Bright, dark spots in profession outlined in NRC report
A much-anticipated and long-overdue study by the National Research Council for the National Academy of Sciences has found “little evidence” of widespread workforce shortages in the U.S. veterinary profession. Study members also concluded that the cost of veterinary education is at a “crisis point” and suggested that the profession may be at risk of seeing a decrease in the quality of applicants.
Other concerns laid out in the NRC study, “Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine,” include the dwindling presence of veterinarians in food animal production and care, the steady decline in funding of veterinary education and research, and the need for practitioners to do more to ensure global food security.
Released May 30, the veterinary workforce study was six years in the making. A 15-member expert committee of the NRC was charged in 2006 with exploring historical changes in the size and characteristics of the veterinary workforce, assessing the demographics and adequacy of the current supply of veterinarians in various occupational categories, and examining trends affecting the kinds of jobs available to veterinarians. The AVMA, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, American Animal Hospital Association, Bayer Animal Health, and Burroughs Welcome Fund sponsored the study, which was expected to be published in 2008.
According to the NRC committee, the economic downturn and difficulties with locating veterinary workforce data hampered its work and ultimately delayed the study's release. Earlier this year, the AVMA initiated its own study of the veterinary workforce with the goal of ensuring the profession's economic sustainability. The study is expected to be completed in 2013.
The NRC investigation found that industry and some areas of academic veterinary medicine are experiencing shortages of practitioners who have additional qualifications, such as those with a veterinary degree plus a master's in business administration or public health or a doctorate, or those with a veterinary degree and advanced training in pathology or laboratory animal medicine. Meanwhile, the committee sees the outlook for companion animal practitioners as, at best, “uncertain” and, at worst, oversupplied.
According to the report, the current economic recession makes it difficult to judge trends. Some studies show that expenditures on pets are closely tied to household income, which is likely to rebound. However, increases in the supply of companion animal veterinarians in the workforce could place downward pressure on salaries.
The committee also examined the current and future capacity of universities and colleges to provide sufficient numbers of adequately trained veterinarians in specific fields and identified training needs relative to the demand for expertise in these areas.
Committee members noted that the consequences of potential increases in student enrollment would be felt by the veterinary schools themselves, which have inadequate numbers of clinical faculty, specialists, and others needed to train future practitioners. The committee added that the decade-long decline in funding of education and research has jeopardized the profession's future capacity to serve societal needs.
Study indicates serotype, dose affect Salmonella shedding
Pigs inoculated with Salmonella organisms in a recent study shed the bacteria for various lengths of time, depending on the strain and dose given.
The scientific report “Salmonella fecal shedding and immune responses are dose- and serotype-dependent in pigs” was published in April (PloS One 2012;7:e34660). It notes that subclinical Salmonella infection and intermittent shedding increase the difficulty of detecting and controlling the bacteria in pigs. Improving our understanding of patterns and durations of fecal shedding of bacteria and host immune responses could improve screening for Salmonella infection and decrease the risk of human infections, the report states.
Detection and control of Salmonella in live pigs could improve through better understanding of duration and dynamics of intermittent fecal shedding and immune response, the report states.
Pigs challenged with high doses tended to start shedding Salmonella organisms more quickly and spend more time both continuously and intermittently shedding than did pigs given low doses. Those challenged with Salmonella Cubana and Salmonella Yoruba also had lengthier episodes of shedding than did those infected with the more-invasive Salmonella Typhimurium and Salmonella Derby, which are considered to be classic pig serotypes, although pigs challenged with the latter two Salmonella serotypes were more likely to temporarily stop shedding the bacteria and to stay infected for longer periods.
The report authors wrote that, in comparison with pigs infected with S Yoruba or S Cubana, those infected with S Typhimurium and S Derby were more likely to enter an intermittent nonshedding state following a continuous or intermittent shedding state than to recover from those states.
The report is available at www.plosone.org
Report says animal management research needed
A report from a science source for food, agricultural, and environmental issues calls for research on connections among animal management, animal health, and food safety.
The commentary published in early May by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology indicates scientific examination is needed to show the potential effects of changing U.S. policies on farm practices, including those connected with animal housing and antimicrobial use. The organization lists areas of possible research, including the frequency of subclinical infection at harvest, the human health risk connected with administration of low doses of antimicrobials in food-producing animals, and the consequences of changing current practices involving farm animals.
Dr. H. Scott Hurd, associate professor and director of graduate education at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, is chair of the committee that wrote the CAST commentary. He said the document is most intended for those in Washington, D.C., who create policies on how food animals are raised and for researchers, who could develop increasingly accurate models and analyses of the effects of policies on raising animals.
Dr. Hurd said decisions on animal raising practices need to involve examination of secondary, unintended consequences.
The report is available at www.cast-science.org.
AVMA Congressional Science Fellows chosen
Drs. Tristan Colonius, Donald E. Hoenig, and Kaylee M. Myhre have been selected for the 2012–2013 AVMA Congressional Science Fellowship.
AVMA fellows work alongside congressional staff members and provide science-based expertise on veterinary- and public health-related issues to members of Congress. The one-year fellowship program offers veterinarians the opportunity to see firsthand how federal public policy is made.
“The fellowship is an unparalleled opportunity for veterinarians in all stages of their career to come to Washington, D.C., and help shape public policy that impacts veterinary medicine,” said Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, AVMA Governmental Relations Division director.
“The fellows share their scientific knowledge with staffs in congressional offices and all branches of the federal government and, ultimately, increase the visibility of veterinarians and veterinary medicine in the public policy arena,” Dr. Lutschaunig explained.
Dr. Colonius of Raleigh, N.C., is a 2011 graduate of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. He has worked for the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service as well as with the European Commission and New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture.
Additionally, Dr. Colonius has completed externships with the AVMA Governmental Relations and Animal Welfare divisions.
Dr. Hoenig of Belfast, Maine, has served as Maine's state veterinarian since 1986 and as its state public health veterinarian since 2005. The 1978 University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine graduate participated in the eradication of highly pathogenic avian influenza from the Pennsylvania poultry industry in the 1980s and was part of a delegation of U.S. veterinarians who assisted the British government with the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in 2001.
Dr. Hoenig lectured and was the course coordinator in preventive medicine and epidemiology during the early years of Tufts University's School of Veterinary Medicine. He is a past president of the U.S. Animal Health Association and recently chaired the USDA Secretary's Advisory Committee on Animal Health.
Dr. Myhre of White Bear Lake, Minn., completed her veterinary degree at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. She supplemented her veterinary education with internships at the USDA, World Health Organization, and, most recently, the Institute of Agricultural Technology in Buenos Aires. She has spent most of the time during her internships working on zoonotic diseases and looks forward to a career in veterinary public health.
Drs. Colonius, Hoenig, and Myhre will begin their fellowships this August.
ASPCA, University of Florida partner on forensics
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the University of Florida veterinary and medical colleges have partnered for the past several years on efforts to advance the field of veterinary forensics.
Forensics is the application of scientific knowledge to legal matters, especially scientific analysis of evidence. Veterinary forensics has to do particularly with cases of animal cruelty; the animals can be living or dead.
The ASPCA forensic sciences team and forensics experts from the University of Florida have been assisting with investigations of large-scale cruelty cases involving puppy mills, animal fighting, and animal hoarding. The ASPCA Veterinary Forensic Sciences Program at the University of Florida began offering a graduate certificate this year for veterinarians and other professionals to learn how to investigate cruelty cases.
Randall Lockwood, PhD, ASPCA senior vice president for forensic sciences and anti-cruelty projects, said his organization built on its experience with rescuing animals during disasters to gear up its response to large-scale cruelty cases. The forensic sciences team collects evidence in these cases, documenting the condition of the animals and other evidence from the premises. In each case, the team keeps a photographic log and maintains a chain of custody for the evidence.
Dr. Lockwood said veterinarians who want to explore forensics do not require an influx of new learning, just a new mindset. What makes an examination or necropsy into a forensic procedure is careful documentation as well as mindfulness of potential challenges from the defense during testimony, he said.
Practitioners have been flocking to conferences and courses on veterinary forensics at the University of Florida.
Among recent offerings at the university, the Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program there and the ASPCA hosted a conference in March on animal hoarding. The conference featured a hands-on simulation of a hoarding case investigation.
Starting during the spring semester, the university began to offer an online graduate certificate program in veterinary forensics. Plans are under way to create a full master's degree in veterinary medical sciences with a concentration in veterinary forensic sciences.
The certificate program's courses cover the connection between animal cruelty and violence against humans, processing of animal crime scenes, scientific and legal principles of forensic evidence, veterinary forensic pathology, and forensic entomology.
See the article “Delving into forensics” in the July 1 issue of JAVMA News, online at www.avma.org/onlnews, for the experiences of several veterinarians who became experts in the field.
New guidelines for CPR in dogs, cats
Less than 6 percent of dogs and cats that experience cardiopulmonary arrest in the hospital survive to discharge, while the survival rate is about 20 percent for humans who experience in-hospital cardiac arrest.
To improve outcomes in dogs and cats, the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care and the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society established the Reassessment Campaign on Veterinary Resuscitation initiative. In June, the RECOVER initiative released evidence-based guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation in dogs and cats.
Initiative co-chairs Dr. Manuel Boller of the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Daniel J. Fletcher of Cornell University recruited more than 100 veterinary specialists from around the world to review more than 1,000 scientific papers related to CPR. The specialists analyzed the papers for rigor and for relevance to dogs and cats, arriving at 101 guidelines for CPR in dogs and cats.
A free special issue of the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care online provides an overview of the development of the guidelines, a summary of the scientific papers, and details of the guidelines with algorithms and drug dosage charts.
The recommendations for CPR in dogs and cats include the following:
• Perform 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute of one-third to one-half of the chest width, with the animal lying on its side.
• Ventilate intubated dogs and cats at a rate of 10 breaths per minute. For mouth-to-snout ventilation, maintain a compression-to-ventilation ratio of 30–2.
• Perform CPR in 2-minute cycles, switching the person performing the compressions with each cycle.
• Administer vasopressors every 3 to 5 minutes during CPR.
The new CPR guidelines for dogs and cats are available by visiting www.veccs.org and clicking on “Recover CPR Initiative” to access the free special issue of the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care.
Test detects arthritis in dogs at earlier stage
A research team from the University of Missouri-Columbia's Comparative Orthopaedic Laboratory has developed a biomarker test to detect osteoarthritis in dogs and humans before they begin showing signs of the disease.
The test analyzes synovial fluid to determine whether a patient is developing osteoarthritis in a specific joint, to predict the potential severity of the disease, and to determine response to treatment.
“With this biomarker test, we can study the levels of specific proteins that we now know are associated with osteoarthritis,” said Dr. James L. Cook, a member of the research team. “Not only does the test have the potential to help predict future arthritis, but it also tells us about some of the early mechanisms of arthritis, which will lead to better treatments in the future.”
The team members developed the test from their research analyzing thousands of proteins in synovial fluid, serum, and urine from dogs. The research results appeared in the December 2011 issue of the Journal of Knee Surgery.
The test is currently being validated for the first proposed clinical uses in dogs and is in the initial stages of Food and Drug Administration approval for use in humans.
Pfizer to spin off animal health business as Zoetis
Pfizer announced in early June that it plans to spin off its animal health business as a stand-alone company, Zoetis.
Ian Read, Pfizer chairman and chief executive officer, said the target date for creation of the new company is July 2013.
Pfizer Animal Health has more than 9,000 employees and markets its products in more than 120 countries. Revenues in 2011 were approximately $4.2 billion.
The name Zoetis derives from the word “zoetic,” meaning “pertaining to life.”
“The name best captures the company's focus on partnership with veterinarians, livestock producers, and companion animal owners by providing innovative products and solutions that advance animal health and human well-being,” said Juan Ramón Alaix, president of Pfizer Animal Health.
Funding approved for Georgia project
The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine's plans for a new Veterinary Medical Learning Center recently received the green light.
$52.3 million in bond funding was approved by the Georgia Legislature in March to build the new Veterinary Medical Learning Center; Gov. Nathan Deal signed the budget May 7.
The veterinary college already has raised $21 million in private donations for the project. Dr. Sheila W. Allen, dean of UGA's veterinary college, projects the final budget to total $90 million. Construction is anticipated to begin this fall and last about two years.
The 286,000-square-foot facility will be located two miles off campus on 150 acres. It will house classrooms for case discussions, office space for faculty, and a new veterinary teaching hospital.
The existing 50,000-square-foot veterinary hospital, which has been in place since 1979, is dwarfed, compared with those at peer institutions. The space is not big enough to keep current with medical technologies. For example, small animals have to be taken to another facility on campus for MRIs, and patients have to be taken to another building just for an ultrasonographic examination.
The veterinary college is building for a future capacity of 150 students in a class; however, Dean Allen is quick to point out that UGA will have an incremental increase in enrollment dictated by multiple criteria, including state population increases and the local job market.
The added seats will go primarily to students from Georgia. Some increases from UGA's contract states—Delaware and South Carolina—also may be considered at some point in the future.
Currently, UGA accepts no more than 10 at-large students (out-of-state, noncontract) a year for the 102 seats, and it expects to admit a similar ratio as it increases enrollment.
Florida dean plans for departure
Dr. Glen F. Hoffsis, 71, announced June 7 that he plans to step down as dean of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dean Hoffsis, hired in August 2006, expects to remain on board as dean for another year and will leave UF on July 1, 2013.
Under Dean Hoffsis' leadership, the veterinary college funded and constructed the $58 million, 100,000-square-foot UF Small Animal Hospital in 2010 as well as a state-of-the-art auditorium and educational center.
He also advanced scientific inquiry with key recruitments of accomplished scientists and, most recently, helped create the Pet Emergency Services clinic in Ocala, Fla., as a joint venture with community-based veterinarians; it opened July 2.
Dean Hoffsis came to Florida after serving as dean at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, a position he held for 11 years. He later served for two years as the associate director of veterinary services for Iams.
Dean Hoffsis will return to Columbus, Ohio, and work as a veterinary consultant and continue to serve on the boards of directors of the Citizens Bank of Ashville, Ohio; the Live Oak Bank of Wilmington, N.C.; and Banfield Pet Hospital.
UF will embark on a national search to find a new dean.
New Zealand veterinary school greatly expanding
Massey University Institute of Veterinary, Animal, and Biomedical Sciences, located in Palmerston North, New Zealand, will soon undergo a $75 million upgrade and expansion of its facilities.
The project will allow the country's only veterinary institute to increase its capacity by 40 students, which will bring the new total to 140 seats available per year. Providing the government agrees to fund the additional domestic students, about 20 would be from New Zealand and 20 would be from other countries.
The project will be funded over nine years from the university's annual capital expenditure budget, according to a Massey press release.
It includes expanding the veterinary tower and extensively redeveloping the veterinary hospital, pathology facilities, and teaching and research spaces, according to the release, while retaining teaching, research, and clinical service functionality.
Abstracts invited on transboundary animal diseases
Scientists are invited to submit abstracts featuring novel research to diagnose and control important transboundary animal diseases for the Vaccines and Diagnostics for Transboundary Animal Diseases Workshop, Sept. 17–19 in Ames, Iowa. The workshop is aimed at representatives of federal agencies, the biologics industry, and academia.
August 10 is the deadline for submission of abstracts for poster presentations as well as for registration. Abstracts should be emailed to email@example.com.
International experts will discuss state-of-the-art research on highly pathogenic avian influenza, exotic Newcastle disease, foot-and-mouth disease, Rift Valley fever, Nipah and Hendra virus infections, African swine fever, classical swine fever, heartwater disease, Q fever, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, and Schmallenberg virus infection.
Workshop sponsors are the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases at Kansas State University, the Center for Food Security and Public Health/Institute for International Cooperation in Animal Biologics at Iowa State University, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the International Alliance for Biological Standardization.
Visit www.cfsph.iastate.edu/Meetings for workshop information.