Avian influenza flares up in India, more than a dozen other countries
The worst outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza ever to hit India, the world's second most populous country, refocused international attention on the virus early this year.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization stated that recent H5N1 outbreaks in 15 countries demonstrate that the zoonotic disease remains a global threat and requires close monitoring and strong control efforts.
New H5N1 outbreaks occurred between December 2007 and late January 2008 in Bangladesh, Benin, China, Egypt, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Myanmar, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and Vietnam. Most of the outbreaks occurred in domestic poultry—including chickens, turkeys, geese, and ducks—except for a few cases involving wild birds in China, Poland, and the United Kingdom.
“Surveillance, early detection, and immediate response have improved, and many newly infected countries have managed to eliminate the virus from poultry,” said Dr. Joseph Domenech, FAO chief veterinary officer. “But the H5N1 avian influenza crisis is far from over and remains particularly worrying in Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Egypt—where the virus has become deeply entrenched despite major control efforts.”
As of late January, India was struggling to control the H5N1 outbreak in the state of West Bengal—but the country had not reported any cases of human infection.
In Indonesia, almost all of the 33 provinces have experienced an H5N1 outbreak since 2004. The country recently reported its 100th fatal human infection.
Many districts of Bangladesh have experienced H5N1 outbreaks. The situation seems to be worsening, according to the FAO, and Bangladesh borders West Bengal. According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Bangladesh protested India's previous attempts to fence off high-traffic sections of the porous border.
Egypt has stepped up its fight against the virus, Dr. Domenech said, but recent outbreaks indicate a need for stronger control efforts.
As of Feb. 5, the World Health Organization had recorded 359 cases of human infection with H5N1 avian influenza—including 226 fatalities. The WHO just launched the Influenza Virus Tracking System, an online database to track H5N1 viruses that countries have shared via the Global Influenza Surveillance Network and the selection of viruses for vaccine development. The interim version is at www.who.int/fluvirus_tracker
United States achieves class-free status for brucellosis in cattle
The Department of Agriculture announced Feb. 1 that for the first time in the 74-year history of the brucellosis program, all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have simultaneously achieved class-free status in cattle.
The interim rule declaring Texas the final state to become brucellosis-free took effect with its publication Feb. 1 in the Federal Register.
Eradication of brucellosis was elevated to a national scale in 1934 with the formation of a cooperative state-federal program. Class-free status is based on a state finding no known brucellosis in cattle for 12 months.
Comments on the interim rule must be received by April 1 to be considered. Send an original and two copies of postal mail or commercial delivery comments to Docket No. APHIS-2008-0003, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Comments can also be submitted on the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Click on “Add Comments” to view public comments and related materials electronically.
Experts to teach summer course in foreign diseases
The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, will host the 5th Biennial Foreign Animal Disease Training Course from Aug. 3-8, 2008, on the Madison campus.
Building on successful courses offered in 1999, 2001, 2003, and 2006, the event will once again bring together U.S. and international experts to provide in-depth presentations and discussions on the recognition, diagnosis, and control of foreign animal diseases that threaten livestock industries. The FAD2008 course will include a daylong tabletop exercise on foreign animal disease incursion and control.
The course is designed for regulatory and public health veterinarians in government, animal disease regulatory specialists from industry, veterinary school educators, veterinarians in practice, and others interested in animal industry biosecurity and foreign animal diseases.
The limited space fills up quickly. Visit www.vetmed.wisc.edu/pbs/courses/FAD2008 or contact the organizers at FAD2008@svm.vetmed.wisc.edu.
From the AVMA
AVAR joins HSUS to form veterinary association
On Jan. 14, the Humane Society of the United States and Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights announced the formation of a new veterinary advocacy organization, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, as part of a “corporate combination agreement” between the two groups.
AVMA Executive Vice President Ron DeHaven responded to the news, saying, “The more than 76,000 AVMA members belong to many diverse associations. AVMA members and leaders are veterinarians who have dedicated their lives to improving the health and welfare of animals.
“The HSUS has often expressed frustration with several AVMA animal welfare positions or areas of welfare in which the AVMA does not yet have a policy. We understand that the HSUS wants a simple solution. We wish there were a simple solution as well. These areas are extremely complex and when you opt for a quick fix in one area it can create a crisis in another.”
Part of the AVMA's response to the new association is to continue to formulate sound, caring animal welfare policies that take veterinarians' responsibility to public and animal health into consideration.
Dr. DeHaven explained that the new organization's singular focus is animal welfare whereas the AVMA deals with a multitude of issues including the humane treatment of animals as well as public health and food safety. The AVMA's evaluation of animal welfare issues includes looking at the entire system of animal care, not just one or two pieces of it.
“While we value our independence in decision making, we also recognize that stakeholder input and involvement are critical to the identification and implementation of effective solutions to animal welfare problems,” Dr. DeHaven said. “In that regard, the AVMA regularly communicates with a broad range of stakeholders, including individuals and organizations associated with the animal protection community, the animal industries, and governmental agencies.”
Members of the new association would not be precluded from membership in the AVMA, Dr. DeHaven added. In fact, a number of AVMA members are also members of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, which, while not a constituent allied veterinary organization, regularly presents resolutions before the AVMA House of Delegates.
More about the AVMA's response can be read at the AVMA Web site www.avma.org, where a Frequently Asked Questions document has been posted.
AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network seeking volunteers
The AVMA is working to attract more volunteers into the AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network.
Christine Baker, grassroots manager at the AVMA Governmental Relations Division in Washington, D.C., said the goal of AVMA-CAN is to have members in every congressional district—with a volunteer to coordinate each district's grassroots efforts. The AVMA asks volunteers to get to know their members of Congress and to serve as a local link to veterinary medicine for these legislators.
Information is available by contacting Baker at (800) 321-1473, Ext. 3206, or email@example.com. Veterinarians can sign up for the Action E-List—which sends e-mail alerts when veterinarians' involvement can make a difference—by visiting www.avma.org, then clicking on “Get Involved” and “AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network.”
AVMA goes live on YouTube
On Jan. 9, the AVMA went live on YouTube, the popular video-sharing Web site where users can upload, view, and share video clips. Viewers will find 14 clips from the AVMA career video, “Veterinary Medicine: It's More than You Think,” at www.youtube.com/AmerVetMedAssn. By early February, clips had been viewed about 2,250 times, with the food animal practitioner clip the most popular, followed by the one on small animal veterinary technicians. Feedback has been positive.
The clips are also being recompressed for a different format to appear in the AVMA Press Room Media Library. Work has also begun on the AVMA's new strategic TV channel on the Internet, and it is anticipated that will be operational in a couple months. The strategic TV channel will be a custom-designed, dedicated Web site featuring videos and other multimedia products pertaining to the veterinary profession.
Dr. Kimberly May, AVMA assistant director for professional and public affairs, is coordinating these projects.
Judicial Council seat joins vacancies
Nominations continue to be invited for open positions on AVMA entities and for liaison positions. The most recent vacancy was created Feb. 1 with the resignation of Dr. Richard Schumacher from the Judicial Council, creating a second vacancy on that council.
The House of Delegates will fill council openings when it meets this July in New Orleans. Nomination materials, including descriptions of the councils, and instructions for publishing candidates' biographies in the 2008 Campaign Guide, are posted on the AVMA Web site, www.avma.org/about_avma/governance/volunteering. Nominations must be submitted by April 1 to the AVMA Office of the Executive Vice President.
Nominations are invited for each of the AVMA trust and committee vacancy positions to be filled by the Executive Board at its April meeting. Nominations are also invited for three vacancies on the Political Action Committee Policy Board, to be filled by the House Advisory Committee at its spring meeting. Nominations are also sought for liaison vacancies.
Trust, committee, and liaison nomination materials, including descriptions of the various entities, are also posted on the AVMA Web site. Nominations must be submitted to the AVMA Office of the Executive Vice President no later than March 7.
News of the Profession
Comments invited on proposed reptile and amphibian specialty
The AVMA American Board of Veterinary Specialties has received a petition for recognition of the Reptile and Amphibian Practice specialty under the auspices of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, which has been an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty organization since 1978. In compliance with ABVS procedures for recognition of a new specialty under an existing specialty organization (www.avma.org/education/abvs/abvs_policies_III.asp), the ABVS is now seeking comment from the public and the profession regarding the proposed new specialty.
The Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians (www.arav.org) first petitioned the ABVP in 2006 to begin the process toward recognition of the Reptile and Amphibian Practice specialty. The ABVP submitted a formal petition for recognition of the specialty to the ABVS Committee on the Development of New Specialties in December 2007.
The ABVP and the organizing committee for the proposed new specialty believe that the diverse and unique veterinary requirements of reptiles and amphibians—including iguanas, turtles, snakes, frogs, and toads—are substantial enough to warrant separate specialty recognition. Because the proposed new specialty would administer certification under the ABVP umbrella, credentialing and examination requirements would be the same as for the current ABVP-recognized veterinary specialties of Avian Practice, Beef Cattle Practice, Canine and Feline Practice, Dairy Practice, Equine Practice, Feline Practice, Food Animal Practice, and Swine Health Management (www.avbp.com). The petition further indicates that there are more than 175 current members of the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians who would pursue board certification in the ABVP Reptile and Amphibian Practice specialty once it were recognized.
Twenty veterinary specialty organizations are recognized by the AVMA, and of those, seven have recognized veterinary specialties (www.avma.org/reference/marketstats/vetspec.asp). All AVMA-recognized specialty organizations and specialties comply with recognition guidelines outlined in the ABVS Policies and Procedures Manual, available online at www.avma.org/education/abvs_pp.asp. Refer to those guidelines when developing comments regarding the proposed specialty of Reptile and Amphibian Practice.
Comments must be signed and received no later than Nov. 1, 2008, by Dr. Beth Sabin, AVMA Education and Research Division, 1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions regarding the recognition guidelines or the proposed new specialty may be directed to Dr. Sabin via e-mail or by phone, (800) 248-2862, Ext. 6675.
FARAD funding: the long and the short of it
On the heels of a year without funding, the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank began 2008 with funding for the short term and prospects for the long term.
An online decision support system, FARAD offers information about how to avoid residues of medications and contaminants in food animals. Online and through its hotline, FARAD provides rapid response to inquiries about residue issues affecting food animal health and product contamination. Administered through the Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, the program operates from three locations—North Carolina State University, Raleigh; the University of California-Davis; and the University of Florida, Gainesville.
With funds granted year to year since FARAD was created in 1982, funding has been an ongoing crusade. In 2007, Congress did not fund the program at all, resulting in a suspension of interactive services beginning May 15, with the database preserved. Recently, CSREES and the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine shifted some funds on a short-term basis to keep FARAD going through June.
The AVMA has been actively advocating for permanent multiyear funding of $2.5 million per year for FARAD. The Senate version of the 2007 Farm Bill includes language authorizing that amount for fiscal years 2008-2012. The House version, however, does not address FARAD. At press time, the two versions of the bill were headed for a conference committee to reconcile their differences. Even if the FARAD provision is retained, appropriation of the funds is not guaranteed.
North Carolina Rep. David Price, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, inserted language in another piece of legislation, the FY 2008 Agricultural Appropriations bill, to direct the secretary of agriculture to find a permanent solution to FARAD funding. That bill was signed into law by President Bush on Dec. 26, 2007, as part of the FY 2008 omnibus appropriations bill.
Access FARAD at www.farad.org or by calling the FARAD Residue Hotline Telephone at (888) USFARAD.
The Veterinary Community
CSU building new home for veterinary laboratories
Colorado State University has begun building a new Diagnostic Medicine Center south of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
The $42 million center will house the CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Clinical Pathology Laboratory, and Animal Population Health Institute. Construction of the 90,000-squarefoot facility should be complete in December 2009.
The university's veterinary laboratory system was one of the earliest participants in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, which combines the capacity of federal laboratories with the resources of state and university laboratories to enhance response to animal health emergencies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved CSU laboratories to test for exotic Newcastle disease, avian influenza, scrapie, chronic wasting disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, classical swine fever, and foot and mouth disease.
The CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and Clinical Pathology Laboratory also provide services to owners of companion animals, owners of production animals, and state government agencies such as the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
The CSU Animal Population Health Institute promotes the exchange of information and expertise in veterinary epidemiology among scientists at the university, collaborating institutions, and government agencies throughout the world.
The Diagnostic Medicine Center also will house the veterinary extension office.
Baker becomes editor of JVME
Dr. Henry J. Baker is the new editor-in-chief of the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, the publication of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, effective Dec. 24, 2007. He succeeds Dr. Donal Walsh, editor from 2000-2007.
Dr. Baker is a professor emeritus at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. He has been an author, reviewer, editor, and publications chair for a number of organizations. A diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, he was editor of the journal Laboratory Animal Science from 1984-1991. He also served on the faculties of Johns Hopkins University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Wake Forest University.
Dr. Baker graduated from Auburn's veterinary college in 1960.
American College of Veterinary Pathology announces diplomates
The ACVP recognized 84 new diplomates on successful completion of the certifying examination in Ames, Iowa, Sept. 26-28, 2007.
Certified as veterinary anatomic pathologists were Drs. Jeffrey R. Abbott, Gainesville, Fla.; Arlen V. Avakian, Weston, Mass.; Shawn J. Berens, Pullman, Wash.; Ammon W. Brown, Savage, Md.; David V. Calise, College Station, Texas; Laura R. Carter, Sterling, Va.; Timothy K. Cooper, Littlestown, Pa.; Lisa M. Crofton, Luray, Va.; Melissa Czajkowski, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Clifton P. Drew, West Sacramento, Calif.; Rachel E. Geisel, Warwick, Queensland, Australia; Gopakumar Gopalakrishnan, Ashland, Ohio; Solomon Haile, Pincourt, Quebec, Canada; Gary Haldorson, Pullman, Wash.; Schantel A. Hayes, Rockville, Md.; Kathleen Heinz-Taheny, Champaign, Ill.; Denise M. Imai, Davis, Calif.; Tomislav Jelesijevic, Athens, Ga.; Shannon L. Johnson, Beaconsfield, Quebec, Canada; Katherine A.B. Knostman, Columbus, Ohio; Keiichi Kuroki, Columbia, Mo.; Victoria A. Laast, Ashburn, Va.; Timothy P. LaBranche, University City, Mo.; Kevin K. Lahmers, Pullman, Wash.; Catherine G. Lamm, Stillwater, Okla.; Isabelle Lanthier, Saint Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada; Richard Luong, Palo Alto, Calif.; Christy A. McKnight, Portage, Mich.; Alexander D. McLachlan, Murdoch, Western Australia, Australia; Timothy W. Morgan, Baton Rouge, La.; Kathleen B. Muravnick, Berlin, Conn.; Brian Murphy, Pullman, Wash.; Sanjeev K. Narayanan, Manhattan, Kan.; Keith G. Nelson, Kalamazoo, Mich.; Michael A. Owston. Lafayette, Ind.; Christopher Premanandan, Columbus, Ohio; Teena L. Price, Davis, Calif.; Rose S. Ranck, Raleigh, N.C.; Lorna Rasmussen, Vermont South, Victoria, Australia; Danielle R. Reel, Knoxville, Tenn.; Christopher M. Reilly, Sutton, Mass.; Carlos E. Rodriguez Alfonzo, Bronx, N.Y.; Cheryl Sangster, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada; Tiffany Scanlon, Parkville, Md.; Carl I. Shaia, Olney, Md.; Heather R. Shive, Washington, D.C.; Heather A. Simmons, Middleton, Wis.; Quincey R. Simmons, Jamaica Plain, Mass.; Bhanu P. Singh, Morrisville, N.C.; Rebecca C. Smedley, Lansing, Mich.; Lauren M. Staska, Richland, Wash.; William C. Stoffregen, Lake Elmo, Minn.; James A. Trybus, Amarillo, Texas; Vimala Vemireddi, West Lafayette, Ind.; Nobuko Wakamatsu, Baton Rouge, La.; Shannon M. Wallace, Burnesville, Md.; Jennifer G. Ward, Gainesville, Fla.; Mary T. Wight-Carter, Leonardville, Kan.; Bruce K. Wobeser, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada; Jennifer H. Yearley, Hudson, Mass.; and Stephen Yeomans, Glenside, South Australia, Australia.
Certified as veterinary clinical pathologists were Drs. Adam Aulbach, Mattawan, Mich.; Elmarie Bodes, Siler City, N.C.; Hilary J. Burgess, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada; Peter W. Christopherson, Auburn University, Ala.; Elizabeth A. Cienava, Atlanta; Susan Fielder, Stillwater, Okla.; Heather Flaherty, Ames, Iowa; Valerie Guilpin Barlow, Malvern, Pa.; Rebekah G. Gunn, Cary, N.C.; Jenifer A. Hill, Noranda, Western Australia, Australia; Tara A. Holmberg, Langley, British Columbia, Canada; Teita Ishizaki, Mabelvale, Ariz.; Jennifer L. Johns, Davis, Calif.; Kurt V. Kreutzer, Columbia, Mo.; Michael R. Logan, West Lafayette, Ind.; Jed A. Overmann, Saint Paul, Minn.; Lisa M. Pohlman, Auburn, Ala.; Roger M. Powell, Hitchin, Herts, United Kingdom; Dawn Seddon, Waikato, New Zealand; Connie K. Stevenson, Mukiteo, Wash.; and Nicole M. Weinstein, Philadelphia. Drs. Shawn P. Clark, Evansville, Ind., and Amy L. Warren, Ithaca, N.Y., received dual certification in veterinary anatomic and clinical pathology.