JAVMA New digest

More itchy pets? No problem

It's hard to tell if there are more itchy dogs and cats than ever or if it just seems that way because more pet owners have realized that itchiness in pets is not the norm—and is treatable.

Fortunately, veterinary dermatologists say there are more treatments available than ever for itchy pets.

Dr. Jackie Campbell, a veterinary dermatologist with Animal Allergy & Dermatology of Colorado, said itchiness in dogs can be very frustrating for their owners, and she believes the problem of pruritus is increasing.

Allergy is the most common cause of pruritus in dogs and can be particularly daunting because it is a lifelong condition. The tricky part is handling any secondary infections. If a dog develops an infection with every bad allergy flare and receives antimicrobials, the patient is set up for resistant bacteria. It is not uncommon in Dr. Campbell's practice to have cases in which the only remaining option is a daily injectable antimicrobial requiring weekly monitoring to ensure the kidneys are tolerating treatment.

Dr. Campbell said two new treatments from Zoetis Inc. for atopic dermatitis, Apoquel and Cytopoint, changed the allergy management toolkit for most dogs—although cyclosporine and steroids are still options, despite possible adverse effects.

“What's complicated with dogs with allergies is it's very similar to humans with atopic eczema, and they call it the atopic march,” Dr. Campbell said. “And essentially what that means is, every year is going to typically get more challenging for that patient,” as the allergies get worse.

Allergy shots are Dr. Campbell's favorite way to manage young dogs with environmental allergies because about 70–75% of dogs will improve, with a reduction in the severity of clinical signs of 50% or more. Immunotherapy starts to work within four to six months but may take up to a year. The clinic teaches owners how to do the injections themselves. Dr. Campbell noted that immunotherapy costs for a 150-pound Great Dane are similar to those for a 5-pound Chihuahua, which is not true for other treatments.

Food allergies also can be a cause of pruritus in dogs. The other primary causes for dogs are parasites—notably fleas—and skin infections. Skin infections themselves can have a variety of underlying causes such as insufficient antimicrobial treatment, immunosuppression secondary to corticosteroid administration, and allergies.

Dr. Lori Thompson, a veterinary dermatologist with Animal Allergy & Dermatology Center of Indiana, doesn't think the incidence of pruritus in cats is increasing. She thinks the ability of veterinarians to recognize the problem and the increased willingness of cat owners to seek treatment are at least partially responsible for the growing number of patients.

“The treatments we have to offer now are so much better than what we had 10 years ago,” she said. “It's a better time to be a cat with skin disease than it was years ago.”

To treat allergies in cats, Dr. Thompson said, veterinarians have immunotherapy, cyclosporine, and better diets for food trials. Apoquel can be used to treat cats, even though it is only labeled for use in dogs. Topical medications from the isoxalaner class can be used to treat ectoparasites in cats, and there are antifungal medications formulated specifically to treat dermatophytosis in cats now.

As for psychogenic alopecia, Dr. Thompson said it is a diagnosis of exclusion, which may respond to behavior-modifying drugs such as fluoxetine.

Condensed from Feb. 15, 2020, JAVMA News

Tiny ticks, big threat

Among the estimated 50,000 human cases of vector-borne disease reportedly acquired in the U.S. each year, approximately 80% are associated with ticks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lyme disease is by far the most common of the tick-borne diseases and is among the fastest-growing infectious diseases in the United States with 33,666 cases reported in 2018, although the real number of cases is thought to be far higher.

Veterinarians are seeing more cases of Lyme disease, as well. According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, the number of canine Lyme disease cases increased from 245,971 in 2015 to 336,200 in 2019. Increases in the numbers of other tick-borne diseases were also reported, including canine anaplasmosis, up from 117,203 in 2015 to 207,825 in 2019, and canine ehrlichiosis, up from 107,985 in 2015 to 186,075 in 2019.

“That's been the pattern for the last few decades, and we're seeing that trend in dogs as well as in people,” confirmed Dr. Susan Little, co-director of the National Center for Veterinary Parasitology at Oklahoma State University. “We've seen a dramatic increase in the number of cases, not just in Lyme disease but in human anaplasmosis, human ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.”

Veterinarians play a part in preventing Lyme disease infections, according to Dr. Little.

“I always encourage veterinary students to think about controlling ticks as a public health service,” she explained. “If you have a dog maintained on tick control, the ticks the dog encounters are killed, and they're not in the home or in the environment and able to transmit infection. It's a perfect example of one health.”


Blacklegged ticks are widely distributed across the eastern United States and are vectors for Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, relapsing fever disease, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, and Powassan virus disease. (Photo by James Gathany/CDC)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 81, 3; 10.2460/ajvr.81.3.196

Condensed from Feb. 1, 2020, JAVMA News

Once more around the track

A cluster of horse racing deaths in 2019 has led to increased calls for safety-related reforms and standardization in the industry.

Conversations among racetrack organizations, horse owners, the public, and equine veterinarians across the U.S. led to the creation of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition as well as other efforts such as the Horse Integrity Act introduced in Congress.

The coalition comprises six racetrack organizations: The Breeders’ Cup, Churchill Downs, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Keeneland, the New York Racing Association, and The Stronach Group. The TSC, which launched Nov. 19, 2019, aims to make operational, medical, and organizational changes to the racing industry.

“As doctors of veterinary medicine, the AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) commends the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition for its wide-ranging initiatives to ensure the safety of the sport's equine and human athletes,” said 2019 AAEP President Dr. Jeff Berk in a statement.


The Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2018 (Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 81, 3; 10.2460/ajvr.81.3.196

“Everyone in the horse racing industry shares responsibility for safety, from veterinarians and trainers to breeders, owners, racetracks and state regulators. The focused and collaborative effort of the coalition promises meaningful safety reforms in the years ahead.”

The AVMA endorses the AAEP policy on therapeutic medications in racehorses, which includes a recommendation that all racing jurisdictions adopt the uniform medication guidelines set forth by the Racing and Medication Testing Consortium Inc. The AVMA and AAEP work closely on horse racing and other issues. The full policy can be found at jav.ma/horseracing.

Condensed from Feb. 1, 2020, JAVMA News

African, US veterinarians have meeting of minds

A pilot clinic-to-clinic twinning program is connecting select companion animal veterinary clinics in member countries of the African Small Companion Animal Network with clinics in the U.S. led by AVMA members. The program, coordinated by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association Foundation, began in 2018 with funding from Zoetis.

Dr. Kevin Stevens, who owns Ballito Animal Hospital on the east coast of South Africa, is coordinator of the pilot AVMA-AFSCAN Twinning Project and an AFSCAN board member. He said the project seeks to promote sustained relationships and mutual learning that will help veterinary professionals better understand one another's perspectives, challenges, and needs and enhance companion animal health and welfare and understanding of disease surveillance and control.

Dr. Stevens and a working group composed of representatives from the sponsoring organizations manage the pilot program, which involves veterinarians at the nonprofit DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital in Portland, Oregon. DoveLewis veterinarians are partnering with a group of veterinarians from Kenya, Namibia, and South Africa. In addition, three veterinarians from Nigeria have partnered with three practitioners from Caring Hands Animal Hospital Inc. in Virginia.

The goal is for twinned practices to do virtual grand rounds monthly and connect informally between scheduled rounds to talk about anything practice related. The pilot program management group hopes to facilitate a first face-to-face meeting of all AFSCAN and AVMA member practitioners at AVMA Convention 2020 in San Diego.

In the meantime, the twinning pilot program just kicked off its second year with a call for a limited number of additional U.S. clinics, led by AVMA member veterinarians, to twin with three practices in Tanzania.


Dr. Nasir Olatunji, one of the AVMA-AFSCAN Twinning Project participants

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 81, 3; 10.2460/ajvr.81.3.196

Condensed from Feb. 1, 2020, JAVMA News

Virginia-Maryland names new dean

After a national search, the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine has named Dr. M. Daniel Givens as its new dean. He will take over the position in June.

Dr. Givens (Auburn ‘94) is currently the associate dean for academic affairs at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine and a professor there in the Department of Pathobiology. He is also a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists and the American College of Theriogenologists.

Dr. Cyril Clarke, Virginia Tech executive vice president and provost, said in a press release that Dr. Givens is a respected researcher, clinician, and academic leader and his collaborative approach will advance Virginia Tech's strategic mission. Dr. Clarke was dean of the Virginia-Maryland veterinary college before he stepped into his new role.


Dr. M. Daniels Givens will be the fifth dean of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. (Courtesy of Auburn University)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 81, 3; 10.2460/ajvr.81.3.196

Dr. Givens has received multiple teaching awards during his time at Auburn University since 2000, including the Carl J. Norden–Pfizer Distinguished Teacher Award and the Student AVMA Teacher of the Year.

Dr. Givens’ research into infectious diseases that affect reproduction in cattle has resulted in the publication of more than 85 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts and also produced two international patents. He is also an AVMA Council on Education site visitor.

Dr. Givens will succeed Dr. Gregory B. Daniel, who has served as interim dean since 2017, when Dr. Clarke left the position. Dr. Daniel will return to his faculty position in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences when Dr. Givens takes over as dean.

Condensed from Feb. 1, 2020, JAVMA News

CSU creates Sustainable Livestock Systems Collaborative

Colorado State University has established a collaborative to support the sustainable and healthy production of livestock to address the projected increased global demand for food sources.

The Sustainable Livestock Systems Collaborative, the university announced this past December, will allow CSU livestock and animal health experts to work with industry stakeholders and the government to address current and future challenges facing the industry while also training professionals.

The effort is being led by the CSU College of Agricultural Sciences and the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

The central goal of the project includes looking at how to enhance sustainable and healthy livestock systems through new technologies and disease treatment. The collaborative will also look at soil, plant, animal, and atmospheric microbiomes.

Dr. Susan VandeWoude, associate dean for research at the veterinary college, said the project will produce research and training materials on how agriculture will work over the next century, while taking into consideration environmental and production stressors.

“CSU is committed to contributing evidence-based knowledge in support of sustainable livestock production because it's critical for the future of the livestock industry,” said Dr. VandeWoude, in a press release. “We are very committed and open minded to using all of the resources of the land-grant university.”


Colorado State University has established the Sustainable Livestock Systems Collaborative. (Photo by Savannah Waggoner/Colorado State University)

Citation: American Journal of Veterinary Research 81, 3; 10.2460/ajvr.81.3.196

The university has tapped experts within CSU and reached out to industry experts such as the Colorado Beef Council, Colorado Cattlemen's Association, Colorado Farm Bureau, and the Colorado Livestock Association in the formation of the collaborative.

Condensed from Feb. 15, 2020, JAVMA News

Veterinary faculty among 2019 elected AAAS fellows

Three faculty members at U.S. veterinary colleges are among 443 fellows chosen this past year by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which is the world's largest scientific society. The association's fellowship program recognizes individuals whose efforts toward advancing science applications are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.

The 2019 fellows were recognized at a certificate and pinning ceremony on Feb. 15 during the association's annual meeting in Seattle.

Ellen Puré, PhD, is a professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. She is an expert in the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying diseases associated with chronic inflammation and fibrosis, including cancer. Dr. Puré received her doctorate in immunology in 1981 from what was then the University of Texas-Southwestern School of Medicine.

Dr. Wilson K. Rumbeiha is a professor of toxicology at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Rumbeiha's research interests are investigating antidotes for the treatment of acute neurotoxicity of highly toxic compounds, novel diagnostic toxicology test methods, and the toxicity of toxins in harmful algal blooms. Dr. Rumbeiha received his veterinary degree in 1982 from Makerere University School of Veterinary Medicine in Kampala, Uganda.

Dr. Nicole Baumgarth is a professor of immunology with the Center for Comparative Medicine and the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Her laboratory is exploring the immunological mechanisms that regulate and control immunity to pathogens. Dr. Baumgarth received her veterinary degree in 1987 and doctorate in 1989 from the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover in Hannover, Germany.

Condensed from Feb. 15, 2020, JAVMA News

USDA awards $2.9M in 2019 to support rural veterinary services

The Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced in December 2019 that it had awarded 16 grants totaling $2.9 million to support rural veterinary services and relieve shortages of veterinarians in parts of the United States.

The Veterinary Services Grant Program supports two funding categories. Education, Extension, and Training projects are open to universities and state, national, or regional organizations. Rural Practice Enhancement projects are open to for-profit or nonprofit organizations and practices that aim to provide veterinary clinical services in rural areas designated as having a shortage of veterinarians.

The Education, Extension, and Training grants are as follows:

  • • University of Illinois, $236,750, “A multi-audience online educational program for rural practitioners and veterinary students entering rural veterinary practice.”

  • • Iowa State University, $236,750, “Telehealth for swine medicine: Tools to support shortage situations, expand surge capacity, and teach students with less biosecurity risk.”

  • • Kansas State University, $111,000, “Summer program for aspiring rural Kansas (SPARK) veterinarians.”

  • • University of Kentucky, $236,750, “Advanced diagnostic training for food animal veterinarians and veterinary technicians.”

  • • University of Missouri, $236,750, “Veterinary education and training in beef cattle reproduction and genomics.”

  • • Oklahoma State University, $236,750, “Integrated beef cattle program for veterinarians to enhance practice management and services.”

  • • Lincoln Memorial University, $236,750, “Delivering a comprehensive food safety database to support early career veterinarians in rural, large animal practice as an Amazon Alexa skill.”

  • • Virginia Tech, $236,750, “Training the veterinary public practitioner.”

  • • Food Armor Foundation Inc., $236,750, “Food Armor veterinary student educational and outreach program: Building on-farm antimicrobial stewardship plans.”

Condensed from Feb. 1, 2020, JAVMA News

American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia

The American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia welcomed 18 new diplomates following its board certification examination that was held May 31-June 2, 2019, in Chicago.

Sarah Bigby, Australia

Katherine Bennett, Tennessee

Joana Chagas, New Zealand

Renata Costa, Massachusetts

Graeme Doodnaught, Quebec

Kimberly Hassen, North Carolina

Teela Jones, Saskatchewan

Krista Mitchell, Georgia

Ashley Mitek, Illinois

Kirk Munoz, Michigan

Vaidehi Paranjape, Florida

Marco Ruffato, Florida

Adrianna Sage, Illinois

Stefania Scarabelli, Italy

Chia Tseng, Iowa

Raphaël Vézina-Audette, Pennsylvania

Keely Wilson, England

Kathryn Zatroch, New York

From Jan. 15, 2020, JAVMA News

American College of Veterinary Pathologists

The American College of Veterinary Pathologists welcomed 107 new diplomates in 2019.

Veterinary anatomic pathology

Elizabeth Alloway, North Carolina

Rachel Andrews, North Carolina

Kendra Andrie, Colorado

Hannah Atkins, Pennsylvania

Jessica Bailey, Ohio

Laura Bassel, Ontario

Michael Betley, Missouri

Ethan Biswell, New Mexico

Liam Broughton-Neiswanger, Washington

Timothy Carlson, Minnesota

Sebastian Carrasco, Massachusetts

Argine Cerezo, Kansas

Leslie Charles, Florida

Laura Chen, Washington

Chia-Ching Chien, Ohio

Chad Clancy, Montana

Sarah Cook, California

Emily Corbin, Maryland

Sarah Cudd, Maryland

Jeffrey Curtiss, Florida

Martha Dalton, Mississippi

Camila Botacini das Dores, Florida

Elena Demeter, New York

Stephen Drew, Scotland

Gordon Ehrensing, Michigan

Olufemi Fasina, Tennessee

Alycia Fratzke, Texas

Molly Friedemann, Minnesota

Lindsay Fry, Washington

Naomi Gades, Arizona

Marina Godoy Gimeno, Australia

Randi Gold, Texas

Alexander Gray, Scotland

Nathan Helgert, Tennessee

Tiffany Jenkins, Ohio

Alwyn Jones, Scotland

Nicole Kaiser, Prince Edward Island

Byunghak Kang, Maryland

Robert Kim, Maryland

Britta Knight, Quebec

Graeme Knowles, Australia

Amit Kumar, Ohio

Alison Lee, Ireland

Molly Liepnieks, California

Ziyuan Lim, Australia

Michelle Magagna, Michigan

Margaret Martinez, Ohio

Danielle Meritet, North Carolina

Sophie Merz, Berlin

Kristofer Michalson, New Jersey

Sunil More, Oklahoma

Rachel Neto, Illinois

Ana Ortiz, England

Sonika Patial, Louisiana

Ursula Perdrizet, Saskatchewan

Catherine Pfent, Texas

Pedro Pinczowski, Australia

Jeanette Hannah, Berlin

Kara Priest, Connecticut

Moritz Radbruch, Germany

Emanuele Ricci, England

Michael Richardson, Maryland

Stacy Rine, Lansing, New York

Monica Ronderos Herrera, Germany

Sara Rostad, Wisconsin

Jonathon Sago, Oregon

Franziska Sebastian, Tennessee

Laura Setyo, Australia

Christopher Siepker, Georgia

William Sills, North Carolina

Wesley Siniard, Tennessee

Panchan Sitthicharoenchai, Iowa

Mario Sola, Indiana

Simon Spiro, England

Alan Stevens, England

Justin Stilwell, Georgia

Lauren Stranahan, Texas

Alejandro Suarez-Bonnet, England

Olivia Swartley, Wisconsin

Jolanda Verhoef, Quebec

Vanessa Vrolyk, Quebec

Tatiane Terumi Negrao Watanabe, Louisiana

Allison Watson, Tennessee

Katherine Watson, California

Laura Williams, Washington

Hannah Wong, England

Tzushan Yang, Mississippi

Rossalin Yonpiam, Nevada

Michael Zinn, Missouri

Veterinary clinical pathology

Suzanne Bussey, England

Megan Caudill, Georgia

Ilaria Cerchiaro, Italy

Erica Corda, Saskatchewan

Emma Croser, Australia

Annie Deschamps, Quebec

Samantha Evans, Colorado

Brandy Kastl, Kansas

Rebekah Liffman, Australia

Cynthia Lucidi, Wisconsin

Courtney Nelson, Louisiana

Jose Cruz Otero, New York

Tatiana Rothacker, Missouri

Emily Rout, Colorado

Samantha Schlemmer, Colorado

Kellie Whipple, Florida

Mary White, Ohio

Veterinary anatomic and clinical pathology

Caroline Cluzel, Quebec

From Feb. 1, 2020, JAVMA News

  • Blacklegged ticks are widely distributed across the eastern United States and are vectors for Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, relapsing fever disease, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, and Powassan virus disease. (Photo by James Gathany/CDC)

  • The Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2018 (Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

  • Dr. Nasir Olatunji, one of the AVMA-AFSCAN Twinning Project participants

  • Dr. M. Daniels Givens will be the fifth dean of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. (Courtesy of Auburn University)

  • Colorado State University has established the Sustainable Livestock Systems Collaborative. (Photo by Savannah Waggoner/Colorado State University)