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ZIMS: Data serving the needs of zoological medicine – Part 2

The following is the second installment of a two-part blog about how to make the most of ZIMS’s big data and data mining. Read Part 1.

The end of September 2016 saw the completion of the third new medical resource, the Morbidity and Mortality Analysis tool. This resource actually has three distinct parts, all designed to assist clinicians with different facets of morbidity (illness) and mortality (death). Like the previous global medical resources, the primary organization is around taxonomy with the analysis done on information extracted from ZIMS records and the information will stay relevant due to regular updates of the resource. Unlike the previous resources, Morbidity and Mortality Analysis involves more than a single type of medical record.

The Common Problems section of this resource uses ZIMS diagnosis records to determine the most frequently reported clinical issues/illnesses (morbidity) reported. Pages are organized by species, from most frequently reported to the least reported medical issues, with a minimum count of 10 diagnosis records in most cases. Some related medical issues, such as neoplastic diseases (cancer), are “rolled up” under a single header with details about the various diagnoses available by expanding the header record. In tigers, this organization of the records puts neoplasia into the top five medical issues for this species with 8 different types of neoplasia recorded over the years.

The Relevant Death Information gathers information from the husbandry death records and graphically displays information about the factors associated with mortality in the specified taxonomic group. Unlike other medical resources, the RDI analysis tool can examine just the local institutional records as well as providing a global view of the information. In the institutional mode, the tool allows the user to locate their death records where RDI information is missing and easily open those records for editing when additional information is available.

The third part of this new resource is Test Results. Designed to complement the Global Reference Intervals resource, this tool allows a user to search the global data set for any results for a specific test. The information used to calculate reference intervals is just a fraction of all the results in the ZIMS database and this tool provides access to those otherwise unavailable results. So, while there may not be enough blood selenium results (as determined by the ICPMS method) from snake_on_whiteeland antelope to calculate a valid reference interval, this tool allows the user to see all the results for this test in this species that have been entered into ZIMS (14 results at the time of this writing). On the theory that some information is always better than none, this tool allows the user to determine whether “some information” exists and to access that information to provide assistance in the diagnostic process. Better assessment of the causes of morbidity will improve diagnosis records, upgrading the common problems section of the Morbidity and Mortality Analysis resource.

The Morbidity and Mortality resource, along with some enhancements to the existing Drug Usage Extracts and Anesthesia Summaries resources, will be included in the next major release of ZIMS, currently scheduled for January 2017. We look forward to providing our users with enhancements to the existing resources and to providing an entirely new and important global medical resource, all designed to assist with improving health care for their animals. 

–J. Andrew Teare, DVM, Species360.

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