(M)animal medicine?

By Connie Orcutt • Published: February 1st, 2014
Category: Animal Airwaves

Physicians and veterinarians have traditionally operated on separate turf. But as they increasingly see similar illnesses in their patients, some are joining forces to solve medical dilemmas.

Three hundred veterinarians and physicians recently gathered at a conference to discuss medical ground shared by humans and animals. The common thread was that whether a disease occurs in animals or people, the medical community can learn from both.

After all, buffalo develop melanomas and penguins suffer from malaria, while an uptick in breast cancer is affecting tigers, llamas and beluga whales. Obsessive-compulsive behavior affects animals as diverse as polar bears, horses and birds. Some animals even develop addictions, such as birds called waxwings that drink juice from fermented berries.

As one specialist put it, “There are more similarities than differences among the species.”