Sandy takes its toll
From small animal practices to aquariums to dairy farms, Hurricane Sandy had a devastating impact on humans, animals, and the environment along the East Coast.
The hurricane—the largest Atlantic one on record—collided with other storm fronts to form a superstorm that brought severe weather to more than 24 U.S. states.
Sandy made its U.S. landfall near Atlantic City, N.J., late Oct. 29, 2012. That state and New York were the most severely impacted.
About three-quarters of the veterinary clinics in New York City were located in evacuation zone A, meaning they were in low-lying areas, estimated Patricia Costello, administrator for the New York City Veterinary Emergency Response Team.
“Data is still coming in, but on the weekend of the storm many clinics were closed and had an effort to reopen, but only a few were closed for more than a few days. Facility damage was less the issue than the ability for staff to come in to make seeing appointments feasible,” she said.
NYC VERT is part of the NYC Office of Emergency Management Animal Planning Task Force. The task force is a coalition of organizations that handle specific duties during disasters. NYC VERT was being used for mitigation and resolution of all animal medical matters. The team has established a network of more than 150 veterinary clinics and about 200 additional veterinarians.
Costello, who acts as liaison and organizer for NYC VERT, said medical issues have mostly involved small lacerations, toxicoses associated with vomiting and diarrhea, stress and anxiety, skin irritation from exposure to contaminated water, and a couple of eye and ear incidents that, according to Costello, might have been caused by the storm or might have been preexisting.
In New Jersey, many animals had been rescued, said Lynne Richmond, public information officer for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Plus, many had been taken to temporary shelters to be cared for until owners have the capacity to care for their pets again. Pet owners also had the option of bringing their animals with them to pet-friendly shelters across the state. Typically, these animals were housed in county animal response team trailers designed for this purpose and set up near the shelters.
On Nov. 2, the Humane Society of the United States, New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and New Jersey Department of Agriculture jointly set up a 24-hour hot line to reunite state residents with their pets.
Hundreds of calls have come through that center and been relayed to animal control officers, New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals staff and volunteers, and county animal response teams.
County animal response teams in every New Jersey county were activated during the storm, Richmond said, but many of those responses had concluded by Nov. 7, except for efforts in counties along the shore, such as Ocean, Monmouth, and Hudson, because of a storm expected to hit that evening.
The AVMA and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, for their part, were doing what they could to assist people and animals affected by Sandy.
The Association did receive a request from the USDA's Animal Care Emergency Programs and assisted by providing information about the impacts on the veterinary infrastructure to allow for coordination of resources and supplies.
Plus, four members of AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Team 2 were sent to Tri-State Bird Rescue in Delaware on Nov. 8. They assisted with decontaminating and caring for oiled birds and wildlife.
Meanwhile, the AVMF received submissions for its Disaster Veterinary Animal Care Reimbursement and Disaster Veterinary Practice Relief grants. The former awards eligible recipients up to $5,000 for veterinary care for animal victims of disaster, and the latter gives up to $2,000 in reimbursement to veterinary practices damaged in a disaster, specifically for items not covered by insurance. As of Nov. 26, the AVMF had received more than 20 requests, with about 10 actual applications.
Educational epidemiologist hired by AVMA
Dr. Malathi Raghavan is the newest assistant director in the AVMA Education and Research Division. She started Oct. 22, 2012, and provides staff support to the AVMA Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates and, secondarily, helps with the AVMA Council on Education.
Dr. Raghavan formerly worked as academic lead for evaluation at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine. There, she pursued her interest in “educational epidemiology.” She also held a part-time faculty position in the university's Department of Community Health Sciences.
Born and raised in India, Dr. Raghavan earned her veterinary degree from Ukrainian National Agricultural University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Kiev in 1993. She then came to the U.S. and earned a master's in environmental conservation from the University of New Hampshire in 1997 and a doctorate in comparative epidemiology from Purdue University in 2002.
Dr. Raghavan immigrated to Canada in 2006 with her family when she accepted a research associate position in the dean's office at the University of Manitoba's medical school. Her areas of research included clinician-scientist issues and medical education.
With her quantitative skills, she helped Manitoba medical school leaders make evidence-based decisions.
Dr. Raghavan says her new position with the AVMA fits in perfectly with her experience not only in educational epidemiology but also as a foreign veterinary graduate. Even though she herself has not gone through the ECFVG program, she understands participants’ perspective. She also looks forward to working with the education council.
Education council schedules site visits
The AVMA Council on Education has scheduled site visits to eight schools and colleges of veterinary medicine for 2013.
Site visits are planned for the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, Feb. 10–14; University of Melbourne Faculty of Veterinary Science, March 17–21; University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, April 7–11; University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine, April 21–25; University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine, May 19–23; Vet Agro Sup Campus Vétérinaire de Lyon, Sept. 22–26; Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 13–17; and The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 27–31.
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. Comments must be signed by the person submitting them to be considered.
Congressional fellows’ appointments announced
The AVMA announced in October the placements of the Association's three 2012–2013 Congressional Science Fellows.
Drs. Tristan Colonius, Donald Hoenig, and Kaylee Myhre are working, respectively, in the office of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, the office of Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and the minority staff office of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The AVMA Congressional Science Fellowship Program is run in conjunction with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. During their yearlong assignments, AVMA fellows provide science-based expertise and knowledge on a variety of policy issues related to agriculture, appropriations, food safety, biosecurity, and health care.
“AVMA fellows are respected on Capitol Hill because of the knowledge, experience, and leadership abilities that these veterinarians bring with them,” said Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, AVMA Governmental Relations Division director. “Our fellows provide vital and necessary veterinary expertise that assists policymakers to make informed and scientifically based decisions.”
Dr. Colonius is working on agriculture, food safety, and public health issues for Sen. Gillibrand. He is a 2011 graduate of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine and a former AVMA GRD extern. Prior to accepting the AVMA fellowship, Dr. Colonius worked for the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Prior to Dr. Hoenig's appointment to Sen. Collins’ office, he was the state veterinarian for Maine. He is dealing primarily with issues pertaining to agriculture, food safety, and public health for the senator as well as matters concerning homeland security and fisheries. Dr. Hoenig received his VMD degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1978.
Dr. Myhre is spending her fellowship year in the minority staff office of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs working on a global health portfolio with an emphasis on foreign assistance in food safety and biosecurity. She is a 2012 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.
For more information on the AVMA Congressional Science Fellowship, visit www.avma.org/fellowship or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Genome analysis could aid human, pig health
Recent analysis of a domestic pig's genome may help to improve models for research in human medicine and lead to discoveries useful for agriculture.
The analysis also provides a better understanding of pigs’ history, adaptation, and domestication.
The research findings were published in the scientific article “Analyses of pig genomes provide insight into porcine demography and evolution” (Nature 2012; 491:393–398). The research team assembled and analyzed a draft genome sequence from a domestic female Duroc pig and compared the genome with those of wild and domestic pigs from Europe and Asia, according to the article.
The paper particularly notes the usefulness of pigs as biomedical models for research into human diseases. For example, the researchers compared protein sequences shared between humans and pigs and saw 112 positions where the porcine protein has the same amino acid implicated in a human disease, according to the article.
More information is available at www.nature.com.
Australian veterinary school AVMA-accredited
A 76-year-old veterinary program, located about 60 miles west of Brisbane, Australia, is the latest to be accredited by the AVMA Council on Education.
The University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science has received full accreditation for the next seven years. That makes the institution the fourth in Australia to be recognized by the council and the 18th foreign veterinary school, including five in Canada.
Council members made the decision during their meeting Oct. 7–9, 2012, at AVMA headquarters in Schaumburg, III.
COE accreditation measures veterinary programs according to 11 standards, which cover areas such as physical facilities, clinical resources, curriculum, and research. The accreditation team made a consultative site visit in August 2010 during the move of the veterinary school into new facilities for teaching and research, which cost $100 million in Australian dollars to build, at the Gatton Campus of the University of Queensland.
The five-year BVSc degree program already has full accreditation with the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in the United Kingdom. This enables Queensland graduates to also practice in Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Hong Kong, and most of Asia.
The current number of veterinary students enrolled totals 577. The veterinary school accepts a mean of 120 students per year; of that number, 28 are usually international students. Most of them come from Hong Kong, Singapore, and other Southeast Asian countries. The number of students from North America is low—one or two students per year. Starting with those in 2012, graduates will be able to sit for the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination, a prerequisite to practicing in North America.
Since its first admission of students in 1936, the UQ School of Veterinary Science has been recognized for excellence in teaching across the veterinary disciplines and the quality of its research. Major contributions have been in tropical and subtropical animal health and medicine.
Illinois dean returning to faculty position
Dr. Herbert E. Whiteley announced Oct. 16, 2012, in an email to alumni that he will be stepping down as dean of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.
In August 2013, he will have completed his 12th year as dean; Dr. Whiteley plans to return to faculty responsibilities in the fall of 2013 or when a new dean is in place.
Dr. Whiteley's background includes 11 years on the veterinary faculty at Illinois, followed by seven years as head of the Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science and the diagnostic laboratory director at the University of Connecticut.
Since returning to Illinois in 2001 as its sixth dean, Dr. Whiteley has focused on strategic planning to ensure strategic growth despite budgetary constraints. Greater multidisciplinary collaborations in translational biomedical research and the creation of a comprehensive facilities plan for the future are hallmarks of his tenure.
Dr. Whiteley received his DVM degree from Purdue University in 1977 and his doctorate in pathology from Colorado State University in 1984. He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists.
U of I Provost Ilesanmi Adesida is identifying a search committee for the veterinary college's new dean.
IOM elects veterinary ophthalmologist to membership
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences has elected to its membership Dr. Gustavo D. Aguirre. He is a professor of medical genetics and ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Aguirre has led efforts to identify the genetic causes of inherited blindness, identify the mechanisms linking mutation to disease, and develop treatment approaches to various forms of blindness. Modeling the visual disorders in dogs, he and colleagues have found a cure for retinal degeneration in animals—breakthroughs that have laid the groundwork for human clinical trials.
Recently, Dr. Aguirre was elected a fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
This past year, the full membership of the IOM elected 70 new members and 10 foreign associates. Members are elected for their excellence and professional achievement in a field relevant to the IOM's mission and for their willingness to participate actively in its work. Fewer than 20 veterinarians are counted among the institute's ranks.
Dr. Aguirre earned his bachelor's (1964), veterinary (1968), and doctoral (1975) degrees from Penn. He is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists.
Mississippi veterinary college to further study Gulf
Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine will work more closely with a local research institution to study the health of animals in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Miss., announced its formal partnership with Mississippi State on Oct. 19, 2012. The two will research protected, threatened, and endangered Gulf species, especially after recent hurricanes and the BP oil spill.
The goal is to improve the ecological health of the Gulf and to discover how natural and man-made disasters have affected one of the largest ecosystems in the world, according to an Oct. 24 Sun Herald story on the announcement.
Mississippi State and IMMS have worked together for about 25 years on various projects, but representatives said the partnership needed structure to fully study the Gulf and the species that live in it, so they signed a memorandum of understanding.
Veterinary college Dean Kent Hoblet said at the announcement that the collaboration will provide better research and public service, and a study of the ecological richness of the Gulf.
He added that the partnership would provide research opportunities for students and help expand the curriculum at the veterinary college.
One-health initiative takes off at Texas A&M
Texas A&M University recently identified one health as one of its “prominent grand challenges,” according to an Oct. 13, 2012, TAMU press release. The hope is to have every Texas A&M college contribute to one health, be it through public policy initiatives, entrepreneurship, commercialization pathways, climatology, remote medicine, biomedical engineering, or education.
TAMU's College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, as part of its commitment to taking a leadership role in advancing this field, launched the One Health Plus initiative and hired its first assistant dean of one health and strategic initiatives.
This past Nov. 1, Dr. H. Michael Chaddock became the anchor of the initiative within and beyond the college, responsible for designing and implementing education, research, and outreach programs that advance the goals of the initiative, Dean Eleanor M. Green said in the release.
As a part of his new role at the college, Dr. Chaddock will not only be developing programs to heighten awareness of One Health Plus outside the veterinary college but also will be integrating the concept into the classroom.
ACVIM, Pfizer Animal Health partner on new research fund
The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Foundation has announced a partnership with Pfizer Animal Health to establish the Pfizer Animal Health Fellowship Fund for Inflammation, Infectious Disease & Immunology.
In support of research on the health of small animals, livestock, and horses, with a focus on inflammation, infectious disease, and immunology, Pfizer provided $120,000 to the ACVIM Foundation for three grants of $30,000 each and administrative costs.
“The ACVIM Foundation is committed to eliminating animal disease by supporting discovery, education, and partnerships throughout the global community of medicine,” said Paige Heydon, director of the ACVIM Foundation.
“These fellowships are targeted for resident research and provide an opportunity for residents to widen their research experience by having a mentor within industry as well as in a practice setting,” said Dr. Elizabeth Settles, associate director of Global Alliances at Pfizer Animal Health.
Principal investigators must be active ACVIM diplomates. Residents in ACVIM-approved residency programs with a minimum of one year left in the program at the time of award may act as co-principal investigators.
Feb. 20 is the deadline for receipt of grant proposals by the ACVIM Foundation. Grants will be awarded by March 15.
Details are available at www.acvimfoundation.org/grants/apply-for-a-grant.
Research awards conferred
The following individuals are winners of the 2012 Pfizer Animal Health Award for Research Excellence. The Pfizer award recognizes researchers whose innovative studies have advanced the scientific standing of veterinary medicine.
Pfizer Animal Health Award for Research Excellence
James L. Sartin, PhD, Auburn University
Peter Dickinson, BVSc, PhD, University of California-Davis
Mark Zabel, PhD, Colorado State University
Cynthia A. Leifer, PhD, Cornell University
Linda F. Hayward, PhD, University of Florida
Shiyou Chen, DVM, PhD, University of Georgia
Dongwan Yoo, DVM, PhD, University of Illinois
Suzanne T. Millman, PhD, Iowa State University
Kyeong-Ok Chang, DVM, PhD, Kansas State University
Christopher Mores, ScD, Louisiana State University
Mohamed Faisal, DVM, PhD, Michigan State University
James Mickelson, PhD, University of Minnesota
Xiu-Feng (Henry) Wan, DVM, PhD, Mississippi State University
Carol Reinero, DVM, PhD, University of Missouri-Columbia
B. Duncan X. Lascelles, BVSc, PhD, North Carolina State University
Stefan Niewiesk, DVM, PhD, The Ohio State University
Susan Little, DVM, PhD, Oklahoma State University
Ling Jin, DVM, PhD, Oregon State University
Eric J. Parente, DVM, University of Pennsylvania
Jeff C. Ko, DVM, Purdue University
Esteban Soto, DVM, PhD, Ross University
Hugh W. Ferguson, BVM&S, PhD, St. George's University
Amy K. LeBlanc, DVM, University of Tennessee
Joe A. Arosh, BVSc, PhD, Texas A&M University
Elizabeth Rozanski, DVM, Tufts University
Ayman I. Sayegh, DVM, PhD, Tuskegee University
Elankumaran Subbiah, BVSc, PhD, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
Katrina L. Mealey, DVM, PhD, Washington State University
Yvonne Drechsler, PhD, Western University of Health Sciences
Yoshihiro Kawaoka, DVM, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison