Veterinary Hospital going Hi-Tech

The District Veterinary Hospital at Thiruvananthapuram,
Kerala, India is all set to become the first veterinary centre
in the state with telepathology facility.

The pathologists will now be able to share microscopic
images of samples of animals with experts all around the
world from the hospital, which has already been equipped
with the basic telepathology equipment.

“Telepathology is basically a knowledge-sharing
mechanism using digital images,” says pathologist and
veterinary surgeon Dr Jacob Alexander. “Once the lab
becomes fully functional, we will be able to send magnified
versions of microscopic images to experts the world over
and get their feedback in real time.”

The telepathology equipment set up at the district
veterinary centre include an 8 Mega pixel SP 350 digital
camera mounted on a trinocular microscope, a computer
and Internet connection.

The magnified images of the sample viewed through the
microscope are copied to a computer and later uploaded
on the Internet and sent to various discussion groups,
veterinary organisations and universities. The lab, set up
at a cost of around Rs 4 lakh, is currently working on a test
basis.

“Unlike human medicine, veterinary medicine relies almost
entirely on laboratory and biological tests. “Veterinarians
have to deal with animals of various species and the
sample for each species will be different from the other.
Also, the number of specialists in veterinary science is
comparatively less,” says Dr Jacob.

With the diminishing of the transportation barrier, a
number of foreign pathogens and diseases are also
coming to the state. So to have a comprehensive data on
all kinds of animal diseases and pathogens is not possible.

“Besides in most cases, there wouldn't be enough time to
conduct elaborate tests for diagnosis. This is where
telepathology helps,” he said.

The lab has already started sharing information with more
than 500 veterinary experts, including those in the Indian
Association of Veterinary Pathologists. “Academics is one
area which can be highly benefited by telepathology,” says
senior veterinary surgeon Dr. K. Muraleedharan.

“The cases we find here can be of great interest to foreign
universities, which might not otherwise have the chance to
study smears or pathogens that are found in our country.”
The images and information obtained through
telepathology can also act as a rich repository for future
veterinarians, he said.

                                                                            Saturday - June 30, 2007
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