Front Page VSPN Message Boards Chat Library Continual Education Search MyVSPN - Coming Soon Help Frequently Asked Questions Send us Feedback! Go to VIN Industry Partners Go to VetQuest Go to Veterinary Partner Go to Y2Spay
Menu bar   Go to the Portal


Frontiers in veterinary science.
Volume 9 | Issue 0 (January 2022)

Validation of Medicinal Leeches (Hirudo medicinalis) as a Non-invasive Blood Sampling Tool for Hematology and Biochemistry Profiling in Mammals.

Front Vet Sci. January 2022;9(0):831836.
Pavel Kvapil1, Oldrich Tomasek2, Eva Bártová3, Mojca Harej4, Marjan Kastelic5, Tit Primožič6, Nikola Kašpárková7, Jozko Racnik8
1 Ljubljana Zoo, Ljubljana, Slovenia.; 2 Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Czech Academy of Science, Brno, Czechia.; 3 Department of Biology and Wildlife Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene and Ecology, University of Veterinary Sciences Brno, Brno, Czechia.; 4 Ljubljana Zoo, Ljubljana, Slovenia.; 5 Ljubljana Zoo, Ljubljana, Slovenia.; 6 Ljubljana Zoo, Ljubljana, Slovenia.; 7 Department of Biology and Wildlife Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene and Ecology, University of Veterinary Sciences Brno, Brno, Czechia.; 8 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Institute of Poultry, Birds, Small Mammals and Reptiles, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Copyright © 2022 Kvapil, Tomášek, Bártová, Harej, Kastelic, Primožic, Kašpárková and Racnik.


Blood sampling is a challenging procedure in many captive animals. Although manual restraint or anesthesia are usually possible, they entail intense stress and a high risk of injuries or organ failure. Blood sampling using medicinal leeches (Hirudo medicinalis) represents a promising non-invasive alternative to venipuncture; however, leech blood meal was to date used only for qualitative analyses such as genetic or serological screenings. Hence, the aim of this study was to evaluate the suitability of the leech blood sampling method for quantification of hematological and biochemical parameters. Medicinal leeches were manually applied on 67 zoo animals of eleven species, and control blood samples were obtained by venipuncture of the jugular vein. The leeches drew up to 20 ml of blood in 20 to 55 min. Although most hematological and biochemical parameters were significantly altered in leech-derived samples, their values showed strong (r = 0.62-0.79; 10/24 parameters) to very strong (r > 0.8; 13/24 parameters) correlations with venipuncture in all blood parameters, except for sodium (r = 0.39). As the parameter alterations and correlations were similar among species, simple cross-species regression formulas were sufficient to correct the alterations, thereby ensuring good repeatability between leeches and venipuncture in most parameters. Our data thus suggest that medicinal leeches can be used as a reliable non-invasive and stress-reducing alternative to standard venipuncture, even for quantitative assays. This opens new opportunities for a significant improvement to animal welfare in zoological gardens, conservation programmes, and ecophysiological research, where quantification of blood parameters is often needed.

Hirudo medicinalis; biochemistry; hematology; medicinal leech; non-invasive blood sampling;

Article Tools:
   Email to me

Archives Highlights:
Dog bite wounds in cats: a retrospective study of 72 cases.
The study included 72 cats diagnosed with canine bite wounds (with the dog attacks having been witnessed). Seventy-one percent of cats suffered multiple injuries, and there was a significant association between the number of injured body areas and survival, and between severity of injury and survival. Fifty percent of cats were treated conservatively, 32% by local surgical debridement, and 18% of cats required an exploratory procedure. Fifty-seven cats (79%) survived to discharge.
Upper and lower respiratory airway complaints among female veterinary staff.
Atopy was seen in 31% of the 109 female participants. Symptoms of rhinoconjunctivitis were the most frequent complaints (n = 92; 84%). Symptoms of upper and lower airways were highly correlated and an asthma diagnosis was confirmed in 11% of participants. Modelling revealed that sensitization against cats/dogs was a significant risk factor for respiratory symptoms of upper [odds ratio (OR) 4.61] and lower airways (OR 5.14), physician-confirmed rhinoconjunctivitis (OR 13.43), and asthma (OR 9.02) in assistant staff of small-animal practices.
Dermatophytoses in Dogs and Cats
For decades, clipping has been a necessary part of dermatophytosis treatment; however, clipping is currently being reconsidered because whole-body clipping is stressful and the common microtrauma of the skin can worsen the infection. Thus, whether to clip should be decided on a case-by-case basis; clipping is not necessary for short-coated animals.
Joint involvement in canine visceral leishmaniasis: Orthopedic physical examination, radiographic and computed tomographic findings.
Of the 46 evaluated dogs, an overall of 91.3 % presented joint (carpal, tarsal, elbows, and stifle) abnormalities, observed on physical examination, radiography, and/or CT. In 67.3 % of the dogs, orthopedic examination showed no abnormalities. Among the 31 dogs with normal orthopedic examination, 61.3 % showed radiographic and CT findings suggestive of osteoarthritis, 25.8 % presented normal radiographs with abnormalities evidenced only on CT, while 12.9 % presented normal radiographs and CT imaging.
Longitudinal evaluation of symmetric dimethylarginine and concordance of kidney biomarkers in cats and dogs.
If SDMA at T1 was 15-19 µg/dL, the probability of persistence was 53% for cats and 42% for dogs, while creatinine was concurrently increased in 20% of cats and 18% of dogs. For comparison, if SDMA was not increased at T1 the probability of increased SDMA at recheck was only 20% for cats and 9% for dogs. For cats and dogs with a T1 SDMA of 15-19 µg/dL and with persistent increases at T2, the probability of increased creatinine at T1 was 20% for cats and 18% for dogs, rising to 61% and 55%, respectively, by 24 months.

Back Print Save Bookmark in my Browser Email this article to me. Top of Page. VSPN AOW : Validation of Medicinal L...
Contact Us