Veterinary Research News

Global News

Vaccines and veterinarians to tackle the spread of avian influenza

Researchers recently developed new vaccines for the H5N1 avian influenza virus, which had spread to birds on three continents by late winter–also prompting the Department of Agriculture to seek veterinarians to volunteer for overseas assignments.

A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Purdue University published a study in the Feb. 11 issue of Lancet about a vaccine that protects mice against several strains of the H5N1 virus. A team from the University of Pittsburgh, CDC, and USDA published a study in the Feb. 15 Journal of Virology about a vaccine that protects mice and chickens.

The researchers developed the vaccines by genetically engineering adenoviruses, which cause respiratory illnesses such as the common cold. The altered adenoviruses have the same hemagglutinin protein on the surface that allows the H5N1 virus to attach to cells. The idea is that the immune system, in confronting the altered adenoviruses, learns how to fight the H5N1 virus.

In the CDC-Purdue study, an altered adenovirus caused the immune systems of mice to produce both antibodies and T cells to attack the H5N1 virus. The vaccine provided effective protection against death and disease. In the Pittsburgh study, an altered adenovirus protected mice in a similar manner. Chickens that received subcutaneous vaccinations also survived, while all the unvaccinated chickens died within days of intranasal exposure to the H5N1 virus.

One advantage of altered adenoviruses is that they grow quickly in cell culture. The traditional approach to influenza vaccines is to grow the influenza viruses slowly inside chicken eggs, which could be scarce during an outbreak of infection with the H5N1 virus.

Another advantage of the altered adenoviruses is that they are live vaccines–though they are replication-incompetent–so they may activate the immune system better than the traditional, inactivated influenza vaccines.

Also, the altered adenoviruses show promise of being effective against mutations of the H5N1 virus, according to the researchers. Avian influenza virus would have to mutate before it could pass directly from person to person.

According to the World Organization for Animal Health, Asia has had the most outbreaks of H5N1 avian influenza. By March, the organization had received multiple reports of outbreaks in Europe and Africa. The World Health Organization had received reports of 175 total human cases of H5N1 avian influenza, with 96 deaths.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is responding with expertise in epidemiology and laboratory diagnostics, as well as field experience in the eradication of avian influenza and exotic Newcastle disease. The APHIS plan includes developing a list of experts available for four types of assignments:

  • teams, to travel to countries experiencing outbreaks of avian influenza as part of a broader U.S. government team, for one to two weeks

  • teams and individuals, to build international capacity for responding to outbreaks of avian influenza, for one to three weeks

  • individuals, overseas assignments, for four to six months

  • individuals, overseas assignments, for one to two years

Veterinarians and other volunteers can express interest by e-mailing Dr. Jennifer Grannis at Jennifer.L.Grannis@aphis.usda.govor Dr. Percy Hawkes at Drs. Grannis and Hawkes will contact volunteers to obtain information for the list of experts. The USDA will cover all the costs of the assignments.

Informational Resources

Federal government creates Web site on pandemic influenza is the government's new Web site for providing information about pandemic and avian influenza, including information about bird and animal issues.

The Department of Health and Human Services is the managing sponsor of the site, which President Bush launched during a Nov. 1 speech. provides information for the general public, health and emergency preparedness professionals, policy makers, government and business leaders, school systems, and local communities.

Sections of the site address subjects such as planning and response; monitoring outbreaks; health and safety; tests, vaccines, and medications; global activities; travel; research activities; and bird and animal issues. is part of the HHS Risk Communication and Public Engagement Strategy for Pandemic Influenza.

A subgroup under the HHS Interagency Public Affairs Group on Influenza Preparedness and Response is responsible for reviewing structure and content of the site.

The Veterinary Community

CRWAD dedicated to Mengeling

Some 475 people gathered in St. Louis, Missouri, for the 86th annual meeting of the Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases, Dec. 4-6. The meeting was dedicated to Dr. William L. Mengeling of Ames, Iowa.


Dr. William L. Mengeling

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 67, 4; 10.2460/ajvr.67.4.554


Dr. James H. Steele

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 67, 4; 10.2460/ajvr.67.4.554

After receiving his DVM degree from Kansas State University in 1960, Dr. Mengeling practiced as a small animal clinician for a year in New Mexico before joining the Agriculture Department's National Animal Disease Center. There, he served as a research scientist and research leader before his appointment in 1991 to the senior executive service within the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

Dr. Mengeling's contributions to the improvement of animal agricultural research have had important economic benefits for the agricultural industry and on biomedical research. He developed a diagnostic test that was the primary test used in eradicating hog cholera from U.S. swine herds.

Dr. Mengeling was the first scientist to isolate porcine parvovirus from swine in the United States. His research provides a basis for enhanced understanding of several swine diseases, including pseudorabies and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome.

Life membership was awarded to Drs. Richard J. Hidalgo, Baton Rouge, La., Edward C. Mather, East Lansing, Mich., and Ronald D. Smith, Urbana, Ill.

Officers of CRWAD for 2006 are Dr. Prem Paul, Lincoln, Neb., president; Dr. Lynn A. Joens, Tucson, Ariz., vice president; and Robert P. Ellis, PhD, Fort Collins, Colo., executive director.

At the CRWAD meeting, the Association for Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine named Dr. James H. Steele the 2005 recipient of the Calvin W. Schwabe Award.

A 1941 graduate of Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Steele advocated for veterinarians in public health, leading to acceptance of his recommendations to create within the U.S. Public Health Service the Veterinary Public Health Program in 1945 and the veterinary medical officer category in 1947.

Dr. Steele was the first chief of the Veterinary Public Health Division and the first chief veterinary officer in the PHS. In 1968, he became assistant surgeon general for Veterinary Affairs and was the first veterinary officer to attain two-star flag rank.

When he retired in 1971, Dr. Steele joined the faculty of the University of Texas School of Public Health as professor of Environmental Health Sciences. Although he retired in 1983, he has remained closely involved with the university as an emeritus and has continued his extensive international efforts to enhance public health.

Recipients of the AVEPM student awards were as follows: Linda Lord, The Ohio State University, for “An analysis of factors associated with recovery of a lost pet.” Audrey Torres, The Ohio State University, for “Maintaining udder health in low somatic cell count cows treated selectively at dryoff.” J. T. Fox, Kansas State University, for “Influence of grain processing (steam flaked vs. dry rolled) on fecal shedding of E. coliO157 in feedlot heifers.” Poster: Wonkie Bae, Washington State University, for “Association of antimicrobial resistance and PFGE genotypes of thermophilic Campylobacter spp.isolated from cattle farms in WA and CA.” The Mark Gearhart Memorial Graduate Award in Veterinary Epidemiology was awarded to George Moore, Purdue University, for the following publications: “Adverse events diagnosed within three days of vaccine administration in dogs” (JAVMA2005; 227:1102-1108) and “Postmarketing surveillance for dog and cat vaccines: new resources in changing times” (JAVMA2005; 227:1066-1069).

The American Association of Veterinary Immunologists presented Dr. Gary A. Splitter, Madison, Wis., with its Distinguished Veterinary Immunologist Award. Recipients of the AAVI award are individuals whose contribution to veterinary immunology is widely acknowledged as significant and important to the understanding of the immunology of domestic and/or wild animals.

Dr. Splitter is a 1969 graduate of Kansas State University and is now a professor in the Department of Animal Health and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Splitter studies host-pathogen interactions to better understand the host defense and pathogen evasion mechanisms that define a disease process.

Recipients of the AAVI student awards were as follows: First place: M. C. Dominguez, Universit é de Montr é al, for “Activation of innate immunity by the swine pathogen Streptococcus suisserotype 2 in both the central nervous system and at the systemic level using a murine experimental model of infection.” Second place: M. Rambeaud, University of Tennessee, for “Differential intracellular calcium release in neutrophils of cattle with different CXCR2 genotypes upon interleukin-8 activation.” Posters: Yanjing Xiao, Oklahoma State University, for “Structure-Activity relationships of fowlicidin-1, a novel cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide in chickens.” X. Hu, Auburn University, for “Regulation of channel catfish hepcidin expression by infection and anemia.”

The Society for Tropical Veterinary Medicine and the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists presented the following student awards: First place: Dalen Agnew, University of California, Davis, for “A pregnant mouse model for Tritrichomonas foetus, infection and pregnancy loss.” Second place: Eduardo Cobo, University of California-Davis, for “Incapacity of Tetratrichomonads and Pentatrichomonas hoministo colonize and survive in intravaginally inoculated heifers.” Third place: John Schaefer, The Ohio State University, for “Preliminary observations of antibiotic efficacy associated with different means of experimentally infecting dogs with Ehrlichia canis.”

The NC-1007 Gastroenteric Diseases Awards were presented to the following students: Kerry Cooper, University of Arizona, for “The ability of crude toxins from Clostridium perfringenstype A to produce necrotic enteritis in broiler chickens.” Poster: N. Holt, Kansas State University, “EAST 1 induces anion secretion by IPEC-J2 pig intestinal cells in vitro.”

Recipients of the Biosafety and Biosecurity Awards, sponsored by the Animal Health Institute, were as follows: First place: Linda Highfield, Texas A&M University, for “A linked epidemic and transportation modeling environment for foreign animal disease intervention.” Second place: Carlos Trincado, University of Minnesota, for “Evaluation and viability of two washing protocols for oocytes after culture with PRRSV, PCV-2 and PPV by PCR.” Second place: Jill Bieker, Kansas State University and Sandia National Laboratories, for “Inactivation of bovine enterovirus-2 as a surrogate for foot and mouth disease virus.”

Recipients of the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists' graduate student awards were as follows: Lalitha Peddireddi, Chuanmin Cheng, Vijayakrishna Singu, Kamesh R. Sirigireddy, and Roman R. Ganta, Kansas State University, for “Unique macrophage and tick cell-specific gene expression from the p28-Omp multilocus of Ehrlichia chafeensis, a possible strategy to aid the pathogen to persist.” P. J. Plummer, M. Akiba, and Q. Zhang, Iowa State University, for “The identification and characterization of a naturally occurring autoinducer-2 deficient strain of Campylobacter jejuni.” N. B. Butchi, S. Perez, A. Doster, R. Sangena Boyina, J. Simon, and S.I. Chowdhury, Kansas State University, for “Role of envelope proteins gE and Us9 in the anterograde transport of BHV-1 following reactivation in the trigeminal ganglia.” Poster: Alexander Maas, Jochen Meens, and Gerald F. Gerlach, University of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover, Germany, for “Development of a negative marker subunit vaccine against Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniaeinfection.” The Don Kahn Award was given to V. Chauhan, J.M. Rowland, and R.R.R. Rowland, Kansas State University, for “Absence of nuclear targeting activity within the lysine-rich domain of the SARS-CoV N protein is the result of an aspartic acid residue at position 372.”

Additionally, the ACVM recognized two new diplomates upon successful completion of certifying examinations. Dr. Deepanker Tewari, Harrisburg, Pa., was certified in immunology and Dr. Rebecca P. Wilkes, Maryville, Tenn., was certified in virology.

Florida dean leaves to head Tennessee agriculture; interim dean appointed

Dr. Joseph A. DiPietro is the new vice president for agriculture at the University of Tennessee, leaving his prior position as dean of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. James P. Thompson is serving as interim dean.

Dr. DiPietro will oversee operations at the Tennessee Institute of Agriculture–which includes the university's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, College of Veterinary Medicine, Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station, and extension program.

At the University of Florida, Dr. DiPietro was dean of the veterinary college for nine years. He has held a multitude of positions within the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, and he became president of the AAVMC last summer.

Previously, Dr. DiPietro had served as associate dean for research at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and assistant director of that institution's agricultural experiment station. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1976.

At the University of Florida, Dr. Thompson has been the veterinary college's associate dean of students and instruction since 1996. The interim dean joined the faculty in 1986 after completing a residency there in small animal internal medicine.

Dr. Thompson graduated in 1981 from the University of Florida. He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists.

Oregon State names interim dean

Oregon State University has named George R. Holdren, PhD, to be interim dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Holdren, the university's senior associate vice president of research, succeeds Dr. Howard Gelberg, who had been dean since 2001 and recently transitioned to a faculty position as a professor of veterinary pathology.

Previously, Holdren was vice provost for research. He has held management posts at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., and ManTech Environmental Technology in Corvallis, Ore.

Holdren earned his doctoral degree in geochemistry from Johns Hopkins University in 1977.

From the AVMA

Education council schedules site visits

The AVMA Council on Education has scheduled site visits to eight colleges or schools of veterinary medicine for the remainder of 2006.

Site visits are planned for the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, April 9–13; University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, April 23–27; University of Glasgow Veterinary School in Scotland, May 7–11; University of Mexico (UNAM) Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, May 21–25 (consultative site visit); Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in St. Kitts, Sept. 17–21 (consultative site visit); University College Dublin Veterinary School in Ireland, Oct. 8–12; The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 22–26; and Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine, Nov. 5–9.

The council welcomes written comments on these plans or the programs to be evaluated. Comments should be addressed to Dr. Donald G. Simmons, Director, Education and Research Division, AVMA, 1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360. Comments must be signed by the person submitting them to be considered.