Laura Dalzell is one of our lead RDA vet technicians, and we recently caught up with her to find out a little more about the RDA service.
As well as traditional investigative autopsies, VetSouth also offers Remote Digital Autopsies (RDA) as an alternative. This service is handy to farmers who are looking to find out a quick answer to why things went wrong for their animal(s), and some solid solutions to take preventative action in the future.
So Laura, what is an RDA?
Similar to a traditional autopsy, but instead of taking samples and sending them away to a lab, we take photos and send them to a team of pathologists. These photos allow them to work out an answer and report back within 72 hours or less. We then share the results directly with the farmer and the KeyVet.
The tech team have been carrying out the RDAs on cows, calves and sheep. As well as the photos, we can take samples if the KeyVet has asked for them which can also be tested further down the line if needed.
What are the benefits?
It can be cost-effective, a cow costs $250 excl. GST and that includes travel and no lab fees. If an RDA is right for your situation, results can be in your hands within 72 hours. This allows the farmer and the KeyVet to see what's happening fairly quickly.
The actual process only takes around an hour to do, and the large animal tech team are all trained to carry it out. This means one of us can be with you on your property fairly soon.
So what exactly happens?
Your KeyVet can determine whether an RDA or a traditional autopsy is the best solution for you. After working that out and gathering a history, one of the tech team can head out and carry out the RDA. We have a strict guideline for what we have to photograph, but we can send in extra photos if we notice anything a little unusual. Back at the clinic, we will send the photos away and the pathologists will return a report which we will share with you as well as your KeyVet.
Why do you enjoy this aspect of your job?
I have a strong interest in anatomy and physiology and the RDA service allows me to learn more each time and also be involved in problem-solving. I trained as a vet nurse previously and this aspect has always been one of my interests - I enjoy how I can integrate it into helping the farmer and help be a part of the solution.
How do I book?
It's simple, just call your nearest clinic. From there we can determine whether an RDA is the right approach to investigate and if so, a technician can come out to your farm. Alternatively, you may want to bring your smaller animals in (calf or sheep) - again this can be arranged with Farm Services, but you will have to collect your animal remains after.
- Laura Dalzel