In the Hot Zone
Public health veterinarians help rein in West African Ebola outbreak
By R. Scott Nolen
Veterinarians are among the small army of public health workers fighting in West Africa against an epidemic that has so far killed more than 10,000 people and which the World Health Organization has described as “the most severe, acute public health emergency seen in modern times.”
The ongoing Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is the largest in history, with more cases since March 2014 than in all previous Ebola outbreaks combined. The virus even spread as far as the United States via an infected Liberian national, who passed the virus to a nurse at the Texas hospital where he was treated. As of press time in April, the relatively low number of new Ebola virus disease cases being reported suggests the worst of the outbreak is over.
Many veterinarians are helping to alleviate the current outbreak. Following are the accounts of three U.S. veterinarians who participated in the international response in the hardest-hit countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
Since early in the Ebola virus disease epidemic, Dr. James Zingeser had helped coordinate the emergency response in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. An epidemiologist on loan from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Zingeser had no experience with Ebola. But he spoke French, had years of experience in West Africa, and was assured by the head of the CDC's Viral Special Pathogens Branch he was up to the task.
Dr. Zingeser spent part of April and May 2014 in Guinea, first in Gueckedou and then in the capital of Conakry along the Atlantic coast. Located in the southern part of the country near the Liberian and Sierra Leonean borders, Gueckedou was the epicenter of the Ebola epidemic. When he arrived in the town, Dr. Zingeser quickly recognized the epidemic was unlike previous outbreaks he had seen.
“It was obvious we were dealing with a complex emergency, something that was going to affect the whole of Guinean society,” he said.
From the beginning, some communities resisted cooperating with the teams of medical personnel from the Guinea Ministry of Health, World Health Organization, CDC, Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders to contain the virus. Complicating matters were the negative impacts of the control strategies. “Government authorities stopped people from gathering in groups and closed markets. Farmers were afraid to go to their fields for fear of coming into contact with infected animals. These measures were harming food security and rural livelihoods,” Dr. Zingeser said.
As evidenced by the past year, containing an Ebola epidemic within an impoverished country where public health resources are scarce requires an almost unprecedented response from the global community, according to Dr. Zingeser. For instance, Guinea's health care infrastructure is fragmented, underfunded, and understaffed, and much of the rural population has little or no contact with the formal medical community.
In African nations including Sudan, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo—where Ebola cases have sporadically occurred since the virus was identified in 1976—it is generally understood that the pathogen is passed through body fluids and close contact, so practices such as burial rituals are temporarily suspended to prevent infection. One explanation for why the current outbreak spread so far in the crucial first three months is that, until 2014, the Ebola virus was unknown in West Africa. Lacking even a basic knowledge of the disease presentation and epidemiology, authorities did not implement basic control measures quickly enough.
Then, there's what Dr. Zingeser calls “Ebola panic disease.” Something about hemorrhagic fevers incites a deep psychological reaction in people, provoking them to act irrationally, he observed. “During the first two weeks I was in Gueckedou, rumors spread that Ebola was brought in by foreign health workers, and we had people with machetes and rocks attacking our vehicles. Once that fear sets in, the challenges transcend the medical response,” he said.
Such fear and aggression, Dr. Zingeser explained, were, in part, a consequence of the responders’ failure to communicate in a culturally appropriate manner. “In the beginning of this epidemic, public health messages assumed that people would trust in the biomedical model. It implied a ‘We're right, and you're wrong,’ point of view that got us nowhere,” he said.
Whereas Guinean farmers may have little contact with the formal medical community, they are likely to know either an agricultural extension officer or a representative of the nation's Veterinary Services. Dr. Zingeser said these government officials deliver fertilizer and seed to rural communities and talk to farmers about the health of their livestock. “These officers are able to access rural communities in a way the medical authorities couldn't,” he said.
In May 2014, the UN FAO country director and Dr. Zingeser convened a meeting of Veterinary Services and the Ministry of Health in the capital of Conakry to discuss using agriculture agents to educate communities about preventing Ebola and to identify and trace individuals who had contact with persons infected with the Ebola virus. Plans were made for Veterinary Services, once the epidemic abates, to investigate the animal reservoirs of the Ebola virus in Guinea and explore factors that may have caused the virus to spill over to humans.
When Dr. Zingeser spent two months in Sierra Leone late last year, he again took advantage of the unique access veterinarians and agriculture officers have in rural communities. “We had UNICEF train livestock agents to deliver basic messages about Ebola and how to prevent it,” he said. In December, these agents were brought together by FAO in Sierra Leone to discuss their successes and challenges, and there was general enthusiasm and pride in their accomplishments. “It was clear that veterinarians and agriculture agents can make an important contribution to responding to complex emergencies, in a whole-of-society response,” he said.
Dr. Leigh Sawyer is a captain with the U.S. Public Health Service. She had several years of experience working with HIV in a biosafety level 3 laboratory before traveling in December 2014 to Margibi County in Liberia to oversee the clinical laboratory at the Monrovia Medical Unit, a 25-bed field hospital reconfigured to treat Ebola patients.
Part of the Department of Health and Human Services, the USPHS Commissioned Corps comprises over 6,500 uniformed public health professionals, including veterinarians, who deploy in times of public health emergencies, both foreign and domestic. One of three USPHS veterinarians stationed at the same time at the MMU, Dr. Sawyer said veterinarians are an essential component in the response to public health crises such as the Ebola outbreak.
“Veterinarians have a working knowledge and appreciation of the ecology and epidemiology of infectious diseases and the expectation that there is a link between human and animal diseases,” she said. “We study animals in their ecosystem and appreciate the relationships that impact health and disease.”
From November 2014 to February 2015, the Monrovia Medical Unit cared for 35 health care workers, 17 of whom tested positive for the Ebola virus, according to Dr. Sawyer. Eight of the infected patients had recovered and were discharged from the hospital by the time she left Liberia on Feb. 8. “This is a positive sign for other brave health care workers on the front lines, that there are resources for them if they become ill with Ebola,” Dr. Sawyer said.
Each patient admission was an intense and highly choreographed process in which every step was predetermined, from who was performing which task to the supplies needed, Dr. Sawyer recalled. Prior to entering the high-risk zone—that is, where Ebola-infected patients were being treated, hospital personnel would don full personal protective equipment that included knee-high rubber boots, two pair of gloves, a full-body protective suit, waterproof apron, hood, face mask or goggles, and respirator. The donning process was a team effort, and prior to entry, all officers were checked and rechecked to ensure proper wear and that there were no rips in the PPE.
Dr. Sawyer's laboratory team followed behind the patient-receiving team to process blood samples. They transported the blood to be tested for Ebola virus and malaria parasites to laboratories staffed by the U.S. Department of Defense and HHS. Clinical chemistries, hemoglobin, hematocrit, and coagulation factors were among the battery of in-house tests performed by her team, who logged some of the highest number of hours in the high-risk zone. The names of staff and the time each spent in the zone were recorded on white boards.
“When we arrived, the Monrovia Medical Unit was already considered to be the best-equipped treatment center in West Africa,” Dr. Sawyer said. Her team increased the capabilities in the unit's laboratory to include rapid diagnostic testing for malaria and HIV as well as a blood transfusion service.
“My goal was to provide the medical team with the best possible laboratory tests and results on which to base their medical care as well as access to potentially lifesaving transfusions,” she added.
Dr. Thomas Ksiazek is a world-renowned specialist in filoviruses with nearly 40 years’ experience on the front lines of infectious disease research.
As the former chief of the Special Pathogens Branch at the CDC, Dr. Ksiazek had coordinated outbreak and control responses to Ebola, Marburg, and sudden acute respiratory syndrome viruses; he helped identify SARS. In August 2014, Dr. Ksiazek took a six-week sabbatical from the University of Texas Medical Branch, where he manages high-containment laboratory operations for the Galveston National Laboratory, to lead the CDC's Ebola outbreak control operations in Sierra Leone until late September.
Working with health officials in the capital of Freetown, the CDC team found that the epidemiologic data were incomplete and inconsistent. “For instance, about 35 percent of the case reports did not record whether the patient lived or died,” Dr. Ksiazek recalled.
Complicating matters, the outbreak began to expand into other areas from its initial epicenter, and the already sizable Ebola caseload exploded.
“Cases were now beginning to occur in Freetown, which was a scary proposition because by the time I arrived, there was already in Liberia a circumstance in Monrovia that was beyond comprehension,” he said. “The virus at that point was basically out of control, and part of our job was to make sure it didn't get that way in Sierra Leone.”
Before he left Sierra Leone, his team had deployed a standardized case investigation form and connected local data collection sites into a national database, allowing analysis of the epidemiologic data on a national level.
Ebola virus is a manageable pathogen, Dr. Ksiazek explained, so long as control measures are implemented quickly, when the first cases are reported. That didn't happen in West Africa. He said, “Control is really dependent on a very simple set of principles: Find all the cases, isolate them in treatment facilities, locate all the contacts of the known cases, and follow them closely because they're the next potential generation of the disease.
“If you do that rigorously, you can pretty quickly control the outbreak. But it depends on an early response, when the problem isn't so large. That's what's so significant about this West Africa outbreak: It surpassed the capability on the ground to effectively apply the principles that have allowed us to control transmission in previous settings.”
New specialists must demonstrate continuing expertise
By Katie Burns
The AVMA began a process for recognition of veterinary specialty organizations back in 1951. Ever since, most veterinarians who have completed the requirements for board certification have been considered to be board-certified specialists for life.
Starting in 2016, however, all new specialists will have to demonstrate efforts to maintain their competence, to maintain their certification.
The mission of the AVMA American Board of Veterinary Specialties is to recognize and encourage development of veterinary specialty organizations “promoting advanced levels of competency in well-defined areas of study or practice categories to provide the public with exceptional veterinary service.”
Dr. Dennis D. French, ABVS chair, said maintenance of certification “identifies and defines the fact that you have continued to demonstrate expertise.”
According to the ABVS Policies and Procedures, specialty organizations must issue time-limited certificates for new diplomates beginning no later than 2016. Maintenance of certification may be by examination or a point system. Diplomates may accrue points via a variety of activities.
Specialty organizations must evaluate their diplomates for maintenance of certification at least every 10 years. An honor system for compliance by diplomates is acceptable if the group conducts random audits of compliance.
Requirements for maintenance of certification cannot be imposed on existing diplomates, but the ABVS encourages the specialty organizations to initiate systems for voluntary replacement of undated certificates with dated certificates that require maintenance.
Dr. French said all the specialty organizations now have a framework in place for maintenance of certification, but some are still developing the details. Most groups are using a point system rather than examinations. Some of the cafeteria-style options include attending meetings, completing continuing education, writing examination items, and contributing to the literature.
Dr. French, who oversees care of rural animals at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, has been a diplomate in Equine Practice of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners since 1985. The ABVP has required maintenance of certification since the founding of the organization in 1978.
Website provides specialties' reading lists
A group of veterinary librarians has created a master website compiling recommended reading lists for candidates preparing for veterinary specialty board examinations—and linking to library resources.
The project was undertaken because veterinarians and others requested help with verifying and locating items on the examination reading lists. The master website allows visitors from across the country to locate books and journals in geographic proximity. On the basis of the master template, university librarians can create websites with information about how to access items from the reading lists via the university's collection.
Project collaborators verify publication information for the books, journals, and articles on the reading lists. On the master website, clicking on the title of a book and entering a zip code will list the closest libraries that own the book. Links to journals or articles go to open-access versions if they are available. Otherwise, the link goes to the article or journal's permanent online location.
The Veterinary Medical Libraries Section of the Medical Library Association manages the project. Librarians at Texas A&M University, The Ohio State University, and the University of Tennessee created the master website. They work with specialty organizations to ensure that the master website aligns with the current reading lists.
The master website is at http://osu.campusguides.com/VetBoardLists. Veterinarians and others can check with the nearest veterinary college to see whether there is a website with university access information.
The founders of the ABVP thought maintenance of certification would always be by examination, Dr. French said, but the organization added cafeteria-style options in 1998. He said one argument for the latter is that diplomates can hone skills matching their passion within the specialty. He has maintained his own certification by sitting for examination in 1993 and by going the point route in 2003 and 2014.
Dr. Andris J. Kaneps of Kaneps Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery in New England is a charter diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, a new organization that received provisional recognition in 2010, as well as a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. He said the ACVSMR went ahead with requiring maintenance of certification for all diplomates.
The group is using a point system. Diplomates can earn points for activities such as writing questions for the certifying examination, publishing, speaking, and completing continuing education. The formula assigns more weight to activities that result in more in-depth rebuilding of a diplomate's knowledge base and to contributions that make more of an impact on the specialty.
Dr. French believes maintenance of certification is worthwhile and that diplomates will not find it to be too onerous.
“If we're calling ourselves specialists, then there ought to be some degree of assuredness that that level of specialty has been maintained,” Dr. French said.
Association advocates ‘one health’ to White House
The AVMA sent a letter to the White House in March advocating a one-health approach in addressing zoonotic diseases.
The letter from AVMA President Ted Cohn follows up on a similar letter from seven U.S. senators to President Obama in February (see JAVMA, April 15, 2015, page 822).
The one-health concept is that human, animal, and ecosystem health intertwine to make “one health.” The one-health approach involves collaboration among the health professions and relevant associated disciplines.
Dr. Cohn writes: “As the human population continues to increase and expand across the world, the interconnection of people, animals, and our environment becomes ever more significant and impactful. Our role as veterinarians is not only to keep animals healthy, but also to work hand-in-hand with local, national, and global public health and environmental experts. Such interaction enables us to ask the right questions and to conduct the most appropriate research, so that together, we can most successfully advance the science and technology on this vital issue. By increasing the awareness, knowledge, and understanding of the inter-dependency of the health of humans and animals, and the environment, our nation's leaders can begin to take proactive steps to better protect Americans from zoonotic diseases and other biological threats, support our agricultural economy, and preserve the environment for generations to come.”
Calling on Congress
Workshop empowers veterinary students as advocates for profession
Story and photos by R. Scott Nolen
Nearly 70 veterinary students lobbied members of Congress in early March for a legislative remedy to skyrocketing student loan debt and the scarcity of veterinary services in parts of rural America.
Those efforts paid off, resulting in five senators signing on as co-sponsors of the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act. Passing the bill is a high priority for the AVMA, as it would eliminate the federal tax on a Department of Agriculture program that pays off part of the student loan debt for food animal and public health veterinarians who agree to work in designated veterinary shortage areas (see JAVMA, April 1, 2015, page 706).
The 66 veterinary students were participating in the seventh annual AVMA legislative visit to Washington, D.C. The workshop, held March 2–3 and hosted by the AVMA Governmental Relations Division, is an opportunity to learn about the federal legislative process and advocate for bills affecting veterinary medicine and U.S. animal agriculture.
“It is always exciting for us to see so many young people come to Washington to share their views on issues that impact the veterinary profession and animal health and welfare,” said AVMA President Ted Cohn. “We would like to thank these students for exercising their civic duty and hope that the 114th Congress will be responsive to their concerns.”
After a day learning about the federal legislative process and tips on effective advocacy, students converged on Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress and their staff. The students asked for support for the loan repayment enhancement act, for improving the terms and conditions on federal student loans for veterinary students when the Higher Education Act is reauthorized this year, and for maintaining the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which provides incentives for veterinarians to practice in the public sector.
Rachel Shutter, a third-year veterinary student at Washington State University, described the experience as empowering. “Our profession has its own set of unique challenges, and being so small, it's important we take a stand on issues affecting us now and in the future,” Shutter said. “The knowledge gained through the AVMA Legislative Fly-In has motivated me to continue to advocate for matters relating to the future of veterinary medicine with confidence and direction.”
AVMA expands student outreach
With new student liaisons, AVMA will strengthen student and faculty ties
In March, the AVMA announced an expansion of its student outreach with the hiring of two additional student liaisons.
Drs. Caroline Cantner and Anna Reddish join Dr. Derrick Hall on the student initiatives team as the Association works to further support veterinary students and the Student AVMA and to strengthen ties with veterinary faculty, interns, residents, and preveterinary students.
“This means a more personalized connection, and more frequent interactions with students,” explained Dr. Hall, AVMA's lead assistant director for student initiatives and student initiatives team manager. “We're focused on building the relationships that will help students during their education and beyond.”
Each student liaison has been assigned a U.S. region as well as foreign veterinary schools with student chapters of the AVMA. The liaisons are the primary point of contact for the schools and students in their regions. “The regional distribution will make it easier for each of the liaisons to establish stronger connections with the schools and students and facilitate more frequent visits to each school,” Dr. Hall explained.
Dr. Hall is responsible for veterinary programs in the Central region (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa State, Illinois, Purdue, Ohio State, and Missouri as well as St. Matthew's). Dr. Cantner will cover veterinary programs in the Western region (Washington State, Oregon State, California-Davis, Western, Colorado State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Midwestern, and Louisiana State along with the Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Glasgow, and the Royal Veterinary College). Dr. Reddish will liaise with programs in the Eastern region (Tufts, Cornell, Pennsylvania, Virginia-Maryland, North Carolina State, Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Tuskegee, Tennessee, Lincoln Memorial, and Mississippi State as well as Ross and St. George's).
Additionally, Dr. Reddish is serving as the liaison for preveterinary students and the American PreVeterinary Medical Association. And Dr. Cantner will be exploring opportunities to increase AVMA's outreach to faculty, interns, and residents.
Dr. Cantner is the daughter of two veterinarians and grew up at her family's small animal practice in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, served as a SAVMA delegate, and was a leader with the Veterinary Business Management Association, a student group, before receiving her VMD degree in 2011. Since graduation, Dr. Cantner had been working in small animal general practice and has continued to be involved in organized veterinary medicine through the Pennsylvania VMA.
Dr. Reddish grew up on a small farm in Jackson, Georgia, and was named to the 2009 All American Livestock Judging Team as an undergraduate at the University of Georgia. While attending the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, she was the AVMA student chapter president, an AVMA Governmental Relations Division extern, and an AVMA Veterinary Leadership Experience participant. She received her DVM degree in 2013. Prior to joining the AVMA Dr. Reddish was a mixed animal practitioner in central Georgia.
Where residues found in meat, more found in milk
By Greg Cima
A survey targeting dairies with histories of illegal drug residues in tissues of their cows at slaughter found that about 1 percent had illegal residues in milk.
None of the confirmed residues identified in milk from those dairies or from control dairies would have been found through routine testing of tankers of raw milk, according to a Food and Drug Administration report on the survey findings. But a related agency announcement states that, with violations found in less than 1 percent of all samples, the survey shows the milk supply is safe.
“These findings provide evidence that the nation's milk safety system is effective in helping to prevent drug residues of concern in milk, even in those limited instances when medications are needed to maintain the health of dairy cattle,” an agency announcement states.
The routine tests conducted under the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance for Grade ‘A’ milk and milk products are intended to detect the presence of beta lactam drugs, the antimicrobials used most often on dairy farms.
In the survey, “None of the drugs found in the targeted or non-targeted groups are approved by FDA to be administered to lactating dairy cows,” the report states. “This means that FDA has not evaluated the use of these drugs in lactating dairy cattle, including whether milk from treated cows is safe for human consumption.”
The FDA plans to use the survey data in ranking risks and, “as necessary,” require tests for a more diverse group of drug classes in milk to participate in the Grade “A” milk program, the report states. The agency also plans to work with state regulators to add tests of milk in tanks on farms when investigating tissue residues in cattle sent to slaughter, as well as work to educate dairy farmers on practices to prevent residues.
The FDA conducted the tests on 1,900 milk samples to determine whether drug residues were more common in milk from farms that have sent to slaughter cows with tissues containing illegal residues. About half the samples came from dairies found to have tissue-related residue violations between 2007 and 2010, and the other half of samples came from a control group without prior violations. Eleven of the 15 samples found to contain illegal residues came from the farms with histories of violations.
The agency tested for 31 residues and identified violations on the basis of their presence at concentrations above tolerances or on the basis of detection at any level in the absence of established safe tolerance levels. The targeted group of dairies had such residues in 1.2 percent of samples, near triple the rate for dairies without prior violations.
Ten of the samples contained illegal residues of florfenicol, including all four of the samples from dairies without prior violations. The rest of the illegal residues were from ciprofloxacin, sulfamethazine, tilmicosin, tulathromycin, and gentamicin. Ciprofloxacin, a human-use drug, is a metabolite of the animal-use drug enrofloxacin.
Dr. M. Gatz Riddell, executive vice president of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, said the survey results were encouraging because of the low numbers of residues found. But he said the results also show that work to prevent residues in meat and milk, like work to improve animal welfare, involves continuous improvement.
He said most of the illegal residues found by the FDA likely resulted from legal extralabel administration under veterinarian supervision.
Although veterinarians are prohibited from extralabel administration of enrofloxacin and sulfamethazine to lactating cattle, they can administer or recommend extralabel administration of florfenicol, gentamicin, tilmicosin, and tulathromycin.
Dr. Riddell said veterinarians need better information on how sickness and systemic compromise affect drug metabolism, which would help them develop withdrawal times sufficient to reduce any residues to levels lower than those detectable under current testing, which is already highly sensitive and is expected to become even more sensitive in the future. In the absence of withdrawal times that both avoid residues and allow a return to milk production, Dr. Riddell said veterinarians should consider alternatives to some antimicrobial treatments.
Study to assess veterinarians’ exposure to toxoplasmosis
Toxoplasmosis has been linked epidemiologically with schizophrenia and has been associated with the risk of suicide, and the suicide rate within the veterinary profession has become an issue of concern.
Against this background, three veterinarians hope to determine whether the occupational duties of veterinarians and their staffs alter the exposure rate to Toxoplasma gondii, as there may be implications for veterinary mental health. The principal co-investigators, Drs. Marthina Greer and Judith Milcarsky, who are practitioners, in conjunction with Dr. J.P. Dubey of the Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, have undertaken a limited nationwide survey of veterinarians and their staff to assess the prevalence of T gondii exposure.
The research study, known as the Silver Band Project, intends to add data to the growing body of evidence on the public health implications of T gondii infection. Silver is the awareness color for schizophrenia. Specifically, the purpose is to determine the prevalence of T gondii IgG antibodies in veterinarians and their staff, both those assisting with laboratory fecal analyses and those with receptionist duties only. The prevalence in that population will be compared with the prevalence in physicians and their respective staff members, both those with hands-on patient contact and those with strictly clerical duties, as well as with the prevalence in members of the general public.
No grant money was required to launch the study. Collaborating veterinarians will donate their time, and the USDA will test the samples at no charge. The only potential cost to participants is a physician visit for the blood draw.
The study will begin May 1. Participants will be matched on the basis of gender, age, race, and geography.
Drs. Greer and Milcarsky are also the investigators for an ongoing canine serology study with the USDA to determine whether owned dogs can be a sentinel for environmental contamination with T gondii.
“Testing veterinarians and their staff seems like a reasonable progression,” Dr. Greer states.
Dr. Greer is coordinating Silver Band Project samples originating west of the Mississippi River. Colleagues from that part of the country who are interested in collaborating should contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Milcarsky is coordinating samples originating east of the Mississippi River and can be reached at email@example.com.
Participant names and contact information will be known only to the collaborating veterinarians, who will provide the participants with their test results.
Veterinarians urge United Nations not to restrict ketamine
The World Veterinary Association, which counts the AVMA among its members, has joined with the World Medical Association and others in urging the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs not to restrict the availability of ketamine.
China had proposed placing ketamine under schedule I of the international Convention on Psychotropic Substances, the most restrictive category. After pushback, China proposed placing ketamine under schedule IV, the least restrictive category.
The World Health Organization has concluded that ketamine is an essential medicine widely used as an anesthetic and does not pose a substantial enough risk to place it under international controls. Many countries with abuse problems have introduced national controls on ketamine; it is a schedule III drug in the United States.
According to a statement from the World Veterinary Association, “WVA strongly objects to re-classification of ketamine, as this could lead to ketamine no longer being available to veterinary and medical clinicians, especially in remote areas.”
At a March 13 hearing of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, China proposed deferring action on ketamine pending further study, and the commission agreed.
After porcine epidemic diarrhea, preparing for other diseases
Private, government veterinarians trying to reduce risk
By Greg Cima
Some of tomorrow's emerging pathogens already exist in livestock herds somewhere, Dr. Robert Desrosiers said.
He cited the history of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, first characterized as “mystery swine disease” in 1987. A retrospective study of samples from the U.S. and Canada, however, found pigs had antibodies against the virus's precursor as early as the late 1970s.
And, certain pathogens, such as swine influenza virus strains, have the potential to result in disastrous consequences if their adaptations cause substantial harm to humans.
Dr. Elizabeth Lautner, associate deputy administrator of science, technology, and analysis services for Veterinary Services in the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the emergence of PRRS in pigs and of severe acute respiratory syndrome in humans also show that disease emergence is unpredictable.
Drs. Desrosiers and Lautner were among lecturers on disease risk, preparation, and response during the American Association of Swine Veterinarians meeting Feb. 28-March 3 in Orlando, Florida. The meeting occurred almost two years after the emergence in the U.S. of coronavirus strains that cause porcine epidemic diarrhea, which another presenter indicated has killed at least 8 million pigs in the U.S. alone.
The first U.S. outbreaks of PED were identified in April 2013. Researchers found a separate porcine deltacoronavirus in early 2014, and that virus has been associated with clinical signs similar to those of PED and transmissible gastroenteritis but with lower death rates than those for PED.
Preparing for the unpredictable
Dr. Patrick M. Webb, director of swine health programs for the National Pork Board, said wider use of premise identification numbers as a routine part of swine industry practices, such as in animal movement records and submission forms for diagnostic laboratories, would help during future animal disease outbreaks. That movement and diagnostic test information could be used by industry and animal health officials such as state veterinarians to understand the size of disease outbreaks and make decisions in response.
Dr. Max T. Nodibaugh of Swine Health Services in Frankfort, Indiana, said veterinarians need to work with pig owners to ensure they share information that could aid responses to the next disease outbreak. He also encouraged veterinarians to see their patients in person inside barns, rather than by photos, and collect samples when they encounter unusual signs.
Dr. Nodibaugh also suggested veterinarians avoid obsessing over small details on certain aspects of production so as not to risk missing more obvious problems in others. For example, he noted that he knew of a company that was washing trucks with recycled wash water, which could spread contamination among trucks.
Dr. Lautner said in her presentation and wrote in the conference proceedings that APHIS Veterinary Services will implement—as a core business—a series of plans published in 2014 on identifying, evaluating, and responding to emerging disease. Those plans involve watching and preparing for animal diseases or pathogens outside the U.S., identifying and understanding disease events, describing findings to those affected, and minimizing disease impact.
APHIS officials described the plans in the 2014 document “Veterinary Services Proposed Framework for Response to Emerging Animal Diseases in the United States.”
The agency also has proposed requiring reports on any possible or confirmed instances of diseases on a new National List of Reportable Animal Diseases as well as requiring reports on diagnosed or suspected cases of any other animal disease not known to exist in the U.S.
Veterinary Services published the proposals in October 2014, accepted comments through January 2015, and planned to propose regulations after reviewing comments.
The AASV, National Pork Producers Council, and National Pork Board also have worked to establish the Swine Health Information Center, an organization the sponsors hope will help the U.S. swine industry prepare for disease challenges, particularly by filling resource and knowledge gaps in diagnostics for emerging diseases. It has $15 million to fund operations for the next five years, with the money coming from the industry-funded Pork Checkoff program, according to an NPB announcement from November 2014.
North America is “in a state of persistent vulnerability,” Dr. Desrosiers said, and it is a danger to others. He cited reports that North American PRRS virus strains were introduced to China during the mid-1990s and that PED virus strains in South Korea and Taiwan may have originated in the U.S.
Dr. Desrosiers said veterinarians and other animal health authorities are unlikely to prevent outbreaks when once-harmless organisms in domestic livestock become pathogens, but precautions such as maintaining minimum distances between farms, keeping herds closed to outside animals, and breeding for more robust animals could reduce harms.
As for known diseases present elsewhere, countries can work to prevent introduction by enacting trade restrictions or by ensuring imports are free from pathogens. He said the latter would be more complicated but more accepted by trade partners.
And, in response to pathogens spread mostly through fomites and other indirect transmission means—as happens with the PED, PRRS, and foot-and-mouth disease viruses—Dr. Desrosiers said cooperation and coordinated responses would provide better results than individual efforts alone.
Demonstrating values, expertise
By Greg Cima
Dr. Ronnie L. Brodersen said integrity, intensity, and professionalism are priorities among swine veterinarians.
He wants to demonstrate, to other veterinarians and the public, that members of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians have those values.
“We feel that we are good stewards of animal health and good stewards of animal care, and we want to be perceived as a resource of knowledge on pigmanship, animal husbandry, and animal health,” he said in an interview.
Asked how swine veterinarians will show the public that commitment, he said that is their challenge.
Dr. Brodersen is the 2015–2016 AASV president. He took the office during the AASV Annual Meeting, held this year Feb. 28-March 3 in Orlando, Florida.
Dr. Brodersen grew up on a farm with pigs, cattle, and chickens near Coleridge, Nebraska, where his father and grandfather taught him how to give animals proper care, he said. A local veterinarian left a positive impression that stirred his interest in becoming a veterinarian.
His family's farm began focusing on pigs while he was in college, and he did the same. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and his DVM degree at Iowa State University in 1979.
Many of the swine veterinarians were well-acquainted with each other, and he knew some who had taken roles in AASV leadership and who encouraged him to do the same, he said. He became committed to working in the organization as part of his fellowship with other swine veterinarians.
As Dr. Brodersen became AASV president, Dr. George Charbonneau became president-elect, Dr. Alex Ramirez became vice president, and Dr. Michelle Sprague became the immediate past president.
Existing, emerging disease a top concern
In addition to current challenges of advocacy, Dr. Brodersen said AASV members also are trying to reduce risks to a pork industry that has endured two years of a disease outbreak that killed millions of neonatal pigs and, according to figures from the Department of Agriculture, spread to at least 28 states.
Swine veterinarians have worked to reduce the spread of, and harm by, the coronavirus that causes porcine epidemic diarrhea. Dr. Brodersen said AASV leaders also are concerned about the possibility another foreign animal disease could cause harm to pigs and the pork industry as well as risk human health.
For example, Dr. Brodersen said that, if the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus strain had changed in certain ways, it could have been deadlier for people, pigs, and other animals.
The first PED virus strain was identified in April 2013 in the U.S., and an unrelated porcine deltacoronavirus discovered in early 2014 also causes disease with some clinical signs similar to those of PED. But the deltacoronavirus, which has spread to at least 19 states, has been associated with a lower mortality rate, according to USDA information.
Dr. Brodersen was chair of this year's meeting, which included presentations on PED and the risks of other emerging diseases.
During the 2014 meeting, two past presidents of the AASV and then-president Dr. Sprague indicated they had seen disagreements between the AASV and AVMA over animal welfare issues, particularly the use of individual gestation stalls to house pregnant sows. Dozens of grocery, restaurant, and catering chains have vowed—particularly since 2012—to eventually stop buying pork produced through use of such housing, and many have cited customer and advocacy organization criticism about the limits individual stalls place on sow movement.
Dr. Brodersen thinks a divide remains between the AASV and many members of the AVMA on certain welfare practices, including use of gestation stalls, he said. But the AVMA has since enacted a sow housing policy that he sees as a compromise that not only fits the AVMA but also is something members of AASV and AVMA can agree on.
“So, I think we've accomplished a lot in this last year with the new sow housing policy,” he said. “Hopefully, that will help to soften the tensions that there have been in the past.”
The AVMA now advocates for giving pregnant sows room to move and housing them in ways that reduce stress as well as encourages research on pregnant sow needs.
Pain relief needed in youngest pigs
Veterinarians have no approved drugs to reduce pain in pigs, but Dr. Michael D. Apley thinks they have extralabel use options.
He said drugs used in pets and others used in humans may be useable for anesthesia and analgesia in pigs, under federal regulations that allow use of those drugs in the absence of options approved for use in food animals. But he warned that any residues from drugs without established tolerance levels would be illegal, and the Food and Drug Administration would need to establish residue tolerance levels for veterinarians to determine what withdrawal times are needed between treatment and slaughter, especially as residue detection ability improves.
Dr. Apley, a professor of production medicine and clinical pharmacology at Kansas State University, was among presenters on pain management in pigs during the American Association of Swine Veterinarians annual meeting, which this year ran Feb. 28-March 3 in Orlando, Florida. Dr. Ronnie L. Brodersen, who became AASV president during the meeting and chaired the program committee, said in an interview that pain management is an important issue in swine medicine.
“I think that the challenge is having tools approved by FDA for that purpose,” he said. “There are tools, and I think we will acquire them as time goes on.”
Dr. Locke A. Karriker, director of the Swine Medicine Education Center at Iowa State University, said the public has increasing concern about pain control in animals raised for food, particularly with regard to husbandry practices such as castration and tail docking. A lack of objective pain assessments has been a limiting factor in creating dosage regimens, he said, and pharmacokinetic data for one pig age group cannot be extrapolated to others.
Dr. Karriker described a study that indicated meloxicam, an NSAID, administered orally to a sow could be passed to nursing pigs through milk. That study indicated those nursing pigs had values such as lower plasma cortisol concentrations than did control pigs as well as higher cranial temperatures likely related to reduced pain- or stress-associated vasoconstriction in comparison with control pigs.
Dr. Apley indicated in his presentation and proceedings published by the AASV that veterinarians may be able to provide anesthesia to pigs with drugs such as acepromazine, xylazine, and ketamine. All have extralabel use-related withdrawal times for some regimens, available from the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank, www.farad.org. For analgesia, veterinarians may need to ask FARAD for withdrawal duration advice on drugs such as lidocaine, ketoprofen, meloxicam, and carprofen.
Dr. Blaine Tully, a partner at Swine Health Professionals in Steinbach, Manitoba, noted in another presentation that Canadian practice code revisions enacted in 2014 now state, among other changes, that anesthetics and analgesics are required to control pain during castration of any pig more than 10 days old, and pain management is required for tail docking of any pig more than 7 days old. Analgesic administration will be required for castration or tail docking of all pigs in Canada starting July 1, 2016.
Pet ownership down slightly, but spending up
The American Pet Products Association reports that U.S. pet ownership decreased slightly between 2012 and 2014, but spending in the U.S. pet industry increased between 2013 and 2014—including spending on veterinary care.
The APPA biennial survey of pet owners found that 79.7 million U.S. households owned pets in 2014, down 3.5 percent from 2012 but up about 50 percent over two decades. Baby boomers comprised 37 percent of pet owners. More than 10 percent of pet owners were new owners, mostly from generations X and Y.
More pet owners than two years previously, 74 percent, said they are not influenced by the economy when it comes to their pets. Fewer owners reported spending less money on their pet, that they did not get a pet, or that they had to give up their pet because of economic factors. Across all pet types, many owners reported increased or consistent spending on their pets.
The annual APPA report on pet spending found that overall spending in the U.S. pet industry increased 4.2 percent between 2013 and 2014 to $58.04 billion. The APPA predicts a 4.4 percent overall increase for 2015.
Spending on veterinary care increased 4.7 percent to $15.04 billion in 2014. The APPA predicts a 4.6 percent increase in spending on veterinary care for 2015.
In the biggest category, pet food, spending increased 3.2 percent to $22.26 billion in 2014. In the category of pet supplies and over-the-counter medications, spending increased 4.6 percent to $13.75 billion.
Spending on pet services such as grooming, boarding, walking, training, and day care increased more than in any other category, up 9.8 percent to $4.84 billion in 2014. Spending on purchases of pets decreased 3.6 percent to $2.15 billion.
AAVMC continues to move the needle on diversity
More work needed on admissions, campus climate, speakers say
By Malinda Larkin
Ten years ago, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges launched its DiVersity Matters initiative, which seeks to increase diversity at U.S. veterinary colleges. At the time, Lisa Greenhill, AAVMC associate executive director for institutional research and diversity, who has a doctorate in education, said that for these institutions to be responsive to the changing face of the U.S. population, they must both individually and collectively grow an applicant pool and an enrollment that mirror population demographics (J Vet Med Educ 2007;34:43–46).
Looking at today's figures, it appears the situation has changed for the better in some ways but not all. The number of historically underrepresented students at U.S. veterinary colleges has increased from 951, or 9.7 percent of the total students enrolled, in 2005 to 1,810, or 14.6 percent, in 2015, according to AAVMC data.
However, the makeup of the veterinary applicant pool hasn't changed much in the past five years. During that period, 77 percent of applicants were female, with a mean age of 21 years. Additionally, of those who responded to the AAVMC annual applicant survey in the past five years and identified with at least one race, 72 percent were Caucasian.
Speakers at the AAVMC's Annual Conference, held March 13–15 in Washington, D.C., discussed strategies for attracting diverse students to veterinary medicine and what institutions are doing to enhance cultural awareness and competence. The theme was “Recruiting and Selecting for the Future of Veterinary Medicine,” but the topic of diversity and inclusion carried throughout the conference, which was held in conjunction with the 20th Iverson Bell Symposium—the oldest and largest diversity-themed event in the profession.
Determining who is qualified
In their talk “Who Are We Selecting and What Are the Outcomes?” Drs. Jacque Pelzer and Jennifer Hodgson, administrators at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, argued that current admissions practices, not necessarily the applicant pool, may impede the ability to influence change in the makeup of the profession.
They referenced a recent study (Med Educ 2015;49:36–47) in which the authors looked at why entry into medical school remains highly competitive and exclusive of underprivileged groups, taking a focused look at potential internal barriers. Specifically, the authors wanted to know what implicit and explicit messages were being sent about the medical profession valuing the concepts of excellence, diversity, and equity and how they were being transmitted, internalized, and constructed.
The authors found that the focus of admissions was on academic excellence and not on creating diversity within medical classes. They also found that medical schools defined diversity as a quantifiable, superficially observable commodity. Dr. Hodgson said while the authors recognized the importance of academics, they believed that institutions’ major focus on achieving academically came at the expense of recognizing medicine's other roles in society.
In addition, the schools rarely if ever recognized deep or hidden forms of diversity, such as an individual's ways of thinking or seeing the world, which might result from the intersections of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and the like.
Finally, the authors found that equity was a concept vaguely defined on most institutions’ websites and that there was incomplete articulation of the schools’ perceived obligations to the societies or communities in which they were located. As a result, tension was apparent between academic excellence and the profession's mandate of service to society, whereas frequently these two are conflated.
Golden anniversary for AAVMC
The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges launched its 50th anniversary celebration during its Annual Conference, held March 13–15 in Washington D.C., with the theme of “Fifty and Forward.”
“What we hope to do with this celebration is illuminate the critical role that academic veterinary medicine is playing in the modern world and build greater awareness and support for what we do,” said Dr. Ralph Richardson, dean of the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine and chair of a 12-member 50th Anniversary Planning Committee that has been working for more than a year to develop the project.
The yearlong celebration will wrap up at the March 2016 AAVMC Annual Conference—the 50th year of service (1966–2016). The concluding celebration will be a gala event featuring guests from throughout the profession, individuals from federal government agencies and members of Congress, and executives from major corporations working in animal and human health. That gala will feature the announcement of the 50th Anniversary Grand Initiative, a project conceived to help veterinary colleges and the profession build momentum and create progress.
During the opening ceremony, AAVMC and committee officials highlighted some of the other major special events and communication programs that have been developed as part of the celebration, including a six-minute video profile of the AAVMC and a 30-second television public service announcement. A painting commissioned as part of the celebration was formally unveiled.
That painting will be featured on the cover of two special publications that will be created as part of the anniversary celebration. A 50th anniversary edition of the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education this fall will examine the AAVMC's 50-year body of work from a scholarly perspective. And veterinary medical historian and former Cornell Dean Dr. Don Smith will author a history book to be published in early 2016.
View the AAVMC anniversary website at www.aavmc.org/Anniversary.aspx.
Drs. Pelzer and Hodgson believe the same tensions exist within veterinary admissions processes. To address this concern, they recommend veterinary colleges look at their websites and reflect on the messages that they send.
“Many of us portray a diverse student class through the images on our websites. While we are not saying we should never use these images, as they may encourage more diverse applicants, this cannot be regarded as a box we have ticked or be an inaccurate representation of our student body, rather than a true commitment to diversity,” Dr. Hodgson said.
Another suggestion was to train admissions committee members to embrace inclusive definitions of excellence. This process might also help them resolve the tensions between academic excellence and other attributes in applicants the veterinary college values.
Climate survey results
When it comes to current students, veterinary colleges have been placing a greater emphasis on developing and implementing curriculum interventions that enhance cultural awareness and competence within the institution as well as in clinical practice settings when working with diverse populations. Just a few of the overarching diversity and inclusion initiatives that have been created in the past 10 years are the following:
• Purdue University began offering online certificate programs in diversity and inclusion for veterinarians, veterinary technicians, educators, and students through the Center of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine. Purdue developed the center in partnership with the AVMA and the AAVMC in 2014.
• Veterinary colleges have implemented multicultural scholars programs, thanks to grants offered by the Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
• Regional Iverson Bell symposiums have taken place in the Midwest and Southeast.
• Student-run groups such as the Broad Spectrum Veterinary Student Association, which focuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, and Veterinary Students as One in Culture and Ethnicity were created.
So far, it seems these efforts have helped foster more-inclusive environments at the U.S. veterinary colleges. A 2011 study that assessed campus climate with respect to diversity at each college suggested that the overall climate in relation to diversity is positive and supportive (J Vet Med Educ 2014;41:111–121).
However, the survey also revealed that veterinary students within minority groups express feelings of discrimination and lower acceptance. These groups include minorities underrepresented in veterinary medicine and LGBT populations.
The survey found nearly one-third of racially or ethnically URVM students reported hearing racist comments from their student colleagues occasionally to very frequently. Over 20 percent of LGBT students reported hearing homophobic comments from students occasionally to very frequently. Students were more likely than college faculty and staff to make comments about race and sexuality.
The survey also revealed that veterinary students were more likely to experience negative diversity-related experiences at the hands of their student peers than from any other group on campus. The second highest incidence of sexist comments came from faculty. Just over 21 percent of female students and 23 percent of transgender students said that they heard faculty making sexist comments occasionally to very frequently.
“The differing perceived level of institutional support for URVM students between students of color and their white counterparts was found to be statistically significant, indicating that while white students felt that there was adequate support for URVM students, students of color did not feel that the same amount of adequacy was present. This finding is consistent with previous studies on perceptions of climate and institutional support in which white students routinely rate institutions as more welcoming and accepting than their underrepresented student counterparts,” wrote the study's authors, Drs. Greenhill and K. Paige Carmichael, professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.
Drs. Carmichael and Greenhill, along with Dr. Sandra San Miguel, associate dean for engagement at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, discussed at the conference how the perception that a veterinary college is nonsupportive to underrepresented populations could affect its success in recruiting and retaining these students. They say mechanisms that can be used to enhance the perception of a supportive environment could lead to more effective recruitment. These include pipeline building, formal student-mentor pairing, further integration of cultural competence into the curriculum, and communicating clear paths for reporting bullying or harassing behavior.
Dr. Carmichael received this year's Iverson Bell Award for her contributions to advancing inclusion and diversity in academic veterinary medicine (see page 942).
The conference's program is available at www.aavmc.org/Meetings/2015-Annual-Conference-Program.aspx.
College enrollment up, applicant-to-seat ratio down
Tuition costs have yet to peak
By Malinda Larkin
The veterinary applicant-to-seat ratio has decreased more than previously thought, while first-year enrollment has seen a noticeable bump in the past two years, but tuition growth may be slowing. All that's according to the 2014–2015 Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges annual data report, released earlier this year.
The mean tuition at U.S. veterinary colleges continues to increase but at a slower pace in more recent years. Resident tuition grew 21.3 percent from 2006–2010, compared with 12.3 percent from 2010–2015; the mean for 2015 was $22,448. Nonresident tuition, which includes private universities’ rates, increased 10.3 percent from 2006–2010 compared with 5.6 percent from 2010–2015; the mean for 2015 was $46,352.
Meanwhile, total enrollment at U.S. veterinary schools has increased 2.1 percent annually over the past 10 years, from 9,758 in 2005 to 12,395 in 2015. That's a higher pace than the 0.4 percent annual growth rate from 1985–2005.
In the AAVMC's advocacy survey for 2010, the association asked U.S. veterinary colleges whether they planned to increase seats between 2010 and 2015. Back then, it appeared the aggregate first-year class size would grow between 5.7 and 8 percent through 2015. In reality, there was a 26 percent increase in first-year class size from 2010–2015. The biggest jumps came in just the past two years, from a total of 2,981 first-year students at U.S. veterinary colleges in 2013 to 3,310 in 2014 to 3,586 in 2015. That's on top of the total growth rate of first-year seats at U.S. veterinary colleges from 2005–2010, which was 10.3 percent.
At the same time, it appears as though growth in the number of applicants to veterinary colleges has not kept pace with the growth in number of first-year seats. Applicants through AAVMC's Veterinary Medical College Application Service increased by about 52 percent—from 4,440 to 6,769—from 2002–2013.
Furthermore, approximately 79 percent of VMCAS users, who represent more than 90 percent of U.S. applicants, apply to more than one veterinary college. The mean is four applications per applicant. Therefore, the national applicant-to-seat ratio is the number to focus on.
In 2008, the applicant-to-seat ratio was 2.4 applicants for each available seat. However, ratios reported up to that year focused on the U.S. colleges and the general pool of applicants, according to Lisa Greenhill, AAVMC director of institutional research and diversity, who has a doctorate in education.
In 2008, however, the association revised the information it gathered to reflect applicants to and seats available to U.S. students at international AAVMC member institutions. Not surprisingly, the ratio dipped the following year, hitting an all-time low of 1.5:1 in 2012.
The AAVMC noted in its report that the quality of the veterinary applicant pool remains very strong. In 2003, the minimum undergraduate GPA for applicants who were admitted was 2.8; today it is 3.3, according to internal AAVMC data. Further, only 12 percent of those in the applicant pool have less than a 3.0 GPA.
“The reality is that there continues to be a steady stream of applicants who are still going to apply to veterinary medicine; they have dreamed of the profession since childhood. I think that our applicant attrition likely reflects a decreased ability to recruit and retain young people with broader interests in (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers who actively choose veterinary medicine after the age of 10. This group will likely need more convincing to consider the profession in the coming years,” Dr. Greenhill told JAVMA.
Should the applicant-to-seat ratio fall below 1:1, this could threaten the long-term viability of some veterinary colleges. A few that have been near the bottom of applications received through VMCAS in recent years were St. George's University in Grenada, West Indies, which had only 408 applicants for 125 open positions in 2011; Oklahoma State University, which had just 364 applicants for 82 spots in 2012; and Texas A&M University, which had 416 applicants for 132 seats in 2011.
For more information, including the total number of graduates from AAVMC member institutions and enrollment demographics broken down by sex, ethnicity, and home state, visit www.aavmc.org/About-AAVMC/Public-Data.aspx.
Tuskegee finds a new dean
Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health has found a new dean after nearly a year.
Dr. Ruby Perry, former associate dean for academic affairs, was tapped to fill the position, according to a March 30 university announcement.
She had served as interim dean of the college since the resignation of Dr. Tsegaye Habtemariam at the end of May last year.
Dr. Perry (Tuskegee ‘77) is a former president of the Tuskegee Veterinary Medical Alumni Association. From 1982–1988, Dr. Perry was an assistant veterinary radiology professor at Tuskegee. She also served as acting chair of the Department of Small Animal Medicine, Surgery, and Radiology. In 1995, she became section chief of diagnostic imaging at Michigan State University, a post she held for six years. She was also a tenured associate professor of veterinary radiology for more than 17 years before returning to Tuskegee in 2007. Dr. Perry is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Radiology.
Dr. Habtemariam had served as dean since 2006. A Tuskegee faculty member since 1979, Dr. Habtemariam had been associate dean for research and graduate studies at the veterinary college since 1998. He has also served as director of the Center for Computational Epidemiology, Bioinformatics, and Risk Analysis; director of Biomedical Information Management Systems; and professor of epidemiology and biomedical informatics.
In 2014, Dr. Habtemariam returned to the Department of Pathobiology as a professor of epidemiology and biomedical informatics, and he continues to teach graduate students in the School of Veterinary Medicine and the Institute of Public Health Studies as well as in the two doctoral programs—integrative biosciences and interdisciplinary pathobiology—that were launched while he served as dean.
During his post as dean, Dr. Habtemariam is credited with serving as principal investigator of several external grants that totaled more than $100 million since 2006, and, more recently, initiation of construction of a $41.5 million veterinary medical teaching hospital in 2013.
He holds a doctorate in epidemiology from the University of California-Davis. He earned his veterinary degree from Colorado State University in 1970, after attending college in his native Ethiopia.
Veterinary academic leaders recognized for achievements
The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges recognized the 2015 recipients of six awards during its Annual Conference March 13–15 in Washington, D.C.
Leo Holguin (Western University ‘16) was awarded the Patricia M. Lowrie Diversity Leadership Scholarship, which recognizes veterinary students who have demonstrated promise as future leaders and have made substantial contributions to enhancing diversity and inclusion in academic veterinary medicine.
Holguin served as the outreach co-chair for the Students of Color and Allies for Outreach, Retention, and Education. The mission of SCORE is to provide a safe place for students on campus, to provide students with the tools needed to navigate the struggles of school, and to educate the campus about relevant issues affecting students of color. SCORE also reaches out to K-12 schools and undergraduate programs to encourage students of color and underrepresented students to choose health careers.
Holguin also serves at the national co-chair for the Broad Spectrum Veterinary Student Association. The association's mission is to connect, support, and empower community for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students and allies across veterinary education.
Dr. K. Paige Carmichael (Tuskegee ‘87) was honored with the Iverson Bell Award for her contributions to advancing inclusion and diversity in academic veterinary medicine.
Dr. Carmichael, professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, also served as the associate dean for academic affairs for eight years at Georgia. She has authored or co-authored several successful grant proposals to address the recruitment of underrepresented groups in academic veterinary medicine.
She created the veterinary college's Veterinary Career Aptitude and Mentoring Program, which works to recruit young, underrepresented minority students with an aptitude for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. She also mentors students and early-career faculty and facilitates the development of student diversity groups.
Dr. Carmichael earned a doctoral degree in pathology from the University of Georgia, where she also completed her residency. She is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists.
Dr. Lance E. Perryman (Washington State ‘70), dean emeritus of the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, was chosen to deliver the Recognition Lecture.
Dr. Perryman served as dean at CSU from 2001–2012. During his tenure, despite state budgetary challenges, the veterinary college achieved increases in extramurally funded research. In addition, he established the DVM/MBA program, which became a model for additional combined degree programs within the veterinary college.
His long history of leadership in veterinary medicine includes service as president of the AAVMC, ACVP, and American Association of Veterinary Immunologists.
Dr. Perryman, who is a diplomate of the ACVP, earned a doctoral degree in comparative biology from Washington State University.
Dr. L. Garry Adams (Texas A&M ‘64), a professor at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, received the Senator John Melcher, DVM, Leadership in Public Policy Award.
Dr. Adams has provided leadership on many boards and scientific committees, including ones at the AVMA and the National Academies. He has testified before many congressional hearings that helped shape national policy, including presenting invited testimony for the Congressional House Select Committee's “Bioshield: Countering the Bioterrorist Threat” panel.
Dr. Adams served as chair of the brucellosis and the tuberculosis scientific advisory committees of the United States Animal Health Association, providing guidance on the scientific basis for implementing rules impacting international trade policies with Mexico and Canada. He also served as the scientific leader of biologic systems research for the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense, developing countermeasures against exotic animal diseases that could erode the nation's food security.
Dr. Adams is a diplomate of the ACVP.
Dr. Jon S. Patterson (Cornell ‘81) was the recipient of the AAVMC Distinguished Teacher Award, presented by Zoetis.
Dr. Patterson is a professor at Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation. He teaches general pathology, neuropathology, and diagnostic pathology to veterinary students in classroom, laboratory, and clerkship settings, and he trains residents in veterinary anatomic pathology. He has a particular interest in neuropathology, which is the focus of his current research on spinal cord disease or dysfunction associated with hind limb ataxia and weakness in Pugs.
Students who contributed to his nomination wrote that “Dr. Patterson's teaching methods are unanimously loved by all of his students, so much so that his lesson designs have been used as an example of how other teachers should consider presenting material.”
Dr. Patterson is a diplomate of the ACVP.
Dr. Susan VandeWoude (Virginia-Maryland ‘86), from the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, was honored with the AAVMC Excellence in Research Award, presented by Zoetis. She received the award for her work on feline immunology and virology, including investigating feline immunodeficiency virus as a model for human disease, examining the molecular nature of the interaction between host and virus, and exploring the larger implications of infectious diseases on wildlife.
Dr. VandeWoude began working at CSU in 1990. She is a professor of comparative medicine in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology and is the veterinary college's associate dean of research.
She has served as the principal investigator on grants totaling nearly $10 million, most of which came from the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, and she has participated in a variety of roles in training grants totaling nearly $6.5 million. Her work has resulted in more than 70 peer-reviewed publications, 200 abstract presentations, and numerous invited lectures.
Dr. VandeWoude completed an NIH postdoctoral residency in the Division of Comparative Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Five swine veterinarians honored for contributions
The American Association of Swine Veterinarians honored five veterinarians for contributions to the association and the swine industry. The awards were given March 2 during the AASV Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida.
Dr. Larry L. Coleman (Missouri ‘80) received the Swine Practitioner of the Year Award, which is given for high proficiency and effectiveness in delivering veterinary service to clients.
He is a food animal practice owner in Broken Bow, Nebraska, where he is passionate about the art and science of getting employees to emotionally engage when caring for animals. He also has served as a volunteer leader on numerous AASV committees since joining in 1984.
Dr. Howard Hill (California-Davis ‘69) received the AASV Meritorious Service Award, which is given in recognition of outstanding service to the association.
He joined the AASV in 1979 and was its president in 1996. He also has been a volunteer leader on the AASV Program Planning Committees. He received the AASV's Howard Dunne Memorial Award in 1992, and he is an AASV Foundation Leman Fellow.
He also was one of nine veterinarians appointed to the Department of Agriculture's Advisory Committee on Animal Health from 2011–2013, and he is immediate past president of the National Pork Producers Council.
Dr. Rodney “Butch” Baker (Auburn ‘78) received the Howard Dunne Memorial Award, which is given to AASV members who provide important contributions and outstanding service to the AASV and the swine industry.
Dr. Baker was honored for his work in academia, private practice, consulting, and industry. He is the interim director of the Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State University, which he joined in 2006 as a senior clinician in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and he is one of the owners of two pig farms in Georgia and Kentucky. He also was AASV president in 2009.
Dr. Kerry Keffaber (Purdue ‘81) received the Technical Services/Allied Industry Veterinarian of the Year Award, which is given to veterinarians who show high proficiency and effectiveness in delivering veterinary service to their employers and clients, as well as give tireless service to the AASV and swine industry.
He was honored for technical service to Elanco Animal Health, which he joined in 2002 as a swine technical services consultant and where he later worked as director of technical consulting in the swine business unit and director of swine innovation. He now is an adviser at the company for scientific affairs and policy, a role through which he leads domestic and international efforts on policies affecting global animal health, scientific research, and food safety. He also was AASV president in 2008.
Dr. Megan S. Inskeep (North Carolina State ‘10) received the Young Swine Veterinarian of the Year Award, which is given to AASV members who graduated within the preceding five years and have provided exemplary service and proficiency.
Her efforts recognized through the award include giving community presentations through the National Pork Board's Operation Main Street project and helping veterinary students in obtaining swine practice experience. She is a veterinarian for Rensselaer Swine Services in Rensselaer, Indiana.
Event: Midwest Veterinary Conference, Feb. 19–22, Columbus
Awards: Veterinarian of the Year: Dr. Lonnie King, Columbus. Dr. King (Ohio State ‘70) is dean of the OSU CVM, also serving as a professor in the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. Earlier, he was administrator of the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, directed the AVMA Governmental Relations Division, served as dean of the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and was senior veterinarian with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and pioneered its one-health program. Dr. King is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and a past president of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. Distinguished Service Award: Drs. Roger Redman, Wooster, and Richard Wiley, Wooster. Dr. Redman (Ohio State ‘90) owns Ark Veterinary Hospital. He is a past president of the Ohio Veterinary Medical Licensing Board, on which he is serving his third term. Dr. Redman also serves on the American Association of Veterinary State Boards. Dr. Wiley (Ohio State ‘80) co-owns New Pittsburg Large Animal Clinic. He is chair of the OVMA Bovine Health Task Force, has served on the American Association of Bovine Practitioners board of directors, and guides the dairy educational sessions at the AABP annual conference.
Officials: Drs. Brad Garrison, Wooster, president; Scott Pendleton, Cadiz, president-elect; Tod Beckett, Columbus, vice president; Liesa Stone, Columbus, secretary; Dave Bauman, Maineville, treasurer; David Koncal, Northfield, immediate past president; and AVMA delegate and alternate delegate—Drs. Robert Knapp, Columbus, and Linda Lord, Columbus
American College of Veterinary Microbiologists
The American College of Veterinary Microbiologists certified 13 new diplomates following the board certification examination it held Dec. 5–6, 2014, in Chicago. The new diplomates are as follows:
Rinosh J. Mani, Stillwater, Oklahoma Arathy D.S. Nair, Manhattan, Kansas Deepti Pillai, Manhattan, Kansas Edisleidy R. Batista, Quebec City
John Schaefer, Knoxville, Tennessee Guilherme Verocai, Calgary, Alberta
G. Kenitra Hammac, West Lafayette, Indiana
Owais Khan, College Station, Texas Suresh V. Kuchipudi, Leicestershire, United Kingdom
Raghavendra S.K. Pudupakam, Los Angeles
Leyi Wang, Reynoldsburg, Ohio
Dr. Randall L. Levings, Ames, Iowa, was certified in immunology and virology, and Dr. Claire B. Miller, Fargo, North Dakota, was certified in bacteriology/mycology, immunology, and virology.
Obituaries: AVMA member AVMA honor roll member Nonmember
Donald L. Burton
Dr. Burton (Ohio State ‘80), 63, Dublin, Ohio, died Nov. 18, 2014. He owned Animal Care Unlimited, a small animal, avian, and exotic animal practice in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Burton also served as chief veterinarian and executive director at the Ohio Wildlife Center, a rehabilitation center and hospital that he founded in Columbus in 1984. He was instrumental in establishing Suburban Commercial and Residential Animal Management, a humane wildlife control option using effective exclusion techniques.
Dr. Burton served as an adjunct associate professor at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and consulted and lectured for the Humane Society of the United States. He was recently named trustee emeritus at the Columbus Zoological Park Association after 30 years of service. In 1994, Dr. Burton was Columbus and Central Ohio's Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year. He received The Ohio State University Alumni Association Citizenship Award for Outstanding Service to the Community in 2006.
The Eagle Habitat in the North American region of the Columbus Zoological Park and Aquarium was recently dedicated to Dr. Burton. He is survived by his wife, Susan, and two daughters. Memorials may be made to the Dr. Donald L. Burton Memorial Fund, c/o Ohio Wildlife Center, 6131 Cook Road, Powell, OH 43065.
Edward J. Dick
Dr. Dick (Illinois ‘61), 77, San Antonio, died Dec. 24, 2014. A small animal veterinarian, he owned Lone Star Animal Hospital in San Antonio for more than 35 years. Dr. Dick also raised Suffolk sheep. He was a member of the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association, United Suffolk Sheep Association, and Bexar County VMA. Dr. Dick was also a member of the Bexar County 4-H Club. His wife, Nancy; four sons and a daughter; and seven grandchildren survive him. Dr. Dick's son, Dr. Edward J. Dick Jr. (Texas A&M ‘85), is a veterinarian in Seguin, Texas.
Danny A. Hudson
Dr. Hudson (Oklahoma State ‘66), 74, Cary, North Carolina, died Sept. 17, 2014. A small animal veterinarian, he owned Northwoods Animal Hospital in Cary prior to retirement in 2005. Earlier in his career, Dr. Hudson worked for the United States Public Health Service in Atlanta and Las Cruces, New Mexico; practiced in Portsmouth, Virginia; and owned Mayfair Animal Hospital in Cary. He was a past president of the Cary Rotary Club and a Paul Harris Fellow.
Dr. Hudson's daughter and son survive him. His daughter, Dr. Melissa Hudson (North Carolina State ‘93), owns Northwoods Animal Hospital. Memorials may be made to Transitions Health Care, 250 Hospice Circle, Raleigh, NC 27607; or Guiding Eyes for the Blind, P.O. Box 214, Pittsboro, NC 27312.
Ralph D. King
Dr. King (Georgia ‘61), 82, Rockmart, Georgia, died Nov. 10, 2014. He owned King Animal Hospital, a mixed animal practice in Rockmart, for 40 years.
A past president of the North American Veterinary Community Conference and a member of the Polk County Cattlemen's Association, Dr. King was named Georgia Cattlemen's Veterinarian of the Year in 2005. Active in civic life, he was a past president of the Rockmart Chamber of Commerce and Rockmart Kiwanis Club, a former chair of the Rockmart-Aragon Hospital Authority, a charter member of the Joint Economic Development Commission of Polk County, and a member of Gideons International.
Dr. King was a veteran of the Army. He is survived by his wife, Shirley; a son and a daughter; and a grandson. Dr. King's great-nephew, Dr. Travis Wright (Georgia ‘08), is a veterinarian in Rockmart.
Robert M. Meister
Dr. Meister (Ohio State ‘60), 84, Olmsted Falls, Ohio, died Feb. 2, 2015. He owned West Park Animal Hospital in Cleveland, where he practiced primarily small animal medicine for 36 years. Dr. Meister was a Navy veteran of the Korean War. His four daughters, two sons, and six grandchildren survive him. One daughter, Dr. Michelle M. Jones (Virginia-Maryland ‘00), is a veterinarian in Lebanon, Virginia.
William C. Randle
Dr. Randle (Kansas State ‘66), 72, Norman, Oklahoma, died Jan. 11, 2015. A small animal veterinarian, he owned Town & Country Veterinary Hospital in Duncan, Oklahoma, for more than 20 years. Dr. Randle later practiced at Swaim Serum in Oklahoma City. He was a past president of the Duncan Jaycees and the Stephens County chapter of the American Red Cross, served on the Duncan Regional Hospital board of directors, and was active with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America.
Dr. Randle is survived by his wife, Paula; three children; and four grandchildren. Memorials may be made to William Charles Randle Memorial Fund, KSU Foundation, 2323 Anderson Ave., Manhattan, KS 66502.
Hersel H. Robertson
Dr. Robertson (Missouri ‘53), 91, Higginsville, Missouri, died Dec. 6, 2014. He owned Robertson Veterinary Clinic, a mostly large animal practice in Higginsville, for 45 years. Dr. Robertson also served as a nutrition consultant. He was a member of the Missouri VMA, Missouri Academy of Veterinary Medicine, and International Academy of Preventive Medicine. In 1975, Dr. Robertson was named Missouri Veterinarian of the Year.
Active in civic life, he served two terms as mayor of Higginsville and was a past member of the Higginsville School Board. Dr. Robertson was a 2nd lieutenant in the Army Air Corps during World War II and a member of the American Legion. He is survived by two sons and three daughters, seven grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
Robert L. Schricker
Dr. Schricker (Iowa State ‘52), 86, New Oxford, Pennsylvania, died Oct. 19, 2014. He was a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists.
Darrell D. Sharp
Dr. Sharp (Kansas State ‘58), 87, San Bernardino, California, died Dec. 11, 2014.
Albert E. Smith
Dr. Smith (Pennsylvania ‘76), 70, Charlottesville, Virginia, died Feb. 20, 2015. He co-owned and served as partner at several small animal practices in the Charlottesville area prior to retirement in 2013. Dr. Smith helped establish and was a past president of the Virginia Academy of Small Animal Medicine. He also co-founded an emergency veterinary hospital in Virginia's Albemarle County. Dr. Smith served on the board of directors of the American Red Cross for three years.
He is survived by his wife, Finlay, and two sons. Memorials may be made to the Memorial Fund, Campbell Memorial Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 18, Weems, VA 22576.