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  • Author or Editor: Shachar Malka x
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While the clinical utility of next-generation DNA sequencing (NGS) as a diagnostic tool for infections in humans and traditional pets has been demonstrated, there is a lack of data regarding its utility for exotic animals. For exotic patients, traditional culturing is especially challenging for anaerobic and fungal pathogens. Therefore, diagnosis often relies on PCR, which provides a high degree of sensitivity and specificity, although it targets only a predetermined, finite pathogen panel. NGS provides the same benefits as PCR, while also offering de novo identification and quantification of all bacteria and fungi present in a clinical sample, including novel pathogen discovery.


Clinical samples from 78 exotic animal patients were collected simultaneously for conventional culture testing and NGS analysis. Results provided by each laboratory were compared for the presence and absence of bacterial and fungal pathogens and commensals.


Results showed large bacterial and fungal species diversity in the study cohort and a lack of sensitivity of microbial culture testing. Culture failed to grow 15% of putative bacterial and 81% of putative fungal pathogens that were identified by NGS. The probability of a “no growth” diagnosis was 14% higher for bacteria and 49% higher for fungi with culture versus NGS testing if fungal culture was conducted.


Culture testing failed to diagnose a substantial number of both bacterial and fungal pathogens, which were detected by NGS. This highlights the limitations of traditional culture-based testing and displays the clinically advanced utility of NGS-based diagnostics in exotic animal medicine.

Open access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To evaluate the effects of dorsal versus lateral recumbency on the cardiopulmonary system during isoflurane anesthesia in red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis).

Animals—6 adult 1.1- to 1.6-kg red-tailed hawks.

Procedures—A randomized, crossover study was used to evaluate changes in respiratory rate, tidal volume, minute ventilation, heart rate, mean arterial and indirect blood pressures, and end-tidal Pco 2 measured every 5 minutes plus Paco 2 and Pao 2 and arterial pH measured every 15 minutes throughout a 75-minute study period.

Results—Respiratory rate was higher, tidal volume lower, and minute ventilation not different in lateral versus dorsal recumbency. Position did not affect heart rate, mean arterial blood pressure, or indirect blood pressure, although heart rate decreased during the anesthetic period. Birds hypoventilated in both positions and Paco 2 differed with time and position × time interaction. The Petco 2 position × time interaction was significant and Petco 2 was a mean of 7 Torr higher than Paco 2. The Paco 2 in dorsal recumbency was a mean of 32 Torr higher than in lateral recumbency. Birds in both positions developed respiratory acidosis.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Differences in tidal volume with similar minute ventilation suggested red-tailed hawks in dorsal recumbency might have lower dead space ventilation. Despite similar minute ventilation in both positions, birds in dorsal recumbency hypoventilated more yet maintained higher Pao 2, suggesting parabronchial ventilatory or pulmonary blood flow distribution changes with position. The results refute the hypothesis that dorsal recumbency compromises ventilation and O2 transport more than lateral recumbency in red-tailed hawks.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To determine the effects of body position on lung and air-sac volumes in anesthetized and spontaneously breathing red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis).

Animals—6 adult red-tailed hawks (sex unknown).

Procedures—A crossover study design was used for quantitative estimation of lung and air-sac volumes in anesthetized hawks in 3 body positions: dorsal, right lateral, and sternal recumbency. Lung volume, lung density, and air-sac volume were calculated from helical computed tomographic (CT) images by use of software designed for volumetric analysis of CT data. Effects of body position were compared by use of repeated-measures ANOVA and a paired Student t test.

Results—Results for all pairs of body positions were significantly different from each other. Mean ± SD lung density was lowest when hawks were in sternal recumbency (–677 ± 28 CT units), followed by right lateral (–647 ± 23 CT units) and dorsal (–630 ± 19 CT units) recumbency. Mean lung volume was largest in sternal recumbency (28.6 ± 1.5 mL), followed by right lateral (27.6 ± 1.7 mL) and dorsal (27.0 ± 1.5 mL) recumbency. Mean partial air-sac volume was largest in sternal recumbency (27.0 ± 19.3 mL), followed by right lateral (21.9 ± 16.1 mL) and dorsal (19.3 ± 16.9 mL) recumbency.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In anesthetized red-tailed hawks, positioning in sternal recumbency resulted in the greatest lung and air-sac volumes and lowest lung density, compared with positioning in right lateral and dorsal recumbency. Additional studies are necessary to determine the physiologic effects of body position on the avian respiratory system.

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Case Description—An 8-month-old spayed female domestic ferret (Mustela putorius furo) was referred for examination to determine the cause of lethargy and severe anemia.

Clinical Findings—Initial examination revealed that the ferret was lethargic but with appropriate mentation. The only other abnormal findings were severe pallor of the mucous membranes, nasal planum, and skin and a PCV of 8%. Pure red cell aplasia (PRCA) was diagnosed on the basis of cytologic evaluation of a bone marrow biopsy specimen.

Treatment and Outcome—Medical treatment included blood transfusions, IM administration of iron dextran, oral administration of antimicrobials and gastrointestinal tract protectants, and SC administration of erythropoietin. Once PRCA was diagnosed, the ferret was orally administered prednisone, cyclosporine, and azathioprine. Nine months after onset of treatment, the PRCA was in remission and the ferret was doing well. Immunosuppressive treatment was discontinued at 14 months after onset of treatment, and 36 months after initial examination, the ferret appeared to be healthy.

Clinical Relevance—It is important that PRCA be considered as a differential diagnosis for a ferret with severe anemia. Prolonged immunosuppressive treatment was successful in the ferret described here. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2010;237:695-700)

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association