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Updated: Jan 10

As part of their master's thesis, veterinary medicine students Rebecca and Michiel work together with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (VOC) in Ostend. In this way, they want to contribute to the rehabilitation of wild animals.

Under the supervision of Wildlife Health Ghent, Rebecca is investigating the prevalence of aspergillosis in seabirds that died at the rehab center in Ostend. Aspergillosis, a fungal respiratory disease that can cause illness in immunosuppressed birds, is mainly caused by Aspergillus fumigatus. This fungus likes to grow on organic material and can therefore occur in birds that are (temporary or permanently) held in captivity. To prevent illness and death from Aspergillus, all debilitated seabirds get treated with an antifungal agent as soon as they arrive in the center. However, Rebecca will investigate to what extent this fungus still contributes to mortality by performing autopsies and fungal cultures.

Michiel, who is also conducting his master's thesis in collaboration with the VOC, zooms a bit out and will conduct a veterinary screening of the center. He examines the protocols in use and compares them with the scientific literature. As veterinary medicine continues to evolve, Michiel wants to see how the protocols can be optimized for a better practice.

We are looking forward to both students' findings and hope they can contribute to the veterinary care of rescued wild animals.

Good luck to both and thank you to the VOC in Ostend for the cooperation!

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