Oct 15 2012

My Zoobiquity Experience by Dr. Robert Kaufman, Torrance, CA

On “Carmaggedon” Saturday, while most Angelenos were avoiding the 405 Freeway, I ventured up to UCLA for a seminar entitled Zoobiquity.  This seminar, inspired by a book of the same name, explores the reality that humans and animals get the same diseases.  The author, a human cardiologist, was intrigued by this when she was asked to do cardiac ultrasounds on chimps, gorillas and other primates at the LA zoo and found they very much mirrored studies she had done on her own patients.  This years seminar brought together veterinarians and MDs to present and discuss cases that outline both similarities and differences in cases including cancer, reproduction, obesity and behavior. One of the talks I found particularly interesting was by the keynote speaker, Dr. Tracey McNamara. She was the veterinary pathologist at the Bronx Zoo when people in New York were dying of West Nile Virus, a virus that until then  had not yet been seen in North America.  While state and federal medical officials were focusing in on a previously known virus, Dr. McNamara, who had the benefit of seeing how the disease affected the variety of species in her zoo, could tell they were on the wrong track and ultimately teamed up with US Army researchers to correctly identify the virus.  This talk highlighted the importance of maintaining a dialog between the human and veterinary arms of medicine.  We ended our day at the LA zoo where we were able to view some of the work being done by MD and veterinary teams.  I chose to  listen to a talk about problems facing the California Condor and a viewing of cardiac ultrasounds in gorillas presented by the Zoobiquity author.  All in all, it was a very interesting day.  I hope to attend next years seminar at which new topics will be presented, but I know I will have to fight Dr. Norby for it, as she would also like to attend!  For more information on Zoobiquity go to http://zoobiquity.com/

Dr. Kaufman

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