive marathon spaying and neutering event.

(Read more about their adventures.)

 

Future Plans

Mark-Carew hopes her career will allow her to assist the World Health Organization or similar entities to navigate an increasingly globalized world through which pathogens can spread quicker than ever before. She aims to understand how diseases differ across the world and species and hopes to work on projects concerning public health and animal health, particularly dealing with waterborne diseases in developing countries.

“I plan to return to Trinidad and Tobago during January 2012 break and Summer 2012,” said Mark-Carew. “This project means a lot to me and I plan to devote several years to seeing that something is done to control roaming dogs and promote responsible dog ownership in Trinidad and Tobago. I am looking for additional Cornell students to help with the roaming dog assessment project, and can be reached at mpm26@cornell.edu.”

 

For more on Mark-Carew’s Fulbright project, visit her blog: http://halfbrightfulbright.blogspot.com/

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http://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/carew.cfm

Young bald eagle returns to the sky

Eagle returns to the sky after successful treatment at the Swanson Wildlife Health Clinic

eagleA young female bald eagle found bleeding on the side of the road near Corning, NY, returned to the wild on Friday, October 7, three weeks after treatment at Cornell University’s Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Health Clinic. The bird was likely down for some time before a Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officer found her and took her to the clinic, according to the clinic’s Director, Dr. George Kollias.

“She is an immature bird born this year, and they can be kind of clumsy,” said Kollias. “She was found underweight and in poor body condition. Sick or injured eagles will often scavenge road-kill, putting themselves at greater risk for parasite infection and trauma from traffic. I’ve seen several of these cases; if she did get hit by a car, she was relatively lucky.”

Dr. Emi Knafo, zoo and wildlife resident at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine who first handled the case, described the young bird’s resilience after trauma.

“She came in dazed and bleeding from her mouth and ear,” said Knafo. “We ran a series of tests to evaluate her condition. Radiographs and blood work looked normal, though she had a lot of intestinal parasites. She was big, strong, and relatively healthy, and she quickly regained alertness and started eating on her own in the first couple days.”

Five days after her arrival, the Cornell clinicians transferred the increasingly restless eagle to local wildlife rehabilitator Cynthia Page, owner of Page Wildlife Center in Manlius, NY.

“They grow very active when they’re confined,” said Kollias. “We someday hope to add a flight cage to our facilities so we can continue to treat birds while giving them enough room to move and practice flying. For now we try to get them out to rehab as soon as possible. Our resident Dr. Brendon Noonan cared for the bird until she was ready for rehab.”

Page mixed deworming medicine with the bird’s food and monitored her recovery in the facility’s 12ft x 36ft flight cage, where the eagle spent the last two and a half weeks rebuilding her abilities to take off, land, maneuver, and hunt.

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Left to right: Michael Allen, Dr. George Kollias (sunglasses), DEC bird-bander, Cynthia Page (dark blue holding camera), two onlookers, Dr. Emi Knafo (brown, sunglasses), Post-Standard photographer

On the date of release a small team of wildlife workers from Cornell and the DEC converged outside the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. Page carefully helped the bird out of her car, aided by the expert hands of retired DEC wildlife technician Michael Allen. While the eagle wore a leather hood to keep her calm and prevent her from biting, a DEC official banded her legs so that she could be identified in the future.

Followed by a group of captivated onlookers, they brought the bird to a grassy field bordering woods and marshlands full of grazing waterfowl. Page lowered the eagle to the ground to give her a chance to orient herself. Knafo removed the hood, and Page released her grip and stepped back.

birddThe eagle’s eyes dilated as she surged forward. Stumbling at first but with increasing drive she ran in a semicircle, stretched her wings, and began to rise.

Several powerful flaps later, her 8-foot wingspan shadowed the marsh, and the eagle returned to the sky. A chorus of honking alarms heralded her release as startled waterfowl scattered at the sight of the soaring predator. The eagle circled to land on a sturdy tree branch, where she ruffled her brown feathers and began to preen.

“It’s a remarkable feeling to watch a release and to know you helped make it possible,” said Kollias. “This year we’ve had more bald eagles at the clinic than ever before, about eight since last September. Maybe more people know what we do at the Clinic and bring in cases; maybe it’s because the population is rising.”

Once at the brink of extinction, the recovery of America’s iconic bird represents one of wildlife conservation’s greatest success stories. In 1975, officials found only two bald eagles in the entire state after hunting, pesticides, and deforestation devastated the population. Last Friday the young eagle treated at Cornell joined a growing population of 570+ estimated individuals across New York.

For more pictures, check out our Facebook Album of the release.

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f ff eagle

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http://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/eagle.cfm

Endoscopy all the way down

endoscopeWhen you need to see “guts,” endoscopy gives the inside scoop. Recent advances in endoscopic technology have led to smaller endoscopes that can go further into the body, see more clearly, take bigger samples, and serve a wider array of patient needs. The gastroenterology section of Cornell’s Hospital for Animals now utilizes new lines of updated fiber-optic technology.

The first-ever slimline large-channel portable veterinary endoscopes can connect to a lightweight laptop and easily be moved to an animal. This makes them particularly useful in surgery or for bringing to animals that should not be moved. When flexible endoscopy is not the answer, it may be time to swallow a pill. Wireless capsule endoscopy provides high-quality imaging throughout the entire GI tract without requiring anesthesia. Each single-use “Endo capsule” made by Olympus employs a tiny camera that takes pictures all the way through the digestive system and transmits data wirelessly to a receiver worn by the patient.

“We choose the most suitable imaging technology for each patient” said Dr. Kenneth Simpson, professor of internal medicine and gastroenterology. “Portable endoscopes work well in the surgery room. Capsule endoscopy is a great option for pets that cannot be anesthetized safely, or in cases when you need to see the entire gut. It can’t take tissue samples but it can help determine the nature and severity of intestinal damage and whether further intervention is needed. It is likely to be particularly useful in investigating the source of gastrointestinal bleeding.”

The gastroenterology and parasitology sections have teamed up to use capsule endoscopy for research sponsored by pharmaceutical company Novartis to safely validate anti-parasitic drugs.

Slimline large-channel biopsy-capable endoscopy, portable endoscopy, and capsule endoscopy are now available for clients and referring veterinarians.

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CUHA Beat

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/Endoscopy.cfm

Taking a bite out of dental disease

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A conversation with Dr. Santiago Peralta, veterinary dentist, oral surgeon, and
new Lecturer in the Department of Clinical Sciences’ Section of Dentistry.

What path led you to your new position?

I grew up and studied in Colombia, South America, and graduated with a veterinary degree from La Salle University in 1999. In Botoga I worked in private practice for seven years and became interested in dentistry and oral surgery. As my interest grew, I decided to pursue further study in this specialty and completed a 3-year residency in veterinary dentistry at UC Davis between 2006-2009. Returning home, I resumed private practice until coming to Cornell in Summer 2011.

What will you offer as part of the dentistry service?

We offer state of the art dental and oral care for animal patients. Our service deals with small and large animals, and my focus will be small animals, mostly dogs and cats. I also have experience with exotic pets such as rabbits, chinchillas, and guinea pigs, as well as zoo animals including tigers, hyenas, orangutans, and more.

Our most common dental treatments deal with periodontal disease (gum disease), the most prevalent disease of animals.  Other advanced dental procedures we offer include endodontics (root canals) to fractured teeth, orthodontics to correct bite abnormalities, oral surgery following facial trauma or to remove tumors.

What innovations do you bring to CUHA?

I’ve helped move our service from hand instrumentation techniques to more precise rotary root canal instrumentation techniques that provide more reliable results, higher success rates, and lower anesthesia times. These newer techniques come together with safer and more effective materials that allow success rates of therapy similar to that seen in humans.

Do you have research plans?

My main research interest involves tooth resorption, a common cat and dog disease in which the teeth degrade and disappear. Nobody has figured out why, and that is a question I’d like to pursue. I am also interested in research concerning oral tumors and oral radiology.

What do you like about your job so far?

I like the academic culture, and the opportunity to provide real clinical instruction. Interacting with students and other specialists offers a stimulating educational environment where everyone has something to learn. The opportunity to help out the community, clients, and local veterinarians is very rewarding.

Why is dentistry important and how can owners help?

Dental disease can lead not only to oral discomfort and pain, but can dramatically affect the general health of an animal. It can cause inflammation and infection that can spread to other organs or turn the blood toxic through permanent bacterial infection. Pets may stop eating, bleed from the mouth, and show discomfort.

Animals are very stoic in nature; they are good at hiding pain. Owners underestimate dental disease and often don’t realize their pets are suffering from it until it’s too late. Owners can help by bringing pets in for yearly routine oral exams, yearly or biyearly professional dental treatment. Toothbrushing is the only way to prevent periodontal disease. Just like in humans, it should be done every day.

Oral hygiene is very important for pets, and the magnitude of disease is difficult to appreciate until after treatment. The improvement in a pet’s demeanor following treatment can be amazing to see.

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http://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/santiago.cfm

Students to run volunteer veterinary clinic at Bronx YMCA Oct. 8

Dwight Bowman William Hornbuckle

On Oct. 8, Cornell veterinary students and clinical faculty will join volunteer alumni and offer their first daylong animal wellness clinic in the Bronx at its YMCA. The clinic, at 2 Castle Hill Ave., will see cats from 8 a.m. to noon and dogs from 2-6 p.m. Pet owners are asked to enter the building through the side entrance fence. Pet visits will cost owners a modest fee, and all proceeds will go to the YMCA.

The program is modeled after a veterinary program that’s been running at Ithaca’s Southside Community Center since 1996. Organized by Cornell parasitologist Dwight Bowman and veterinarians Daniel Fletcher and William Hornbuckle, groups of first- and second-year veterinary students run low-cost clinics twice a month for pets in downtown Ithaca for owners who may not otherwise have access to well visit care.

In the spring, organizers plan to hold the clinic in another New York City borough and hope it will become a regular event.

With a passion for student-community engagement, Bowman, professor of parasitology in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, won for his efforts a Kaplan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellowship in Service Learning award in May. The annual award honors two Cornell faculty members for making a significant impact on Cornell education by involving students in service learning. Bowman and Fletcher, assistant professor of clinical sciences, will use the $5,000 award to fund the clinic in the Bronx.

“Students come to veterinary school to touch animals,” said Bowman. “We wanted to give them that opportunity as soon as possible, so we developed a community practice training program that immediately allows students to make a difference. They handle everything from interacting with clients to examining patients. As supervisors we watch and assist only when needed, while older students mentor the younger students and manage the clinic. Bringing them to New York City will give us a chance to work and network with our many alumni in the area, begin interacting with New York City communities where need is great, and gain greater exposure.”

Bowman and his colleagues are working to turn the service program into an official course in the veterinary curriculum’s Community Practice Service rotation, offering credit to its student leaders. He hopes the clinic’s expanding exposure and scope will help attract the funding needed to endow the program and ensure its future.

“My overarching goal is to develop the clinic’s structure to a point where it will continue as a center of service learning,” said Bowman.  “We have a new crop of clinical staff devoting time to the project, and I am working to get them more involved with the Faculty Fellows in Service and the Public Service Center.  Students continue to show phenomenal interest and participation, and their clientele is expanding. I hope to develop an infrastructure that allows these invaluable interactions to grow.”

“This remarkable Ithaca-Cornell collaboration teaches students the value of volunteer service, augments their curriculum through practical, hands-on training and engages students, faculty, community leaders and local veterinarians in an effort that enriches the lives of the most needy individuals in our community,” said Michael Kotlikoff, the Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “Not only does Dr. Bowman volunteer endless hours to the organization of the clinic, he tirelessly raises funds, negotiates voluntary drug and vaccine donations form pharmaceutical companies, and obtains equipment and supplies for the program.  His efforts exemplify the spirit of Cornell and have established a unique learning model in veterinary medicine.”

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http://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/bronx.cfm

Sharing the wealth

Professor emeritus continues serving the community and the profession

If Noah’s ark sails again it could make a fruitful boarding stop in the office of Howard Evans, BS ’44, PhD ’50. A microcosm of biodiversity, this miniature museum is decked floor to ceiling with animal specimens from across the globe. Yet it models only a brief sample of the expansive zoological knowledge Evans holds. This professor emeritus is a proficient anatomist whose life is rich with stories of worldwide adventures, a tireless fascination for how life is built across kingdoms, and an equal delight in sharing this beauty with others.

“Everyone should know some anatomy because it’s the basis of how animals act and what they do,” said Evans. Since joining the Veterinary College’s Department of Anatomy in 1950, he has taught thousands of veterinarians the inside story of how animals work, with courses spanning species from farm to domestic to exotic.

With a joy in teaching as indiscriminate as his joy in nature, he advised Cornell’s undergraduate zoology club, served on 37 graduate committees, and spent 20 summers teaching the AQUAVET program for aspiring aquatic specialists. This generous collaborative spirit extended to his colleagues at the College, where he served as Secretary of the Faculty for twelve years and chaired the department of Anatomy for ten.

He has served the profession’s future through over 160 publications, including his seminal text, Miller’s Anatomy of the Dog, which he and Sandy deLahunta are currently updating to a new full-color edition. He has edited several anatomy journals, and served as consultant for anatomy programs in universities including Tufts, University of Georgia, UC Davis, and international universities in Grenada, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Taiwan, and Japan.

For Evans, retirement means more time for teaching. “Leading trips for Cornell Adult University (CAU) has been good fun, and gave me the chance to collect more specimens for Cornell’s Museum of Vertebrates,” said Evans. Since retiring in 1986 Evans has led scores of Cornell alumni across the world in over a dozen educational expeditions through CAU. Traveling to New Guinea, Australia, Tanzania, Kenya, and more, his recent Antarctic expedition introduced him to the Gentoo penguin skeleton now adorning his desk.

With bins brimming full of tangible treasures including stuffed animals, bones, fossils, and more, Evans now takes his show on tour. The energetic 88-year-old regularly presents on natural history topics across Cornell, including at Alice Cook House, where he is a Faculty Fellow and frequently dines with undergraduate residents. He and his wife, Erica, continue yearly pilgrimages to teach fish structure at Cornell’s Shoals Marine Lab, and he still gives anatomy lectures at the College.

His natural treasures and world of experience fascinate children at local elementary schools, where his visits are in high demand. Twice a week in the fall he gives classrooms a taste of nature’s spectacular show and tell.

“Teachers try to encourage kids to ask questions. But when they get excited about nature they just love to tell stories,” Evans laughed. As a storytelling scientist gifted at both these arts, Evans can relate.

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‘Scopes Magazine
July 2011

Cornell receives $500,000 to tackle salmonella in tomatoes

tomatoTwo experts from Cornell are teaming up to tackle salmonella contamination in produce, thanks to a $500,000 grant from the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Cornell was one of 24 institutions to receive such grants to reduce food-borne illnesses and deaths from microbial contamination. Craig Altier, a salmonella specialist at the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, will work with Greg Martin, Cornell professor of plant pathology and plant-microbe biology and an expert on tomato disease resistance at the Cornell-affiliated Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, to investigate how salmonella interacts with tomatoes with the hope of finding ways to stop its spread.

“My lab explores how salmonella interacts with animal intestinal tracts,” said Altier, associate professor of population medicine and diagnostic science. “Bacteria are very frugal creatures; they turn genes on and off only when they need to. They only turn on the genes that make animals sick when they know they’re in an animal, and we want to know how this process works in plants. We will look at which bacterial genes turn on when salmonella enters a tomato and try to figure out how to intervene.”

salmonellaUnwittingly sharing our food with unseen organisms sends thousands to the hospital each year. Some 50 million Americans get sick every year after consuming food-poisoning pathogens, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 3,000 of those cases are fatal. Salmonella bacteria pose the biggest food-borne health threat in the United States. While the quest for cleaner food reduced cases of many food-borne pathogens during the past 15 years, salmonella infections continue to rise.

Altier will grow mutant strains of salmonella in his lab to study how the bacteria affect tomatoes when they lack certain genes. He will take strains to Martin’s lab to test them on tomato plants while Martin studies the plants’ immune responses. After running them through the course of infection, Altier will remove the salmonella from the plants to analyze in his lab.

“A number of recent salmonella outbreaks started with contaminated produce,” said Martin. “My lab studies how the tomato immune system acts against certain bacterial pathogens, and this new project will test whether the plant immune system interferes with salmonella’s ability to survive on leaves and fruits. If it does, we may be able to breed new varieties that suppress salmonella growth, which could have implications for lessening salmonella contamination in many different crop plants.”

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Original Press Release:

College of Veterinary Medicine news

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/tomatoes.cfm

Media Hits:

Cornell Chronicle

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/June11/Salmonella.html

Bionity

http://www.bionity.com/en/news/133272/cornell-receives-500-000-to-tackle-salmonella-in-tomatoes.html

My Science

http://www.myscience.cc/en/wire/cornell_receives_500_000_to_tackle_salmonella_in_tomatoes-2011-cornell

US Ag Net

http://www.usagnet.com/state_headlines/state_story.php?tble=NY2011&ID=560

South Dakota Ag Connection

http://www.southdakotaagconnection.com/story-national.php?Id=1372&yr=2011

Bionity

http://www.bionity.com/en/news/133272/cornell-receives-500-000-to-tackle-salmonella-in-tomatoes.html?WT.mc_id=ca0265

 

New Lyme disease test for horses and dogs will help improve treatment

Bettina WagnerRomping through summer fields seems like a harmless pleasure for dogs, horses and humans alike. But just one bite from the wrong tick can rob an animal of that pastime. The bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi catch rides with certain species of ticks and can cause Lyme disease in animals the ticks bite. Catching the disease early is paramount because it becomes progressively harder to fight as the bacteria conduct guerilla warfare from hiding places in the joints, nervous tissues and organs of their hosts.

A new test for Lyme disease in horses and dogs, developed by researchers at the Animal Health Diagnostic Center (AHDC) at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell, will improve our understanding of the disease and pinpoint time of infection, opening possibilities for earlier intervention and more effective treatment plans.

“We’ve offered Lyme disease testing for years,” said Bettina Wagner, the Harry M. Zweig Associate Professor in Equine Health and lead developer of the test, “but we have recently been able to improve our techniques with the multiplex testing procedure. The new test exceeds its predecessors in accuracy, specificity and analytical sensitivity.”

The multiplex procedure, which can detect three different antibodies produced in response to the bacteria associated with Lyme disease using a single test on the sample, eliminates the need for separate tests. In addition, it requires smaller samples and answers more questions about the disease. Multiplex technology has been used for the last decade, but the AHDC is the first veterinary diagnostic laboratory to use it to test for Lyme disease.

Different kinds of antibodies can be found in the body at different stages of infection. The new test can distinguish and measure these differences, giving more information about the timing of the disease.

The bacteria that cause Lyme disease are particularly difficult to detect, according to Wagner, because after infection they tend to hide where they can’t be found. They bury in the joints of dogs, causing arthritis or lameness. Serious kidney disease has also been associated with Lyme infections in dogs. In humans and horses, they also burrow into the nervous system, in the spine or the brain, causing pain, paralysis or behavioral changes. By the time such clinical signs appear, the bacteria are usually not in circulation anymore.

Horse“Now we can distinguish between infection and vaccination and also between early and chronic infection stages,” Wagner said. “That was not possible before. You were able to say whether an animal was infected, but not when it was infected, or how far the infection had developed.”

The test and information the test provides can help veterinarians make advanced decisions about treatment. After the long treatment period ends, veterinarians usually conduct follow-up testing to see if it was successful.

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Cornell Chronicle: June 16, 2011
http://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/lymeassay.cfm

Artistic alum serves Costa Rican clinic

fDr. Robin Truelove Stronk, DVM ’75 spent her tropical getaway in Costa Rica volunteering her veterinary skills to help a community in need. In February 2011 she took part in a low-cost spay and neuter clinic in Esterillos Oeste, Costa Rica. Along with a colleague, Dr. Rich Righter, they neutered 40 animals in one day.

“These animals are all owned by poor families and the stray and unwanted animal situation is heartbreaking,” said Stronk. “We worked in an open school building on the beach on folding tables from the local church with only the light coming through the windows. We moved our surgery tables following the sun. Owners sat in little school chairs and quietly watched the surgery.”

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When owners presented their animals, the veterinary duo held an informal screening process to ensure proper care after the surgery.

“One of the requirements was that they agree to keep the animal under close observation for several days post-op and that they provide transportation home,” said Stronk. “Virtually nobody has cars so they use what we would call ‘Yankee ingenuity’.”

kAfter owning her own practice in Vermont for 24 years, Stronk sold her business to a corporation and worked for them for a few more years before taking a new path.

“I have switched to exercising my right brain and now work as an animal artist,” said Stronk. “So I am essentially the ‘Artist Formerly Known as Veterinarian.’ The spay clinic made me feel young again! It was probably one of the most challenging, rewarding days of my career. I can’t wait to repeat it this coming year.”

Stronk’s animal art has been featured in several places, including the cover of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and her new book, a collection of illustrated veterinary memoirs, Vet Noir – It’s not the Pets – It’s the People Who Make Me Crazy.Check out her artwork at http://www.truelovearts.com/.

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http://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/Stronk.cfm

 

 

Dissolving diseases

International dog disease expert eliminated ailments across species and the world

“I started at James Baker’s lab under a challenge,” said Leland ‘Skip’ Carmichael, PhD ’56. “I came in his office looking for graduate work. He told me I had six months to figure out how a dog’s immune system responds to canine hepatitis, or I was out.”

Fortunately for dogs across the world, Carmichael passed the test. Over the 40 years he spent at Baker Institute he became one of the world’s best-known international authorities on canine infectious diseases. He has characterized, developed tests and treatment plans for, and invented vaccines against most major canine infectious and reproductive diseases, including distemper, hepatitis, canine parvovirus-2, canine herpesvirus, and canine brucellosis.

“We were at a time when diseases were being recognized and their causes clarified,” said Carmichael. “We focused on research that could directly benefit animals, and always saw our problems in the field.”

From the field to the lab, Carmichael exercised an aptitude for innovation in eradicating disease. “Baker Institute was one of the first labs to use tissue culture methods to isolate viruses, look for vaccines, develop serological tests, and measure immune responses,” said Carmichael. “When a mysterious disease began causing widespread abortions in dogs across the nation, I was charged with figuring out why. By air delivery at midnight I received a paint can that contained aborted fetuses and placental tissue. I went straight to the lab and inoculated plates with tissue samples.  The next morning the plates had bloomed with bacteria I’d never seen before.”

Carmichael had found a new species of Brucella, bacteria causing a devastating venereal disease best known for killing farm animals and harming humans who consume infected raw milk.

“Brucellosis is one of the most important veterinary diseases. We were the first to recognize the canine strain and establish control. We offered a free testing service, and fielded over 10,000 phone calls in the first year. Now Cornell’s Animal Health and Diagnostic Center runs the most reliably accurate Brucellosis test I know. The disease has all but disappeared in dogs.”

Today, canine infectious diseases are much rarer than when Carmichael first stepped into Baker’s office, in part because of the work he and his colleagues at Baker Institute have done. Meanwhile, his educational legacy continues. Carmichael’s former graduate student Collin Parish now directs Baker Institute.

“Dogs are part of the human experience,” said Carmichael, “but we’ve seen a nation-wide diminution of canine research in recent years. Most funding comes from institutions that favor research modeling human disease. Baker believed that veterinary research should focus on diseases of animals, I was fortunate to work in a time when that goal garnered strong support. I hope this institute will continue conducting research that can help dogs in the future.”

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‘Scopes Magazine
July 2011