The healing power of fish skin for our bushfire victims

Dr Lorenzo Crosta along with a group of final year veterinary students, UC Davis, WIRES and Dr Michelle Oakley recently visited an area near Lithgow which was heavily impacted by bushfire. The team located injured macropods (mainly Eastern Grey Kangaroos) and then under sedation examined and treated a range of injuries. A relatively new treatment was used on Kangaroos suffering burns, the skin from Tilapia fish was sutured to the affected area. There are many advantages to using Tilapia skin compared to a conventional dressing, especially when treating wild animals. By using the Tilapia skin, the Kangaroos were able to be released to recover in their natural environment as the stitches will become loose and the fish skin will wear off over time.

Tilapia is commonly farmed fish, their skin is usually discarded and of no use but, a talented group of Doctors in Brazil discovered that the Tilapia skin contains a vast amount of moisture and type 1 collagen proteins which are similar to human skin. Brazil, like many other developing countries, lacks human skin and artificial alternatives for treatment in burns patients. Tilapia skin is a great option which is readily available and was used by UC Davis Veterinarians to treat bears and wildlife injured in the Californian Wildfires.

In the past four years, we have treated more than 4500 wildlife cases. To continue helping our much-loved wildlife patients we need your support. Like our animals, donations both large and small mean so much to us and allow us to give wildlife animals the best care.
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