Sometimes the pieces just fit together
In the case of April Fooler, an eight-year-old thoroughbred mare from Jayeff B. Stables in NJ, a referral to Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center from her primary care veterinarian placed her in the hands of the people who knew more about her illness than anyone in the world. A blood relative to 2009 Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra, April Fooler is home and healthy and ready to pass along those great genes to future generations of race horses.
Widener Hospital at the New Bolton Center campus is where large animals with injuries and illnesses outside the scope of care provided by general practice veterinarians are referred. If that illness happens to be botulism, there is no better team than the clinicians at New Bolton Center. Although rare, botulism can be lethal to horses if not treated promptly. April Fooler’s vet recognized her symptoms early and referred her to Penn Vet.
Dr. Joan Norton, V’06, resident in Internal Medicine, conducted the physical exam, recognized the neurological symptoms consistent with botulism and called upon Dr. Amy Johnson and Dr. Robert Whitlock. Dr. Johnson, a veterinarian board certified in internal medicine, is currently working towards board certification in neurology which will make her one of a small number of veterinarians with this dual certification. Simply put, when it comes to botulism and horses, Dr. Whitlock is a pioneer.
Since the 1970’s Dr. Whitlock’s research has led to the development of two antitoxins to treat botulism - one to treat botulism in horses and the other to treat botulism in cows. Both antitoxins are produced on the New Bolton Center campus. The antitoxin was the first step to April Fooler’s slow and rocky road to recovery. Having extensive experience with horses and botulism, the Penn Vet team was able to anticipate and be alert to common complications related to her treatment. So when April Fooler showed signs of abdominal distress, they knew exactly what to do.
At Penn Vet our mission includes excellence in teaching, care, and research. Our outstanding faculty train the next generation of veterinarians, it is common for a care team to include veterinary students, interns, residents, as well as accomplished clinicians. For 125 years Penn Vet has led the way in the creation of diagnostics, treatments, and therapies to improve care based on solid scientific and clinical research. And we are proud of our reputation for providing the highest quality care for our sick patients.
The case of April Fooler illustrates how Penn Vet’s commitment to excellence comes together.
Enjoying fifteenth birthday
Kayo, a beautiful and lively chocolate Lab, just celebrated her 15th birthday in May. Her birthday was cause for celebration for more than one of Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital clinical teams.
Kayo made her first visit to Penn Vet in 2000 through the emergency service when she was six. The clinicians at Ryan Veterinary Hospital quickly diagnosed her sudden agitation, tremors, racing heart rate, and heavy breathing as Addison's disease, a rare endocrine disorder. She was in critical condition and hours away from certain death. After a five-day hospital stay under the care of a team of clinicians, nurses, and technicians, Kayo was back at home with a treatment plan to regulate her electrolyte levels.
Three years later, Kayo's local veterinarian, Dr. Kathy Liez at Rothman Animal Hospital, found a small mass in her jaw that was confirmed as cancerous. Just one day before her ninth birthday, Kayo was placed under anesthesia for removal of the tumor and a majority of her upper left mandible (jaw). Within 24 hours she was eating and bouncing about, as Labradors do. Penn Vet’s pathologists examined the tumor and surrounding tissue and Dr. John Lewis, V’97 was able to give good news to Peg Havens, Kayo's dedicated owner. It appeared that the tumor was removed in its entirety.
During one of her quarterly follow up exams, Dr. Lewis conducted tests to confirm that
the good natured canine had laryngeal paralysis, in which the left side of her voice box
doesn’t open and close correctly to allow the free passage of air. This makes it challenging for her to breathe properly and is one more physical obstacle that Kayo must
deal with each day.
Back for her routine recheck in May of 2005, Kayo seemed to be passing with flying colors with blood work and X-rays all looking promising. But when Dr. Lewis checked Kayo's abdomen, he felt a mass the size of a volley ball. After an ultrasound, Kayo was rushed to surgery where the Ryan hospital soft tissue surgical team removed Kayo's spleen before it could rupture and cause a fatal internal hemorrhage. Fearing a return of the cancer, Penn Vet pathologists tested the tissue and Peg got good news again. The mass was benign. Kayo was still cancer-free!
Kayo’s human companion is very grateful to Dr. Lewis and the entire team of veterinary
professionals for saving her dog’s life twice. She feels fortunate to live just twenty miles away from “the best veterinary hospital in the country that employs compassionate, efficient staff in every major health area, for many types of animals.”
Today, six years after her jaw surgery, Kayo has shown no recurrence of her cancer and is a happy, healthy dog. Yes, she has slowed down a bit due to some arthritis and hip dysplasia, but she enjoyed her 15th birthday on May 15, 2009 with her extended Penn Vet family cheering her on.