Want the latest on livestock trends and topics? Tune in to VetMed's Round Barn podcast!

by | Sep 16, 2021

Experts say the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 originated in animals and spread to humans, but how exactly does that happen?

When zoo staff noticed one of its Malayan tigers developed a bad cough, how did they determine whether it was a common respiratory tract infection or something worse?

Hippos typically consume 90 pounds of food a day, so what did a veterinarian at Brookfield Zoo do when a hippo named Obesa stopped eating?

For the answers to these questions and more, check out the University of Illinois’ College of Veterinary Medicine’s (VetMed) podcast.

The Round Barn podcast is a lively series where VetMed faculty members “tackle issues that are relevant to today's challenges, from livestock production to diagnostics and clinical cases.”

It’s hosted by VetMed faculty Drs. Brian Aldridge, a clinical professor in the Rural Animal Health Management; Jim Lowe, an associate professor, head of the Integrated Food Animal Management System Section, director of its i-Learning Center for online veterinary education, and a 1994 alumnus; and Ashley Mitek, a veterinarian anesthesiologist, teaching assistant professor, and a 2011 alumna. They sometimes welcome guest clinicians who share their expertise and experience on the show’s topic.

Before we get to the tigers, hippos, and other creatures great and small, we have to ask: Does the world need another podcast? The hosts tackle that in the first episode, released on Feb. 27, 2020.

Lowe explains that initiative stems from “interesting conversations” the two have had over the years.

“We’ll try to address current topics and things that are relevant to livestock production, really everything from veterinary things to production things,” said Lowe, whose background is in swine operations and production and will bring both a consultant and academic’s viewpoints to the table.

The podcast is also a way to expand on the Online VetMed program, which the hosts have helped build.

“Hopefully, this is part of a much bigger thing that we’re pulling out there in terms of, how do we take really relevant knowledge and transfer that to the people that use it?” Lowe said, adding he believes the episodes can be helpful to anyone in the livestock industry from livestock producers to veterinarians. “We hope all of that fits and there’s a piece for everybody.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down most on-campus activity, the podcast pivoted to related topics such as “Zoonotic Disease and the Coronavirus,” “Coronavirus: Is It Safe to Leave the House?” “Does Online Learning Work,” and “Is Food in Short Supply?”

The podcast later introduced “The Veterinary Detective” mini-series, in which Mitek discusses a real case with a veterinary clinician who walks listeners “through the diagnostic process to help us understand how they apply clinical reasoning to their practice.”

In “The Case of the Coughing Tiger,” Dr. Karen Terio—a veterinary pathologist and chief of the Zoo Pathology Program in Chicago, which is part of the College of VetMed’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory—has shared about her experience helping to diagnose and treat Nadia, a Malayan tiger at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, who had been coughing for a couple of days and not eating. Could it be COVID-19?

In “The Case of the Waterlogged Dog,” Dr. Jenica Haraschak, a board-certified emergency medicine and critical care specialist at the U of I’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, discusses treating a hypothermic dog that a good Samaritan rescued from a local lake after someone intentionally tried to drown her. Did she survive?

In another episode, Lowe and Dr. Dan Thomson—a bovine veterinarian from Iowa State University—introduce listeners to the Executive Veterinary Program at Illinois, “an intensive continuing education program” that brings veterinarians together every other month for intensive 12-hour training on a complex issue facing the industry.

And in the most recent episode, (released on September 2, 2021), Lowe and Mitek discuss ivermectin, a parasiticide used to treat heartworm and other parasites in animals that’s been in the headlines since an anti-vaxxer touted as a way to treat COVID-19. The docs’ advice: Don’t take ivermectin to treat COVID.

To catch these episodes and other relevant topics in the world of veterinary science, listen and subscribe to The Round Barn podcast on your favorite podcatcher or at online.vetmed.illinois.edu/the-round-barn-podcast. You can also follow the podcast on Twitter @TheRoundBarn1.

For more information on the University of Illinois’ College of Veterinary Medicine’s wide range of learning opportunities, including the Master of Veterinary Science-Livestock Systems Health, visit Online.vetmed.illinois.edu.