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This Sea Otter Has Asthma and Learned to Use an Inhaler

Thursday Sep 17, 2015 9:18 AM

She's the first sea otter ever diagnosed with asthma.

You can breathe a little easier today knowing Mishka the otter is under the best of care at the Seattle Aquarium.

The tiny, 1-year-old otter is the first sea otter to be diagnosed with asthma. She was struggling to breath and showing all of the same symptoms as humans with the condition. So, workers at the aquarium designed an inhaler for her and taught her how to use it.

“We want to make this as fun as possible. Any kind of medical behavior you’re training, you want to make sure it’s nice and positive,” Dr. Lesanna Lahner.told King 5 News.

Mishka developed asthma after a forest fire Eastern Washington area bega sending plumes of smoke over the Seattle area, damaging her lungs.

“These lungs here, you can see, have more white in them. In a normal radiograph of a sea otter, you wouldn’t be able to see those things,” Lahner said.

The medicine is the same as any human would use and the technique for onboarding her as a healthy patient isn’t all that different, either. Her trainer uses food to coax Mishka into placing her nose inside the inhaler and taking a deep breath.

She’s expected to live a long and healthy life but sadly will probably always need the aid of the inhaler.

But she can also serve as a barometer of sorts for our own environmental health. One University of Washington professor told King 5 that cases like Mishka’s show the direct line of connection between human and animals and how our health problems often mirror each other when being affected by pollution and other environmental issues.

“More and more there starts to be this concept of what we’re calling “One Health,” which really is that there’s a connection between health of people and the health other species,” Dr. Peter Rabinowitz told the station.. “Sometimes those species can tell us there is a problem in the environment that could be important for human health as well.”

This article is brought to you by our partners at RYOT. Click here to view the original article on RYOT.org



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