Veterinary technician discovers new parasite

Veterinary technician discovers new parasite

A routine fecal exam leads to an extraordinary find.
Aug 04, 2009
By staff

It’s easy to switch into automatic pilot when completing everyday tasks, but it’s better—for everyone—when you're engaged and motivated to go the extra mile. Just look at the case of Casey Plummer, a technician at the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler, Texas.

During a routine fecal exam of the endangered Attwater’s Praire Chickens in April 2007, Plummer came across something she—and no one else—had ever seen: an unidentified protozoan. Instead of dismissing the find as a typical parasite, Plummer did what she was supposed to do. She investigated it. In an interview with the Tyler Morning Telegraph, Plummer said she wasn't one of those people who would let something like that slide. And it’s a good thing she didn't.

While it took almost a year to identify, Plummer had discovered a new protozoan, which was named after the chickens, Eimeria Attwaterii. This find, while an impressive achievement for the 29-year-old, is also a great advancement for preserving the endangered species. Since parasites can quickly cause serious problems, even death, this discovery may help save the few chickens that are left.

Follow Plummer's lead: Avoid autopilot and replace the word monotony with opportunity when it comes to daily routines. You never know when your dedication and eye for detail will save a pet—or a species.