Practice; AVMA; Issues; Community

Banfield reports on state of pet health

Dental disease is the most common conditions among dogs and cats examined at small animal practices in the United States. Otitis externa is another common problem, and many dogs and cats are overweight. Flea infestation is increasingly common, and heartworms and other internal parasites continue to be a concern across the country.

These findings are from Banfield Pet Hospital's State of Pet Health 2011 Report, the first of its kind. The report, which Banfield released in late April, draws on medical records of about 2.1 million dogs and nearly 450,000 cats that were patients at Banfield's 770 hospitals in 2010.

Along with providing data about the prevalence of common preventable conditions, the Banfield report reveals that small dog breeds have become more popular in the past 10 years.

In addition, the report states that “one of the biggest challenges facing the veterinary profession is the medical care of cats,” as veterinarians treat far fewer cats than dogs.

Dr. Jeffrey S. Klausner, Banfield's chief medical officer, expressed concern that increases in certain preventable conditions in dogs and cats could reflect decreases in veterinary visits by some pet owners.

Banfield also provided AVMA news staff with lists of the top 10 diagnoses for dogs and cats in 2010, which are not available in the report. Researchers weighted many of the statistics in the report on the basis of age distribution of Banfield's canine and feline patients in 2005 to allow for comparisons of data between 2006 and 2010.

The top 10 diagnoses for dogs in 2010 were dental calculus (49.7 percent), “healthy pet” (31.7 percent), otitis externa (17.7 percent), overweight (10.2 percent), dermatitis (7.6 percent), flea infestation (5.3 percent), lameness (4.0 percent), grade 1 periodontal disease (3.8 percent), skin tumors (3.8 percent), and conjunctivitis (3.5 percent).

The top 10 diagnoses for cats in 2010 were dental calculus (39.7 percent), “healthy pet” (28.1 percent), overweight (10.9 percent), flea infestation (8.8 percent), otitis externa (7.9 percent), gingivitis (6.3 percent), upper respiratory tract disease (5.6 percent), tapeworm infection (5.2 percent, for cats tested), cystitis (4.8 percent), and conjunctivitis (4.3 percent).

Banfield's State of Pet Health 2011 Report is available at by searching for “state of pet health.”

Study examines causes of death in dogs

A study from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine analyzing causes of death among the various dog breeds confirmed previous anecdotal beliefs and limited research but also identified novel patterns in certain groups.

Researchers for the study, “Mortality in North American dogs from 1984 to 2004: an investigation into age-, size-, and breed-related causes of death” (J Vet Intern Med 2011;25(2):187–198), sifted through 20 years of records from the Veterinary Medical Database.

In all, they looked at records of more than 74,556 dogs of 82 breeds. Causes of death were categorized in two ways: by the organ system involved and by the category of disease.

Results indicated that young dogs (2 years or younger) died most commonly of trauma, congenital disease, and infectious causes. Older dogs, on the other hand, died overwhelmingly of cancer; however, the frequency of cancer peaked in the group that included 10-year-old dogs and then declined with the oldest age group.

More commonalities among ages were seen in causes of death related to organ systems. The gastrointestinal, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems tended to be involved most often, which was true for young and old dogs, while the skin, eyes, liver, and glandular systems were less commonly affected.

In analyzing specific breeds, researchers found generally unsurprising results, such as Dachshunds having a high percentage of deaths attributable to neurologic disease and Golden Retrievers having the highest percentage of deaths from cancer.

Respiratory disease was the most common cause of death in Bulldogs, and Chihuahuas and Maltese died largely of cardiovascular diseases.

Yet, some unexpected findings also emerged from the study. For instance, researchers documented a high percentage of cardiovascular system causes of death in Fox Terriers, a breed not traditionally associated with this diagnosis.

Afghan Hounds and Vizslas in the study population most often died of respiratory disease, which researchers could not readily explain.

For access to the study, click on the “Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine” tab at

Millions go toward cattle disease, feed intake research

The Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced April 15 that it had awarded two major grants totaling more than $14 million to support research, education, and outreach on cattle production to increase global food security.

Of the total, $9.75 million is going to Texas A&M University to fund research led by James E. Womack, PhD, to reduce the prevalence of bovine respiratory disease in beef and dairy cattle.

With this grant, researchers hope to accomplish the goal of reducing the incidence of BRD through the identification of genetic components that provide resistance to pathogens that cause the disease. For this, Dr. Womack and his team will work with commercial feedlots to analyze the DNA of more than 6,000 cattle. The investigators will then develop selective breeding programs based on their research, to improve animal health management strategies and provide an understanding of the biological interactions between the host and the disease-causing pathogens.

NIFA awarded the remaining $4.9 million to the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources to study feed efficiency in cattle. The five-year research project is led by the college's Jeremy Taylor, PhD. With this grant, researchers will genotype 8,000 cattle and determine how genetic differences affect feed intake and efficiency. They will also study specific bacteria and microbes that reside in the cattle's stomach and aid in food digestion.

Lichens may combat chronic wasting disease in wildlife

Certain lichens can break down the infectious proteins responsible for chronic wasting disease, according to U.S. Geological Survey research published May 17 in the online journal PLoS ONE.


Courtesy of USGS/Derrick Ditchburn

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 72, 7; 10.2460/ajvr.72.7.859

Infectious prions such as those that cause CWD are notoriously difficult to decontaminate or kill; they are not killed by most detergents or by cooking, freezing, or autoclaving.

In addition, chronic wasting disease and scrapie are different from other prion diseases, because they easily spread in sheep or deer by direct animal-to-animal contact or through contact with contaminated objects such as soil.

Christopher Johnson, PhD, a scientist at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center and lead author of the study “Degradation of the disease-associated prion protein by a serine protease from lichens,” says prions released into the environment by diseased animals can stay infectious for years, even decades.

“To help limit the spread of these diseases in animals, we need to be able to remove prions from the environment,” Dr. Johnson said.

Dr. Johnson's research team found that lichens have great potential for safely reducing the number of prions, because some lichen species contain a protease enzyme capable of greatly breaking down prions in the laboratory.

According to Dr. Johnson, lichens produce unique and unusual organic compounds that aid their survival and can have antibiotic, antiviral, and other chemotherapeutic activities. In fact, pharmaceutical companies have been examining the medicinal properties of lichens more closely in recent years.

Lichens are often mistaken for moss but are unusual plant-like organisms that are symbioses of fungi, algae, and bacteria living together. They usually live on soil, bark, leaves, and wood and can live in barren and unwelcoming environments, including the Arctic and deserts.

“This work is exciting because there are so few agents that degrade prions and even fewer that could be used in the environment without causing harm,” said Jim Bennett, PhD, a USGS lichenologist and a study coauthor.

Future research will examine the effect of lichens on prions in the environment and determine whether lichen consumption can protect animals from acquiring prion diseases.

“Degradation of the disease-associated prion protein by a serine protease from lichens” is freely accessible to the public at

Sports medicine and rehab specialty to publish certification requirements

In April, the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation announced that its board certification process was undergoing final review, with the requirements expected to be published in June.

The college recognizes two veterinary specialties: Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (canine) and Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (equine). Before they can take the certifying examination, candidates applying for board certification must demonstrate that they have obtained advanced training and experience in sports medicine and rehabilitation through one of three paths: an academic path consisting of a traditional residency or postdoctoral degree program in a related field, a nontraditional residency path, or a practice experience path.

The college's Credentials Residency Committee was reviewing details regarding each of these paths at press time.

Some individuals might have sufficient credentials that they would be eligible to apply to sit for the first certification examination, tentatively scheduled for spring 2012.

ACVSMR is a new specialty college that has been in the making for more than a decade. Interest in a veterinary rehabilitation and sports medicine specialty started to gain momentum in 1999 after the 1st International Symposium on Veterinary Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy was held in Corvallis, Ore.

In January 2003, ACVSMR's five founding members submitted a letter of intent to the AVMA proposing a new recognized veterinary specialty organization—the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation—created to meet the unique needs of athletic and working animals and all animals in need of rehabilitation.

In accordance with AVMA American Board of Veterinary Specialties Policies and Procedures, an organizing committee was formalized in 2006 when 16 members were selected, using a method overseen by an independent entity. The selection process began with the founding members each submitting the names of 10 veterinarians who met the AVMA criteria of being recognized as exceptionally qualified and having one or more of the following qualifications:

  • •Being a professor of the proposed specialty in a college or department of veterinary medicine.

  • • Being an author of important publications resulting from research or practice in the specialty.

  • • Having at least 10 years' experience in the specialty and, by teaching, research, or practice, having contributed substantially to the development of the specialty.

  • • Having advanced training in the specialty and having demonstrated competency through teaching, research, or practice in the specialty, to which most of the individual's professional time is devoted.

Veterinarians whose names were submitted by the founding members were then asked to submit the names of other veterinarians they believed should be included. Thirty-three veterinarians on that list agreed to participate. These 33 individuals reviewed the curricula vitae of all the candidates—including the founding members—and ranked each candidate. They also were asked to vote on the number of organizing committee members they thought would be needed to start the college.

In March 2006, the voters indicated that they thought the organizing committee would need to have 16 members, and the 16 top-ranked individuals from the list were asked to be on the organizing committee. The number of organizing committee members—who would subsequently be named charter diplomates—was later increased to 27, as recommended by the ABVS.

In August 2008, the committee petitioned the ABVS to become a recognized veterinary specialty organization. The ABVS announced in the March 15, 2009, JAVMA that the petition had been reviewed favorably and invited public comments for a time period ending that November. The final petition was accepted by ABVS in November 2009, and the AVMA Executive Board granted provisional recognition the following year.

Membership in ACVSMR is expected to increase to more than 200 over the next several years as the demand for veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation continues to grow. Visit the college's website at for more information, including credentialing requirements.

House to consider accreditation of foreign schools

The AVMA House of Delegates will consider a resolution to establish a task force to review the impact of AVMA Council on Education accreditation of foreign veterinary schools on the U.S. veterinary profession.

The HOD also will consider a resolution to establish a task force to review the extent of AVMA involvement in global affairs.

The resolutions will come before the HOD during its 2011 regular annual session, July 14–15 in St. Louis.

The Texas VMA, with other state VMAs as co-sponsors, proposed the resolution calling for a task force to review AVMA accreditation of foreign schools.

The AVMA Council on Education has accredited 16 foreign veterinary schools, including five in Canada. The statement about the resolution notes that 11 of these schools have received accreditation since 1998, including two in 2011.

The schools earning AVMA accreditation earlier this year were the National Autonomous University of Mexico School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Husbandry and Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in St. Kitts, West Indies.

Graduates of AVMA-accredited foreign veterinary schools who seek licensure in the United States do not complete a certificate of educational equivalence through the AVMA Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates or the American Association of Veterinary State Boards' Program for the Assessment of Veterinary Education Equivalence.

According to the statement about the resolution, “… the recent accreditation of two foreign schools and other foreign schools requesting accreditation site visits raise the concerns regarding an influx of foreign veterinary graduates who are no longer required to follow required routes to licensure through the ECVFG or PAVE.”

The California VMA, with the Arizona VMA as a co-sponsor, proposed the resolution calling for a task force to “analyze the current policy on the AVMA's involvement in global affairs and make recommendations to what depth and expense the AVMA should be globalized.” The analysis would include a review of AVMA accreditation of foreign schools.

The AVMA posts many agenda items for House of Delegates sessions, including resolutions and proposed amendments to the AVMA Bylaws, at under “Governance.” AVMA members who want to weigh in with their delegates about proposals may find contact information by clicking on “Your AVMA Leaders.”

Delegates to deliberate on Veterinarian's Oath

The AVMA House of Delegates would approve all changes to the Veterinarian's Oath and would have more authority over the establishment of other AVMA policies if the HOD passes certain proposed amendments to the AVMA Bylaws.

The Executive Board, which consists of individuals who represent the 11 board districts along with the AVMA officers, now establishes AVMA policy between the twice-yearly meetings of the HOD, which consists of delegates representing the state VMAs and various other veterinary organizations.

In November 2010, the board approved revisions to the Veterinarian's Oath. Some HOD members reacted with concern that the board could revise the oath, despite the HOD being, as stated in the bylaws, “the principal body within the Association responsible for establishing policy and providing direction for matters relating to veterinary medicine.”

Organizations in the HOD have proposed three bylaws amendments in response to those concerns. One proposed amendment would specifically give authority to the HOD to approve all revisions to the Veterinarian's Oath. Another proposed amendment would direct the board to consult with the HOD before establishing any policy relating to veterinary medicine. An additional proposed amendment would label policies that receive board approval as interim policies until they receive HOD approval.

The HOD will deliberate on these and other proposed bylaws amendments during its 2011 regular annual session, July 14–15 in St. Louis. The duties of the HOD include approving all changes to the bylaws.

The board submitted a number of bylaws amendments for consideration by the HOD, including an amendment that would add a new path to membership in the AVMA.

On a recommendation from the Member Services Committee, the board has proposed amending the bylaws to state that the Association may grant membership to a diplomate in good standing of a veterinary specialty organization recognized by the AVMA American Board of Veterinary Specialties.

FARAD sees slight drop in FY 2011 funding

President Obama in April signed fiscal year 2011 appropriations legislation allocating $998,000 for the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank.

FARAD is a decades-old Department of Agriculture-sponsored project with a primary mission of providing information on how to avoid problems with drug and pesticide residues and environmental contaminants in food animals.

The support system operates out of the veterinary institutions at North Carolina State University, the University of California-Davis, and the University of Florida. FARAD is credited with mitigating several food safety crises, including those arising from the Chernobyl nuclear fallout and the dioxin contamination of milk in Europe.

Funding has been a challenge for much of the program's existence since its creation in 1982. In 2007, FARAD had to suspend certain services after Congress appropriated no monies for it.

And yet, despite the shaky economy and a divided Congress, the current level of funding for FARAD was cut just $2,000 from FY 2010.

Through its Governmental Relations Division, the AVMA will continue to press Congress to support FARAD.

A promising sign for FARAD supporters came this May when the House subcommittee that recommends congressional spending on agriculture allocated $1 million to the program in the panel's draft FY 2012 appropriations bill. “This is an excellent indicator of the funding level that will emerge at the end of the budget process for the next fiscal year,” observed Gina Luke, an AVMA GRD assistant director.

The Association has requested that the agriculture secretary relocate FARAD from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to an agency more appropriate to manage it. NIFA claims that FARAD, which has an extension component, falls outside its mission and, therefore, should not be a part of its portfolio.

Education council schedules site visits

The AVMA Council on Education has scheduled site visits to five schools and colleges of veterinary medicine for the remainder of 2011.

Comprehensive site visits are planned for the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 2–6; Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 16–20; University of Prince Edward Island Atlantic Veterinary College, Oct. 23–27; and University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Nov. 5–10.

A consultative site visit is planned for the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 23–27.

The council welcomes written comments on these plans or the programs to be evaluated. Comments should be addressed to Dr. David E. Granstrom, 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.

Rinderpest eradicated

Rinderpest caused hundreds of millions of animal deaths that preceded famines in Africa, Asia, and Europe.

International authorities announced in May that the disease was the second, after smallpox, to be eradicated through human efforts.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) proclaimed May 25 that all 198 countries and territories with rinderpest-susceptible animals were free of the disease, and, at press time, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations was expected to declare June 28 that the disease has been eradicated. The announcements indicate the morbillivirus that caused rinderpest remains only in laboratories.

Efforts to fight the “cattle plague” were connected with the 1761 founding of the world's first veterinary school in Lyon, France, and the 1924 founding of the OIE. FAO information indicates rinderpest epizootics were also associated with the fall of the Roman Empire, the conquest of Christian Europe by Charlemagne, the French Revolution, the impoverishment of Russia, and extensive famines in Africa.

Outbreaks killed millions of animals in the 1980s alone in Africa, southern Asia, and the Middle East, according to the FAO. The last confirmed outbreak was in 2001, when buffalo were found to be infected in Kenya. The last rinderpest vaccines were used in 2006.

Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA CEO, said the declarations of rinderpest's eradication would be impossible without the knowledge, expertise, and oversight of veterinarians in many countries. He said the eradication demonstrates the importance of veterinarians and their role in ensuring adequate food supplies.

An editorial from Dr. Bernard Vallat, director general of the OIE, praises rinderpest's eradication as a major breakthrough for scientific fields and international collaboration and a success for veterinary services and the veterinary profession.

Panel recommends protocols to aid animals in Japan's ‘no-go’ zone

The International Fund for Animal Welfare convened an expert panel in Tokyo May 2–3 with the goal of developing protocols to safely monitor, evacuate, and treat animals contaminated by radiation in the evacuation area around the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The panel's recommendations, titled “Nuclear Accidents and the Impact on Animals,” were presented to the Japanese government May 9. Two days later, pet owners were allowed back into the evacuation zone.

For Dick Green, IFAW's disaster manager, the government edict isn't just a happy coincidence. “We don't care if the government acknowledges they're using our guidelines,” he said. “The fact that it's happening is enough. We'll take it as a personal victory.”

The expert panel comprised representatives of the Japanese and U.S. governments, veterinary and toxicology experts, academicians, and IFAW. Among the topics they addressed in the guidelines are radiation exposure, animal decontamination, animal sheltering, and human responder safety.

Green says the recommendations were written to be of immediate use in Japan and for “communities with nuclear reactors in their backyard” to develop their own emergency response plans that take animals into mind.

Maj. Kelley Evans, a staff officer with the U.S. Army Veterinary Command, said she and her fellow panel members wrote the guidelines to address the current crisis but also to provide direction for responding to the sort of disaster where next-to-no guidance previously existed.

“Some of the recommendations, we hope, could be used and further developed to serve as general guidelines for any radiation or nuclear incident in the future,” Maj. Evans explained.

The recommendations follow the human health safety standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency and were written with the understanding that the two contaminants released from the Fukishima power plant in the greatest amounts are radioactive iodine and cesium.

What to do with animals caught up in a large-scale nuclear disaster is mostly uncharted territory, given the rarity of such events. The panel's recommendations, which provide shortand long-term strategies for dealing with contaminated wildlife, livestock, and pets, are posted online at

Panel member Dr. Lisa Murphy, an assistant professor of toxicology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, noted that the recommendations include a flowchart detailing steps for protecting emergency responders entering the no-go zone to rescue pets.

The panel recommended rigorous standards for ensuring these pets are not a danger to the public or other animals. For that reason, the maximum level of radiation contamination considered safe for companion animals is a tenth the level considered safe for livestock.

Those maximum safety standards may be viewed as the panel acting overly cautious, but Dr. Murphy believes it best to err on the side of caution. “In disasters like this, we want to do everything we can for the health and welfare of the animals involved. However, the health and safety of the responders and the public always come first, regardless,” she said.

Safety guidance addresses radiation in the workplace

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently published guidance for workplace exposure to radiation at veterinary clinics and other medical institutions designed to help keep employees and others as safe as possible.

The guide, “Information Relevant to Ensuring that Occupational Radiation Exposures at Medical Institutions will be As Low As is Reasonably Achievable,” is tailored for medical licensees. It is a series of recommendations that staff of the NRC consider acceptable for maintaining occupational exposures as low as is reasonably achievable in medical institutions.

In many medical institutions, certain persons other than employees are exposed to radiation from licensed radioactive material. This includes visitors and patients other than those being treated with radioactive material. This guide addresses their protection.

The content of this guide is also applicable to veterinary medical institutions where specific diagnostic or therapeutic procedures involving radioactive materials are performed. Similar protective practices are applicable for keeping employee and visitor exposures as low as is reasonably achievable, whether the patients are animal or human.

The guide is available on the AVMA website ( in the Scientific section under “Issues”; click on “Environment,” then “Waste Disposal by Veterinary Practices,” and finally “Federal Regulations.”

Renewed focus on race-day medications

Race-day medication use has long been a controversial topic in Thoroughbred and Standardbred horse racing, and now some are calling for an outright ban, as is newly introduced federal legislation.

The only medications that currently can be given on race day are furosemide and other medications used to treat exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage, one of the most common medical problems affecting racehorses.

At the end of March, leaders of the Association of Racing Commissioners International called for the industry to develop a five-year plan to eliminate all race-day medications. That sentiment was soon echoed by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America, and the Jockey Club, among others.

Then, on May 4, two congressmen introduced the Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act of 2011, which seeks “to end the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of horseracing.”

Under the House legislation by New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall and Kentucky Rep. Ed Whitfield, any person with three violations of the prohibition would be permanently banned from horse racing. A horse that tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs three times would receive a ban of at least two years. And the legislation would require that the winner of each race be tested for performance-enhancing drugs.

Even before the legislation was introduced, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium announced that they would host the International Summit on Race Day Medication, Exercise-Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage, and the Racehorse June 13–14 in New York City.

The summit would include participation by representatives from major racing jurisdictions around the world, including Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia, along with the U.S. and Canada. Summit panels would offer discussions on topics such as regulatory issues surrounding race-day medication and veterinary viewpoints on EIPH management.

Dr. William A. Moyer, AAEP president, said he sees his association's role in the 2011 summit as “determining what is best for the health and welfare of the racehorse, which is our expertise.”

Groups issue warnings on improper vaccine use

Practitioners must always walk a fine line when deciding how to tailor vaccine protocols for their patients, but a certain activity has drawn the attention of the federal government and veterinary associations recently.

The Iowa VMA, acting on a member's concern, posted a precaution in its March 14 Communique regarding the off-label use of rabies vaccine as a diluent to reconstitute either canine or feline distemper combination vaccines. The state association warned that this is not an approved use of the rabies vaccine unless it is specifically directed by the manufacturer, and that practitioners should seek advice from the technical services department of their vaccine manufacturer before using rabies vaccine as a diluent for any other vaccine.

Word of the notice reached the Center for Veterinary Biologics of the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which then issued its own statement in late April to further clarify the issue.

Although canine and feline vaccines were specifically cited in the IVMA post, the CVB says it is concerned with any off-label use of vaccines, but specifically rabies vaccines, as diluents to reconstitute desiccated live-virus vaccines. The center's statement said rabies vaccines used as a diluent can substantially reduce the efficacy of the live viruses contained in veterinary distemper vaccines.

Using rabies vaccines as an unapproved diluent also raises concerns about the risk to public health, according to the CVB statement. That's because the efficacy of rabies vaccines when used as an unapproved diluent has not been evaluated. In addition, the expected prevalence of adverse vaccine reactions associated with the practice of off-label use of rabies vaccine to reconstitute distemper vaccines is unknown—for both live-virus and killed-virus vaccines.

The AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents and Clinical Practitioners Advisory Committee also note that other possible results from vaccinating with improperly reconstituted or mixed vaccines include potential toxemia from inappropriate mixtures of products, and changes in withdrawal times following vaccination of food animals.

3 universities interested in veterinary programs

The number of U.S. veterinary schools and colleges has not increased substantially in the past few decades, but that could change in the next few years if interest from a few universities is any indication.

Lincoln Memorial University's proposed College of Veterinary and Comparative Medicine could be the first of its kind in the United States. Plans call for the creation of an accelerated veterinary curriculum, i.e., the program would last six years rather than the standard eight, by combining undergraduate and veterinary education.

The private, four-year, not-for-profit university conducted a feasibility study in the past year and has filed a letter of application with the AVMA COE seeking a letter of reasonable assurance of accreditation. The COE will consider LMU's request at its September meeting.

The Arkansas state legislature approved H.B. 1780 in early April, authorizing the Southern Arkansas University board of trustees to design and establish a school of veterinary medicine; it did not appropriate any money.

Jeremy Langley, an SAU spokesperson, said if the university decides to proceed with creating a veterinary school, it would first have to seek approval from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. Its Coordinating Board next meets on July 29.

Finally, Midwestern University, a private, not-for-profit institution specializing in health care education, is considering creating a four-year veterinary program at its 144-acre Glendale, Ariz., campus.

The university will not explore creating a veterinary program until February 2012. The process will involve the university conducting an internal study, visiting U.S. veterinary schools and colleges for their input, soliciting feedback from the community and state association, and then putting together a plan and a feasibility study.

St. George's inching closer to accreditation

Potentially by the end of 2011, there could be not one but two Caribbean veterinary schools accredited by the AVMA Council on Education.

St. George's University School of Veterinary Medicine, Grenada, West Indies, received a comprehensive site visit by a council site team April 17–21. The COE could make an accreditation decision at its fall meeting, Sept. 18–20.

The SGU veterinary school opened in 1999, but the idea for it first came about in the mid-'70s. Consultants at the time told Chancellor Charles R. Modica that he should start both a veterinary and medical school, said Provost Allen H. Pensick.

“However, at that time, about 18 veterinary schools were supposed to be built in the United States, so the chancellor thought there wouldn't be a need,” Dr. Pensick said.

It wasn't until 1998 when Chancellor Modica wanted to explore the possibility of a veterinary school again. St. George's veterinary school opened a year later, after the Grenadian government had given its approval and positions were filled.

The veterinary school offers a three-year pre-veterinary program and a four-year DVM-degree program. It recently revamped the professional program's curriculum in the past year so that now, from day one, basic science classes are combined with instruction in clinical skills. A simulation laboratory with human and animal mannequins, along with case-based teaching, are major components of the new format. Students learn to apply information taught in class back to the animal, whether through simulation or practice on live animals.

Students then spend their fourth year off-site at one of 28 clinical training facilities with which the school is affiliated.

SGU's veterinary school has two intakes a year—in August and January. Generally, about 80 students arrive in the fall term and between 50 and 60 in the spring term. Currently, about 500 DVM-degree students are enrolled, distributed over the four years. Eighty-five percent, approximately, are from the United States. Foreign students comprise the remaining 15 percent.

To date, about 572 veterinary students have graduated from the school, not including this year's class. About 300 SGU veterinary graduates are AVMA members who are spread among 42 states.

SGU students' scores on the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination have increased in the past few years, from a 78 percent pass rate in 2006 to a 96 percent pass rate in 2010.

In addition to the veterinary program, SGU has its Department of Public Health and Preventative Medicine, which has been collaborating with human and veterinary medicine for more than a decade now.

Established in the same year as the veterinary school, the department administers the Graduate Public Health Program at SGU, which offers a stand-alone master's of public health or dual degrees of MD/MPH and DVM/MPH in collaboration with the university's medical and veterinary schools. Students can pursue a 42-credit degree focusing on epidemiology, health policy and administration, environmental and occupational health, or veterinary public health in as little as a year or as many as five.

Texas A&M obtains historical veterinary books

The Texas A&M University Libraries have acquired a collection of rare books about treating animals and animal care, with some of the books nearly 500 years old.

The books, known as the Veterinary Medicine and Equine Science Collection, were purchased from a retired veterinarian in England. There are more than 900 titles, with special emphasis on horses and farriery. These books document veterinary medicine from the 16th to the early 20th century and detail diseases of the horse, which was considered the working animal critical to farming and the military.

Public funding can't be used for special collections, so the books were purchased with money from the endowment for A&M's Sterling C. Evans Library. Fundraising is under way to recoup part of the cost.

Selections from the collection are on display at the Medical Sciences Library in honor of World Veterinary Year, which celebrates the founding of veterinary education 250 years ago in Lyon, France.

The entire collection is being processed at the Medical Sciences Library. Rare materials will be housed in the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, home of Texas A&M's rare books, manuscripts, and archives.

Phi Zeta presents research awards

Phi Zeta, the international honor society of veterinary medicine, recently presented two awards for research manuscripts.

Dr. Chelsea K. Martin (PEI ′99) received the 2011 Phi Zeta Research Award in the Basic Sciences category. The Delta Chapter at The Ohio State University submitted Dr. Martin's winning manuscript, “Zoledronic acid reduces bone loss and tumor growth in an orthotopic xenograft model of osteolytic oral squamous cell carcinoma.”

Dr. Ashlee E. Watts (COL ′03) received the 2011 Phi Zeta Research Award in the Clinical Sciences category. The Alpha Chapter at Cornell University submitted Dr. Watts' winning manuscript, “Fetal derived embryonic-like stem cells improve healing in a large animal flexor tendonitis model.”

Each award consists of a plaque and a check in the amount of $1,000. Phi Zeta has chapters at the 28 U.S. veterinary colleges and at St. George's University in Grenada.

Winn awards grants for feline research

The Winn Feline Foundation has awarded grants totaling $140,324 to eight projects to improve feline health.

The 2011 Feline Health Grant Award winners were announced in April. Of the 42 project proposals, eight were selected.

The projects are relevant to adult feline progenitor cells, feline infectious peritonitis virus, diarrheagenic Escherichia coli, intestinal biofilm formation by enterococci, oral squamous cell carcinomas, feline immunodeficiency virus, and DNA array analyses for cat diseases.

A listing of the projects available for sponsorship appears at the end of the descriptions. Donations can be made online at