Saturday, March 17, 2012

TMMC Vet Science Year in Review

Veterinary intern Vanessa Fravel presented the 2011veterinary summary of statistics, showcasing the year's most interesting cases and research directions. in 2011, 545 animals were rescued, down from the crisis year of 2009 when ore than 1,000 were rescued. 2010 rescues declined and 2011 continued to what can be considered a more normal year.

Some of the interesting cases were:

Mike, a prematurely born Harbor Seal pup who became TMMC's Animal of the Year. Although he weighed only 7.6 kg when he arrived at the center March 22 and still had his lanugo coat, "He surprised everyone by doing very well," Vanessa said. The happy end to Mike's story is that after he was released on June 22, he was identified by his tag and reported at Children's Beach in San Diego.

Machris came to the center with severe mouth abscesses, exposing bone. "These animals are amazing healers," Vanessa said. His gums healed and he was released.

Voodoo is an elephant seal who was rescued March 21 with a spinal deformity. After he gained weight, the depression on his back filled in with some muscle mass and he was released May 23. That didn't work out for him and he was rescued again June 13. He did well enough to be released again July 30. His X-rays will become part of the research files at the center, where the staff is working to determine how many lumbar vertebrae elephant seals have.

Because fewer mammals were brought to the center, they took on some sharks that the Department of Fish and Game found dead or dying. Samples from those fish will be used to research why 100 sharks turned up dead.

Veterinary researchers published papers on contaminant load in harbor seals and acute and chronic domoic acid poisoning. The center hopes to find an easy and inexpensive way to determine whether animals with domoic acid poisoning are in the throes of acute or chronic attacks. Blood analysis of eosinophils shows some possibility of offering such a determination.

Vanessa was proud to have published the first paper on Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, in Salmon, a California Sea Lion. He arrived at the center injured and was recovering when he acquired a community-associated form of MRSA, apparently from someone at the center. An effective antibiotic was found and Salmon recovered.

Staff veterinarian Frances M.D. Gulland was appointed to the Marine Mammal Commission, a significant honor and position of influence. The commission is focusing on issues relating to the International Whaling Commission, Mekong River Dolphins, Climate change, Oil and Gas development and the Drakes Estero Review at Pt. Reyes.

The entire report will be available from the Morro Bay facility and will eventually be posted online. Thanks for a great opportunity to learn more about the animals we share the world with, Vanessa!

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