Monday, September 6, 2010

A Ripple in The Pond

“The goal is Veterinary Technology as a strong, united and proud profession which serves humanity through the care of animal populations worldwide” (Loghry, 2010). When you embarked on this career path were you thinking about serving humanity? Probably not. Most of us, myself included, just wanted to be close to the animals so off to school we went to learn what we thought we needed to get us to where we thought we wanted to go. Notice how I phrased that last sentence…yes, I did choose my words deliberately.

Veterinary medicine is constantly evolving. Veterinary technicians have come a long way in a very short time. We didn’t used to exist and now we are a force to be reckoned with. We have the capacity to use our knowledge, skills and abilities to change lives in ways both simple and profound. Hopefully, by now, you have started to realize that Veterinary Technology is a living entity. This profession to which some of us have devoted a lifetime and to which others of us only aspire, is made up of living, breathing human beings.

All those that went before us saw possibilities and then worked within productive teams to turn those possibilities into realities. It is these opportunities that so many take for granted today. Don't fall into that trap--take nothing for granted!What kind of possibilities can you envision? What kind of contribution will you make?

I just finished reading an article summarizing the results of research linking flea bites with chronic infections and possible birth defects in humans. Yes, I said humans. “But Bonnie”, you say incredulously…“our profession is about animal health. Why are you interested in what makes people sick?” Glad you asked!

Bartonella henselae is a bacteria transmitted to cats by fleas. Recently Dr. Ed Breitschwerdt, professor of internal medicine in the Department of Clinical Sciences at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, has discovered cases of children and adults with chronic, blood-borne Bartonella infections–from strains of this same bacteria transmitted to cats and dogs by fleas and other insects (Breitschwerdt, 2010). Flea prevention just entered a whole different realm of importance didn't it?

People interact with animals on a daily basis in so many different ways. Dr. Breitschwerdt’s work is just one example of a connection you may not have thought of; there are hundreds more. This is some pretty heady stuff, don’t you think?

So here is one possibility I see: using my knowledge, skills and ability as a Veterinary Technician to promote and protect the health of my animal patients AND the health of my fellow human beings as well. And what do I need to do to accomplish this? Simply keep learning and go to work every day, never forgetting that even in the smallest veterinary hospital in the tiniest town there are people that need veterinary technicians.

Yes, indeed, veterinary technology IS a profession dedicated to serving humanity through the care of animal populations. I recommend you access the Veterinary Technicians Code of Ethics and read it carefully as we begin to discuss more about future trends in Veterinary Technology and the power we all have within us to be a force for positive change.

Breitschwerdt, E. (2010) Research Links Flea Bites with Possible Bacterially Induced Birth Defects. Retrieved from 9/5/2010
Loghry, B. (2010) Teamwork. Retrieved from 9/5/2010
Veterinary Technicians Code of Ethics, 2007. National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America. Retrieved from 9/5/2010


  1. Whoa, that's an important fact to know! Thank you for bringing it to my attention; I definitely want to read up about it now.

  2. Dear Bonnie,
    I read the article you referred to regarding fleas (and the link to bacterial infections in people and birth defects in children) and it really is eye-opening. I'm familiar with the flea-rodent-plague link. I can't help but wonder how many of the mystery autoimmune diseases people get, are as a direct or indirect result of arthropod vectors. It makes good sense to practice disease and parasite prevention with our companion animals, and for veterinary professionals to educate the owner as to proper prevention and hygiene techniques to remain healthy as well.
    Yes, after reading that article, flea prevention took on a whole new meaning. Thanks for sharing that information with us.
    Sincerely, Nancy Mittasch

  3. I never set out in the Veterinary Technology Program to change the world. I never even thought it was a possibility. I now realize the boundless opportunities this field has to offer. It makes my heart swell with pride and excitement.
    Your blog inspires, Bonnie. Thank you for introducing us to the seemingly endless avenues an RVT can pursue.

  4. Just discovered your blog today. I'm not a veterinary technician, but I do work with the veterinary industry. I love what you've shared so far and will do my best to send more readers your way. Keep up the good work!

  5. I really never realized how many places veterinary technicians could utilitze their services to humanity until I started the veterinary technology program. This has really opened eyes to how many fields veterinary technicians can be used and how important our job really is to making a difference for so many people. Fortunately, we do not have fleas at the elevation I live at, but they are a huge problem in so many areas. Thanks for the insight!

  6. I believe the same thing about zoonotic diseases and the connection between animal health and human health. In fact, I am very interested in going into an advanced degree program with my research based on zoonosis and the importance of public health in animals, in addition to veterinary science. I think that it's amazing how so many things can be linked back to animals and how important it is for vets and vet techs to inform the public about the importance of animal disease transmission.

    One thing that I thought was pretty amazing is the topic of toxoplasmosis and cats. ToxoThe bacteria affects the brains of mice into being more susceptible to being eaten by cats, in which the bacteria thrives and is passed out of in the cat's droppings. The bacteria is then transmitted to rats via contact with the feces and the cycle continues. This is why pregnant women and immunocompromised individuals should not raise cats, since the bacteria can be transmitted from mother to fetus, and the baby does not have a fully functional immune system yet. The bacteria does not affect healthy infected individuals but can be fatal to weak or sick humans. Pretty amazing, don't you think?

    I think it is important for veterinary technicians to inform the public about such problems, whether fleas or raising cats, since the public just thinks of pets as cuddly companions!

  7. This indeed wasn't anything I'd considered previously, but it is a valid point. We're not just here for the animals, we're here to both educate and promote better health of the general public through what we do with the animals. There has been mention in class over the past year and a half over how RVTs fit in to the world of public health, but reading over this post helped me better understand the concept behind that and just how significant a role RVTs play. Thank you, Bonnie!

  8. Hi Bonnie. Because of the things you mentioned I think it is great that vets and vet techs are required to continue their education after they get their license so it keeps them up to date on things such as this. I personally have always wanted to be a vet tech to help the animals in the world that are endangered or have problems in their environment and the continued education is a useful tool in keeping up to date with the facts. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

  9. I am glad you bring up the fact that studying for Veterinary Technology is not only about animals. I heard many people say they wanted to become a Veterinary Technician because they, "Like animals more than people." Very much of the time I understand where these people are coming from, but I am also aware that they must not forget that these animals they are serving have concerned owners. I also think it is very important to be aware of human health. After all, there is such a thing as a zoonotic disease.

  10. In my younger years I thought that I just wanted to work with animals and never considered that my path would ever cross a human’s in this field of work-except for them to pay the bill of course. Since entering this program, my eyes have been opened to the vast number of ways that my working with animals influences humans. So I completely agree with your statement about serving humanity through the care of animals. Your Public Health class is a fabulous example of the human/animal element and disease prevention.
    We have doctors to treat human diseases and epidemiologists to provide an expert in depth look at those diseases, and we have a veterinary community evolving its diagnostic and treatment of zoonotic disease. Without these three entities coming together as a unit, the ripple effect of the pond would stop short somewhere. I look forward to being a part of this evolving team of animal health professionals and my work becoming a progressive ripple someday and somewhere.

  11. Hello Ms.Loghry, RVT, BAS.

    Your blog is another perfect example of our innerconnectedness (hope that a word) with everything around us. I don't like pests or what I consider pests; fleas, ticks, lice, and mosquitos but I would be curious to find out the ramifications if we managed to eradicate them all! What species would it affect? Thanks for your post and "what it means to me" direction it took!