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Commission releases report on food animal production

Agriculture industry responds to Pew recommendations

After a two-year study of concentrated animal feeding operations, the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production released in April its recommendations on how to improve the sustainability of food animal production.

The goal of the commission, according to John Carlin, chair of the commission and former Kansas governor, was to “sound the alarms that significant change is urgently needed in industrial farm animal production.”

The commission was formed in March 2006 by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (see JAVMA, Dec. 1, 2006, page 1711). Pew Charitable Trusts provided a $2.6 million grant for the commission to the school.

“It is critical to understand that the commission's recommendations are made in the context of a sustainable future for food animal production in the (United States) that minimizes adverse impacts on public health, the environment, animal welfare, and rural communities,” said Dr. Michael Blackwell, vice chair of the commission and former dean of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.

“As the U.S. population grows to more than 400 million over the next few decades, the increasing demand for animal protein will only exacerbate current conditions,” he said.

To examine the current system of food animal production, the commission members went on site visits to production facilities across the country; held public meetings; relied on thousands of pages of documents submitted by interested parties; consulted with industry stakeholders and public health, medical, and agriculture experts; reviewed staff research; and relied on their own expertise.

One group that commission members engaged with for a portion of the study was a coalition formed by the Animal Agriculture Alliance. The coalition offered pertinent reports, arranged trips to production facilities, and provided access to experts in the topics being studied.

Although the coalition offered these resources, Kay Johnson Smith, executive vice president of the alliance, alleged that much of the information and many of the experts provided were either ignored or not used by the commission when the recommendations were formulated.

“We were very disappointed and concerned that many of the recommendations are based more on opinion of various commission members as opposed to being based on the science that they were presented,” she said.

In particular, Johnson Smith said, the alliance is concerned about the recommendation to “restrict the use of antimicrobials in food animal production to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance to medically important antibiotics.” In one sub-bullet, the commission calls for the phaseout and ban of the use of antimicrobials for nontherapeutic use in food animals.

“We provided to them many documents that indicated the use of antibiotics in food animals has not been declared a source of antibiotic resistance and yet it appears that was completely ignored, based on the recommendations that were made,” she said.

In response, Dr. Blackwell said, “There is sufficient scientific information that use of antimicrobials under certain conditions can present a selective pressure that can lead to resistant microorganisms. Exposing these organisms to nontherapeutic levels of antimicrobials makes resistance development more likely.”

Another concern of the alliance is that the recommendations were made after only one of eight technical reports, written by subject matter experts the commission selected, had been released.

Dr. Blackwell said that the technical reports will be made available and that he does not expect the recommendations will need to be amended once peer review of the reports is complete.

In a statement, the American Association of Avian Pathologists commented on the commission's recommendation to “phase out the most intensive and inhumane production practices within a decade to reduce the risk of industrial farm animal production to public health and improve animal well-being.”

One such practice, the report states, is use of battery cages for hens.

“We disagree with the characterization of battery cages as inhumane and the call to phasing out their use without giving consideration to how cages became the predominant production system and without having science-based comparisons of cage versus cage-free egg production,” the AAAP stated. “Poultry welfare is of utmost importance to the AAAP. We encourage the adoption of management and production technology that can demonstrate a measurable improvement in the welfare of poultry flocks.”

Dr. Gatz Riddell, executive vice president of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, said, “We do find some common ground with the Pew Commission's findings, even though we had been concerned (about) the establishment of the commission and the institution hosting the commission.” He said Johns Hopkins has a history of being anti-intensive agriculture.

Dr. Tom Burkgren, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, said that he was disappointed with the content and intent of the Pew Commission's report.

“The lack of objectivity and transparency of the commission has resulted in an extremely biased report,” Dr. Burkgren said. “Their intent appears to be nothing more than another assault on modern agriculture.”

Dr. Blackwell said, “It will be interesting to see how some defend their position as these issues get debated before the public. The lack of transparency is with the industry. The Pew Commission has opened the doors to the public. Regardless of what some are saying, change is under way.”

The AVMA is reviewing the commission's report. Various entities of the association will use the report as one more piece of information to consider when developing science-based policies.

To view the report, “Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America,” visit the commission's Web site at www.pcifap.org.

–ALLISON REZENDES

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Courtesy of Associated Press

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 232, 12; 10.2460/javma.232.12.1776

Commission members

  1. Brother David Andrews, CSC, JD, coordinator for peace and justice of the Congregation of Holy Cross and former executive director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference
  2. Fedele Bauccio, MBA, CEO of Bon Appétit Management Company
  3. Michael Blackwell, DVM, MPH, CEO of Blackwell Consulting LLC, former dean of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, and retired assistant surgeon general and chief of staff of the Office of the Surgeon General
  4. John Carlin, executive-in-residence at Kansas State University, former archivist of the United States, former Kansas governor
  5. Tom Dempster, state senator for South Dakota
  6. Dan Glickman, JD, CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America and former U.S. secretary of agriculture
  7. Alan M. Goldberg, PhD, professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  8. John Hatch, DrPH, a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health at Chapel Hill
  9. Dan Jackson, a cattle rancher
  10. Frederick Kirschenmann, PhD, fellow at Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University
  11. James Merchant, MD, DrPH, dean of the University of Iowa College of Public Health
  12. Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, professor at the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University
  13. Bill Niman, cattle rancher and founder of Niman Ranch Inc.
  14. Bernard Rollin, PhD, a professor of philosophy at Colorado State University
  15. Mary Wilson, MD, associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and associate clinical professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School

Pew Commission's key recommendations

  1. Restrict the use of antimicrobials in food animal production to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance to medically important antibiotics.
  2. Implement a disease monitoring program for food animals to allow 48-hour traceback of those animals through aspects of their production, in a fully integrated and robust national database.
  3. Treat industrial farm animal production as an industrial operation and implement a new system to deal with farm waste to replace the inflexible and broken system that exists today, to protect Americans from the adverse environmental and human health hazards of improperly handled industrial farm animal production waste.
  4. Phase out the most intensive and inhumane production practices within a decade to reduce the risk of industrial farm animal production to public health and improve animal well-being.
  5. Federal and state laws need to be amended and enforced to provide a level playing field for producers when entering contracts with integrators.
  6. Increase funding for, expand, and reform animal agriculture research.

Human rabies vaccines temporarily limited

Effective May 19, IMOVAX Rabies, a rabies vaccine manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, will be temporarily unavailable for pre-exposure prophylaxis in the United States.

Sanofi Pasteur will continue to supply their vaccine to health care providers, who in consultation with public health officials will treat patients who have had documented rabies exposures. This measure will allow responsible management of the limited supplies.

Novartis, another supplier of rabies vaccines in the United States, has limited amounts of the rabies vaccine RabAvert, which is available only for postexposure prophylaxis. Officials anticipate there will be enough vaccine lots approved and distributed by Novartis by July 2008 that vaccines will be available for pre- and postexposure uses.

Discussions among federal, state, and local public health personnel are ongoing to review additional strategies to handle pre-exposure vaccination needs.

Individuals with an increased risk for rabies exposure are encouraged to take appropriate precautions. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web site at www.cdc.gov/rabies/exposure for more information.

Individuals who are concerned about having a low titer should request a rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test, which is used as an indicator of an adequate adaptive immune response. Those who are in the middle of a pre-exposure prophylaxis regimen should have their health care professional complete the regimen using already purchased vaccine supplies. If this is not possible, the pre-exposure prophylaxis should be discontinued and the person considered as nonvaccinated. If needed, the course should be restarted once an adequate vaccine supply for pre-exposure prophylaxis is available.

Several factors contributed to the vaccine shortage. Starting in June 2007, Sanofi Pasteur began renovating its IMOVAX Rabies vaccine production facility in France to maintain compliance with Food and Drug Administration requirements and the French regulatory body. Prior to these renovations, the company established inventory on the basis of historical levels of sales and projected market demand. The facility is scheduled to be approved and operational by late 2009.

After renovations began at Sanofi Pasteur, Novartis was unable to meet projected needs for rabies vaccine supplies.

Since early 2008, Novartis has supplied RabAvert for postexposure use only. Consequently, Sanofi Pasteur has been supplying nearly all pre-exposure rabies vaccines. The increase in demand for IMOVAX is outpacing the company's historical levels of supply.

For more information on the vaccine shortage, visit the CDC Web site at www.cdc.gov/rabies/news/2008-05-20_PreEVax.html.

Class I recall issued for digoxin product

Veterinarians who use the human drug Digitek (digoxin tablets, USP, all strengths) to treat their patients should be aware that a Class I recall has been issued because of the possibility the tablet strength may be doubled. The Food and Drug Administration warns that this increase in tablet active ingredient could result in life-threatening adverse drug reactions in some animals.

The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine issued the warning and notification May 16 after the manufacturer initiated a nationwide recall April 25. Recalls are voluntary actions by the firm involved. The FDA declares a recall Class I if a product defect is likely to cause substantial injury or death to humans or animals. Class I is the most demanding and requires a more thorough accounting of all product distribution.

Actavis Totowa LLC, a U.S. manufacturing division of the international generic pharmaceutical company Actavis Group, initiated the recall. The products are distributed by Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. under a Bertek label and by UDL Laboratories Inc. under a UDL label.

Any adverse reactions or quality problems should be reported to the FDA MedWatch Program by phone at (800) FDA-1088; by fax at (800) FDA-0178; by mail at MedWatch, FDA, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852-9787; or on the MedWatch Web site at www.fda.gov/medwatch.

Final rule adds layer of protection against BSE

To further strengthen existing safeguards against bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the Food and Drug Administration has issued a rule amending its regulations to prohibit the use of certain cattle-origin materials in the food or feed of all animals.

Previously the U.S. ruminant feed regulation prohibited the use of certain mammalian-origin proteins in ruminant feed but allowed them in feed for nonruminant animals.

The final rule becomes effective April 27, 2009, one year after publication in the April 25 Federal Register. (The 12-month implementation period is needed to allow the livestock, meat, rendering, and feed industries time to adapt their practices to comply with the new regulation.) In crafting the rule, the FDA considered more than 840 comments it received following publication of the proposed rule Oct. 6, 2005.

Dr. Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, told JAVMA, “The combination of the 1997 and the 2008 BSE rules further protects the U.S. cattle population from the already low risk of BSE. The rule protects animals and consumers against BSE by prohibiting the use of most mammalian protein in the manufacture of animal feeds given to ruminant animals and by removing high-risk materials from all animal feed.”

Materials prohibited in all animal feed by the new regulation include the following:

  1. the entire carcass of BSE-positive cattle
  2. the brains and spinal cords from cattle 30 months of age and older
  3. the entire carcass of cattle not inspected and passed for human consumption that are 30 months of age or older from which brains and spinal cords were not removed
  4. tallow that is derived from BSE-positive cattle
  5. tallow that is derived from other materials prohibited by this rule that contains more than 0.15 percent insoluble impurities
  6. mechanically separated beef that is derived from the materials prohibited by this rule

Dr. Gatz Riddell, executive vice president of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, said, “The most recent regulation will serve to prevent any accidental feeding of (high-risk) ingredients to cattle which might have previously been contained in feeds intended for other species. The rendering and feed industries will bear the majority of the changes imposed by this additional safeguard but the impact should realistically be negligible.

“This regulation is yet another preventative measure to ensure the wholesomeness of animal feeds and safeguard against BSE transmission in the U.S. cattle industry. The additional safeguard will provide assurances to global customers regarding the United States stance on the safety of American beef products.”

The April 25, 2008, Federal Register notice summarizes the comments FDA received from many stakeholder groups and the agency's responses. Many comments questioned the need for these additional controls, given the high compliance with the FDA's 1997 feed rule and the low prevalence of BSE in this country. On the other end of the spectrum were stakeholders who favored a ban on all ruminant-derived material in all animal feed. Other concerns were related to the increased financial and record-keeping burden; the difficulty of ensuring complete removal of brain and spinal cord from dead cattle; disposal of materials; and adverse effects on humans, animals, and the environment.

On the basis of stakeholder comments, the FDA made modifications before issuing the final rule. A statement was added to specify that the purpose of a new section of the rule is to prohibit use of certain cattle-origin materials in the food or feed of all animals to further reduce the risk of the spread of BSE within the United States.

In the definition of “cattle materials prohibited in animal feed” the rule now includes the entire carcass of BSE-positive cattle. Also, the FDA has prohibited use of the entire carcass of cattle that are 30 months of age or older, that have not been inspected and passed for human consumption, and from which brain and spinal cord have not been effectively removed or otherwise excluded from animal feed.

The rule was further revised to require renderers to develop and maintain written procedures for determining the age of dead cattle and for removing their brains and spinal cords. The procedures must be made available for FDA inspection.

Given international trade obligations, the FDA also added a provision authorizing the agency to designate a country as not being subject to the new requirements in this rule if the country provides sufficient scientific evidence to support its claimed BSE risk status.

In its December 2005 response to the proposed rule, the AVMA had said the proposal achieved a proper balance between BSE risk reduction and negative impacts on the environment (such as carcass disposal) and animal disease surveillance activities. The AVMA expressed concern, however, that the balance may not be appropriate if the estimates and assumptions in the proposal were inaccurate. In the final rule, the FDA explains how those issues are adequately addressed.

Also in its 2005 response, the AVMA had applauded the FDA decision not to prohibit use of blood and blood products such those as in colostrum replacers. Earlier, in response to the FDA's 2004 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Association had summarized the importance of those products for animal health and welfare.

To view the 40-page final rule in the April 25 Federal Register, go to http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/08-1180.pdf.

For further information, contact Dr. Burt Pritchett, Center for Veterinary Medicine (HFV-222), Food and Drug Administration, 7519 Standish Place, Rockville, MD 20855; phone, (240) 453-6860; or e-mail, burt.pritchett@fda.hhs.gov.

Purina recalls horse feed because of aflatoxin

Purina Mills issued a recall of certain horse feeds and other products through local dealers in mid-February after tests detected aflatoxin in an ingredient, and the company released an update about the situation in May following questions from animal owners.

In February, company tests of incoming ingredients and routine state regulatory testing at a manufacturing plant in Statesville, N.C., found aflatoxin concentrations exceeding the Food and Drug Administration's action levels. An internal investigation determined that a single ingredient from a single supplier was the source of the aflatoxin. The supplier also served the Purina Mills plants in Harrisburg, Pa., and Guilderland, N.Y.

Purina Mills suspended purchases from the supplier. The recall does not apply to products that the Statesville or Harrisburg plants manufactured after Feb. 8 or that the Guilderland plant manufactured after March 10.

The recall applies to products in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia. The recall also applies to products in eastern Tennessee and northern Georgia.

A list of products subject to the recall is available at www.purinamills.com.

Euthanasia at Kentucky Derby renews attention to safety

Injuries also beset horses and riders competing in the Olympic sport of eventing

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Track personnel try to hold down Eight Belles after the Kentucky Derby. The filly collapsed after placing second, and her injuries were so severe that euthanasia was the only option.

Brian Bohannon/Associated Press

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 232, 12; 10.2460/javma.232.12.1776

The dramatic breakdown and subsequent euthanasia of Eight Belles, the filly who placed second in the Kentucky Derby, has shone a spotlight again on the safety issues of horse racing.

At the same time, fatal and nonfatal injuries have occurred among horses and riders participating in the Olympic sport of eventing—a three-day competition consisting of dressage, cross-country jumping, and show jumping.

For horse racing and eventing, veterinarians are among the experts proposing and implementing safety improvements.

Eight Belles

No one knows exactly what caused Eight Belles to collapse. The filly broke down about a quarter of a mile after she passed the finish line at Churchill Downs.

“She had displaced condylar fractures in both forelimbs, with additional fractures of one or both sesamoids,” said Dr. Larry Bramlage, who provided veterinary expertise during the Kentucky Derby as part of the American Association of Equine Practitioners' On Call program.

Dr. Bramlage, a past president of the AAEP, explained to the press that euthanasia was the only option. He later said that the On Call program, which arranges for veterinarians to assist with live coverage of horse races, was helpful in this event.

“We were prepared and able to relay the medical information to the viewing audience in a matter of minutes,” said Dr. Bramlage, an orthopedic surgeon and partner at the Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky.

Dr. Bramlage would not speculate as to whether any safety improvements could have prevented Eight Belles' breakdown. The press conjectured that breeding racehorses for speed rather than sturdiness contributed to the filly's collapse. In the meantime, organizations that promote animal rights or animal welfare seized the opportunity to propose reforms in horse racing.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called for a ban on whipping horses. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals objected to the use of analgesic drugs because of the possibility that horses could then race despite injuries. Both organizations suggested that dirt racetracks, such as the track at Churchill Downs, are not as safe as synthetic surfaces.

“Their criticisms do serve to keep us focused on the welfare of the racehorse and serve as a barometer of the public perception of the issues,” Dr. Bramlage responded. “What they don't do is recognize that the equine athletes are the most highly cared for and looked after of all of the equine species.”

Horse racing

Within a week of the Kentucky Derby, the Jockey Club announced the formation of a Thoroughbred Safety Committee—with Dr. Bramlage as one of the seven members. The committee will review breeding practices, medication, the rules of racing, and track surfaces before advising industry on actions to improve equine health and safety.

Recommendations from two summits on the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse will serve as starting points for the committee. The Jockey Club and Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation coordinated and underwrote the summits in October 2006 and March 2008.

A couple of the key recommendations from the first summit were to develop statistics on the durability and longevity of the progeny of breeding stock and to develop a standard method for reporting on-track injuries.

In September 2007, the research foundation published charts online at www.grayson-jockeyclub.org regarding the durability of bloodlines in terms of percentage of a stallion's offspring that race at least once and lifetime average number of starts per starter by a sire. The hope is that breeders might find the figures useful or thought provoking.

Also in 2007, almost three dozen racetracks adopted an injury reporting system that Dr. Mary Scollay developed after the first safety summit. Dr. Scollay, who has been track veterinarian for Florida's Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park, expects about 60 racetracks to participate this year. The system is collecting data that will be the basis for a number of statistics, including fatality rates for racehorses on synthetic surfaces versus dirt tracks.

“Support for the system has been overwhelming from all facets of the industry,” Dr. Scollay said. “It's just been amazing, the buy-in we've gotten.”

The system gathers data after fatal and nonfatal injuries on the horse's racing and training history, race distance, rider experience, surface conditions, track configuration, and other variables. Dr. Scollay doesn't expect the system to be a source of meaningful injury statistics until at least the end of the year.

“It will be a tremendous resource in the future, and it's just going to take a while to get the foundation of data,” Dr. Scollay said.

The sport of eventing

Safety concerns for equine and human athletes also have come to the forefront for U.S. participants in the sport of eventing as the 2008 Olympics approach.

In March, a rider who represented the United States in eventing during the 2004 Olympics sustained severe injuries after a fall at a Florida competition. In April, the New York Times reported that a dozen riders had died in the sport worldwide in the previous year and a half. At the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event later in April, falls led to serious injuries for one potential U.S. Olympic rider and the euthanasia of two horses.

David O'Connor, president of the United States Equestrian Federation, and Kevin Baumgardner, president of the United States Eventing Association, responded to these incidents with a letter to the equestrian community.

“Although we have implemented several measures to improve safety over the last year, clearly more needs to be done,” O'Connor and Baumgardner wrote. “In the coming days and weeks, we will be redoubling our efforts to identify additional steps we can take to make sure that riders and horses can compete as safely as possible.”

The letter invited equestrians to attend a USEF/USEA Safety Summit on eventing in early June. At press time, organizers were planning to explore the following topics:

  1. Horse and rider qualifications—professional/amateur qualifications, international/national qualifications, loss or downgrading of qualifications
  2. Course design—designing jumps to break apart on impact, prevention of rotational falls, optimal speeds, course distances, course formats
  3. Education—riders' and instructors' responsibilities, officials' responsibilities, handling dangerous riding, instructor certification
  4. Veterinary and human medical issues—horse conditioning, prevention of horse and rider injury, rider fitness, concussion management

Information about the USEF/USEA Safety Summit is available at www.usef.org.

–KATIE BURNS

One-health wonders

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Dr. James H. Steele

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 232, 12; 10.2460/javma.232.12.1776

With all the attention of late on veterinarians and physicians collaborating for a more robust public health system, JAVMA News wants to spotlight a few of the veterinary and physician champions of the one-health concept with a new feature, “One-health wonders.” We could think of no better champion to launch this series than Dr. James H. Steele. Among his many notable achievements, including surviving a bout of H7N7 A avian influenza virus—the “grandfather” of avian influenza viruses—in 1959, Dr. Steele started the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's first veterinary public health program.

What do you make of the recent focus on one health?

This goes back to the origins of veterinary medicine. When the big rinderpest outbreak hit Europe in the 1700s, it devastated Western Europe by ruining farms. They had no draft animals, they had no agriculture production, and the pope called a meeting of his medical council to ask, “What can we do for animal health?” This resulted in the creation of the first veterinary school in Lyon, France. For the first 20 years, you had to have a medical degree to study veterinary medicine! Even in Louis Pasteur's time, he hired veterinarians and physicians to work side by side with him.

The same relationship between veterinary medicine and human medicine existed in this country for many, many years. Veterinarians were recruited into the American Public Health Association, organized in 1871, to bring a broad perspective to the association. The veterinary profession suffered a bit after World War I when horses were used less. But the decades following World War II saw the profession reinvigorated because the veterinarians in the U.S. Army had done a great job. I had that great opportunity of being challenged by the medics in the U.S. Public Health Service who said, “What are you veterinarians going to do for the public health now that the war is over?” You can see how this bridge between veterinary and human medicine has spanned over 200 years. So when you ask me what I think about the recent focus on one health, I think it's good!

What do you hope the result will be?

Respect for each other. That's the thing that's come to my attention most frequently over the years. The average veterinary clinician finds it difficult to go before a medical audience and talk about what their relationship should be. If you're a veterinary pathologist, or microbiologist, or virologist, it's easy, or if you've got professional training in public health, it's easy. The thing that I'm pushing personally, with support from the hierarchy of the PHS, is to build up a corps of inactive reserve veterinarians that can be called on when disasters occur. These people would be the ones encouraged to get an inactive reserve commission in the PHS, and then the service can call them together every one or two years to update them on what's going on in public health. This has been my mission.

How does veterinary medicine complement human medicine?

The first is in the area of infectious diseases. When I came into the PHS at the end of the war, we were probably having the biggest epidemic of rabies ever recorded. The reason for that is thousands of people were moving around the nation, and thousands of pets were abandoned. Across the southern United States and up the East Coast, rabies was raging. To answer that challenge—“What are you veterinarians going to do for the public health now that the war is over?”—I decided rabies control is the most important thing we could do. That's when we set up the studies on rabies vaccine duration. It took five years of testing, and at the end we knew we had a safe vaccine. Today, we as veterinarians can all proudly say we did our bit in eliminating rabies in dogs and cats.

The second area is more historical—the elimination of bovine tuberculosis. I wrote about the need for pasteurization and what pasteurization does in eliminating a lot of childhood TB. The disease is practically unknown today in the United States; you have to go to remote places to find where there's milk consumption from TB-infected cows.

The third area is the elimination of brucellosis in all our cattle. I constantly preach, “You cannot have good public health unless you have good animal health. And you can't have good animal health unless you have good public health.” There are enough disease crossover to justify greater collaboration between the two professions. There's economic issues at play, too. Go to Mexico and see how much brucellosis has affected the goat population, and how that disease has kept millions of people in poverty because there's no profit in handling their goats—the goats are always sick or the people are sick.

How do you see veterinarians and physicians working together now?

The great thing going on today is joint meetings between our respective presidents. Ron Davis, president of the American Medical Association, and Roger Mahr (AVMA immediate past president)—there you had two people thinking in the same way, coming together. And now you have (AVMA President) Greg Hammer endorsing this, and that's good, too. One health requires constant exposure and dialogue between the two professions. The AVMA convention is going to be great this year because of the MDs and PhDs speaking at the meeting. Now that to me is the kind of thing that should be emulated at the state level. But unfortunately, it's not taken hold yet. The AMA, AVMA, and American Public Health Association, those are the three national associations that should be doing more interchanging of programs. Those kinds of exchanges matter in the long run.

–INTERVIEW BY R. SCOTT NOLEN

Fourteen resolutions submitted

House of Delegates will deliberate proposals in July

Resolutions on issues ranging from drug compounding to veterinary student concerns await the AVMA House of Delegates July 18-19 in New Orleans.

Delegates will consider 14 resolutions submitted by the May 19 deadline. This upswing in submissions attests to House Advisory Committee Chair Mark Helfat's efforts to promote more HOD-driven initiatives.

Dr. Helfat said one of the House of Delegates' main functions is to determine policy with regard to veterinary medicine. “We've been a little deficient in that department over the past couple years, and we need to pay more attention to this.

“Technically, I'd like to see every time the House of Delegates gets together 20 resolutions. And when you consider policy with regard to veterinary medicine, it's a wide open field out there.”

Recently the HOD manual was revised to create a process whereby resolutions can be amended. They can be reworded for clarity but may not be edited to add or take away from the thoughts originally expressed by the authors of the resolutions. Dr. Helfat said, “Now we can actually work with delegates' resolutions as opposed to voting them up or down. It's a much more fluid process now.”

The HAC and 10 other entities sponsored or co-sponsored one or more resolutions. One resolution was submitted by petition of AVMA members. Dr. Helfat said they are a fair representation of items that need to be addressed by the delegates, so they cover a spectrum. The text of each follows.

Resolution 1, submitted by the California VMA:

AVMA Eliminate the Position of Vice President

“RESOLVED, that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) eliminate Section 4. Vice President, of Article VI of the AVMA Bylaws.”

Resolution 2, submitted by the HAC:

Veterinary Staffing of USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service

“RESOLVED, that the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service be encouraged to add more veterinary positions and hire more veterinarians to adequately enforce the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.”

Resolution 3, submitted by the HAC:

Funding for Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank

“RESOLVED, that the Delegates, Alternate Delegates, and the Principal and Constituent Allied Veterinary Organizations represented in the AVMA House of Delegates be encouraged to engage in active grassroots support for funding of the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank.”

Resolution 4, submitted by the HAC:

Increased Involvement with Veterinary Students

“RESOLVED, that the AVMA increase its interaction and involvement with veterinary students.”

Resolution 5, submitted by the California VMA:

Student Affairs Division

“RESOLVED, that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) develop a Student Affairs Division that is exclusively dedicated to veterinary student issues and concerns. And that the funds dedicated for the Vice President to visit the schools, be redirected to the Student Affairs Division.”

Resolution 6, submitted by the HAC:

Model Certificate of Veterinary Inspection

“RESOLVED, that the AVMA Develop a Model Certificate of Veterinary Inspection for the Domestic Travel of Companion Animals.”

Resolution 7, submitted by the HAC and the American Association of Equine Practitioners:

Drug Compounding of Unapproved Mimics

“RESOLVED, that to ensure the health and welfare of animals and the public, that the Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine be encouraged to strictly enforce its rules prohibiting drug compounding that produces unapproved mimics of commercially available FDA-approved drugs.”

Resolution 8, submitted by the HAC:

Livestock Identification

“RESOLVED, that the AVMA House of Delegates supports identification of livestock to enable trace back and trace forward of animals for the purpose of animal disease control and eradication programs.”

Resolution 9, submitted by the HAC:

One Health Initiative

“RESOLVED, that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) engage in enhanced collaboration and communication with the various health science professions and their respective associations, including human medicine and the American Medical Association, public health and the American Public Health Association, and environmental health, and other key stakeholders, working locally, nationally and globally among multiple disciplines to attain optimal health for people, animals and our environment.”

Resolution 10, submitted by the Iowa VMA:

Promotion of Research on Canine Influenza

“RESOLVED, that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) actively promote evidence-based research on canine influenza virus and its potential effects on both animal and human health.”

Resolution 11, submitted by the District of Columbia VMA, National Association of Federal Veterinarians, American Association of Food Hygiene Veterinarians, Maryland VMA, Pennsylvania VMA, Virginia VMA, and Delaware VMA:

Make it a Legislative Priority for Veterinarians To Receive Equitable Pay in Public Practice Compared to Other Health Professions

“RESOLVED, that the AVMA place top priority on proposing and advocating for passage of legislation that would provide equal pay for veterinarians and physicians carrying out equal work in the federal government in regards to base salary and special pay; support State VMAs to pursue equity in pay for public practice veterinarians; and work with other organizations to accomplish these goals.”

Resolution 12, submitted by the District of Columbia VMA, National Association of Federal Veterinarians, American Association of Food Hygiene Veterinarians, Maryland VMA, Pennsylvania VMA, Virginia VMA, and Delaware VMA:

Adopt Equal Pay for Equal Work for Veterinarians and Physicians as Part of the Mandate of the One Health Initiative

“RESOLVED, that the AVMA, as a member of the “One Health Initiative,” adopt an official position that it leads the Initiative to promote equal pay for veterinarians and physicians doing equal work as part of the Initiative's mandate.”

Resolution 13, submitted by the District of Columbia VMA, National Association of Federal Veterinarians, American Association of Food Hygiene Veterinarians, Maryland VMA, Pennsylvania VMA, and Delaware VMA:

Commission the NCVEI To Study and Address Economic Issues Impacting Veterinarians in Public Practice and Academia

“RESOLVED, that the AVMA Executive Board commission the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI) to 1) study economic factors impacting on veterinarians in federal and State public practice and academia, including salaries and benefits, recruitment, retention and professional opportunities; 2) evaluate how these factors compare with allied health professions, and how these factors affect allied professions; and 3) make recommendations on how to close any gaps that currently exist and to prevent gaps from growing with time.”

Resolution 14, submitted by petition:

Position Statement on Confinement of Calves Raised for Veal

“RESOLVED, that the AVMA supports a change in veal husbandry practices from the individual calf crate system that severely restricts movement to group housing systems that allow for freedom of movement and socialization in order to enhance the welfare of calves contained therein.”

GHLIT Wellness Center returns

Free screenings provide advanced warning of health threats

The AVMA Group Health & Life Insurance Trust is pleased to once again sponsor the Wellness Center, offering free health screenings to AVMA members and their spouses during the AVMA Annual Convention, taking place July 19-22 in New Orleans.

Dr. James H. Brandt and his wife are among the hundreds of conference attendees who take advantage of the free screenings. They find the screenings to be a convenient way to determine how well their chronic conditions are responding to treatment.

“My wife and I have high cholesterol and mild hypertension,” said Dr. Brandt, a former AVMA president and current AVMA GHLIT trustee. “We have been monitoring these chronic issues for several years and seem to medically have them well under control. But one never knows this until a lab test confirms a normal condition and that the medications are not adversely affecting organ systems, causing abnormal results.”

Members and spouses who take part in the free screenings at the Wellness Center will receive their test results in the mail along with a personalized letter. They are encouraged to share the information with their personal physician—particularly if any of the test results fall outside normal ranges. An annual wellness visit, recommended by the AVMA GHLIT, is the ideal time to discuss the test results. The results from the free screenings at the center may also help lower medical costs.

“Laboratory tests are continuously increasing in cost. This GHLIT-sponsored program helps lower claims,” Dr. Brandt said. His physician told him that he would not have to repeat blood tests during his annual physical if he continued to take advantage of the free screenings at the Wellness Center.

In addition to being a convenient way for participants to monitor chronic conditions, the free health screenings have shed light on the presence of indicators for several “silent killers” such as prostate cancer and diabetes.

Since 2005, Wellness Center screenings have identified 372 individuals with above-normal glucose readings. (For the most accurate results, participants should fast for 10 to 12 hours prior to screening.) And of the 990 blood chemistry profiles and lipid tests conducted during last year's convention in Washington, D.C., 40 revealed high glucose readings (>70-125 mg/dl), an indicator of prediabetes or diabetes.

Other findings from last year's Wellness Center that prompted recommendations for medical follow-up include:

  1. A total of 406 prostate-specific antigen tests were performed and 29 were in the high range (>4 ng/mL). With one in six American men at risk for prostate cancer, regular screening is important. When it is diagnosed before the onset of symptoms, 97.9 percent of men survive more than 10 years, compared with 17.6 percent of those with initial diagnosis of advanced-stage prostate cancer.
  2. Results of 16 of the 748 hemoglobin tests were in the high range (>12-18 g/dL), indicating the potential for such conditions as dehydration, excess red blood cell production in bone marrow, and lung disease.
  3. Eighty-one of 813 tests revealed a presence of C reactive proteins, an indicator of inflammation in the blood. Scientific studies suggest that inflammation is important in atherosclerosis, and high CRP concentrations consistently predict recurrent coronary events in patients with unstable angina and acute myocardial infarction. High CRP concentrations may also double the risk of stroke.
  4. Thirty-one tests revealed high BUN/creatinine concentrations (>10-20 mg/dL), indicating possible renal malfunction or failure.
  5. A total of 115 tests revealed high activities for SGOT, SGPT, GGT and/or alkaline phosphatase concentrations, indicating possible liver disorders.
  6. Cholesterol concentrations were high in 429 of the 990 individuals tested and triglycerides were high in 111 tests, indicating a risk for cardiac disease.

Rabies titer testing is also provided at the Wellness Center for a nominal fee of $30 (cash or check payment only). It is an affordable way for veterinarians to adhere to recommendations to undergo testing at least every two years to ensure continuity of an immune response.

Last year, 13 of the 452 tests revealed rabies titers less than 1:5 serum dilution, indicating that those individuals should seriously consider a booster of pre-exposure vaccine.

The AVMA GHLIT urges members to be proactive about their health and invites all attendees at the AVMA Annual Convention to take a positive step by participating in the important health screenings offered at the Wellness Center.

For Dr. Brandt and his wife, health screenings at the Wellness Center are now part of their standard routine during the convention.

“It is definitely an accurate screen, and we will continue to take advantage of the opportunity,” he said. “The GHLIT is sponsoring a tremendous member benefit for the AVMA.”

–PREPARED BY THE AVMA GROUP HEALTH & LIFE INSURANCE TRUST

The Wellness Center will be located near the registration area, just outside the exhibit hall of the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. The hours will be as follows: July 19: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; July 20, 21: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; July 22: 7 a.m. to noon.

news update

AVMF grants VMAT program $200,000

The board of directors for the American Veterinary Medical Foundation has approved funding $200,000 to the AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Team program.

In April, the VMAT program received approval from the AVMA Executive Board to focus on disaster preparedness and response activities at the state level, instead of at the national level (see JAVMA, May 15, 2008, page 1436).

“I am thrilled that the VMAT program is moving forward with a focus on state support during disasters,” said Dr. Anna M. van Heeckeren, chair of the AVMF Grants/Awards Committee.

“The AVMF has been a steadfast and staunch supporter of the VMAT program since inception and we are proud to support them with the $200,000 grant,” she said. “They have been a valuable asset at the national level, and there is no reason to doubt the positive impact they will have at the state level.”

The funds will pay for administration, training, equipment, and anticipated deployments for a year.

The grant to the VMAT program was made possible through the Animal Disaster Relief and Response Fund. To learn more or to donate, visit www.avmf.org or contact Monique Buonincontro, AVMF grants coordinator, at (800) 248-2862, Ext. 6691, or mbuonincontro@avma.org.

FDA takes more methodic approach to safety of animal feed

Animal Feed Safety System will focus on risk assessment, preventive measures

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Ingredient processors as well as feed manufacturers will be subject to scrutiny under the Food and Drug Administration's new Animal Feed Safety System.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 232, 12; 10.2460/javma.232.12.1776

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Harwood Owings, an inspector for the Maryland Department of Agriculture, collects a feed sample for analysis.

Courtesy of Shannon Jordre/Food and Drug Administration

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 232, 12; 10.2460/javma.232.12.1776

Last year's recalls of pet foods drew attention to the safety of all animal feeds and particularly to the potential for contamination of ingredients.

Back in 2003, the Food and Drug Administration began an initiative to address just those concerns—though the recalls of 2007 have influenced the course of the project.

The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine is developing a comprehensive Animal Feed Safety System to help protect the health of companion animals, production animals, and humans. A core concept of the AFSS is applying risk assessment to contaminants in ingredients for animal feed, including pet food.

George Graber, PhD, a former CVM official who organized the AFSS team and now serves as a consultant, said the FDA's existing programs to ensure safety of animal feed have focused on a few specific issues such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy and medicated feeds.

“There are gaps in the system, so the FDA is trying to modernize and strengthen it,” Dr. Graber said. “The agency is expanding the universe of firms, operations, and people who are going to be impacted.”

Another core AFSS concept is emphasizing preventive measures. Dr. Alfred Montgomery, CVM counterterrorism coordinator, said veterinarians should be aware of the AFSS because animal feed is a linchpin in the relationship between animal and human health.

“What threatens animal feed threatens the food chain and also companion animals that are part of the family,” Dr. Montgomery said. “We need help from the veterinary community as we move forward for guidance and assistance in implementing this effort.”

The latest draft of the AFSS framework includes six components that cover ingredients, contaminants, manufacturing, reporting of unsafe feed, regulatory oversight, and education and outreach.

Ingredients, contaminants

Last year, the FDA and the Association of American Feed Control Officials signed a memorandum that recognizes each organization's role in the AAFCO process for defining and listing ingredients suitable for feeds. Under the FDA Amendments Act of 2007, however, the agency will need to establish its own standards and definitions for feed ingredients.

The FDA also continues to work on methodically assessing which contaminants to limit in feed ingredients and mixed feed. Dr. Graber said the agency previously has established regulatory limits for only a handful of feed hazards, such as aflatoxin and polychlorinated biphenyls.

“But there are a number of other contaminants for which the FDA has not established any limits,” Dr. Graber said. The agency has no limits for dioxins in feed, for example, and has dealt with dioxin contamination on a case-by-case basis.

Through a risk modeling process, the agency is examining dozens of feed hazards before deciding which to limit. The process involves ranking relative risks of contaminants by analyzing degrees of exposure as well as health consequences.

In the past, Dr. Graber said, producers of feed ingredients have not been subject to as much FDA oversight as manufacturers of mixed feed. Under the AFSS, the agency anticipates more extensive review of operations at ingredient processing plants.

“What the FDA wants to do is focus on those ingredients that present the greatest risk to animal and human health,” Dr. Graber said.

The FDA and manufacturers of mixed feed already have taken preventive measures for some ingredients. To help prevent the spread of BSE, the FDA increased oversight of the rendering of certain animal materials for feed. Manufacturers of mixed feed routinely test corn and other crops for aflatoxin.

Manufacturing, surveillance

Regulations on good manufacturing practices are in place now primarily for medicated feeds and compliance with the BSE feed rule. As part of the AFSS, the FDA will write regulations for process controls to cover the manufacture of all feed ingredients and mixed feeds.

“Regulations would require manufacturers to ensure that what goes on in their operations is not going to introduce unsafe hazards into our general feed supply,” Dr. Graber said.

The new rules would apply to commercial manufacturers as well as on-farm feeding operations. Right now, Dr. Graber said, on-farm feeding operations usually don't show up on the FDA's radar if they aren't mixing medicated feeds.

Under the 2007 FDA Amendments Act, the agency also will need to be more responsive when incidents of unsafe animal feed and human food do occur.

The agency must create an early warning and surveillance system specifically for the identification of unsafe pet food and outbreaks of illness in association with pet food. Additionally, the FDA must create a reportable food registry for all animal feed and human food. The reports will come from manufacturers and health officials.

“In spite of whatever you do, there are surprises that happen,” Dr. Montgomery said. “There are emerging infectious agents, new and old toxic substances with synergistic effects, a growing global marketplace, new technology, economic incentives to cheat that spill into safety, and terrorism.”

Regulatory oversight

While U.S. manufacturers are ultimately responsible for producing safe feed, regulatory oversight exists at the state and federal levels.

State feed officials probably conduct more testing collectively than the FDA does, Dr. Graber said, though the federal agency does sample ingredients and feeds. The FDA responds to complaints as well. In developing the AFSS, though, the agency is relying on risk assessment to decide where to focus sampling and facility inspections.

Dr. Graber said the AFSS meshes with activities under the broader FDA Food Protection Plan of 2007, which emphasizes risk assessment and preventive measures.

The CVM also is working with other FDA units and groups that deal in imports to improve oversight of feed distribution, importation, and counterterrorism.

Vehicles for the transport of feed receive little inspectional scrutiny, for example. Dr. Graber said the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition is looking into additional oversight in this area.

For imports of feed ingredients and mixed feed, Dr. Graber said, the FDA hopes to negotiate agreements with foreign governments and industry to implement process controls abroad that ensure good manufacturing practices. Additionally, the agency is working with U.S. importers to make sure the products that they import are safe.

For feed defense, Dr. Montgomery said, the AFSS team has identified contaminants that bioterrorists might add to feed or feed ingredients. The CVM developed criteria to help import inspectors focus on those feeds and feed ingredients that might be at risk for deliberate contamination.

In the big picture, Dr. Montgomery said, “You can't control for all of the hazards, but you can't sit there and do nothing, either. The Animal Feed Safety System is just one mechanism that attempts to grapple with some of these issues with animal feeds.”

Additional information about the AFSS is at www.fda.gov/cvm/AFSS.htm.

–KATIE BURNS

Dr. John Melcher, superdelegate

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With all the attention on the superdelegates and how they may decide whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama is the Democratic presidential nominee, it's worth noting AVMA consultant, Dr. John Melcher, is one of the party elect. Dr. Melcher, who served two terms as a Democratic U.S. senator from Montana, can't be counted in the undecided column, however. He announced in April that he'd be casting his superdelegate vote for Obama at the Democratic convention in Denver this August.

Ecosystem health is the goal of Envirovet

Program has been training veterinarians in one health for more than a decade

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(Clockwise from lower left) Lorraine Thompson (veterinary student, UC-Davis), Rudovick Kazwala (faculty, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania) and Matt Blandford (veterinary student, Purdue University) immobilize an adult male zebra at White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Fla., as part of their training in wildlife and ecosystem health at Envirovet Summer Institute 2007. Envirovet Faculty Jeff Zuba (upper right; San Diego Wild Animal Park) and White Oak Conservation Center animal care staff provide expert instruction and mentoring.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 232, 12; 10.2460/javma.232.12.1776

This June, the Envirovet Summer Institute will welcome the latest class of veterinarians and veterinary students who will learn how their profession can protect people and wildlife by preserving the ecosystems they share.

The goal of Envirovet is simple: increasing the number of veterinarians working to solve environmental problems that threaten animal and human health. Since its inception in 1991, more than 400 veterinarians and students from some 47 countries have trained in the program.

When Dr. Val Beasley, a professor of veterinary toxicology at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, started the organization, he saw it as a means of getting veterinary students engaged in environmental toxicology and ecologic stewardship.

While a graduate student in the early '80s, Dr. Beasley went through AQUAVET, a program in aquatic animal health still offered by the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University.

“As a toxicologist myself, I recognized that a lot of problems of aquatic animals were related to contamination issues,” said the Envirovet executive director. “I decided there was an opportunity to complement that with more of an emphasis on fresh water and on the effects of contaminants.”

Envirovet has since undergone a major evolution. Today, the program is a collaboration of the University of Illinois, the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, White Oak Conservation Center, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, and a range of U.S. and international organizations that provide instructors for the course.

In many ways, Envirovet was ahead of its time. “We've been focused on introducing veterinarians and veterinary students to concepts in wildlife and environmental and human health—the one-health concept—since our inception nearly 20 years ago,” said Dr. Kirsten Gilardi, an Envirovet director with the UC-Davis Wildlife Health Center.

The 25 or so Envirovet students are immersed in instruction ranging from epidemiology and wildlife diseases to natural resource economics and hydrology. Through field exercises, lectures, and laboratories, students gain an understanding of the direct and indirect impacts of infectious agents and toxicants on species, communities, ecosystems, and public health.

Moreover, the program provides a greater understanding of the effects of habitat loss, altered predator-prey relationships, and exotic species invasions. These stressors are considered in concert with related environmental regulations, policies, and laws that influence the integrity of wildlife populations.

Envirovet students spend the first part of the seven-week course at conservation and oceanographic institutes in the United States. Next, they travel to a developing country for three weeks to experience how ecosystems health issues and strategies compare from country to country. This year, participants will be in Tanzania.

A key aspect of Envirovet is that students spend a lot of one-on-one time with the faculty, who donate their time to the program.

“Envirovet faculty impress upon veterinarians that they do have a role to play in tackling these issues,” Dr. Gilardi said. “We show them how to work with human health and ecosystem health professionals so that together they can really make a difference for environmental sustainability.”

Envirovet students have included a veterinary college dean, department heads, and professors. Alumni of the course have become veterinary school professors and section directors at a number of diagnostic laboratories. Others have found careers with agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while some have started nonprofit organizations. Several heads of wildlife health services in east Africa and elsewhere have gone through the Envirovet training, Dr. Gilardi added.

On April 22—Earth Day—at a meeting in Washington, D.C., hosted by The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment, Envirovet leaders met with representatives from federal and international agencies and organizations including the AVMA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Agriculture Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, and others to explain the program's mission and how it promotes human and animal health. (For a complete list of the groups attending the meeting, visit www.cvm.uiuc.edu/envirovet/index.html.)

“We thought it was critical to get people together to introduce them to the program,” Dr. Gilardi said. “The timing was perfect, given all the interest in one-health initiatives, and we really feel strongly that our program is a perfect example of one health in action. We are a very practical and tangible example of what people mean by one health.”

In attendance was AVMA Governmental Relations Division director, Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, who said he isn't aware of any other educational opportunity that translates the one-health concept into real-world working principles the way Envirovet does. He said, “The students who have been fortunate enough to experience this unique immersion training are already turning up around the world as real leaders in the global veterinary community.”

–R. SCOTT NOLEN

American Humane devotes division to human-animal bond

The American Humane Association has formed a Human-Animal Bond Division to complement and provide a bridge between its existing Animal Protection Division and Children's Division.

The association also announced plans to convene a national summit on the human-animal bond and to explore formation of a coalition on animal-assisted therapy with other organizations.

The Human-Animal Bond Division will highlight American Humane's Pets and Women's Shelters Program, which encourages shelters for victims of domestic violence to provide on-site housing for the victims' pets, along with the association's programs in areas such as animal-assisted therapy and humane education.

The new division's array of activities will include the following:

  1. Providing animal-assisted therapy teams
  2. Educating health professionals on the use of therapy animals
  3. Developing new curricula for humane education in classrooms
  4. Creating a traveling exhibit to supplement classroom humane education
  5. Continuing exploration of the link between violence against people and violence against animals

American Humane also has joined with the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work to establish the American Humane Endowed Chair, which will explore the field of animal-assisted social work Earlier, American Humane had provided some of the seed money to establish the university's Institute for Human-Animal Connection.

Bulls on parade

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Courtesy of N.Y. Lono

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 232, 12; 10.2460/javma.232.12.1776

Dr. Robert M. Groskin marked the start of National Pet Week May 4 with the first annual “Running of the bulls” in his hometown of Englewood, N.J. The small animal practitioner brought together owners and their dogs, including several bulldogs—the “classic couch potato” breed, according to Dr. Groskin—to spread the word about how a healthy lifestyle isn't species-specific. “Not only do we share an emotional connection with our pets, we have a health connection, too,” said Dr. Groskin, a member of the AVMA House of Delegates. The event focused on the ways exercise and a healthy diet benefit people as well as animals. Also on hand were the PetFit Tour—the AVMA-Hill's Pet Nutrition partnership raising awareness about pet obesity—the Englewood Chamber of Commerce, a local nature center, and the city health department, which is campaigning to fight childhood obesity.

Research finds high concentrations of chemicals in pets

An informal study by an environmental group has found higher concentrations of many synthetic chemicals in pets than in people, less than a year after similar research by the Environmental Protection Agency specifically on flame retardants in cats.

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., analyzed blood and urine samples from dogs and cats. Data on mean concentrations of chemicals in adult humans came from previous national studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and by the EWG.

The recent EWG study found that the mean serum concentration of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or flame retardants, in samples from 17 cats was 23.4 times as high as in people. Mean concentration of mercury in samples of whole blood from 10 cats was 5.4 times as high. Mean serum concentration of perfluorochemicals, stain- and grease-proof coatings, in samples from five dogs was 2.4 times as high.

“This study shows that our pets are susceptible to the absorption of potentially harmful chemicals from our environment,” said Dr. John Billeter, founder of Hanover Animal Hospital in Virginia, which collected the blood and urine samples. “Perhaps even more troubling is that these chemicals have been found in higher levels in pets than in humans, implying potential harmful consequences for their health and well-being—and the need for further study.”

The EPA study “Elevated PBDE levels in pet cats: sentinels for humans?” appeared in the Sept. 15, 2007, issue of Environmental Science & Technology. The study of 23 cats found that PBDE serum concentrations were 20- to 100-fold higher in cats than median concentrations in adult humans.

news update

Tyson must stop advertising chicken as “raised without antibiotics”

A U.S. district court recently ruled that Tyson Foods must cease advertising its retail fresh chicken as “raised without antibiotics.”

The Department of Agriculture approved the “raised without antibiotics” label in May 2007. The USDA later withdrew approval after reconsidering the fact that Tyson's chicken feed includes ionophores, antimicrobials not in use in human medicine. The USDA then approved a new label, “raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans.”

Tyson's competitors also include ionophores in their chicken feed, but they do not advertise any antimicrobial claims. Sanderson Farms and Perdue Farms filed suit to stop Tyson's marketing campaign, though Tyson can still label products with the wording that has current USDA approval.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland granted a preliminary injunction ordering Tyson to cease the marketing campaign. The court ruled that advertisements claiming that Tyson's chickens are “raised without antibiotics” were misleading consumers.

The court also found that a substantial proportion of consumers are unlikely to understand the wording stating that Tyson's chickens are “raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans.”

USDA renews funding for integrated research on Johne's

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Separating calves from cows immediately after birth reduces the potential of the newborns ingesting Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, the causative agent of Johne's disease, from their mothers' milk.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 232, 12; 10.2460/javma.232.12.1776

The Department of Agriculture has renewed funding for the Johne's Disease Integrated Program—providing $4.8 million for four years of research on control programs for bovine infection with Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis.

Currently, the USDA estimates that such infections are present in almost 70 percent of U.S. dairy herds as well as a smaller percentage of beef herds.

“Johne's is a serious disease affecting large numbers of beef and dairy cattle and accounts for more than $200 million in economic losses,” said Gale Buchanan, USDA undersecretary for research, education, and economics.

The USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service initially funded Johne's integrated research in 2004 with a three-year, $4.4 million grant. The continuation of the coordinated agricultural project will focus on developing new tests, vaccines, and strategies to help producers manage, control, and prevent the disease.

“This influx of monies is a good thing, as research dollars for food animals are drying up in spite of the increasing pressures of zoonotic and foreign animal diseases in the United States,” said Dr. Michael Bolton, president of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners.

Johne's has a potential link with Crohn's disease in humans, though the cause of Crohn's remains unclear.

Congress established a control program for Johne's disease in cattle with the 2002 Farm Bill, authorizing appropriations as necessary through 2007. A provision in the 2007 Farm Bill, which Congress passed at press time by overriding a veto, authorizes appropriations until 2012.

In addition to the Johne's coordinated agricultural project, the USDA has helped develop the Voluntary Bovine Johne's Disease Control Program. Another pertinent USDA program is the National Johne's Disease Demonstration Herd Project.

Dr. Bolton said the multiple-state demonstration herd project involves producers in evaluating management practices for controlling Johne's. He is working with part of Michigan's demonstration herd to study early detection of the disease in calves.

The Dairy 2007 study, which the USDA recently released, includes information about the prevalence of Johne's disease and implementation of management practices. The information sheet “Johne's Disease on U.S. Dairies, 1991–2007” provides relevant data from Dairy 2007 and similar studies in 1991, 1996, and 2002.

The report indicates that producers have become more familiar with Johne's, probably as a result of educational efforts. Participation in Johne's disease certification or control programs has increased, with almost a third of operations reporting participation in such a program during 2007.

The full report is available at www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/ceah/ncahs/ by clicking on National Animal Health Monitoring System, then looking under “New Publications.”

Texas cow contracts wildebeest-associated malignant catarrhal fever

The Department of Agriculture recently diagnosed a case of wilde-beest-associated malignant catarrhal fever in a cow from a Texas operation that kept cattle and captive wilde-beests on the same premises.

The wildebeests were apparently part of a game preserve for hunting native and exotic animals.

While MCF is not contagious among cattle and poses no threat to human health, the USDA and state officials investigated the April incident and traced the movement of cattle from the premises. The operation had shipped 134 breeding heifers to locations in Illinois, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The USDA noted that it would work with states to depopulate the heifers and indemnify the owners.

Cattle can contract sheep- and wildebeest-associated MCF, but they do not spread either strain. The wildebeest-associated strain is foreign to the United States. Both strains induce high fatality rates in cattle.

college news

University of Tennessee expands teaching hospital

The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine recently completed a $10 million expansion of its small animal teaching hospital.

The hospital treats about 15,000 small animals annually. Since 1978, the caseload has increased by more than 70 percent.

The 32,000-square-foot hospital expansion adds an isolation suite for small animals with infectious diseases as well as areas for medical and radiation oncology, canine physical rehabilitation and therapy, and avian and zoologic medicine. The new space houses a linear accelerator, a therapy pool, and two underwater treadmills.

The college continues to work toward securing funding to expand its large animal teaching hospital.

accolades

Government

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Dr. John R. Dunn

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 232, 12; 10.2460/javma.232.12.1776

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that Dr. John R. Dunn (LSU '97) was the recipient of the 2008 James H. Steele Veterinary Public Health Award.

The award honors Dr. James H. Steele, who was the first chief of the Veterinary Public Health Division at CDC in 1947, and who has been a lifelong advocate of veterinary public health (see page 1782). The award is given each year to a current or recent Epidemic Intelligence Service officer who has demonstrated outstanding contributions to veterinary public health.

Dr. Dunn was honored for his exemplary work to understand and prevent the transmission of zoonotic enteric pathogens from animals to humans in public settings such as fairs and petting zoos. He is chief of foodborne, vector-borne, and zoonotic diseases in the Tennessee Department of Health's Communicable and Environmental Disease Services.

Academia

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Dr. Walter W. “Dub” Dickson

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 232, 12; 10.2460/javma.232.12.1776

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Dr. Matthew P. Mackay-Smith

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 232, 12; 10.2460/javma.232.12.1776

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Dr. Corinne R. Sweeney

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 232, 12; 10.2460/javma.232.12.1776

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Dr. William Thomas Riddle

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 232, 12; 10.2460/javma.232.12.1776

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Dr. Michael J. Gay

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 232, 12; 10.2460/javma.232.12.1776

The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine recently recognized four distinguished alumni and one young achiever.

Dr. Walter W. “Dub” Dickson (GA '54) was influential in the establishment of the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Dickson served on the university's board and in the North Carolina House of Representatives. He practiced previously in Gastonia, N.C. He is a past president of the North Carolina VMA.

Dr. Matthew P. Mackay-Smith (GA '58) is the co-founder and medical editor of Equus magazine, which provides the horse-owning public with information about equine care and management. Dr. Mackay-Smith also has devoted time to farrier education and is a lifelong equestrian in endurance riding.

Dr. Corinne R. Sweeney (GA '78) has spent the past three decades working at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Sweeney is associate dean for the New Bolton Center and executive hospital director for the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals. Her work focuses on equine respiratory disorders.

Dr. William Thomas Riddle (GA '78) is the co-founder of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. The hospital employs 52 veterinarians on a 24-acre campus with nine barns and 140 stalls. Dr. Riddle also was one of the first veterinarians to recognize and report mare reproductive loss syndrome.

Dr. Michael J. Gay (GA '97) received the Young Achiever Award. Dr. Gay spent two years working as an emergency veterinarian in the Atlanta area before starting Farmington Valley Veterinary Emergency Hospital in Avon, Conn. In 2005, he sold his practice to return to UGA for an anesthesiology residency.

Colorado State University recognized Dr. M.D. Salman (BAG '73) with this year's Scholarship Impact Award along with $10,000 to support his work. Dr. Salman is a professor in the university's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences. His international work includes building infrastructure for national animal health programs in countries such as Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. In 2002, he helped establish the Animal Population Health Institute at Colorado State to address animal health around the world.

obituaries: AVMA Honor Roll Member, AVMA Member, Nonmember

William F. Bozeman

Dr. Bozeman (AUB '50), 89, Adel, Ga., died Feb. 26, 2008. Prior to retirement, he owned Adel Animal Hospital. Dr. Bozeman was a past member of the Georgia State Board of Veterinary Medicine and past president of the Georgia and South Georgia VMAs. In 1989, he was named Veterinarian of the Year. Dr. Bozeman was former mayor of Adel and past chair of the Cook County, Georgia, Board of Health. He served in the Marines and Air Force during World War II. Dr. Bozeman is survived by a son and a daughter.

Mark A. Bronstein

Dr. Bronstein (UP '73), 59, Ardmore, Pa., died Oct. 16, 2007. He owned Ivens Veterinary Hospital in Ardmore. Early in his career, Dr. Bronstein practiced in New Jersey and at Devon Animal Hospital in Devon, Pa. His wife, Nina; two daughters; and a son survive him.

Gerald E. Chapman

Dr. Chapman (ISU '44), 87, Farley, Iowa, died Feb. 26, 2008. Retired since 1993, he was a co-founder of Tri-Vets Associates Inc., with offices in Iowa at Farley, Dyersville, and Holy Cross. Early in his career, Dr. Chapman practiced in Cascade, Iowa. He was a life member of the Iowa VMA. Dr. Chapman served as a captain in the Army. His wife, Carmen; eight daughters; and two sons survive him.

Lyle E. Hanson

Dr. Hanson (MSU '50), 87, Indianapolis, died Dec. 19, 2007. He was professor emeritus at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine since 1985. Dr. Hanson joined the veterinary faculty following graduation. He served as head of the Department of Veterinary Pathology and Hygiene from 1967-1979 and was associate dean for veterinary research and graduate training from 1979-1985.

A diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists, Dr. Hanson was known for his expertise on leptospirosis and viral diseases of poultry. His research on Leptospira hardjo and L bratislava contributed to the incorporation of these two serovars in available bacterins. Dr. Hanson served as a consultant on leptospirosis for the Pan American Health Organization in Jamaica and for the Army Medical Corps. He was a life member of the Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases and a member of the American Leptospirosis Research Conference. Dr. Hanson was also a member of the Illinois State VMA, United States Animal Health Association, American Association of Avian Pathologists, and American Society for Microbiology.

In 1996, the CRWAD was dedicated to him. Dr. Hanson received a Special Service Award from the U of I College of Veterinary Medicine in 1997. In 1999, he was the recipient of a Distinguished Veterinary Alumnus Award from the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. A veteran of World War II, Dr. Hanson served in the Army at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

His two sons and two daughters survive him. Memorials may be made to the Northland College Scholarship Fund, 1411 Ellis Ave., Ashland, WI 54806.

Ronald A. Meeks

Dr. Meeks (AUB '56), 77, Cincinnati, died March 25, 2008. A past president of the Cincinnati VMA, he owned a practice in Springdale, Ohio, from 1959 until retirement in 1999. Prior to that, Dr. Meeks served in the Army Veterinary Corps, attaining the rank of captain. He was a member of the board of directors of the City Gospel Mission, Citizens for Community Values, Greater Cincinnati Tennis Association, and Glendale Heritage Preservation Group.

Dr. Meeks' wife, Tina; two daughters; and a son survive him. Memorials may be made to the Montgomery Community Church, 11251 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH 45249; or Citizens for Community Values, 11175 Reading Road, Cincinnati, OH 45241.

Tammy Pendergrass

Dr. Pendergrass (AUB '93), 38, Marietta, Ga., died Oct. 28, 2007. During her career, she practiced at several Atlanta area clinics, most recently at Sweet Apple Animal Hospital in Roswell. Dr. Pendergrass was a member of the Georgia VMA.

Andrew C. Wilkinson

Dr. Wilkinson (TEX '87), 51, Fort Worth, Texas, died Oct. 30, 2007. He was director of the animal resources unit at Alcon Laboratories in Fort Worth since 2003. Following graduation, Dr. Wilkinson practiced in San Antonio. From 1991-2001, he served in the Army Veterinary Corps. Dr. Wilkinson then joined Alcon as manager of veterinary services in the animal resources unit. A diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, he received its Foster Award in 1999. Memorials in Dr. Wilkinson's name may be made to the ACLAM Foundation, c/o Dr. Martin Morin, 118 Andrew Court, Centreville, MD 21617.

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