Veterinary technicians can be detectives, too

People in the veterinary profession often have to double as detectives when getting to the bottom of the illnesses afflicting their patients.Working in any field of the health profession means you serve many purposes – lifesaver, caregiver, healer, psychological support, etc. However, one specialty that is rarely mentioned may be just as important as any of those others: Detective.

Whether you’re a brain surgeon, a night-shift nurse or a certified veterinary technician, a crucial part of your job is to analyze your patients, sift through the clues their symptoms present and diagnose their ailment. A lot of the time, those diagnoses, or the greater understanding and knowledge you gain from working with a patient, will not only help them, but also the people or pets you serve down the road.

Mysterious horse deaths in California

At Hollywood Park and Santa Anita racetracks, two of the horse racing meccas of Southern California, there has been a reported rise in presumptive sudden cardiac deaths among horses, according to DVM Newsmagazine.1 And while the spike to 11 such deaths between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012 – nearly double the previous year’s total -  brought greater attention to the issue, it actually served to highlight a problem that has plagued the thoroughbred racing industry across the globe.

“Why there was a cluster of apparent sudden cardiac death in Southern California is unknown and probably very difficult to determine,” Virginia Reef, DVM, DACVIM, director of large animal cardiology and diagnostic ultrasonography at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, told the source. “It may be that a toxin, virus or drug interaction was involved, or it may be an adverse consequence of the maximal effort performed.”

It’s a mystery that has yet to be solved, and it will require a new approach to veterinary technician training to help solve this vexing and disturbing issue.

Researchers investigating whether owners transmit diseases to pets

In a separate article for DVM Newsmagazine, it was reported that researchers have been awarded grants to study whether pet owners transmit certain diseases to their pets.2 In one case, they will be trying to determine if dogs catch Pseudomonas Otitis, a severe type of ear inflammation, from their human owners.

Throughout history, many of the deadly diseases contracted by humans were transmitted through contact with animals. If it turns out the reverse is true in this instance, it could signal a breakthrough in how veterinarians and certified vet technicians treat the illness. And, conceivably, could contribute to a better overall understanding of how communicable diseases work in general.

1 Kane, Ed PhD, “The Veterinary Mystery of the California Cluster,” DVM Magazine, Oct. 1, 2013. http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/dvm/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=823641&sk=&date=&%0A%09%09%09&pageID=2
2 DVM 360 Staff, Dermatology Grant Recipients Examine Veterinary Otitis, Atopic Dermatitis,” DVM 360 Magazine, Sept. 1, 2013. http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/dvm/Veterinary+news/Dermatology-grant-recipients-examine-veterinary-ot/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/821118?contextCategoryId=40534