AVMA; Issues; Community; Practice

AVMA details its international work

International activities will account for about 2 percent each of the AVMA's expenses and income during 2012, according to a report given to AVMA leaders in November.

In 2012, the AVMA is projected to spend about $616,000 on international activities and bring in about $598,000. Projected expenses are down from about $713,000 in 2011, and projected income is up from the $566,000 brought in during 2011.

The figures are from a report developed by AVMA staff to address concerns raised by the Arizona and California VMAs, which questioned whether the national association was spending appropriate amounts of resources on global activities. The AVMA House of Delegates passed a resolution for AVMA staff to develop a report on international involvement, the rationale and costs for that involvement, and changes expected in 2012.

The report is available at www.avma.org. Under “Reference,” click on “Reports,” then scroll down to “AVMA's Current Role In Global Veterinary Activities.”

Examples of the AVMA's recent international activities include working with U.S. delegates to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and Codex Alimentarius on sanitary and phytosanitary standards that could affect trade agreements, developing with the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe policies on antimicrobial use and veterinarians' roles in promoting good animal welfare, conducting accreditation site visits at four schools outside the U.S., establishing an International Veterinary Specialty Working Group, collaborating on meetings that included instruction on infectious and contagious aquatic animal diseases, and celebrating 2011 as World Veterinary Year, the 250th anniversary of the founding of the first veterinary school in Lyon, France.

Staff salaries and benefits account for half the global activity expenses in 2011 and 56 percent in 2012, according to the report. They account for just under 3 percent of the AVMA's total salaries and benefits both years. Volunteer and staff travel is the second largest cost, and Vet2011 activities were connected with one-time expenses of $126,000. Other expenses included organizational dues, volunteer leader meetings, student activities, and symposia and workshops. Schools outside the U.S. and Canada cover accreditation costs connected with their own schools.

School debt, animal research among legislative concerns

The AVMA will support a bill that would allow individuals who accepted student loans from private banks to discharge those debts through bankruptcy.

The Executive Board voted Nov. 11 to support S. 1102, the Fairness for Struggling Students Act, and H.R. 2028, the Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act, each of which would allow privately issued student loan debts to be discharged through bankruptcy. The Senate bill would also allow discharge of educational debts owed to nonprofit institutions.

The board also voted to oppose the Pet Safety and Protection Act, H.R. 2256, which would increase restrictions on which dogs and cats could be obtained for use in research. The AVMA policy “Use of Random-Source Dogs and Cats for Research, Testing, and Education,” states that class B dealers should be used only when viable alternatives do not exist, but carefully controlled acquisition and use of random-source dogs and cats can humanely and prudently aid research, testing, and education.

Among others, the AVMA will support the Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now Act, H.R. 2182 and S. 1734, which would extend exclusivity periods for some antibiotics, hasten time for such drugs to become available, and establish studies on the incentives needed to research, develop, and market antibiotics; the Charitable Agricultural Research Act, S. 1561 and H.R. 2959, which would allow creation of charitable tax-exempt organizations that could direct money toward agriculture research; and the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, H.R. 2492, which would establish punishments for people who attend or bring minors to animal fights.

The board approved pursuing AVMA Farm Bill priorities such as reauthorizing the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, providing money for the Minor Use Animal Drug Program, financing the Animal Health and Disease Research/1433 Formula Funds, and reauthorizing the Agriculture and Food Research Institute.

The AVMA will also spend previously budgeted money on a pilot advocacy program, and the Executive Board will meet in June 2012 in Washington, D.C., instead of at AVMA headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill.

Speakers invited for 2013 AVMA convention

The AVMA is seeking proposals from veterinary professionals and other individuals who would like to present a session at the 2013 AVMA Annual Convention, July 20–23 in Chicago.

Potential speakers should visit www.avmaconvention.org and click on the “For Speakers” tab to find a link to a website for submitting presentation proposals electronically. The deadline is April 1.

Additional information is available from Patricia Kmak, AVMA speaker coordinator, via email at pkmak@avma.org or by phone at (800) 248-2862, Ext. 6622.

Spreading the one-health concept

Human, animal, and ecosystem health intertwine to make “one health.”

Since June 2009, the One Health Commission has promoted this one-health concept and an accompanying one-health approach involving collaboration among health professions and relevant disciplines to improve health locally and globally.

Dr. Roger K. Mahr, chief executive officer of the commission, said new one-health centers and groups also have been developing in academia and government in recent years. Iowa State University's One Health Consortium attracted the One Health Commission to establish permanent headquarters at ISU in January 2011. Now the commission and university are working together to create and implement a joint strategic business plan.

The one-health concept is not new, Dr. Mahr noted. He said the interdisciplinary one-health approach has long been key in fields such as comparative medical research, disease surveillance, food safety, and the human-animal bond.

Dr. Mahr said the One Health Commission aims to inform all audiences about the one-health approach by establishing a center for communications and resources. The commission also seeks to promote more collaboration among health professions and relevant disciplines by facilitating demonstration projects that illustrate the value of the one-health approach.

The book “Zoonoses: Protecting People and Their Pets” will be the first demonstration project. The ISU Center for Food Security and Public Health is producing the new reference on zoonoses of companion animals as an expansion of a 2008 handbook on the subject.

The plan is to create a grant program to offer the new books and support materials free of charge to students of veterinary medicine, human medicine, and public health. The books and support materials also will become available to health care practitioners.

The One Health Commission is far from the only organization seeking to advance the one-health concept. Backers range from the One Health Initiative website and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the North Carolina One Health Collaborative and the National League of Cities.

The One Health Initiative website, www.onehealthinitiative.com, is an independent effort that has been promulgating the one-health concept since October 2008. The website features news, events, publications, and other information relevant to the one-health movement. Traffic has expanded exponentially, with the site attracting an international audience.

The CDC established a One Health Office in 2009. The office has placed veterinary medical officers around the world at international agencies and in countries that are potential sites for emergence of diseases. The office also works to increase collaboration among animal and human health professionals within the United States.

The North Carolina One Health Collaborative in the Research Triangle offers a one-health discussion series and a course within the series. The sessions attract students, practitioners, and others in health professions and relevant disciplines. Topics have included zoonoses, comparative research, and ecological issues.

In November 2011, the National League of Cities adopted a resolution backing the one-health concept, especially as it relates to how ecosystem health affects human and animal health.

To help enhance communication about the one-health approach, the One Health Commission recently redesigned its website to be a more extensive and interactive resource.

The commission's website, www.onehealthcommission.org, now provides more information about the one-health concept and a who's who of the commission and the broader one-health movement. The site also provides news, events, and reference material relevant to the interdisciplinary one-health approach.

In another development, the One Health Commission just added a new member, the Infectious Diseases Society of America. The other members are the AVMA, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, American Medical Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, Association of Academic Health Centers, and American Public Health Association.

Alaska eyes partnership with Colorado vet school

Alaska appears eager to increase the number of veterinarians within its borders as it contemplates a possible 2+2 program between the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. But the two universities have a long way to go before a deal is solidified.

So far, the University of Alaska Board of Regents voted Nov. 2, 2011, to include funding in its 2013 fiscal year budget for a UAF Alaska Veterinary Program Partnership. The $400,000 state appropriation—along with $443,100 from tuition and fees, for a total of $843,100—would go toward teaching as many as 20 veterinary students at the UAF campus for two years before they complete their remaining two years in Colorado.

The university also has already recruited faculty and invested in infrastructure capable of supporting biomedical research and academics for the department, according to the partnership program request in the operating budget.

The $400,000 in state funding will support the hiring of two more faculty members—a veterinary anatomist and a veterinary clinical sciences faculty member—who will take the lead on second-year anesthesiology and surgery courses.

This budget request will be considered by the governor and then the legislature, which will take up the request along with the university's entire budget proposal during the session that runs January through mid-April.

Before anything becomes official, however, the two universities need to talk further. Dr. Lance E. Perryman, dean of Colorado State's veterinary college, said, “We have agreed to be open to a conversation with Alaska. When Alaska is ready to begin discussing an arrangement, CSU will be available to discuss the possibility.” He added that no commitments have been made.

St. Matthew's gets new dean

Dr. Karen L. Rosenthal joined St. Matthew's University School of Veterinary Medicine as dean in January. She succeeds Dr. William C. Wagner, who is retiring but will retain the title of dean emeritus.

Dr. Rosenthal was an associate professor and section chief of special species medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

She also had served as the medical director of UPenn's veterinary hospital.


Dr. Karen L. Rosenthal

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 73, 2; 10.2460/ajvr.73.2.177

Previously, she was the founding and national director of Avian and Exotic Animal Services for Antech Diagnostics and a staff member for five years on the Avian and Exotic Service at New York City's Animal Medical Center.

Dr. Rosenthal can currently be seen on National Geographic Channel's “Jurassic CSI” discussing birds, reptiles, and dinosaurs. Her most recent research includes her participation in the research group based at the University of Manchester and Stanford University that uses the National Linear Accelerator to study the anatomy of extinct dinosaurs to compare it with the anatomy of birds.

Dr. Rosenthal received her DVM degree from North Carolina State University in 1988 and completed her internship and residency training at the Animal Medical Center.

Dr. Rosenthal is a member of the AVMA Council on Veterinary Service and a recent president of the Association of Avian Veterinarians.

Veterinarian leads committee for MEDLINE indexing

Dr. Mary M. Christopher is the first veterinarian on the committee that recommends which journals are to be indexed in MEDLINE and made available through PubMed.

She is a professor of veterinary clinical pathology at the University of California-Davis and chair of the 15-member Literature Selection Technical Review Committee for the National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health. The committee evaluates journals covering biomedical topics from oncology to nanotechnology, she said. Her presence on the committee has allowed fellow committee members to see how veterinarians can contribute content expertise in evaluating the quality of research and reporting in human and veterinary pathology and the scope of biomedical literature, she said.


Dr. Mary M. Christopher

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 73, 2; 10.2460/ajvr.73.2.177

MEDLINE is a database with more than 18 million references to journal articles in the biomedical and life sciences, and about 5,600 journals are selected and indexed for the service, according to the National Library of Medicine. The database is focused on biomedicine.

PubMed, which is available at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed, provides free access to citations and abstracts in MEDLINE as well as links to full-text articles submitted to the NLM's PubMedCentral database or available through publisher websites.

Most journals selected for inclusion in MEDLINE are chosen on the basis of recommendations from the literature selection committee. Committee members are appointed by executive staff in the NIH.

Sheldon Kotzin, associate director for library operations and executive secretary of the committee, said committee members come from various backgrounds, such as pediatric medicine, oncology, surgery, nursing, and library science. They review all journals within their range of expertise, such as Dr. Christopher's expertise in pathology. He also said her experience as former editor-in-chief of Veterinary Clinical Pathology helps her review journals in a variety of subjects beyond veterinary medicine.

Feline health studies funded

In 2011, the Winn Feline Foundation, in partnership with the George Sydney and Phyllis Redman Miller Trust, awarded grants totaling $102,887 to six research projects intended to improve cat health.

This past November, the foundation announced grants were awarded for studies on stem cell therapies for inflammatory bowel disease and asthma, cancer therapy, feline infectious peritonitis, pain management, and a safe imaging and oxygen chamber for cats.

The Winn Feline Foundation has provided more than $3 million for health research for cats since 1968. Grants are awarded twice yearly with the help of the foundation's expert review panel. For further information, go to www.winnfelinehealth.org.

AKC solicits research proposals

The American Kennel Club's Canine Health Foundation is seeking preproposals for its Oak Grant Program to support research on canine health. The submission deadline is March 1.

The CHF is accepting preproposals for projects with budgets exceeding $12,000 and a duration of one or two years. The foundation will consider making special dispensations for three-year projects.

The CHF will notify principal investigators in early April of selection decisions. Investigators whose preproposals receive approval must submit a full application by May 15. The foundation will approve funding in September.

Investigators may submit research proposals throughout the year for Acorn grants of $12,000 or less for projects of a duration of a year or less. All recipients of CHF funding receive access to the Canine Health Information Center DNA Repository.

Details about CHF grants are available at www.akcchf.org by clicking on “Research” and then clicking on “Apply Now.”

Putting the science into science-based medicine

Texas A&M University professor Dr. Noah D. Cohen shared with equine practitioners how they can use epidemiological principles and findings in day-to-day practice during his Frank J. Milne State-of-the-Art Lecture. The honorary lecture was held Nov. 20, 2011, during the American Association of Equine Practitioners' 57th Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas.


Dr. Noah D. Cohen

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 73, 2; 10.2460/ajvr.73.2.177

The common perception of epidemiology among equine practitioners is that it is concerned with areas such as public health, food safety, and regulatory medicine. In actuality, Dr. Cohen said, epidemiology also is directly relevant to individual patient care.

Equine practitioners often deal with populations of horses, either at settings such as racetracks, showgrounds, and barns or in groupings by activity level or disease. Also, when examining an individual horse, a veterinarian brings to bear information from the population of similar patients he or she has examined or that have been examined by others. Plus, solid clinical evidence provides the basis for everything a veterinarian does, including collecting a history, obtaining a diagnosis, performing a physical examination, and prescribing preventive treatment. According to Dr. Cohen, epidemiology is the fundamental science of evidence-based medicine; the most clinically relevant evidence is derived from epidemiological studies of patients.

Practitioners should keep in mind, though, that there is a hierarchy of clinical evidence, he said. At the top of this pyramid are systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Following that are, in order of decreasing reliability, randomized, controlled, double-blind studies; cohort studies; case-control studies; case series; case reports; ideas, editorials, and opinions; animal research; and, finally, in vitro research.

Epidemiology can help veterinarians to consider and identify a cause of disease or other health-related outcome—be it a diagnostic test result, a response to treatment, or a prognosis—by studying associations.

But it's important for veterinarians to remember that single causes that are both necessary and sufficient are rare, Dr. Cohen said. Instead, health outcomes often have many component causes, and disease occurs when all components of a sufficient component set are accumulated. With a racing injury, for example, the practitioner must take into consideration that there are many components that may contribute to an injury event, such as the presence of preexisting lesions, the type and condition of the track surface, the class of the race, the accumulation of high-speed exercise, and the sex of the horse. Many of these multiple components must come together before an injury occurs.

A recognized expert in equine infectious disease, epidemiology, and internal medicine, Dr. Cohen is the director of the Equine Infectious Disease Laboratory at Texas A&M's College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

Pfizer opens equine research center

Pfizer Animal Health has opened a research farm solely dedicated to horse health.

The Equine Research Center in Richland, Mich.—a $7 million investment—will serve as Pfizer's worldwide hub for research and development of equine vaccines and novel therapeutics. It builds on the $75 million investment in the renovation and expansion of Pfizer's veterinary medicine research and development headquarters in Kalamazoo, Mich., completed in 2009.

According to a Nov. 8 Pfizer press release, the center adds 24,000 square feet of research laboratory space as well as paddock and pasture facilities. It will support the work of a multidisciplinary team of scientists and specialists working to provide horse owners and the veterinarians who support them with innovative health solutions.

“Horses, like humans, are vulnerable to new outbreaks of prevalent illnesses such as (those caused by) equine influenza virus and Streptococcus equi as well as to emerging diseases such as Hendra virus (infection),” said Dr. D. Paul Lunn, incoming dean of the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, in the press release.

Mahesh Kumar, PhD, executive director of global biologics research at Pfizer, will lead the vaccine development program at the site.

APHIS commits to delivering faster vaccine approvals

Animal-use vaccines will likely become licensed more quickly as a result of changes in Department of Agriculture processes, department officials said.

The USDA APHIS also announced that the agency plans to reduce the amount of time taken to assess risks and implement new rules. In a letter to stakeholders, APHIS Administrator Gregory L. Parham said the agency is committing to changing longstanding processes in response to complaints about slow license and permit approval processes, burdensome rule-making procedures, and confusing applications of some regulations.

The letter indicates the agency focused on reducing the time needed to license animal-use biologics, improving trial consultation, evaluating the regulatory status of genetically engineered organisms, improving efficiency of the enforcement process for regulatory violations, improving the efficiency of the risk assessment and rule-making processes for imported plant and animal products, reducing complaints and calls for investigations of employee misconduct, and improving efficiency of complaint investigations.

Dr. Richard E. Hill, director of the APHIS Center for Veterinary Biologics, said in a conference call the proposed changes could reduce the average time taken to approve licenses for veterinary biologics by more than 20 percent, or about 100 days. Toward that goal, APHIS actions would encourage submission of statistical data in a standardized format; modify rules on labeling from a system of tiered claims to a single, standardized claim; encourage companies to produce development plans that detail expectations and strategies; and provide critical path agreements to show what is needed to gain a license.

Stephen O'Neill, chief of regulatory analysis and development for APHIS, said about 1,060 days typically pass between when APHIS conducts a risk assessment and publishes an animal health rule. But the proposed business improvements could reduce that average to 770 days. Evaluating and upgrading a country's status connected with a particular disease currently takes about 885 days, but that average could be decreased to about 660.

Mizzou's diagnostic lab purchased

In a $43 million deal, IDEXX Laboratories Inc., a veterinary diagnostic testing corporation, bought the University of Missouri-Columbia Research Animal Diagnostic and Investigative Laboratory. RADIL has provided health monitoring and diagnostic testing services to bioresearch customers since it began in 1968.

Though it started out small, RADIL's volume has grown dramatically in the past 10 to 15 years, said Dr. Neil C. Olson, dean of the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. Administrators have been working on moving the laboratory into the private sector for a few years now, as it did not have much more growth potential in the academic sphere.

Headquartered in Westbrook, Maine, IDEXX Laboratories employs more than 4,900 people and serves veterinarians in more than 100 countries with a broad range of diagnostic and information technology–based products and services.

Jonathan Ayers, chairman and CEO of IDEXX, said in a Nov. 7 statement that the bioresearch market is a strategic fit for IDEXX, allowing the company to leverage its expertise in veterinary diagnostics as well as its integrated offering of reference laboratory and in-clinic testing solutions.

The company expects to generate $12 million in revenue from RADIL in 2012.

Details of the distribution of the proceeds from the purchase have yet to be settled; Dean Olson said he'll work with the chancellor, but most of the $43 million will go to the veterinary college. Most of these funds will be invested in an endowment that he estimates will generate 5 percent a year and provide a source of funding in perpetuity.

All RADIL employees will join IDEXX and continue operations in Columbia. Residents and graduate students in the MU Comparative Medicine Training Program will continue to receive laboratory training there, but the program will not be directly associated with RADIL.

AAHA releases anesthesia guidelines

The American Animal Hospital Association has released guidelines on anesthesia for dogs and cats.

The AAHA guidelines offer recommendations for preanesthetic patient evaluation and examination, selection of preanesthetic medications and induction and maintenance drugs, monitoring, equipment, and recovery. The document includes sections on areas of controversy and troubleshooting of complications as well as a checklist of anesthetic equipment and a list of anesthesia monitoring tools.

The guidelines appeared in the November/December 2011 edition of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association and also are available at www.aahanet.org/Library.