Saturday, August 5, 2017

Vaccinating Free Roaming Dogs with Mission Rabies

Another early morning as we left the ITC at 6am and headed an hour down the hill, all 36 hairpin bends, for a day of vaccinations.
While we have been vaccinating the dogs post-surgery against Rabies, this was the same project but a 6-in-1 vaccination against the most common diseases found in dogs.
We stopped at a hotel for breakfast and were served the most amazing dosas. Everyone has been understandably weary of where we eat, avoiding meat and salads, but this hotel looked really clean and the food was decent. We each had a huge dosa stuffed with spicy veg and potato served with a savoury coconut sauce, not typical breakfast food but soo good.

Once again we split into two groups and headed out with our trucks, supplies and "the boys" who catch the dogs for us.
We drove along a rural lane stopping at each house to see if they have dogs and offered free 6-in-1 vaccinations. The owners were very willing to have their dogs vaccinated as WVS have such a reputation in the area and have worked hard to educate people as to the importance.

Those with owners were generally contained in a yard or on a chain but many needed to be caught by the boys for us to vaccinate them.
The free roaming dogs were more of a challenge as they tended to hide once they saw us coming so the boys went in armed with butterfly nets and were super efficient as catching them; if it was left to me we'd still be waiting to catch the first one!
Between us we vaccinated 100 dogs which are all recorded in an app based database including the sex of the dog and whether they have been neutered by WVS by checking their ears for notches.

There were a couple of dogs which needed first aid treatment including one which had picked a fight with a wild pig and others needing veterinary attention will be picked up and brought to the ITC on Monday.

It was really nice to walk around villages to meet people and see the real India, things you wouldn't normally see as a tourist and an insight into how people live.
Lots of the boys live in the villages we visited so they are familiar with the area and people around them.

Back to the same hotel for lunch and then a trip to IPAN, a shelter ran by Ilona and Nigel for all sorts of animals from all over India, be they ex-circus animals, ex-racehorses or those with injuries needing care. They had dozens of horses, donkeys and goats plus over 20 horses at their home.
We were invited in for tea and saw photos of some of the work they've done which were amazing. They really have dedicated their entire lives to helping animals, the ITC and IPAN.

Unfortunately a horse they rescued a month ago had been very sick and died this morning of an obstructive colic.
We were able to see the post mortem and found a linear foreign body in the small colon which after removing was obviously plastic. The horses are often seen eating rubbish at the roadside and from skips so it must have accumulated and caused an impaction.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Week One at WVS ITC Ooty Complete

The first week of our surgical training course is over and it's been an amazing experience. It's been a hectic week but everyone here is so nice, staff and participants, so it's been a pleasure.
There is an on-site chef who cooks us all three meals a day and the food is soo good!

A typical day starts with breakfast at 8am then rounds at 8:30 before we start a day of surgery.
There are 10 of us so we're split into pairs, A and B, so while A is operating, B will be maintaining and monitoring total intravenous anaesthesia. The drugs protocol is already devised for us with ten drugs as standard to include anaesthetic, analgesia (pain relief), antibiotic, anti-parasitic and finally a rabies vaccination. We are able to add to this if we feel the dogs need it during or after surgery.
Surgery tends to finish between 4:30-5 when we will have a break then a lecture 6-7 before evening rounds and dinner at 8:30.

On Monday we started with lectures and a tour of the campus, then we observed demo surgeries to go through procedures and what's expected of us.

Tuesday morning we each performed a surgery each followed by an afternoon of anaesthesia lectures. Then from Wednesday we've each done two surgeries every day.

So far I've done four dog castrates and three bitch spays which have all gone well. Of course I've made a few mistakes with suture patterns etc but I'm learning so much!

Intradermal suturing has always looked fairly easy but it's actually really tricky. I've learnt to take my time and finally got the hang of it today - the vet said he was impressed but there's always room for improvement.

Standing all day and operating has ruined my back. I'm not sure if it's because of the table height or because I'm leaning over too much but I guess it's something you have to get used to and muscles will strengthen with use and experience.

Tonight we went out for dinner in Ooty which was really nice to get out of the campus and have a drink to relax with everyone. We spent the night talking about non-vet stuff which was a welcome change!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Bangalore to Ooty

We planned to be up bright and early today but my body took that far too literally and I didn't sleep at all, not even five minutes. I spent most of the night watching Animal Planet and Nat Geo Wild as it was only those or BBC World which were in English; luckily for me!

At 5am when my alarm went off I had a Mynah bird sat outside my window mimicking noises so I made a coffee and sat at the window in my delusional state whistling as he mimicked me.

I requested an Uber which was outside in minutes, got to Fabians hotel to pick him up which was where all the fun started. The driver hadn't realised I booked a multi-stop trip to the airport and his taxi was screaming at us with thirst as it was completely empty. He called Uber requesting to cancel the trip as I sat in the back pretending to be oblivious and they said he had to complete the journey. The first petrol station we found was closed, the second had no fuel but third time lucky and we were on our way.
The journey should have cost 870 rupees but the app told him Total 60 rupees which was only to Fabians hotel! We have him 1000 and off we went.
We spotted a white girl sat alone who stood out with six suitcases and guessed she must be coming with us! Minutes later two of her friends joined us and then another two girls, including Lucy a new grad I know from Košice.

Along came a driver who collected five of us, strapped our cases onto the roof of his van and in we jumped - with no seatbelts.
The eight hour transfer went surprisingly fast with only one stop as we were kept entertained by crazy drivers around us, wildlife and the most amazing views as we climbed the hairpin bends into Ooty.
After arriving at the ITC Ooty we were shown our rooms; luckily for us boys we are in single sex rooms so we each pushed two beds together to made doubles and settled in.
The rooms are basic but clean and much better than I anticipated - we have a flushing toilet after having anticipated a squat toilet for months!

We were fed then I passed out and slept like a log the whole way through the night.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Day 1 in Bangalore

Day one in Bangalore mainly consisted of sleep and more sleep.

We had planned to meet at 1pm but eventually were up and ready for 5pm and went for a wonder around the city. I knew Indians loved to use their horns but during rush hour the noise was immense, it seems rather than using indicators they use their horns to let other drivers know where they are and where they're going.

We arrived at the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens and were greeted by a tour guide going by the name of Dave, a bit tired and worse for wear we just agreed to a half hour tour for 750 rupees. He took us around the gardens, explaining the history and stories behind each section then had us pose for photos at various points throughout.

Nearing the end us put all three of us on his little scooter and took us for a drive through the gardens. I chuckled the whole way round at the ridiculous situation, three grown men on a little scooter - and I'm not small! Judging by people faces as we went past they found it just as funny.
Once we finished we'd over-ran our half hour and he then said the price was per person so we each paid 1000 rupees which is about £11 so he got a good deal but it was worth it just for the scooter!

From there we went to Red Onion a restaurant Fabian had found online. We ordered a few starters and a main to share and honestly it could have fed a family of four. The restaurant was really clean and the waiters super-attentive but we were the only ones in there!
I'm chronically too hot which they must have seen and as the AC was broken they went and got a fan for us haha
We had so much food we got half of it to takeout which Fab had as midnight munchies.

I settled down for a cosy night with two of my best pals...


Friday, July 28, 2017

Arrived in India

It seems a lifetime ago since I booked the trip but as usual I left everything until the last minute, doing most of my shopping on my last day in the UK. We left the house only an hour late which is a personal best for me and the rest of the journey was plane sailing...

I flew from Heathrow to Bengaluru with British Airways and the service was fantastic. Terminal 5 was amazing right through from check in and security to boarding and the cabin crew were so nice!
I was sat in an emergency exit seat so had a member of crew sat facing me for take off, we somehow got on to chatting about dogs as her rescue Jack Russell had been to Fitzpatrick Referrals for full spinal surgery and that, unbeknownst to her, her parents had been feeding her chocolate buttons during recovery! Two years on she's doing amazingly well and I saw videos of her jumping and swimming like any little terrier.
Next thing I mentioned why I was going to India and they'd already heard about it as a friend of mine is BA cabin crew. Within minutes I'd been upgraded, had two double gin and tonics and I was living the dream!!

We arrived in Bengaluru at 5am. Customs took their time as usual, we had to queue twice but eventually got our stamps and we were in!

Hopped in a taxi to my hotel to be told I had to wait until 1pm to check in unless I paid ~£7 early check in fee.
TAKE MY MONEY

Now time to sleep...

Thursday, July 6, 2017

When life gives you lemons...

Late last summer I still had a lot of exams left to do and as time was running out I had to prioritise subjects and I did that based on how long they would take to study and what classes they allowed me to take from the next year. In the end it came down to Parasites so I didn't sit that exam and got all the others done.
My biggest piece of advise to anyone going through the same is to study hard for credit tests, get them done on time and use that revision for the final; carrying exams from winter to summer period is easy to do but it's even easier to run out of time.

This year has been one of the best yet as I'm resitting with some of my best friends and as we've been on a reduced timetable I really made the most of it!
Last semester I went to Krakow, attended two international falconry meets, my Dad came to visit for the first time, I had a week at home after the National Poultry Show where I saw practice with the PDSA then I really worked hard to smash out all my winter exams in a week so I had five weeks at home for Christmas and travelled to Iceland with my family.
At the start of this semester nine of my friends came out and we had a week skiing in the Tatras, I had another three weeks at home for Easter as I went to BSAVA Congress.
Congress was amazing, I learnt so much from the lectures and speaking to people in the exhibition and I also made contacts which will be great for the future. Later in the semester I went to another two exotics conferences in Slovakia and Romania where lots of similar topics came up so I feel like I'm learning useful information which we can really use in practice. I also took optional classes in Stomatology and Ultrasonography which will are things I'll use every week in the clinic.

I've never been massively academic so I study enough to pass but I work best under pressure and think I make up for it practically as I've done a lot of work experience and really try to gain as much as I can from it.
It bugs me as people are always saying 'Oh it's so easy for you 'cos you've done xyz' but the only way to learn is making contacts, booking placements and putting yourself forward! You'll always get rejections but keep writing those emails and eventually you'll get a placement. Last year I did 9 weeks in the vets, this year I've only done one so far but I have another 7 weeks booked.
I might not be book smart but I've really noticed, this year especially, when I'm learning a subject I try to relate it to a patient I've seen, the clinical signs it presented with and the treatment we gave which really helps me remember things. I loved studying Reproduction as I could relate it all back to lambing and what we used to do.
I've been on lots of the 5th year trips this semester so I have an idea of what to expect next year and can try to stay on top of learning ready for the big exams we have coming up.
This exam period has been pretty uneventful, I took three and a half weeks to study for Parasitology which seemed to go on forever! Studying for it was really tough, trying to learn the taxonomy for over 120 parasites, their life cycles, clinical signs, morphology and treatment... but once it came to the final, that went better than I had anticipated and they were really nice in the exam.

I head home for summer and have an exciting summer seeing practice for three weeks and I'll be in India for a month volunteering with WVS in the neuter clinic and vaccinating street dogs with Mission Rabies!

Friday, June 23, 2017

TEZWIC - Transylvanian Exotics, Zoo and Wildlife International Congress

Last week myself and four friends drove eight hours to Cluj Napoca in Romania for the first TEZWIC Congress.
The drive wasn't too bad as we stopped a few times en route, the only thing being we were in a car nearly as old as me which didn't have air con and Europe is experiencing a heat wave at the minute so it was windows down the whole way!
Following on from BSAVA and the Exotics Weekend I attended last month, I've realised what a great opportunity conferences like this are as I've learnt things we'll put into practice but also made contacts with people from all over the world.
There were people attending and speaking from Romania, Slovakia, France, Cambodia, South Africa and the Cayman Islands!

Norin Chai is a vet from Cambodia and now deputy director at Zoo Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes in Paris. He spoke to us about wildlife and zoo medicine, anaesthesia and analgesia but the most interesting of his lectures for me was the Endoscopy approach. It's amazing the things that can be done with an endoscope, from removing foreign bodies, to neutering by cutting the fallopian tubes in a baboon and surgically castrating a bullfrog!
I've always been interested in Endoscopy in practice but it's something I'd like to look at more, maybe as a thesis project.

Minh Huynh, another French vet, gave lectures on emergency care in raptors and avian diagnostic imaging which he explained really simple procedures that you can gain a lot from, but that I've never seen in practice so will definitely be trying those in the future.
He previously worked at Great Western Exotics and now in France and said now they only use CT or MRI in birds, they haven't done x-rays since 2008 and 2014 in the clinics!

Another thing I've been hearing a lot about recently is Capnography, not something I've seen used in clinics myself but that I'm really interested to learn more about.
The Exotics clinic at uni have just ordered a Capnograph so it will be nice to get used to using one and learning how to foresee potentially fatal anaesthetic complications before they would be noticed using other methods of monitoring.
Cluj Napoca was a really nice city and surprisingly different to Kosice. It was a much bigger city which seemed to have a younger population and more people who spoke English, though that could have been because we spent a lot of time around the university.
The restaurants we ate at were nice too, lots of independent restaurants rather than chains, with amazing food!
Overall we had an awesome time and we were made to feel really welcome by Gratzia and everyone at Team TEZWIC.
The quality of the lectures and the people giving them were great, everyone's English was amazing, particularly as I think myself and Sarah we're the only native speakers there. We'll definitely be back, hopefully with even more students from Kosice next year!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Study Buddies

I have the best friends who know me so well.
Who else gets cupcakes for studying and brownies for passing exams?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Surprise Chocolate

We have a breeding group of Chocolate Frizzle Pekins in an Eglu and the two hens went broody a few weeks ago.

I'm at uni so my parents just left them to it "as they weren't laying" and now we have... 
Surprise chocolates! They hatched a week ago and the two males are still in with them (which I would never normally do), they've been getting on fine so we're leaving them be...
"Son that'd adult food, yours is in the shallow dish"

Friday, May 19, 2017

Waking up to a text...

"Do you want to come and spay a quail and amputate a Harris' Hawks wing?"
...and of course, I did!

One of the vets in the Exotics clinic and a friend were doing a salpingectomy or hysterectomy on a quail; something they'd not done before so I just went down to help out monitoring anaesthesia and flicking through the surgery textbook.
Initially we started with a left ventral incision but found it hard to identify the ovaries so then we went midline, which gave much better visualisation and the procedure went smoothly. Ideally the textbook says it would be done endoscopically using surgical clips but I think it's better to walk before you can run!

The great thing about the Exotics clinic is that you don't know what's going to come in next so while we were there a Rosella (small parrot) came in with a leg ring which was far too tight and needed removing as it had caused the foot below the ring to swell up. He was more difficult to anaesthatise than the quail as they can bite so we caught him in a towel and gave Isoflo with a mask. The ring came off with a dremel and needed bandaging to reduce the haematoma and stop him biting at the wound. As he was under we also coped (filed down) his beak and nails.

Finally we amputated the Harris' Hawks wing. He was bred by a friend of ours and sold to a falconer for hunting but had an accident whilst out in the field and was electrocuted. The whole of the carpometacarpus and second digit were necrotic and had to be removed back to the bone and sutured up. He recovered quickly so will be fed up in the clinic and eventually come to us in Falconry Club as he can no longer be flown to hunt.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Rabies Vaccinations

I'm going to India for a month this summer and will be volunteering in a neuter clinic performing surgery and going out vaccinating street dogs with Mission Rabies. One of the requirements is that we are vaccinated against rabies ourselves.

While I was at home for Easter I looked at prices and was quoted £55 per vaccine and we need a course of three. In Slovakia I got three vaccines for €46 from the pharmacy, supplied with a needle ready to go! I know some people have vaccinated themselves but we need a certificate so had to get that from the hospital.
I've not had an injection for about 8 years so just before I went in I was kinda nervous and was planning on not looking but it was fine and I watched her do it. Quite odd to have a vet scared of needles, something we use all day every day!

The worst part of the whole thing is that she said we have to avoid hard work, alcohol and sunbathing for 4 days; I live for two of those things!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Exotics and Wildlife Weekend

Another UVM Kosice conference weekend, this time the topic was Exotics and Wildlife with BSAVA President John Chitty and wildlife vet from the Netherlands, Sophie Bosch.
We covered all sorts of topics from initial consultation, stabilising, husbandry, surgery and how to get into wildlife vet work. John also did a session on PDP which is the Professional Development Phase new grad vets must complete and usually takes around 18 months after graduating.
The weekend finished with the Avian afternoon (save the best til last) which was really interesting. I learnt lots at BSAVA Congress and even more this weekend, particularly about parrots which I don't have much experience with.
Listening to John it became clear that the best way into exotics is to get into birds first, reptiles later as birds tend to be emergency cases which really prepares you, then these skills can be transferred to reptiles which you can generally take more time working with.
A true bird emergency is critical to be dealt with in 20 minutes whereas something like a tortoise can be stabilised and operated after a few days or even weeks. That's great for me as I already have a keen interest in birds and could possibly transfer these skills into reptiles.

He also taught us to question 'standard protocols' such as triple anaesthesia being used in every rabbit surgery; we don't treat all cats the same so why exotics? I'll definitely be paying more attention to the drugs used in practice this summer as previously I've just accepted the standard 'rabbit anaesthesia' protocol stated on the wall and not given it too much thought.

John and the BSAVA very kindly donated two BSAVA Manuals which he is Editor of to our Falconry and Raptor Rehabilitation Club; the Manual of Raptors, Pigeons and Passerine Bird and the Manual of Psittacine Birds.
Thanks again to Laura and Chris for organising the weekend and to Sophie and John for coming to speak to us.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Final Day with the 5th Years

I've spent three years with this class and loved (nearly) every minute of it.
Today was the last day we are all together as next year they split into four State groups for final year and I finish off 5th year with my second State exam and a couple other subjects I wasn't able to take this year.

Monday, April 10, 2017

BSAVA Congress 2017

I've known about BSAVA Congress for the past few years as it's always been held in my hometown of Birmingham and the vets I see practice with always go as well as vet students friends. I attended for the first time this year and wish I'd been before - it was great!
It's the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress where veterinary professionals from all over the world gather to for lectures, to present research and award ceremonies as well as an exhibition.

There are 16 lecture streams running simultaneously throughout the day covering a huge variety of topics so we sat down and decided which we wanted to go to. Every delegate has a lanyard with their name badge which is scanned as you enter and the lectures are emailed to you at the end of the day; they also count towards CPD points for vets. I think videos of all streams are available to download but I've not had a chance to look yet.

Highlights for me were the Vet Student stream and How to... where we learnt about performing your first bitch spay, euthanasia consults and clinical stuff. Sophie Adamantos is an ECC clinician at Langford and I could have spent a whole day listening to her, the was she explained working in Emergency clinics was so calm, collected and funny. There was a Bloopers stream which was great to learn from other peoples mistakes and I took a lot away from Matt Gurney, even little things to make a habit of checking as you walk into theatre or kennels.
Neurology was something I've not covered at university yet but I went to two lectures by Laurent Garosi which were really interesting and delivered so that I would understand everything, so I'm looking forwards to that next year.
It made such a difference listening to native and fluent English speakers as they go through topics quickly but you can keep up as they explain it so well and crack jokes throughout to keep it interesting and engaging.

I've been wanting a miniVET guide for a few months after seeing people with them in lectures but didn't want to pay postage to Slovakia so luckily I was able to buy one in the exhibition.
As we're International Delegates we were invited to drinks at the SeaLife Centre on Thursday evening for drinks and canapes for a chance to network with people.
Every day at the exhibition they provided lunch as well as hot drinks and Prosecco all day (which I may have taken full advantage of).
Walking around I saw lots of people I know from the various clinics I've seen practice with so had lunch and went to lectures with a few. They all asked me to keep in touch and book weeks with them over summer which was really nice.

I also met Chris and the team from WVS who I'm going to India with this summer so it was nice to put a face to a name. We picked up lots of information about the course, what to expect and what to take (a head torch!) so I'm really looking forward to that now.
We got so many freebies that I don't know what to do with them! A rucksack, thermos flasks, water bottles, fob watches, torches, books, a tourniquet, waterproof catheter covers and countless pens which will be great for seeing practice.
I even spoke to a lady on the KRUUSE stand and she gave me loads of boxes of suture material on Sunday for suture practice!

It only costs £90 to attend as a vet student and the value for money was excellent considering all the lectures we attended, they fed us and all the Prosecco I consumed! I would highly recommend going, I still have two years of vet school left and learnt so much so I'm sure those in final year took even more away.
I've emailed Angharad, Head of Congress, to say what I great time we had as I know from my old job, people are quick to complain but don't say thank you enough. I had a fantastic time and will definitely be attending next year.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Farm trips

This week we've had two trips to the university farm which is 45 mins away by coach and means getting up early as we leave at 7:15! The weather has been great, sunny and pushing 16oC so it's nice to get outside in the fresh air and practical stuff is always fun.

On Tuesday we were blood sampling and vaccinating cattle against trichophytosis which is an infectious skin disease commonly known as ringworm. The cows were vaccinated two and four weeks ago so the bloods we took will be titre tested to see how effective the vaccination course has been.
Today we were working with small ruminants (sheep and goats) doing much the same.
First we had to collect blood samples to test for Brucella, then we did the California Milk Test to look for mastitis and hoof trimming for those which needed it. Finally we did intradermal tuberculin tests for TB.

One of the ewes had a wound on her leg which looked like a blunt trauma, maybe from a gate or hayrack. We cleaned and flushed it with Betadine and saw that there was a yellow fibrinous mass deep inside so we debrided it to encourage wound healing and flushed again.
One of the Professors came over and said he was "very impressed" with my hoof trimming and asked if I have sheep at home; I was secretly chuffed that all those years of lambing paid off!
I kind of take it for granted having worked with sheep for quite a few years on work experience and during my undergrad but other people who are focussed on working with small animals have never really had the opportunity. Teachers here will often assume basic knowledge and won't re-cap procedures or handling techniques which we might have talked about in a lecture 2 years ago unless asked, so people can miss out.

One of the girls was criticising they way we tip the sheep (making them sit on their bums) but they're easily restrained in one movement and they don't struggle once sat so while there will be some degree of stress from any restraint, there is no pain and it gets the job done quickly and efficiently.
Goats aren't as easy to tip as they're more athletic and stressy than sheep but can still be done, you just tip them further onto their back like we've done above - being careful of horns! We were able to blood sample, examine udders, CMT and hoof trim in less than 5 minutes and the goat didn't struggle.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Rectalling ruminants with retained placentas

We had a trip to the school farm today for rectalling of post-parturient cows with retained placenta or metritis. There are several reasons why animals can retain the foetal membranes after birth so they must be watched closely to ensure it is cleared.

The uterus is normally sterile but during or after calving, environmental microorganisms can enter and cause infection, especially as the cervix is still open for a few days during involution when it's all shrinking back down.
Metritis is an inflammation of the uterus which occurs directly after calving. Endometritis is a common condition which occurs 21 days or more after calving. The main problem with this is that it will reduce fertility and delay the next conception, increasing the calving interval, decreasing the milk yield and costing the farmer more money.
First we rectalled the cows to feel for the uterine horns, which when inflammed was very obvious in that it was full of pus. We were able to massage the uterus to remove the mucopurulent vaginal discharge.

Then we went per vaginam and treated (or prevented) the infection by placing a broad spectrum antibiotic bolus directly into the uterus or cervix.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Official Opening of the Small Animal Hospital

Today saw the official opening of the UVM / UVLF Kosice Small Animal Hospital.
The building work started back in 2015 and at a cost of nearly €7 million, it has largely been funded by the European Union which has meant it's been a long process to get everything signed off and opened.
It is hoped that animals will travel from Slovakia and neighbouring countries to use the facilities as well as offering a referral service for private vets for patients requiring surgery and hospitalisation.
It includes a 24 hour emergency surgery, orthopedics, ophthalmology, oncology, a dental clinic, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and a operating rooms. It also has the only incubators for small animals in Slovakia and an area for the preparation of medicines and chemotherapy for cancer patients.
They have several well equipped operating theatres which can be arranged for different procedures and classes as well as having cameras to record surgery or stream them to lecture theatres.
Incubators for small animals
I'm excited to start my small animals staze (rotations) and be able to use all the new equipment in the clinic! There is a compulsory rotation for 5th and 6th year students with final years also covering night shifts.