Surrounded by water, Grenada is well-placed for research in aquatic medicine and recently veterinary practitioners had an opportunity to participate in an interactive course on Aquatic Animal Medicine held in the state-of-the-art aquatic laboratory and marine center at St. George’s University.
Giving veterinary practitioners an in-depth look at disease, diagnosis, and the treatment of fish, St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine hosted a continuing education course on Aquatic Animal Medicine this April. The main focus was on fish anesthesia, handling and collecting samples as well as explaining gill diseases in relation to morphological, physiological, and pathological responses to the disease, while also highlighting the differences between aquatic and terrestrial animals.
According to Dr. Hugh Ferguson, Director of the Aquatic Animal Medicine Research Program, the purpose of the course was to expose its participants to a variety of different facets and to share how exciting it is to work with aquatic animals, particularly fish.
“People who haven’t worked with fish before aren’t really aware of the fact that they’re basically just animals and you can treat them like you can any other vertebrates,” he said.
The anesthesia aspect of the exercise familiarizes people with the handling of the fish, drawing blood samples, examining them, and then watching them recover. Fish can be examined for five to 10 minutes outside of water and placed back into the water with no ill effects.
Dr. Gerry Johnson, Visiting Professor, SVM Aquatic Animal Medical Research Program, stated that fish are becoming an important research animal, even more so than mice, with almost every university in some regard using fish for toxicity, viral, vaccine, or nutrition testing. In order to do research experiments on animals, these universities require an Animal Care Committee, which must include a veterinarian.
“There are practicing veterinarians that suddenly have a new role,” Dr. Johnson said. “They’re accustomed to doing research on mice, rabbits, and other animals, but they don’t have any familiarity with fish. Thus, one of the reasons we have this course is so that they can get acquainted with fish and how to manage them in the experimental setting.”
In addition to Drs. Ferguson and Johnson, the speakers included Dr. Thomas Eurell, Professor, Marine Medicine and Veterinary Toxicology, and Dr. Ross Peterson, Assistant Professor, Veterinary Microbiology and Aquatic Animal Medicine. Course participants were also able to earn a total of 10 Registry of Approved Continuing Education (RACE) credits.
”What was really unique about this course is that we had a wide range of speakers that could present their topics and their expertise, while allowing participants to speak with them on a one-on-one basis,” said Dr. Greg Wybern, Director of Continuing Education at SGU. “We have a total of three hours of laboratory work that deals with anesthetizing fish underwater and withdrawing blood to study most of the different diseases, so it’s very interesting for vets that are in practice.”
by Ray-Donna Peters