From the AVMA
AVMA testifies about livestock antimicrobials
AVMA Assistant Executive Vice President Lyle P. Vogel told a Senate committee in June that wide-scale bans on approved uses of antimicrobials in food animals would hurt animals, do little to improve public health, and could, in fact, lead to an unsafe food supply.
The increase in antimicrobial-resistant pathogens—especially methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—has Congress searching for a remedy to a phenomenon that is rendering important infection-fighting drugs in human medicine less effective.
Senator Sherrod Brown chaired the June 24 Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing and described MRSA as a “wake-up call” for Congress to confront antimicrobial resistance.
Efforts to use drugs prudently on farms are already under way. For example, the AVMA and allied veterinary organizations created judicious use guidelines starting in 1998. More recently, the pork industry established a Take Care—Use Antibiotics Responsibly program in 2005.
Some legislators are pushing for a ban on using antimicrobials as growth promotants, for feed efficiency, and for routine prevention of disease in animals if these antimicrobials are also used in human medicine.
The AVMA opposes such efforts for a number of reasons, mainly because it will restrict the use of antimicrobials to prevent or control disease in animals and because the Food and Drug Administration does not need new authority to safeguard public health. The process for evaluating food animal antimicrobials, the Association says, is at least as stringent, and often more so, than the approval process for human antibiotics.
Each food animal antibiotic undergoes an assessment for human, environmental, and animal safety as a part of the FDA's review. In 2003, evaluation of the potential to create antimicrobial resistance that may negatively impact human health was added as a requirement for approval of antimicrobials for food animals. The FDA is currently evaluating previously approved drugs, such as penicillins and tetracyclines used in feeds, under this new requirement.
Dr. Vogel cautioned the senators against enacting seemingly simple solutions to address an extremely complex issue. The AVMA believes that the judicious and regulated use of antimicrobials through scientifically based FDA approvals and post-approval review provides sufficient protections for public health, Dr. Vogel added. Since 1996 in the United States, the case rate of human illness with multidrug-resistant Salmonella has had a relative decrease of 49 percent. Salmonella isolated from humans are half as likely to be resistant as they were in 1996. This information indicates that there is not a public health crisis related to human pathogens that are believed to originate in animals.
Using antimicrobials as growth promotants in food animals has been banned in Denmark since the late 1990s. In that time, Dr. Vogel said, there have been mixed results in terms of antibiotic resistance in humans. For example, resistance of Enterococcus isolated from humans to vancomycin stayed at 0 percent from 1997-2006 and may be related to the ban on the use of avoparcin (a drug never approved in the United States) as a growth promotant in animals.
There have, however, been dramatic increases in resistance to tetracyclines in treating Salmonella infections in humans, which may be related to the increased need to use tetracyclines to treat diseases in animals. Dr. Vogel also explained that the resistance of Enterococcus isolated from humans in Denmark to quinupristin/dalfopristin is 10 times higher than in the United States, despite the continued use of virginiamycin in the United States and the ban in Denmark. (Both virginiamycin and quinupristin/dalfopristin belong to the class of antimicrobials called streptogramins.)
While the total quantity of antimicrobials used for all purposes in food animals in Denmark has decreased by 27 percent, the rise in disease prevalence has resulted in a 143 percent increase in the quantity of antimicrobials used for therapeutic purposes. And the antimicrobials now used more frequently are in classes that are also used in humans, such as tetracyclines.
In addition to relieving pain and suffering, antimicrobials contribute to the public health by keeping animals healthy and preventing disease-causing bacteria from entering the food supply, Dr. Vogel said. A number of risk assessments indicate withdrawing virginiamycin, macrolides, and fluoroquinolones from food animals would put people at risk, he said.
New legislation is not the answer, according to Dr. Vogel. Increased surveillance through the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System—a multi-agency program monitoring for drug-resistant microbes in people, farm animals, and meats and other animal products since 1996—along with continued compliance with judicious use principles, may be sufficient to protect human health without compromising the health of food animals, he said.
AVMA commits to Vet 2011, and new one-health and animal welfare measures
A foreign colleague bearing a special message was welcomed warmly by the AVMA Executive Board during a June 5-6 meeting chaired by Dr. Larry R. Corry of District IV.
Professor Jean-François Chary, inspector general of the French Ministry of Agriculture, invited the AVMA to become the first organization outside France to sign on to Vet 2011, a celebration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the world's first veterinary school in Lyons, France, and the veterinary profession itself. Professor Chary is a former dean at Lyons.
In May, several French founding members of this initiative created Comité Vet 2011, which is now recruiting organizational members internationally so that 2011 can be designated World Veterinary Year and commemorated with special events.
Later in the June meeting the board approved a recommendation from AVMA President Gregory S. Hammer authorizing the Association to become an associate member and a corresponding member of Vet 2011, as proposed by professor Chary.
Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA chief executive officer, said, “I'm excited because this is clearly an opportunity to highlight the veterinary profession globally and its contributions not only to veterinary medicine but also to human health.”
The board received the final report of the AVMA One Health Initiative Task Force, charged with defining “one health” and providing recommendations and strategic actions to support and expand the concept across the health professions. The board approved dissemination of the report through regular communications channels, including initial publication of the executive summary in the July 15 JAVMA and simultaneous posting of the full report on the AVMA Web site in July.
The board approved the concept of a One Health Initiative as outlined in 12 recommendations presented in the task force report. An expenditure of $50,000 was approved along with staff and logistic support for establishment and execution of a One Health Joint Steering Committee. The committee will facilitate the transition from the work of the AVMA task force to a National One Health Commission that would be chartered as an independent non-profit organization. A board-generated provision stipulates the expectation that this commission will be self-supporting and independent of AVMA financial support.
A number of animal welfare initiatives were approved. The convening of an AVMA Panel on Euthanasia beginning in 2009 and a corresponding plan were approved by the board. The panel will be supported by working groups whose members have demonstrated expertise regarding particular euthanasia techniques or the application of techniques to various animal types, species, and/or uses.
As recommended by the Animal Welfare Committee, the AVMA's policy on Disabled Livestock was revised to clarify that animals in extreme distress or with irreversible conditions should be euthanized immediately and not allowed to proceed to slaughter.
The board approved an AVMA partnership with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to produce Web-based educational materials for AVMA members to address animal neglect, abuse, and cruelty and to understand relationships between animal abuse and domestic violence.
Approval was given to conduct an animal welfare symposium in 2009 as a cooperative effort between the AVMA and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.
Participation in a new nonprofit organization called the CATalyst Council and establishment of an AVMA liaison relationship were approved. The council's purpose is to engage in humanitarian and public education activities to improve the health and welfare of domestic cats.
AVMA participation in a joint task force on foreign veterinary graduate equivalence was approved.
Funding and travel for one meeting a year each for up to four proposed new specialty organizations and an AVMA American Board of Veterinary Specialties liaison was approved.
The nominating procedure for the AVMA Practitioner Research Award was simplified to encourage more nominations of deserving candidates for this prestigious award.
The board recommended House of Delegates approval in July of a proposed AVMA Bylaws amendment that would permit the election of council members not only at the regular annual session but also during the regular winter session.
In accordance with the AVMA Bylaws, the board approved re-electing the following officers for one year—Drs. Ron DeHaven, executive vice president and chief executive officer; Lyle P. Vogel, assistant executive vice president; and Bret D. Marsh, treasurer.
Dr. James E. Nave, Las Vegas, was nominated for re-election as a North American councillor to the World Veterinary Association.
New AVMA monograph highlights disaster preparedness
The AVMA has made available on its Web site a new monograph in AVMA Collections. This newest compilation of articles highlights disaster preparedness and response. Collections can be viewed by going to www.avma.org/avmacollections.
AVMA Collections was created to offer veterinary professionals and the public compilations of articles organized by topic or subject from the AJVR and JAVMA. The newest edition reflects the arduous work of experts in animal disaster preparedness and response who have grappled with the central questions involved and have offered their findings and recommendations within the covers of the AVMA scientific journals.
Areas discussed include veterinarians' role in preparedness and response, biosecurity and bioterrorism preparedness, search-and-rescue dogs, and preparedness and response policy.
Hill's commits $5 million to Ontario teaching hospital
The University of Guelph's Ontario Veterinary College has received a $5 million, 10-year commitment from Hill's Pet Nutrition to support the creation of a primary-care center for companion animals.
The Hill's Pet Nutrition Primary Healthcare Centre will provide veterinary students with a variety of educational experiences, from practical skills development to preventive medicine. Students will learn how to educate clients about the health, nutrition, and well-being of companion animals. Students also will gain experience in new and emerging technology and procedures.
The center is part of the overall redevelopment of the veterinary college and teaching hospital. The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities has invested $9.5 million in the redevelopment.
Agricultural council offers free issue papers
The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, which seeks to broaden distribution of critical agricultural research, is now providing its issue papers for free.
The latest of 38 CAST Issue Papers is “Vaccine Development Using Recombinant DNA Technology,” seventh in a nine-part series on “Animal Agriculture's Future through Biotechnology.”
All the issue papers, formerly $5 each, are now available without charge by electronic download from www.castscience.org. The papers are available in hard copy from the CAST office by calling (515) 292-2125 or writing to 4420 W. Lincoln Way, Ames, IA 50014-3447. A fee applies for shipping and handling.
The CAST Commentaries have always been available from the Web site for free. One of the more recent titles is “Avian Influenza Vaccination: A Commentary Focusing on H5N1 High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza.”
Providing the issue papers without charge furthers the CAST mission of assembling, interpreting, and communicating credible scientific information throughout the world. The AVMA is a member of CAST.
The Veterinary Community
University of Minnesota appoints Ames as dean
The University of Minnesota recently appointed Dr. Trevor Ames as dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. He has served as interim dean since June 2007.
Dr. Ames joined the college faculty in 1981 and served as the chair of the Veterinary Population Medicine Department for 10 years. A diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, he graduated in 1978 from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.
Dr. Ames' research interests include infectious diseases of horses and cattle, bovine respiratory disease complex, and equine and bovine vaccines. His clinical interests include large animal internal medicine and feedlot diseases.
ACVIM honors researchers
The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine honored several researchers at its annual convention, June 4-7 in San Antonio. Dr. Joe N. Kornegay, an ACVIM diplomate in the Specialty of Neurology, received the Robert W. Kirk Award for Professional Excellence. Dr. Kornegay is a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of North Carolina.
Several researchers received the Resident Research Award, as follows: Cardiology—Drs. Sophy Jesty, Cornell University, for “Cardiomyocyte calcium transients in German Shepherd Dogs with inherited ventricular arrhythmias,” and Anita Varga, The Ohio State University, for “Validation of the ADIVA centaur immunoassay for the measurement of bovine cardiac troponin I”; Endocrinology—Dr. Kelsey Hart, University of Georgia, for “Hypothalamic-pituitaryadrenal axis dysfunction in critically ill neonatal foals”; Gastroenterology—Dr. Kelly Gingerich, Purdue University, for “Serum zinc and magnesium concentrations in dogs with inflammatory bowel disease”; Infectious disease—Drs. Danielle Bayliss, Colorado State University, for “Association between feline pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity concentration and the presence of serum antibodies against Toxoplasma gondii and Bartonella spp.,” Kelly Cairns, The Ohio State University, for “Effects of alloantigen exposure and cell-associated mucosal FIV challenge on feline toll-like receptor gene expression,” and Stephanie Kottler, University of Missouri-Columbia, for “Prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus and MRSA carriage in three populations”; Nephrology/Urology—Dr. Elizabeth Doré, University of California-Davis, for “Tube cystotomy for treatment of obstructive urolithiasis in goats”; Neurology—Drs. Michelle Carnes, Auburn University, for “Disposition of levetiracetam in cats,” and Sarah Moore, North Carolina State University, for “The pharmacokinetics of oral levetiracetam in healthy dogs following single and multiple oral doses”; Oncology—Dr. Wendi Velando Rankin, University of Missouri-Columbia, for “Correlation of survivin and Ki-67 immunoreactivity in canine urinary bladder tissues”; Pharmacology—Dr. Dana LeVine, North Carolina State University, for “Ronidazole pharmacokinetics in cats after IV administration and oral administration of an immediate release capsule and a colon-targeted delayed release tablet;” and Food Animal-other—Dr. Alexandra Burton, Cornell University, for “Prognostic indicators for survival of downer cows managed with a floatation tank system in a referral hospital.”
One hundred fourteen veterinarians completed the requirements for board certification by the ACVIM in 2008. Of the 114, 18 were certified in cardiology, eight in neurology, 27 in oncology, 21 in internal medicine (large animal), and 40 in internal medicine (small animal).