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Friday, January 22, 2016

Like Humans, Rabbits get Syphilis

For the last four days I’ve been at the NAVC (North American Veterinary Community) conference in Orlando.  Many of you are likely thinking “oh that lucky girl!” but the truth is, aside from dinners at night and taking a bus back and forth between venues I didn’t get outside much to enjoy the Florida weather.  I also didn’t get to enjoy the Florida weather because it’s January, which is an unpredictable time of year and while there was no snow and the temperatures were above freezing, it wasn't really that warm....

What I like most about attending conferences it getting the opportunity to learn something new and with over 1200 sessions to chose from, learning something new was not that difficult!  There was one session I wanted to attend but did not get the chance.  It was titled “Zoobiquity: Bringing Human Science to Animal Science”.  The session promised to enlighten us on how a cardiologist whose experience in helping to treat a monkey led to a journey of discovering what animals can teach us about the human body and mind and how species-spanning commonalities do exist! This journey ultimately inspired the New York Times bestselling book, Zoobiquity: The Astonishing Connection Between Human and Animal Health.

As I’ve come to learn, Zoobiquity is based on a common idea that humans and animals get the same diseases and explores how animal and human commonality can be used to diagnose, treat, and heal patients of all species.  Of course, to do so we need to collaborate.  We need to tap into and access the vast information and experience of veterinarians and wildlife biologists.
Certainly the concept of One Health is not new and I’ve spoken about it in previous blogs.  I think most would agree that there is a strong connection between people, animals and the planet.  However, our focus on One Health is driven more by contemplating infectious diseases and zoonoses. Because Zoobiquity utilizes comparative medicine, it broadens the emphasis to include many other areas of human and animal medicine and looks for linkages with clinical implications for patients both human and animal.

The book itself was inspired by an eye-opening consultation at the Los Angeles Zoo, which revealed that a monkey experienced the same symptoms of heart failure as human patients.  This resulted in cardiologist Barbara Natterson-Horowitz embarking upon a project that would reshape how she practiced medicine. She began informally researching every affliction that she encountered in humans to learn whether it also happened with animals and found that it usually did.  She found that dinosaurs suffered from brain cancer, koalas can catch chlamydia, reindeer seek narcotic escape in hallucinogenic mushrooms, stallions self-mutilate, and gorillas experience clinical depression.

Having missed the talk, I have read the first Chapter of the book and without a doubt will be running out to buy it!  I also look forward to my next conference – you’re never too old to learn something new and exciting, you just have to open your mind to the possibilities!

Bugging Off!


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