LSU Veterinary Hospital Carries on after Hurricane Gustav

The Louisiana State University (LSU) School of Veterinary Medicine's Veterinary Teaching Hospital remained open for emergency service following Hurricane Gustav. Since the storm struck the Louisiana coast, the Veterinary Teaching Hospital has treated about 100 domestic animals, not including the large number of baby squirrels and a number of baby birds treated by the Wildlife Hospital.

"We are seeing some pets with injuries from the storm, such as cuts from storm debris and other animal bites, among others," said Steven Winkler, MHA, hospital director. "We are also seeing a number of animals from referral veterinarians because so many of those clinicians are not able to open their offices, or their phone lines are out and the clients are not able to reach their veterinarians. Of course, we are happy to be able to assist our local veterinarians at this time and return the animals to their local clinicians' care as soon as their offices are open."

The Veterinary Teaching Hospital lost power along with the rest of the University but was able to run on generator power (though without air conditioning).

"The faculty, interns, residents, staff and students really stepped up to the task, even without air conditioning, and they did a fabulous job," Winkler said. "We saw close to 100 baby squirrels brought into the hospital, and the students on duty greeted every one of them as if that squirrel was a personal pet of the person bringing that animal in to us. We will examine them and care for them until we can get them to wildlife rehabilitators, who will then release them back to the wild.

"When we lost our air conditioning system, things got a little more exciting. The humidity in the building got so high that condensation built up on the floors and made the operating rooms virtually unusable," said Winkler.

As a result, the surgery staff moved to the school's mobile unit with its self-contained A/C unit, and the surgery was done there. Portable A/C units were used to keep critical patients and equipment cool.

Winkler added, "Several members of our staff worked around-the-clock as they responded to the needs of our patients. Our facility services crew was always ready to do whatever was needed to keep us up and running, and members of our housekeeping staff did everything in their power to address the rain that blew into the building and the constantly-sweating floors."

The LSU Large Animal Hospital received a few storm related cases, but these were kept to a minimum as the equine industry as a whole was very proactive in carrying out evacuations and placing their animals out of harm's way. The key concerns to be on the watch for now will be issues brought on by the increase of standing water; namely encephalitis cases caused by the increase in mosquito populations and hoof problems related to horses being in standing water for a prolonged period of time.

The Veterinary Teaching Hospital will open at 8:00 a.m. for regular business hours on Monday, Sept. 8. The hospital will continue to accept emergency patients on a 24-hour basis.

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