Helping animals live with allergies
Dr. Alicia Webb Milum DVM DACVD and Eko
Eko is a male Sumatran tiger born at the Oklahoma City Zoo in 2017. When he was one, his caretakers and staff noticed that, now and then, Eko had scratches on his face. A veterinary dermatologist discovered that Eko was experiencing an allergic reaction. He was treated with symptomatic medication until the treatment became more and more frequent and Eko was seen rubbing his face. The veterinary staff at the zoo decided that it was time for allergy testing and contacted Dr. Alicia Webb Milum DVM DACVD, a board-certified veterinary dermatologist in Oklahoma City.
“Just like people, animals can have allergic reactions when their immune system starts to recognize allergens as dangerous. These reactions can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from skin irritation, to respiratory and digestive disorders and can make animals miserable due to the discomfort and distress.
I work a lot with cats, dogs and horses but this was my first time examining a tiger. When I was called to the zoo, Eko had been experiencing allergic reactions for several months. His pruritus was quite severe and he had caused himself multiple excoriations to the face and shoulders because of the itching.
Like for allergy diagnosis in humans—except that Eko was under general anesthesia—we performed intradermal allergy testing to determine which allergens he was reacting to. The results were positive to local allergens such as red cedar and environmental mold. Eko started desensitization in April 2019 to provide better control and comfort for his condition. The allergens are administered to him subcutaneously at the zoo and he has been trained to come up to the fence to receive his injection.”