All fourth-year veterinary students at Ohio State are required to take the preventive medicine rotation. During this rotation, we talk about topics like herd health, vaccination protocols, and preventing and controlling outbreaks of disease. This information is invaluable for veterinary students who intend to enter positions where they work with production management such as the poultry or swine industry. However, this information may seem a bit tedious for veterinary students who are focused on companion animal medicine in which a sole patient is the focus of treatment and prevention versus a large group of animals. But then I saw this information put into action at one of my off-site rotations at a small animal-based medical center. This great experience helped to further cement the importance of this information in my mind even though I do not intend to work in production medicine.
Here’s what happened: the clinic has a large boarding facility that was full of dogs that stayed over the Thanksgiving holiday. Everything seemed fine until Monday morning when the phone started ringing. People who had boarded their dogs over the holiday said their dogs were coughing and sneezing. After several calls, it became clear that an outbreak of some form of respiratory disease had occurred and that many of the dogs had been exposed while boarding at the facility. The doctors considered how to best handle the situation and decided to take various samples from all infected patients and send then out for culture, serum testing, and PCR (at the clinic’s expense) to try and diagnose what pathogen was involved. In the meantime, all the affected animals were treated symptomatically and monitored, and the boarding facility was thoroughly disinfected. I was impressed with the way the doctors handled the situation and the measures that were taken. It was cool to see the principles I had been taught in the classroom implemented in a small animal environment.