Preliminary Evaluation of Risks and Benefits of a Comprehensive Preventive Health Program at Disney's
IAAAM 2000
Michele Miller, DVM, PhD; Martha Weber, DVM; Barbara Mangold, DVM; Donald Neiffer, VMD; Scott Amsel, DVM; Mark Stetter, DVM, DACZM
Department of Veterinary Services, Disney's Animal Kingdom
Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA

Abstract

The ultimate goal of any veterinary medicine program is prevention or early detection of disease. However, due to the difficulties associated with diagnosis and treatment of disease in wild animals, intervention often occurs in later stages, confounding diagnosis and therapy. This paper describes the initial development, implementation, and "risks versus benefits" of a comprehensive preventive health program at one institution.

Guidelines for diagnostic and prophylactic treatments (including deworming and vaccination) were developed by the veterinary staff for each taxonomic group in the collection based on common disease problems associated with the species and region of the country. Examples of these guidelines are shown in Tables 1 and 2. Elective procedures were performed using manual, chemical, or mechanical restraint. A retrospective review of the medical records for one calendar year was performed. Each procedure was evaluated in the following categories: complications associated with the procedure; presence of clinical signs detected prior to examination; normal, minor or major abnormalities on physical exam; treatment required; and type of restraint used. Due to the size of the collection and scheduling/capture logistics, not all animals were examined during the study period.

During calendar year 1999, 672 animals (356 mammals, 284 birds, 32 herps) were individually examined for elective health evaluations. Table 3 shows the numbers of complications and problems detected during these procedures. Overall, the risk of complications was very low (5.9% of all procedures performed). Abnormalities were found in 277 cases (41.2%), although only 10.7% of individuals examined had clinical signs detected by Animal Care staff prior to evaluation. Approximately 43.3% (120/277) of the abnormalities discovered were deemed significant enough to require medical intervention.

The costs versus benefits of this program is difficult to assess at this early stage. Based on our guidelines, initial costs varied considerably by taxonomic groups. Higher initial costs are due to the comprehensive nature of the current guidelines. It is expected that these will change as the guidelines are updated to reflect those procedures that are most relevant to the long-term health of the collection. Representative costs for diagnostic tests and prophylactic treatments listed in the current guidelines are shown in Table 4. Use of mechanical restraint devices and husbandry training for medical procedures can be methods to reduce the costs of a health monitoring program. An example of a relative cost comparison for chemical versus mechanical restraint for health evaluation of an antelope herd is shown in Table 5.As the collection becomes established, guidelines will be reviewed and upgraded annually to reflect collection and species-specific health concerns. Based on these preliminary results, the benefits of early detection and treatment, as well as establishing a collection data base, appear to outweigh the risks associated with this program.


Table 1. Walt Disney World animal programs preventive medicine protocol for the domestic cow (Bovidae).

Annual procedures (the following procedures will be performed on each animal every year):

 Procedures:

 Complete physical exam

 Check transponder

 Check body weight

 Diagnostics:

 Blood collection for:

 CBC, biochemical profile, fibrinogen, serum bank

 Serology for brucellosis, Johne's ELISA, and Ag 85--serum MCF PCR for wildebeest only

 Fecal collection for direct, O&P, Cryptosporidia ELISA Fecal culture for enteric pathogens

 TB test--0.1 ml PPD bovis ID caudal tailfold and/or cervical; read at 72 hr

 Prophylactic treatments:

 Vitamin E--1 ml/18 kg i.m.

 Vaccinations:

 Clostridial 8-way

 Tetanus toxoid

 Imrab 3

 Consider EEE vaccination for select species.

 Deworming: Routine deworming with ivermectin at time of annual exam.

Additional procedures

 Semiannual fecal collection for direct smear, O&P; deworming as indicated by results.

Quarantine procedures

 Unless otherwise specified by the veterinary staff in conjunction with the curatorial staff, all animals will be quarantined for a minimum of 30 days according to the WDW Animal Programs Quarantine Protocols.

 Procedures: Same as for annual exam, also placement of transponder, ear notch/tattoo if necessary.

 Diagnostics: Same as for annual exam, three weekly fecals for P&O, Johne's culture, one sample for rota/corona EM; serology for Bluetongue, BVD, Leptospirosis, IBR, PI3, EEV, MCF; trace mineral panel.

Neonatal procedures: See neonatal ungulate protocol.


Table 2. Walt Disney World animal programs preventive medicine protocol for psittacines.

Annual procedures (the following procedures will be performed on every animal every year):

 Procedures:

 Complete physical exam

 Check transponder

 Check body weight

 Whole body radiographs

 Diagnostics:

 Blood collection for:

 CBC, biochemical profile, EPH; bile acids and bank serum/plasma, volume permitting

 Polyoma antibody and antigen if breeding bird

 Chlamydia antibody titer

 Fecal collection for direct, O&P, Gram's stain, acid fast stain

 Cloacal culture for enteric pathogens and Chlamydia antigen

 Fecal Giardia ELISA (cockatiels)

 Prophylactic treatments:

 Vaccinations: Polyoma virus vaccine for breeding birds--two vaccinations 2 wk apart, then annual booster.

 Deworming: Routine deworming with ivermectin at time of annual exam.

Additional procedures:

 Semiannual fecal collection for direct smear, O&P; deworming as indicated by results.

Quarantine procedures:

 Unless otherwise specified by the veterinary staff in conjunction with the curatorial staff, all animals will be quarantined for a minimum of 30 days according to the WDW Animal Programs Quarantine Protocols.

 Procedures: Same as for annual exam, also placement of transponder, preferred location is in pectoral muscles.

 Diagnostics: Same as for annual exam, PBFD antigen, " Aspergillus antibody titer, three weekly fecals for P&O, direct, Gram's stain, and acid fast stain.

Neonatal procedures: New hatchlings will be examined opportunistically for signs of unabsorbed yolk, congenital defects, body condition, and external parasites.


Table 3. Summary of findings during preventive health evaluations in 1999.

Categories

Total

Birds

Mammals

Herps

Total# exams

672

284

356

32

Complications

40

15 (5.3%)

24 (6.7%)

1 (3.1%)

Prior clinical signs

72

8 (2.8%)

60 (16.8%)

4 (12.5%)

Normal exam

395

148 (52.1%)

225 (63.2%)

22 (68.8%)

Minor abnormalities

235

124 (43.7%)

103 (28.9%)

8 (25%)

Major abnormalities

42

12 (4.2%)

28 (7.9%)

2 (6.2%)

Manual restraint

385

186 (65.5%)

174 (48.9%)

25 (78.1%)

Chemical restraint

262

98 (34.5%)

157 (44.1%)

7 (21.9%)

Mechanical restrainta

25

0

25 (7.0%)

0

a. Use of cxhute/ "squeeze"


Table 4. Representative costs for diagnostic testing and prophylactic treatments for selected taxonomic groups (based on Guidelines).

Taxonomic group

Diagnostic
testing

Prophylactic
treatments

Totala

Antelope species

Up to $72.50

$22

$94.50

Psittacine species

Up to $162.45

$10

$172.45

Tortoise

Up to $92.25

$5

$97.25

Felid

Up to $145.45

$15

$160.45

a. Does not include cost of labor or chemical restraint.


Table 5. Estimated relative cost comparison of chemical versus mechanical restraint for health evaluation of an antelope herd (average of six animals).

 

Chemical

Mechanical

Anesthetic drugs

$25/animal

$0 (does not include initial cost of equipment)

Labor, veterinary staffa

1 hr vet--$25/animal

20 min vet--$8.33/animal

1 hr tech--$15/animal

20 min tech--$5/animal

Total: $40/animal

Total: $13.33/animal

Labor, animal care staffa

1 hr keeper (x 2-3 people)--$10/hr

20 min keeper (x 4-5 people)--$10/hr

Total (ave): $25/animal

Total (ave): $15/animal

Procedure timeb

1 hr/animal

20 min/animal

Prep time, vet + tech

1 hr total

1 hr total

Total: $40/hr

Total: $40/hr

Fixed costs (dx/rx)

$94.50/animal

$94.50/animal

Total for six animals

$1147

$776.98

($/animal)

($191.17/animal)

($129.50/animal)

a. Numbers quoted are used for comparison only.
b. Procedure time includes set-up, procedure, recovery or movement of animals.


Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank Kerri Bolling, Lidia Castro, Jenni Jenkins, Eileen McKee, and Carmen Peccie for excellent technical assistance in performing these procedures; the curators, zoological managers, and keepers of Disney's Animal Kingdom for their support and participation in this program and overall partnership with the Veterinary Services staff.

Speaker Information
(click the speaker's name to view other papers and abstracts submitted by this speaker)

Michele Miller, DVM, PhD


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