g of V et e riary M d i cir 0 0
th e NEWS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE
light on venom
See story, p. 2
Small Animal Rehabilitation Center now accepting new patients
BY SARAH CAREY
Pets that suffer from physical ailments related to orthopedic and neurologic disease,
arthritis or obesity, may benefit from a variety of treatment tools now available at the
University of Florida's Small Animal Rehabilitation and Fitness Center.
The rehabilitation service launched officially last year with an underwater treadmill, but
was only available to in-house patients of the UF VMC. Since then the program has expanded
to include low level laser therapy, a land treadmill, neuromuscular electrical stimulation,
pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, extracorporeal shockwave therapy and stem cell therapy.
"We will begin accepting new patients this month, but until completion of our new small
animal hospital, the rehabilitation and fitness center will have a limited number of appoint-
ments," said program director Dr. Kristin Kirkby, a board certified small animal surgeon who is
pursuing her Ph.D. in the area of veterinary rehabilitation. "Initially, four to six new patients
will be seen on Mondays of every week, excluding holidays," said Kirkby, who also is certified
in canine rehabilitation.
"The remainder of the week will be dedicated to treating these patients, in addition to
post-operative cases and hospital inpatients," she added.
Kirkby's team includes Wendy Davies, a certified canine rehabilitation assistant and
veterinary technician who has worked at the VMC for more than 10 years. Davies will assist
with new patient appointments on Mondays and be responsible for performing therapy
sessions the remainder of the week. Amy Reynolds, a neurology service technician trained in
canine rehabilitation, will also be involved in therapy for neurology patients.
"The first and most important part of rehabilitation is establishment of a complete diagno-
sis," Kirkby said. "Often animals with an obvious or not so obvious injury in one limb will
develop compensatory changes in the rest of
the body. A thorough orthopedic and
neurologic examination will be performed
and all musculoskeletal abnormalities
documented and addressed."
Kirkby added that examinations will be
performed regularly to assess the effects of
therapy and changes in the body.
"Based on the results of the examination
and patient history, an individualized
treatment plan will be developed for each
patient," she said. "A home exercise plan will
be a key component, and exercises will be
demonstrated to owners during the initial
For more information about the Small
Animal Rehabilitation and Fitness Center, go
services/rehab/. To make an appointment,
contact the small animal hospital front desk
at (352) 392-2235.
Dr. Kristin Kirkby and veterinary technician Wendy
Davies are shown with Kirkby's dog, Bailey, during
one of Bailey's treatments in the underwater
treadmill earlier this year.
Ocala couple's relationship with UF veterinarian led to support for new rehabilitation center
D r. Scott Kerns, a radiologist, and his wife, Dr. Suzie Kerns, a pediatrician, are
"people" doctors from Ocala whose commitment to their animals has taken them all
over the country and across the state. Throughout their journey, however, one UF
veterinarian has consistently provided care or counsel relating to treatment of their beloved
pets their dog, Zozo, and more recently, their cat, Sophie.
The relationship the couple formed with Dr. Kristin Kirkby began soon after the Kerses'
dog, Zozo, a mixed breed adopted from Haiti, came to UF in 2007 to receive medical treatment
for a head injury sustained in a freak accident that took place just a week before she was to
depart for Florida to be with her new family.
During her first days in the VMC's intensive care unit, she was treated for gastrointestinal
hemorrhage after nearly bleeding to death. At the time, Kirkby was a surgery resident. A board-
certified small animal surgeon, Kirkby now directs UF's new Small Animal Rehabilitation and
"I didn't actually treat Zozo when she first came in for head trauma," Kirkby said. "I saw
her and knew how small and frail and hurt she was. But I met the Kernses when I was at a
rehabilitation course in South Florida and they came in with Zozo as the 'class example.' She
had come to be treated by our class instructor, Dr. Laurie McCauley."
McCauley is an Illinois-based veterinarian certified in canine rehabilitation therapy,
acupuncture and chiropractic.
The couple mentioned that Zozo was not spayed and that whenever she would go into
heat, she would take giant steps backward in her recovery process.
"I introduced myself to them and said that I could facilitate her being spayed at UF so that
she could have a boarded anesthesiologist on board," Kirkby said. "When they came up for the
procedure, I started telling them about my wish to start a rehabilitation service here. They said
that they have had to travel state and country looking for this service and how great it would
be to have something so nearby."
The Kerses soon donated money and equipment resources that Kirkby said were
essential in the rehabilitation program's successful development.
\\ i1i ,i them, we would not be where we are now," Kirkby said.
The Small Animal Rehabilitation and Fitness Center at UF has now been in operation for
about a year and a half, offering services to existing UF patients. In September, the center will
begin accepting additional patients from outside the VMC.
The Kerses have been tireless in their efforts to obtain the best possible care for the dog
they say has "richly blessed" them throughout the journey. Zozo's medical odyssey has
spanned two years and several states and has included both human doctors and veterinarians
working in the fields of physical therapy, chiropractic and acupuncture.
"Zozo certainly is well travelled," said Suzie Kerns, who has visited specialists in Illinois
and Oregon as well as in Florida. Kerns's sister, Dr. Sharon Forster-Blouin, is a 1992 graduate of
the UF veterinary college who is now a feline practitioner in Corvallis, Ore. Forster-Blouin
referred the family to a therapist who specializes in cranial-sacral work.
After meeting the Kernses at McCauley's Florida class, Kirkby traveled to Illinois to learn
more about the therapist's techniques in order to better treat Zozo closer to home. She and the
Kernses also visited with a human chiropractic doctor to take advantage of his expertise in
See Zozo, p. 2
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Study of isolated snakes could help shed light on venom-composition
BY SARAH CAREY
Shile studying a way to more safely and effectively collect snake venom,
University of Florida researchers have noticed the venom delivered by an
isolated population of Florida cottonmouth snakes may be changing in response
to their diet.
Scientists used a portable nerve stimulator to induce venom expulsion from anesthetized
cottonmouths, producing more consistent extraction results and greater amounts of venom,
according to findings in the journal Toxicon.
The study of venoms is important for many reasons, scientists say.
"The human and animal health benefits include understanding the components of venom
that cause injury and developing better antivenin," said Dr. Darryl Heard, an associate professor
in the UF College of Veterinary Medicine's department of small animal clinical sciences.. "In
addition, the venom components have the potential to be used for diagnostic tests and the
development of new medical compounds."
But in addition to showing the extraction method is safer, more effective and less stressful
to both snake and handler than the traditional milk.illn" technique -- a finding that could lead ?L
to better treatment of snakebite from the venomous pit vipers -- Heard and Ryan McCleary, a
Ph.D. candidate in biology in UF's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, discovered the venom
from these particular snakes differs from that of mainland snakes because of their unique diet of
dead fish dropped by seabirds.
Heard and McCleary collaborated to develop a safe, reliable and humane technique for
collecting venom from cottonmouths as part of a larger study on a specific population of
snakes which reside on Seahorse Key, an isolated island near Cedar Key on the Florida's Gulf
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veterinarian with additional expertise in anesthesia. He added that Harvey Lillywhite, Ph.D., a lidi, ,, anl:.1 ,,: i na.-,jii ..,,r:
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professor of biology at UF and McCleary's predoctoral advisor, has confirmed that cotton-
mouths on Seahorse Key eat primarily dead fish dropped by birds in a large seabird rookery.
"The stimulator is battery-powered and relatively
inexpensive. In addition, the anesthetic we used,
known as propofol, can easily be transported."
Dr. Darryl Heard
Lillywhite also directs UF's Seahorse Key Marine Laboratory, located in the Cedar Keys
National Wildlife Refuge. McCleary hopes to build on earlier studies about the snakes'
ecology and to explore whether evolutionary changes may have affected the composition of
the snakes' venom.
"My interest is in the evolutionary aspect," McCleary said. "If these snakes already have an
abundant source of dead prey, why do they need venom?"
Preliminary findings show some differences in venom components, he added.
Traditionally, venom has been collected from venomous snakes by manually restraining .
the animal behind the head and having it bite a rubber membrane connected to a collecting
"This requires the capture of an awake snake, which increases the risk of human enveno-
mation and is also stressful to the snake," Heard said, adding that manual collection of venom
also does not guarantee that all of the venom is collected.
The nerve stimulator is used in human anesthesia to measure the effect of muscle relaxants. EI,:r.:., i ,inn': ii .ni, In- :., In,:. ,:.,n f iif. -i inI --,, ir,.:,i ,:nrr-i iii ,,, .:
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pain or tissue injury," Heard said. "The electrodes are placed behind the eye, across the area of
the venom gland. The nerve stimulator sends a current across the gland, causing reflex
contraction and expulsion of the venom."
The technique allows collection from snakes that might not otherwise give up their
venom, which is an essential in the process of creating antivenins for victims of snake bite,
"The stimulator is battery-powered and relatively inexpensive," he said. "In addition, the
anesthetic we used, known as propofol, can easily be transported." ........
Propofol, which has been prominent in news headlines recently as being linked to the
death of singer Michael Jackson, is an ultra-short acting anesthetic administered by intrave-
nous injection. The drug is commonly used to anesthetize animals in veterinary clinical
practice, but is not believed to have ever previously been used to anesthetize snakes for venom
Editor's note: We're happy to say that the above story, which was released to.
the nationalAP wire service Sept. 15, had been picked up by several scien-
tific news outlets, including Science Daily, Medical News Today,
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Bassett Hound survives cottonmouth snake bites, thanks to care at UF
BY SARAH CAREY
W hen Margarita, a 10-year-old Basset Hound, was bitten by a cottonmouth
snake recently, her quick-thinking owner rushed the dog to the University
of Florida's Veterinary Medical Center for treatment right away.
In doing so, Sandra Fields Seymour, Ph.D., A.R.N.P., a recently retired associate profes-
sor in UF's College of Nursing, and her husband, Larry, of Gainesville followed a cardinal
rule in preventing death or lasting tissue damage from snake bite: They sought immediate
evaluation by a veterinarian.
Margarita, whose owners have now nicknamed her "Snake Bite Warrior," survived
her bites and today appears no worse for the wear.
"It was an unfortunate situation where dog and snake were each doing what they
were bom to do, but with serious consequences for both," Seymour said.
Margarita arrived at the UF VMC on July 3 around midnight with two strike wounds.
Soon her signs of swelling, or envenomation, had greatly increased.
"Margarita had obviously received enough venom to cause serious side effects," said
Dr. Kate Ogawa, an intern in small animal medicine and surgery. Veterinarians quickly
decided to administer antivenin six vials, in fact.
"She also developed heart arrhythmias, which fortunately did not become severe
enough to require treatment," Ogawa said. "We closely monitored Margarita's strike areas
and swelling for signs of tissue death that would require surgery. She was lucky. Her
wounds healed uneventfully, and she did not need further treatment."
The side effects of snakebite can vary greatly depending on the particular snake, and
the dose of venom the animal receives, veterinarians say. Bites from rattlesnakes, cotton-
mouths and copperheads can result in severe tissue swelling, blood-clotting abnormalities,
heart arrhythmias, organ damage and tissue death around the bite site.
Not all pets that are bitten by a venomous snake require antivenin, since occasion-
ally pets will receive a dry bite, with no venom injected, but a prompt evaluation by a
veterinarian is recommended. Hospitalization may also be needed for veterinarians to
monitor for heart arrhythmias as well as to provide fluid support, pain medication and
Although antivenin can be lifesaving, how much to give is a judgment call, since the
amount of venom contained in a snake's bite is unknown. In general, however, the more
antivenin received quickly, the better, veterinarians say.
"Unfortunately, antivenin is quite expensive and can be cost prohibitive for some
owners to administer several vials," Ogawa said. "Additionally, antivenin for veterinary
ZOZO, FROM P.1
"We aren't sure which treatment modality or therapist or supplement has made the most
difference, but we do know Zozo has defied all odds and expectations," Suzie Kerns said,
adding that Dr. Huisheng Xie, a UF veterinary acupuncturist, had played a key role in caring for
both of their pets during their hospitalizations at the VMC.
Now Zozo's most debilitating residual deficit is the tendency to tuck her chin between her
front legs and literally somersault when she's agitated or confronted by powerful smells.
"To the casual observer, she has a high stepping, prancing gait and a slight head tilt,"
Kerns said. "To us, she is a miracle and the absolute joy of our lives. She has taught us never to
give up hope."
This past April, Kirkby called the Kerses to ask how Zozo was doing. In the process of that
conversation, Scott Kems mentioned their cat Sophie and her cancer problem, whereupon
Kirkby mentioned that UF was capable of providing surgery to correct Sophie's condition.
"We trusted Dr. Kirkby and saw an opportunity," Scott Kerns said.
An examination was quickly arranged and successful surgery was performed.
Although the Kernses' beloved Sophie died Sept. 9, the couple feels the months after
her surgery were some of the best in Sophie's life.
"We had the time to say goodbye and do what we had to do to have no regrets and no
unfinished business," Scott Kerns said. "We are so grateful UF was there to give us this
We're on Facebook!
We're excited that the college now has a Facebook page. We hope to use this as just one
more venue for posting news about and from the college. Let us know what you think! You
can view the page by going to www.facebook.com/ufvetmed.
Ride with Team VetMed
Team VetMed is gearing up for the October Horse Farm Hundred ride on Sunday,
October 25, 2009. All monies raised this year will go to the Kevin Anderson Team VetMed
Scholarship. Rider sponsorship forms are available on the Team VetMed Web site:
CVM Homecoming is Nov. 7
CVM Alumni Homecoming Celebration will take place on a different date than UF
Homecoming this year. Our CVM Homecoming is planned for Saturday, Nov. 7 with the
Florida Gators taking on the Vanderbilt Commodores.
The college will host a pre-game meal at the Florida Gym four hours before the game
kick-off. The web site has all the information you need to purchase pre-game meal tickets
and football tickets (limited to two per alumni). Registration runs through Oct. 30.
L[iir inolr ,ill .iI1,ir.]raila -14 ':-lna B il l. W ai rri lr ill hil ,:.- ii r ln r 1.ari ill ,il alli. n..rl.r r lar.r,miril, -.
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medicine is currently not being manufactured in this country."
Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Michael Schaer, a UF snake envenomation expert, UF was
able to procure an antivenin product from Mexico. That particular product was manufac-
tured for people, but UF was able to obtain permission for animal use from the Food and
Reactions to antivenin are possible also, which is another reason why victims of
snakebite need to be monitored carefully for several days after the antivenin is adminis-
(continued on p.4)
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SNAKE BITE, FROMP.3
"I would urge people to protect
themselves as much as possible from
venomous snakes, and as such I cannot
recommend killing the snake for
identification," Ogawa said. "If the snake
is already dead, bringing it in for positive
identification can help, as some snakes
have more potent venom than others.
Dead snakes still can cause envenoma-
tion, so extreme care should be taken
when moving the body. The antivenin
contains antibodies against the venom of
most snakes, so knowing exactly what
snake it was is not nearly as important as
getting treatment as soon as possible."
Seymour, Margarita's owner, is
very familiar with the UF veterinary
college, as her daughter, Amy Stone,
D.V.M., Ph.D., is a member of the faculty
"I know some may say that we are
biased because of this, and while there
may be some validity to that notion,
actually Amy was in Honduras with a
group of students when this happened
and the crisis had passed by the time she
got home," Seymour said.
She added that as a health care
provider for humans, she was impressed
with the VMC staff's diligence in
keeping the family informed.
"Because we received regular
reports, we did not feel the need to call
every few hours to check on Margarita,
although we were terrified that she would
not survive," Seymour said. "The written
and verbal instructions that we were
given at discharge were wonderful and
providers of human health care would do
well to take a page from your book on
Drs. Ogawa, Schaer and Kelly
Thiemann; veterinary students Morgan
Vargo and Ruth West; and veterinary
technician Chelle McClure all were
intimately involved in Margarita's care.
"The University of Florida has a
team approach and we are fortunate to be
able to provide 24-hour care for pa-
tients," Ogawa said. "We are available
24-7, weekends and holidays, to provide
necessary treatment for emergency
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Freshmen learn more about themselves
and others during annual orientation event
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Incoming freshmen took part in the fourth annual Freshmen Orientation and Leadership
Experience at Camp Weed in Live Oak, Fla., Aug. 12-13, as part of a learning experience aimed at
improving communication, leadership and problem solving skills through large and small group
Students also learn more about their preferences and comfort levels using the Myers Briggs Testing
Instrument as a tool.
During the event, students are separated into nine small groups, based on their Myers-Briggs personal-
ity types. Faculty and sponsors also participate in these teams. Seven UF CVM faculty members partici-
pated this year, including Drs. Michael Schaer, Jeff Abbott, Cynda Crawford, Chito Pablo, Amy Stone,
Kevin Anderson and Dave Reese.
Sponsors included Hills Pet Food, FVMA, Merial, Banfield and AVMA Group Health and Liability
Insurance Trust and SCAVMA.
"The success of FOLE is due to the sophomore students who volunteer to serve as facilitators," said
Dot McColskey of the Office for Students and Instruction. "For three days, we train these guys to serve as
small group leaders. You might have seen them in the foyer, in classrooms or possibly on the picnic tables
as we worked through each activity that they would be in charge of."
McColskey and her coworkers in the Office for Students and Instruction all have a role as well, and
begin planning for FOLE as soon as graduation is over.
"The benefit of working close with the students at this level is just priceless," McColskey said.
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