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Veterinary Students in Research

This winning submission to our Cases and Abstracts category comes from Tierra Rose from Purdue University. The abstract is from her summer research project at Stanford University School of Medicine that focused on temporal lobe epilepsy in sea lions along the Monterey Bay region of California due to domoic acid toxicity. Great job Tierra!

Loss of parvalbumin-immunoreactive interneurons in epileptic California sea lions

Tierra Rose¹, Starr Cameron², Raisa Glabman3, Emily Abrams², Shawn Johnson4, Frances Gulland4, Paul Buckmaster²

¹Purdue University, College of Veterinary Medicine, West Lafayette, IN
²Stanford University, School of Medicine, Department of Comparative Medicine, Stanford, CA
³University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine, Philadelphia, PA
4Marine Mammal Center, Sausalito, CA

Temporal lobe epilepsy is common in humans. Seizures typically originate in the hippocampus, but the cause is unknown. The hippocampal dentate gyrus of human patients displays neuropathological abnormalities, including the loss of parvalbumin-immunoreactive interneurons. Normally, parvalbumin interneurons strongly inhibit excitatory neurons. Loss of parvalbumin interneurons in temporal lobe epilepsy might cause seizures. Rodent models of temporal lobe epilepsy fail to replicate the parvalbumin interneuron loss found in human patients, so better animal models are needed. California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) develop temporal lobe epilepsy after exposure to the excitatory neurotoxin domoic acid, which enters the marine food chain during harmful algal blooms. We hypothesized that epileptic sea lions would display significant loss of parvalbumin interneurons in the dentate gyrus. To test this hypothesis, sea lions were intracardially perfused with formaldehyde immediately upon euthanasia because of failed response to treatment and poor prognosis. Brains were sectioned (40 μm) coronally. Hippocampi were isolated and processed for parvalbumin-immunocytochemistry. Stereology and a Neurolucida system are being used to estimate the number of parvalbumin-positive interneurons per dentate gyrus. Preliminary data suggest that epileptic sea lions display severe loss of parvalbumin interneurons, similar to human patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. If confirmed, these findings would suggest that epileptic sea lions can be used as a large animal model of human temporal lobe epilepsy. Sea lions could serve as candidates to test novel anti-epileptogenic treatments before human clinical trials.

Student: Supported by NIH Office of the Director, Division of Comparative Medicine
Research: Supported by NSF and NIH (NINDS & OD)


Just another day

Creative Corner winning submission from Teigen Bond of the Atlantic Veterinary College.

“I think it’s time” I say as I lay my hand on Roxy’s golden head. Some of her long hairs float off and land on my white coat, covering it in fur that shimmers in the sun. “If it were your dog, what would you do?” you ask, your eyes pleading for a different answer than the one I am about to give. This is one time that I don’t want to be right, but I’m scared that I am. “If she were my dog, I would let her go” I say gently. Your eyes fill with tears. Roxy’s eyes have dimmed, her muzzle gray with age. I run my fingers down her long lush tail, wishing I could change the bloodwork and cytology on my desk from a few days ago that says her lymphoma has returned with a vengeance. “She’s the only thing that has helped me through my husband’s death” you say. A tear quivers on the edge of your eyelash, then tumbles down your cheek, making a sad lonely path. “I can’t bear to lose her too.” What can I say to that? I don’t know if there is anything I can say. Just another day of thinking of quality of life, of thinking of the pets first, always first, of consoling grieving owners when all you want to do is curl up in a ball and cry yourself. Just another day at the clinic. But I persevere and we make an appointment for Roxy’s euthanasia. Then I go to the bathroom, take a couple deep breaths, wipe away the unshed tears and paste on a smile for my next appointment. It is a puppy visit, first vaccine time. Their unabashed playfulness makes my smile a little more real. A few quick pokes and they are bounding out the door, my face covered in puppy kisses. Just another day at the clinic. The last patient of the day comes in 5 minutes before closing. It is a cat hit by a car, with a fractured pelvis. He can’t afford surgery, so I perform my third euthanasia of the day. By the time I get home it is past nine o’clock and I am exhausted, both physically and emotionally. Just another day at the clinic. The phone rings. You’re on the other end of the line. “Roxy’s worse.” You say with a quiver in your voice. “I think she needs to go tonight. She won’t get up to walk to the door – going outside used to be her favorite thing”. I sigh, then muster up my empathy and compassion for you and your sweet old dog. “I will be right there.” If Roxy won’t move, I don’t want her last trip outside to be marred by being dragged and carried into the clinic. I don’t want to leave the house; I don’t want to have to watch another animal die, especially not a long time patient. But I think of the pain she is in, and how I can give her death with dignity, death with peace, death without fear and suffering. That is a gift only we as veterinarian’s can give, part of another day at the clinic. I remember the puppies; life and death all rolled into one day.

Life is sad.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Where there is life there is death.

But sometimes where there is death there can also be life.

It’s a small comfort, but sometimes, it is all we’ve got. You’ve got to take what you can get.

It’s just another day at the clinic.


It's Monday, who needs a laugh?

Tis the season.....for exams. So in honor of everyone out there who is taking the NAVLE, is still in shock from said NAVLE, or is wondering how the professors ever managed to pack so much material into a final exam we thought you all deserved to start this week of right, with a laugh! These incredible cartoons  were submitted by Daniel Newnham from the Royal Veterinary College to our Foot In Mouth Disease category and I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.


Creative Corner

These incredible works of art were selected as winners in our Creative Corner category. Thank you Anna Catherine Bowden from the University of Georgia for sharing your work with us!

"What the Mongoose Knows" - Graphite on Paper"As Kingfishers Catch Fire"- Colored pencil on vellum"Three Birds on a Branch" - Colored pencil on vellum


Experiences from an Emergency Hospital

This winning submission from our Experiences category was sent to us by Kathleen Crossman from the Atlantic Veterinary College. Thank you for sharing your story Kate!


Last summer I spent some time in an emergency veterinary hospital and became fascinated with the fast-paced cases and surgeries. My favorite experience was being on hand when a 4-year-old lab mix presented to the clinic with a laceration to his back. His owners told us he had been running through the woods and disappeared out of their sight; moments later, they heard a loud yelp, and he came running back to them like the hounds of hell were at his back. The superficial laceration spanned no longer than three inches and marked his back at the base of his neck. He was sedated to allow for further exploration and debridement of the wound, as he was very high energy and quite anxious. Upon physical exam I palpated a small firm mass along his spinal cord at the level of his hind limbs, and as we debrided the wound, we realized that the skin was quite loose, and it appeared that whatever had lacerated the poor dog had actually skimmed right along his back, slicing the subcutaneous tissue clear to his hind legs. As we incised the skin and retracted it, bits and pieces of wood and clumps of his hair were visualized, and the firm mass I had palpated turned out to be a solid piece of a branch! The three-inch laceration turned into a surgical incision that spanned his entire spinal cord:


We nicknamed our patient Arrowhead for the unique shape of his surgical incision. He recovered smoothly and was able to go home with his grateful owners the following day. Arrowhead became one of the patients I aided this summer that cemented my interest in emergency veterinary medicine.

"Arrowhead" after his laceration repair.



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