Here's how your fellow vets are using AI

Plus: a stellar cardiac diagnosis & a stingray mystery

Hello 👋 

Welcome back to another edition of Weekend Rounds!

It’s a long weekend for many of us in North America, so we hope you had the chance to spend some extra time relaxing, with family, or whatever makes you happy this weekend.

What makes us happy is bringing you the latest in veterinary news, education, and entertainment at Obi Veterinary Education and every Sunday in Weekend Rounds. 

That’s why we’re thrilled to share a jam-packed edition with you today:

🖥️ How your fellow vets are using AI
❓️ The stingray mystery sweeping the internet
💓 How vets solved a cardiac conundrum  
🐶 Canine anti-aging company goes mainstream
🚀 Quick hits

Let us know how we did at the end of the newsletter so we can keep improving!

How your fellow vets are using AI

A new study conducted in collaboration between Digitail and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), is the latest pulse check on how veterinarians are using Artificial Intelligence at work.

3,968 veterinary professionals (vets, techs, assistants, practice managers) completed the 25-question survey. Interestingly, 45.3% of respondents were under 31 years old, and the average age of participants was 35 years old. In a study looking at the adoption rate of an emerging technology - age is likely the single biggest influencing factor.

As for role, here was the breakdown:

Image via AI in Veterinary Medicine: The Next Paradigm Shift

Here are some key findings:

  • Over 83% of respondents were somewhat or very familiar with AI, and (unsurprisingly) they were statistically more optimistic about the adoption of AI in veterinary medicine:

Image via AI in Veterinary Medicine: The Next Paradigm Shift

  • 54.1% have you used Al in their personal life, but only 39.2% of veterinary professionals are using AI tools at work

  • Of the respondents who use AI, the top two usages were for imaging and radiology; and record-keeping/admin (39% each)

  • 70.3% of respondents have concerns with reliability and accuracy and it was by the far primary concern or barrier related to the adoptions of AI at work

Check out the full study here or synopsis via Digitail.

We’re curious - what did you think of the study, and how are you using AI at home or work?

The stingray mystery

This very active blue-spotted sting ray was fast and a challenge to photograph at the Cairns Aquarium.

Photo by David Clode (but not of Charlotte)

What do you get when you cross a stingray with a shark?

And no, this is not a corny joke. We’re genuinely asking because we might find out soon.

Charlotte, a round stingray that spends her days in an aquarium in Hendersonville, North Carolina has caught international attention this week after it was revealed she was pregnant despite not encountering a male stingray for over 8 years. The pregnancy was confirmed by the aquarium vet, and Charlotte is expected to give birth within the next two weeks.

So what’s going on?

The first theory that many on the internet have taken and run with is that one of Charlotte’s tank-mates - two male white-spotted bamboo sharks named Larry and Moe - is the father. Although Charlotte does have shark bites, which is a key part of the shark mating ritual, experts have been quick to dispel these rumors. Sharks and stingrays don’t fit anatomically, and their DNA does not match. So let’s not get our hopes up for any shag-rays. Or would it be starks?

Instead, the more likely explanation is parthenogenesis - an extremely rare form of asexual reproduction in which a female produces an embryo without traditional fertilization. A smaller cell called a polar body contains DNA similar to the mother’s and forms at the same time as the egg before merging with the fertile egg.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen parthenogensis and it won’t be the last. In fact, in a past edition of Weekend Rounds, we covered a virgin crocodile birth in Costa Rica via parthenogenesis in June.

We’ll keep an eye on Charlotte and let you know if anything else unexpected happens.

How vets solved a cardiac conundrum

We all know that vets do incredible things every day. But since it’s not always celebrated, it’s nice to see our fellow vets at the Smithsonian Zoo get some love for their fantastic work on Cayenne - a nine year old southern tamandua.

Cayenne underwent a series of tests and hospital stays after repeatedly falling out of trees - an extremely unusual behaviour for the expert tree-climber. Vets at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo started him on heart medication and thought they had the situation under control. But after another episode and a 25-day hospital stay, doctors formally diagnosing him with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Cayenne is now believed to be the first and only tamandua with a heart monitor. A veterinary cardiologist performed chest x-rays and an echocardiogram, and once it was safe to do so, they implanted the heart monitor under Cayenne’s skin at heart level. The monitor was made available to the zoo through the Smithsonian’s Rhythm of Life initiative, which has partnered with Medtronic to donate the bluetooth-enabled devices.

Photo courtesy of Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Kudos to the zoo’s veterinary team for a job well done.

Canine anti-aging company goes mainstream

In December, the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine granted conditional approval to a new drug from a company called Loyal, under the Reasonable Expectation of Effectiveness section of the application for the drug LOY-001. It is believed to be the FDA’s first-ever formal acceptance that a drug can be developed and approved to extend lifespan.

But you already knew that because we covered it in a previous edition of Weekend Rounds last December.

So, why are we talking about it again? Because after the news made its way through the veterinary world, it has gone mainstream. Which means vets could be fielding questions from clients on anti-aging meds sooner than later.

First, during an acceptance speech at the Emmys, Director Lee Sung Jin asked the FDA to fast track the approval.

And just last week, one of our favourite podcasts Plain English with Derek Thompson released an episode with CEO and founder of Loyal, Celine Halioua where they discussed the science behind the drug, the ethics of life extension, why big dogs die young, and the possibility of spillover benefits into extending human lifespan.

Quick Hits

Here are some of the other stories that caught our eye and we're following this week from around the veterinary world and animal kingdom:

How representation can empower Black excellence [AVMA]

Cornell Wildlife Center Receives $35 Million Gift [Today's Veterinary Business]  

Earth’s Migratory Animals Are in Peril, According to U.N. Report [Smithsonian] 

How veterinarians are curing animals with cannabis [Seattle Times] 

Declawing cats and three other animal surgeries are now banned in Quebec [Montreal Gazette]

Chart of the month: Job satisfaction rises for veterinarians [AVMA]

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