Message Number: FHL12335 | New FHL Archives Search
From: "CathyR"
Date: 2010-10-13 13:47:17 UTC
Subject: [ferrethealth] Alpha Trak Meter

Posted on the FML yesterday requested to post here as well. Would also like to add, others have contacted me and said they often felt ferret blood samples clotted before the machine recorded reading.

Greetings Ferret Friends:

This morning was to be a FBG (Fasting Blood Glucose) testing morning with a few of my crew utilizing our Alpha Trak glucometer, said to be the most accurate read for ferrets if set at the dog code which is number 07 on the meter. I was not a happy camper, as I was only able to secure one good reading from the kids I stuck and from the blood they shared. In fact, I was so unhappy I called Alpha Trak to ask for suggestions and replacement test strips. My only regret to date is that I did not call the first time I ran into these problems. When it works it is fantastic - when it doesn't it is frustrating.

I was directed to Dr. Evans who does the testing and design of the machines and is also involved in the various blood glucose studies that have allowed for species specific testing and development of the species specific codes on glucometers.

I explained my concerns and asked that we address what I felt were machine issues not technique or sample issues. Dr. Evans gave me several suggestions regarding sample testing, how the alpha trak strips work, use of alcohol or Vaseline on the stick site and specific issues that can be easily corrected in the machine themselves. Dr. Evans has taken my phone number and address and is sending a new vial of strips. After I have tried a few from the new canister I am to report back to him. If there continues to be a problem they will replace my glucometer.

While on the phone with Dr. Evans I opted to ask some additional questions with the plans of posting the info on theFML, here it is:

I had been told earlier this year that Alpha Trak had finally come up with a blood glucometer that is designed specifically for ferrets and has it own ferret code setting. According to Dr. Evans this is NOT the case. I very much got the impression from Dr. Evans that they are pretty set with the use of the dog code, number 07 on the glucometer, for use as the ferret code as well. This is because when they compare the glucose level of the plasma (which is how the machines are designed to work) dogs and ferrets are so closely matched that they do not feel they need to design one specific to ferrets.

He explained to me that in the blood, glucose levels can be checked in the Red Blood Cells (RBC) or in the plasma. Because the glucose levels vary in the blood components between species they need different settings for humans, dogs and cats and then lump ferrets into dogs because of those species' similarities.

I also asked about using glucometers designed for humans on ferrets. He explained once again that the level of glucose in the RBC or in the plasma are very different between humans and dogs and cats (than compared ferrets though the dog numbers because of their similarities). So, while humans measure approximately 40% glucose in their RBC and 60 % in their plasma, dogs measure 87% in their plasma and 13% in their RBC's. Consequently if you are using a human glucometer for the ferrets your readings can be up to 25-40% lower than the actual number.

Since our vet prefers to have two FBG tests/year on each ferret age four and over, and because six of my ferrets are in that age category, he offered to sell me an alpha trak at his costs to help defray BG testing costs. He and the tech have been very happy with the performance of the Alpha trak in comparison to their more spohisticated BG machine. Therefore, I opted to take advantage of his offer. After a few inquires with the vet techs, I came to believe the issue was in the test strips. We'll see what happens when the replacements are received and tested.

I hope this information is helpful to anyone thinking about purchasing the Alpha Trak.

Respectfully, Cathy Ryan


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