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Global Medical Resources in ZIMS – Features to Support Medical Management in Zoos and Aquariums

“The great thing about ZIMS for Medical is to be able to share all of this data. Having blood results, blood norms, age-related advice from all institutions about drugs or anesthesia, having data about death or diseases, all of this collection of information and medical data is just amazing.” – Dr. Baptiste Mulot, Head Veterinarian, ZooParc de Beauval, France. (Photo: Adobe Stock Images)

The 2018 IMLS-funded project produced three medical resources, Anesthesia Summaries, Drug Usage Extracts, Morbidity and Mortality Analysis; and significantly enhanced the existing resource, Expected Test Results.

Species360 members often ask, how were the Global Medical Resources we use in ZIMS developed? Here is a quick look back at why, and how, we launched this IMLS-funded project, the role of data shared in ZIMS, results we achieved, and their impact on zoo and aquatic veterinary medicine.

Medical, physiological, and biochemical information regarding a multitude of species is a critical component in the practice of zoological medicine, but such information is not always readily available. Conferences, journal articles, textbooks, and personal communication are the traditional means to transfer knowledge between clinicians, but these methods have limited efficiency.

Electronic medical records for zoological and aquarium collections offer opportunities for both real-time sharing of information between institutions and data mining of existing records to build unique global information resources that are continually updated as new information becomes available.

Partnering in 2018 with the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, Species360 focused on extracting, summarizing, and organizing information contained within millions of medical records in ZIMS to produce global resources that could support and improve veterinary care in zoos and aquariums.

We would be lost without ZIMS because we would not know if blood samples were normal. This is essential to the care and welfare of all species.

Dr. Baptiste Mulot, Head Veterinarian, ZooParc de Beauval (France)

The project produced three medical resources, Anesthesia Summaries, Drug Usage Extracts, Morbidity and Mortality Analysis; and significantly enhanced the existing resource, Expected Test Results. For each of the 4 resources, an algorithm extracts relevant records, discards outliers, calculates necessary values, and assembles the remaining data set into a searchable compilation of medical experience and knowledge that is useful to veterinarians.

As of March 31, 2018, Anesthesia Summaries provides the most common induction protocols recorded for 1396 species. Drug Usage Extracts dosage, frequency, duration, and reports of adverse effects for 588 pharmaceuticals in 4802 species. The Morbidity and Mortality Analysis summarizes clinical concerns in 1888 species and relevant death information reported in each taxonomy. Expected Test Results analyzes over 10.5 million test result records to calculate reference intervals and basic statistics to augment clinical pathology interpretation for 1014 species.

The global scope of the ZIMS database ensures that each resource is the most comprehensive summary available on that subject and execution of the algorithms on a regular basis ensures that users have access to the most current medical knowledge. Standardized and statistical analysis of the data sets also provides a rigorous objectivity. The generated pooled global knowledge may inform medical decisions, collection planning in zoos and aquariums, and conservation research.

This project was supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant MG-30-14-0039-14.

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