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What is the modality's place in the profession?

By Malinda Larkin

Dr. Monique Maniet, a semiretired small animal practitioner, vividly remembers the case of the German Shepherd Dog that couldn't walk. The owner had spent thousands on veterinary specialists, but the dog was still in pain and absent a diagnosis. As a last resort, the owner brought the dog to Dr. Maniet, who practices at Veterinary Holistic Care in the Washington, D.C., area. She noticed that the dog had been given a Lyme disease vaccine the week before signs were first observed. Her diagnosis was that the dog was having a reaction to the vaccine. Dr. Maniet treated him homeopathically, and after six months, “He was back to normal, and it was like nothing happened,” she said. “Even sometimes in cases when people think there is no hope, you can turn it around.”

Homeopathy is, depending on whom you ask, a gentler and more natural alternative to traditional medicine or an unproven and useless modality, at best.

Last November, the Federal Trade Commission declared that homeopathic products cannot include claims of effectiveness without “competent and reliable scientific evidence.” The Food and Drug Administration appears poised to issue new regulations for homeopathic products later this year. The agency currently does not evaluate these products for safety or efficacy.

Meanwhile, homeopathy's place in veterinary medicine remains a source of contention.

The validity of homeopathy was debated by AVMA leadership and members in 2013, when the Board of Directors referred to two councils a resolution proposing to discourage the use of homeopathy because of ineffectiveness.

The Council on Research scanned the literature and found that studies claiming a benefit from homeopathic products in veterinary medicine were either anecdotal in nature or generally flawed in their experimental design or analysis. It also found that well-controlled clinical studies typically failed to substantiate any beneficial effect of homeopathic preparations and concluded that there was no clinical evidence to support the use of homeopathic preparations to treat or prevent diseases in animals.

For its part, the Council on Veterinary Service reviewed the AVMA policy on Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Veterinary Medicine, made some revisions, and said the policy clearly states that the same standards must be applied to any treatment modality, whether traditional or alternative. Ultimately, the 2014 House of Delegates and the Board agreed the current policy was sufficient, and the HOD disapproved the resolution, saying the AVMA would not take a position specific to a particular modality.

More recently, a petition in the United Kingdom from an equine veterinarian has asked the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to prevent veterinarians from selling or recommending homeopathic products. The regulatory body is due to report back in the coming months.

“Like cures like”

Homeopathy was started in the late 1700s by German physician Samuel Hahnemann and is based on what he described as the law of similars: the idea that a substance capable of causing particular symptoms in a healthy individual will cure similar symptoms in a person with disease.

An introductory book on homeopathy, “Beyond Flat Earth Medicine” by Timothy Dooley, MD, a naturopathic doctor, explains: “The basic idea is that the medicine stimulates the natural recuperative processes of the patient towards health. The disease resolves naturally as the patient recovers. The disease is not being directly treated and so, for a given disease, there are hundreds of medicines which might be indicated. It depends on the patient. Likewise, for a given medicine, there are hundreds of diseases in which it might be indicated.”

For example, Coffea cruda (a homeopathic preparation made from coffee) is used to treat patients with “insomnia associated with an overly alert mind.”

Dr. Hahnemann was faced with the problem of using his “medicines” in such a way as to not cause more problems. He found that if a person's symptoms indicated the need for a particular substance, it could be given in very small doses with good results, according to the book. Through experiments, he developed a system of dilutions and agitations called “potentization.” This use of ultrahigh dilutions is what distinguishes homeopathic medicines from herbal tinctures and other natural medicines made with whole substances.

First, the substance that the homeopathic medicine is derived from is either dissolved into a tincture or ground into a powder from which a tincture is made. One part of the “mother tincture” is mixed with either 9 parts of a solvent such as water or alcohol for an X potency or 99 parts for a C potency. The newly diluted mixture is shaken vigorously, a process that Dr. Hahnemann called “succussion” and said “energizes” the dilution. After being diluted and succussed one time, the tincture is called 1X or 1C, depending on the proportions. The process continues in this way, with each step using the product of the preceding one as the basis for the next dilution. A 24C potency, for instance, has undergone 24 dilutions and succussions.

“If properly diluted and agitated, the medicines retain their ability to cause a homeopathic response even in the high potencies (high dilutions). If not properly agitated at each step, the medicine loses its homeopathic medicinal properties through the diluting process,” according to the book.

Potencies up to 30C are often referred to as low potencies and those of 200C and higher are referred to as high potencies. The lower the potency, the more frequently the medicine typically needs to be re-administered.

Homeopathy in practice

About 20 states follow the AVMA Model Veterinary Practice Act by including complementary and alternative veterinary medicine, including homeopathy, in their definition of the practice of veterinary medicine. South Carolina and Louisiana specifically exempt homeopathy from their definition of the practice of veterinary medicine. Another 20 or so states have enacted specific or general exemptions for various regulated therapies from their definition of the practice of veterinary medicine.

The Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy, founded in 1995, is the only veterinary certifying body in the U.S. recognized by the National Center for Homeopathy. The academy currently has 120 members, 49 of whom are certified.

Certified members have completed the Professional Course in Veterinary Homeopathy offered by the Pitcairn Institute of Veterinary Homeopathy and have passed a continuing education certification process administered by the AVH. (The Registry of Approved Continuing Education does not accept these CE credits.)

Dr. Maniet is a certified homeopath. Like other advocates, she became a proponent of the modality after seeing cases that seemingly demonstrated its healing powers. She uses it mostly on young animals. “They haven't had a chance to be messed up too much by years of drugs—heartworm prevention, over-vaccination, and so forth,” she said. “Their vital force is much stronger, so their response to homeopathy is much more rapid. When you have a dog that is much older and on medication, it's a much slower response, and people don't have the patience for that.”

Veterinary homeopaths often do not recommend routine vaccination for dogs or cats, except for rabies vaccination, where required by law. Instead, they advocate the use of “nosodes,” a homeopathic product made from diseased tissue. They also eschew the use of antimicrobials. In any of these cases, Dr. Maniet notes, the client has to consent to her treatment recommendation.

“We have to be careful, for our license. This is not a method that is recognized by mainstream veterinarians, so we do have to be careful about what we're doing and ensuring that our clients want it,” she said. “And if I don't think homeopathy will work (in a certain case), I won't try. I have other tools in my bag, like acupuncture.”

Almost any malady that can be treated by regular medicine can be treated by homeopathy, according to the AVH. There are several thousand homeopathic preparations, which are usually identified by Latin names. They come from a range of sources, such as plants, minerals, animals, microorganisms, and fungi. Homeopathic preparations are usually delivered in lactose pills or liquids.

Dr. Maniet uses human and veterinary versions of homeopathic products. One company, Natural Health Supply, offers a veterinary kit for $275. She tells clients to get the 30C products, which are most often used on animals, so if they need to switch to another remedy, they already have it at home.

Dr. Maniet adds that an owner should have a general knowledge about homeopathy for the modality to work. “You need to have somebody who won't rush to the ER to suppress what the vital force is expressing,” she said. “And with homeopathy, you really cannot go for homeopathic treatment and give Rimadyl. Messing up the treatment is a waste of time and money and not a service for the dog because it won't work. I'm not putting myself in those situations; it gives a bad name to homeopathy.”

Lack of evidence

Opponents argue that the science simply doesn't support the health claims of homeopathy.

Dr. Virginia R. Fajt, clinical associate professor of veterinary physiology and pharmacology at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, says our current understanding of chemistry, physics, and pharmacology precludes any scientific basis for the efficacy of homeopathy.

She continued, “There have been people attempting to look at these treatments and their usefulness, but over the more than 200 years of the practice of homeopathy, there's been very little progress, and they haven't demonstrated that the substances do any better than placebos.”

Common source materials used in homeopathic preparations

Belladonna (Deadly nightshade)

For sudden and high fevers, redness, pain, thirstlessness, dilated pupils, and panting. Also could be used for extreme fear and aggressive behavior.

Carbo vegetabilis (Vegetable carbon or burnt beech or birch wood)

For bloating and conditions of trapped gas in the intestinal tract such as colics, volvulus, and gastric torsions.

Source: National Center for Homeopathy

Lyssin (Saliva from a rabid dog)

A nosode used to treat behavioral or health problems associated with the rabies vaccine.

Nux vomica (Poison nut)

For patients who are impatient, fearful, and sensitive to stimuli. Also could be used for conditions arising from overeating—indigestion, diarrhea, vomiting, or rectal prolapse—especially when the animal is irritable and short-tempered.

Silicea (Silica)

For infected wounds and resolving abscesses as well as swollen glands and expulsion of foreign bodies.

Rhus toxicodendron (Poison ivy)

For arthritis, pain, and stiffness as well as strains and sprains in the joints and for lameness.

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “controlled studies have demonstrated that homeopathic ‘provings’—sessions in which individuals record the symptoms caused by ingestion of the remedies—cannot distinguish between homeopathic dilutions and placebos. Indeed, no study has been able to distinguish homeopathic remedies from control solutions, by any method of analysis.”

The manual adds that nosodes “have consistently failed to provide reliable protection against infectious agents in scientific studies of both people and animals.”

As for the claims of using homeopathic preparations as a possible alternative to antimicrobials, this past December, the Veterinary Record published a review of studies published over the past 33 years dealing with the efficacy of homeopathic products in treating livestock, available at http://jav.ma/homeopathystudy. It concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the use of homeopathy in livestock as a way to prevent or treat infectious diseases.

Dr. Fajt, who is also president of the Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine Association, has heard homeopaths argue that the reason for a lack of scientific evidence supporting homeopathy is that researchers don't know how to properly design studies for these remedies, because the products work differently from traditional medicines.

“To me, that leads back to how it doesn't fit with our modern understanding of medicine, physics, and chemistry,” Dr. Fajt said.

Ethical considerations

Medical ethics factor into consideration of the practice of veterinary homeopathy, says Dr. David W. Ramey, an equine practitioner who co-wrote the book “Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine Considered” with ethicist Bernard Rollin, PhD.

“The basic question is: Do we as veterinarians have an obligation to provide effective treatments? If a client believes in magic and the job of the vet is only to make sure each and every client is satisfied, then the veterinarian should simply do magic,” Dr. Ramey says. “However, there are ethical concerns with such a position. What about the animals?”

Some might say that, although homeopathy's benefits are questionable, the practice at least does not harm animals. Dr. Ramey counters that this reasoning is not a sufficient basis to practice medicine and that, in fact, there is an ethical obligation to do some good.

The second problem with that argument, he says, is that it has a narrow definition of harm.

“It acts as if harm is merely a question of whether the animal gets better and whether the person is OK with it. Indirect harm includes things such as people wasting resources on ineffective treatments and ineffective treatment precluding application of effective treatments,” Dr. Ramey said.

That rationale inspired Dr. Danny Chambers, an equine veterinarian near Devon, England, to submit a petition to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons requesting that the regulatory body prevent veterinarians from being allowed to recommend or sell homeopathic treatments (http://jav.ma/homeopathypetition).

He wrote in an editorial in The Guardian this past July: “As a vet, there are few things more heartbreaking than having to pick up the pieces after an animal has received inadequate care. Unfortunately, too many times in my career I've been presented with an animal whose perfectly treatable condition has been left to deteriorate, because their owners and vets were convinced that homeopathic remedies would do the trick. At best, it leads to unnecessary suffering and a reduced likelihood of a full recovery. At worst, as with the case of a horse I treated for severe laminitis, there is no option left but euthanasia.”

The petition caused a lot of debate in the news media and within the veterinary community, and it has resulted in a review by the RCVS Standards Committee of its position on alternative medicines. The committee is due to report in coming months.

Dr. Ramey says veterinarians must consider another indirect harm from homeopathy, which is the cumulative harm that is being done to the veterinary profession.

“If it becomes known veterinarians only care about doing stuff to animals, and it doesn't matter what that stuff is, that the only thing that matters is that veterinarians get paid and that clients are happy, that doesn't speak well for a profession that purports to care for people and animals,” he said.

“The only things we have to stand on is our ethics—which says we'll do the right things for the animal—and science, which says we'll use a scientific system to get rid of ineffective treatments and use good ones. You give people a reason to use you and keep using you if you do the right things and use the right stuff. But if you say, ‘It's all veterinary medicine, and we'll do it no matter what,’ the system will break down.”

Drug regulations

Another potential harm that the National Institutes of Health has pointed out is that, although people sometimes assume that all homeopathic preparations are highly diluted and, therefore, unlikely to cause harm, some products labeled as homeopathic can contain substances not listed on the label or sufficient amounts of the active ingredients to cause adverse effects or drug interactions.

For example, laboratory testing by the FDA in 2010 and 2016 found that Hyland's Baby Teething Tablets contained inconsistent amounts of belladonna, sometimes far exceeding the amount claimed on the label. The FDA issued statements in both cases, going so far as to urge customers “not to use these products” after the more recent case. Hyland's issued a voluntary recall back in 2010 but did not do so after last year's discovery, only pulling the teething products from shelves. The company maintains its products are safe for use.

In a rare pushback from the government on these products, the FTC announced Nov. 15, 2016, that makers of homeopathic products must prove safety and efficacy. The agency, which has authority to regulate advertising claims of nonprescription drugs, is in pursuit of manufacturers of over-the-counter homeopathic products who do not back up health claims with scientific evidence. The agency said failure to do so would be considered a violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act.

Homeopathic preparations are regulated by the FDA, but not as much as consumers may expect. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 recognized homeopathic preparations as drugs but with important exceptions, compared with other drugs. Exceptions include the following:

  • • Not required to submit new drug applications to the FDA.

  • • Exempt from good manufacturing practice requirements related to expiration dating.

  • • Exempt from “finished product testing for identity and strength.”

  • • May contain much higher amounts of alcohol than other drugs (which are limited to 10 percent).

Further, under FDA guidelines issued in 1988, a company can sell homeopathic products over the counter without demonstrating their safety or efficacy, and—unlike dietary supplements—their packaging can include claims about treating specific conditions, as long as those conditions are “self-limiting” and not chronic.

The FDA says it has deferred review of drugs labeled as homeopathic “due to the uniqueness of homeopathic medicine” and that it would review them as a separate category at a later time. In April 2015, the FDA held a two-day public hearing requesting comment on the regulation of homeopathic products. Now, the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research has added homeopathic products to its agenda of new and revised draft guidance documents to be published this year. Whether that means the agency will tighten its regulations by subjecting homeopathic products to the same premarket approval process as other drugs, for example, isn't clear.

It also remains to be seen whether homeopathy will continue to carve out a niche in the veterinary profession or be pushed out by those who see no place for it in a science-based field. Members of each camp are convinced that they are on the right side of the debate.

A short lesson on AVMA policy

Interview by R. Scott Nolen


Dr. Mark Helfat

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942

Dr. Mark Helfat, chair of the AVMA Board of Directors, recently sat down with JAVMA News to answer questions about what AVMA policies are, how they're created, and why they're important.

What is meant by AVMA policy?

Not long ago, I sat down with a group of AVMA members, and they asked me the same question. When you consider that our Association has some 250 policies that run the spectrum of issues from animal welfare to food safety to antimicrobials to general practice, one is overwhelmed by the abundance of work and time which lies behind each and every topic.

All of these policies may be broken down into three categories. Professional policies provide recommendations and guidance with regard to the practice of our profession. Some examples would be the policies on ear cropping in dogs and the dehorning of cattle. There are also endorsed policies, which are policies formulated by other professional veterinary groups and endorsed by the AVMA. One example would be the American Association of Bovine Practitioners/AVMA Judicious Therapeutic Use of Antimicrobials in Cattle. Lastly, administrative policies are developed to guide the internal and administrative functions of the Association. The Board of Directors Manual would exemplify such a typical policy.

Why does the AVMA have policy?

Being that this Association is a professional organization and is member-driven, it is, in fact, a member benefit for all of us to have this resource at our fingertips. These policies are designed to be guiding principles on the practice of veterinary medicine, and the AVMA encourages its membership to voluntarily adhere to them. The key word here is “voluntarily.” The Association does not mandate or demand compliance, it merely presents what our peers would consider best practice.

One exception that I will mention is the Association's Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics. These principles might also be considered policy, and on rare occasion, are referred to with regard to considering disciplinary action over a member's membership status.

I would point out as well that some of these policies are used in our advocacy efforts to support the best interests of our 90,000 members. A perfect example is the AVMA policy on soring, which is our guiding document in our legislative and administrative push to ban this practice. I similarly would point to the AVMA policy on feline declawing as an example of where we stand as an Association on this topic and why we are opposed to various legislative initiatives as of late.

One shouldn't forget that other groups disagree with our guidelines and would like to be considered the expert on some of these animal welfare issues. It is the responsibility of the AVMA to formulate policy with our members’ best interests in mind and to proceed appropriately as the scientific leader in veterinary medicine.

One final point is that none of these policies is intended to stand above the law or established regulations. However, there will be times when policy is formulated in an effort to suggest changes to existing or proposed legislation.

How is policy made?

Policy may be formulated by any AVMA volunteer entity, such as a committee or council, the AVMA House of Delegates, or the Board of Directors, or even by petition when submitted by a group of members. All new policy, or suggested changes to existing policy, must be approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Directors, depending upon which body has jurisdiction as defined in the bylaws.

In January, at the Chicago winter meeting, the AVMA House of Delegates deliberated on a proposed policy—Inherited Disorders in Responsible Breeding of Companion Animals. It was exciting to see this policy, which originated with the Animal Welfare Committee, be introduced onto the House floor. Delegates spent hours debating, amending, and finally accepting a final version that now stands as AVMA policy.

Does policy ever change, and do members have a voice in the process?

Yes and yes! As previously mentioned, any group of members may introduce a new policy onto the floor of the House of Delegates as defined in the bylaws. Similarly, the membership is represented by delegates in the House and by members on the Board of Directors. Any member may certainly suggest new policy, or changes to existing policy, to any of these leaders. Finally, by going on the AVMA website and pulling up any policy, a member can leave comments and receive prompt feedback by staff.

Each policy, in fact, periodically comes up for review by the entity considered its custodian. These policies, as they come up for review, are highlighted on the website to note that members are particularly encouraged to provide comments so that their concerns may be relayed to the entity during its upcoming deliberation. Also, it is not unusual for a policy to be removed when the intent of the document is no longer of value or of relevance to the membership.

Legislators seek to end tax on veterinary student loan program

A bipartisan effort to repeal the tax on a Department of Agriculture program that pays off student loan debt for veterinarians working in underserved areas of the country was introduced in Congress this March.

The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program makes practice in underserved rural areas more financially feasible for recent graduates by providing up to $75,000 in loan repayments in exchange for at least three years of service in designated veterinary shortage areas.

The Internal Revenue Service takes 39 cents of every dollar Congress appropriates to the VMLRP, however. If Congress were to repeal the withholding tax as it did for the program's human medicine counterpart in 2004, the AVMA estimates roughly one additional veterinarian could participate for every three currently enrolled in the program.

More than 350 veterinarians have been placed in 45 states, Puerto Rico, and U.S. federal lands since the VMLRP's implementation in 2010.

“The VMLRP is a win-win for veterinarians and rural economies because it provides loan relief while also helping alleviate veterinary shortages in areas that lack adequate access to veterinary services for livestock animals,” said AVMA President Tom Meyer. “Unfortunately, the heavy tax applied to VMLRP awards decreases the number of awards that can be made and the number of rural communities that can benefit from increased services.”

On March 1, Republican Mike Crapo of Idaho and Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan introduced S 487, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act, which would end the tax on the program. Companion legislation, HR 1268, was introduced in the House by Republican Adrian Smith of Nebraska and Democrat Ron Kind of Wisconsin the same day.

“Access to animal care is critical to Idaho's agricultural economy,” Crapo said. “But too often, ranchers and farmers can't access the care they need because they live in areas where demand for veterinary services exceeds availability. This legislation will increase the number of veterinarians able to serve in the areas where they are needed most, which will help strengthen rural economies and protect the safety of our food supply.”

Kind said large animal veterinarians provide critical services to communities in western and central Wisconsin and are essential to ensuring food safety and the health and welfare of livestock. “However, there are a number of areas across western and central Wisconsin where there is a shortage of veterinarians. This legislation would help our communities attract and retain quality veterinarians in the places of highest need,” Kind said.

The legislation has broad support from more than 160 veterinary, commodity, and agriculture-related organizations.

Learn more about the bill, read stories from program participants, and view infographics and other resources at http://jav.ma/studentloantax.

Resources on veterinary feed directives cover honeybees, aquaculture

The AVMA has produced new resources on veterinary feed directives, covering VFDs for honeybees and aquaculture.

According to the AVMA webpage “Honey Bees 101 for Veterinarians”: “In veterinary school you were taught how to diagnose and treat just about every animal species, but you probably had little education—if any—on honey bees. Until the federal government's Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) final rule was issued, most veterinarians in the United States had little to no reason to be concerned about apiculture (beekeeping) and honey bee medicine.”

Honeybees have always been considered a food-producing animal, but there wasn't a requirement for veterinary oversight until the VFD rule implemented certain changes in federal policy regarding antimicrobials important in human medicine.

Members of the AVMA may access a 56-page document, “Honey Bees: A Guide for Veterinarians,” and three webinars on “Honey Bees, Antimicrobials and the Role of the Veterinarian.” A fourth webinar is in development.

The AVMA also has produced a webinar for members that discusses VFDs in aquaculture. The webinar “explains the requirements of the VFD rule, the aquatic veterinarian's role, and how to issue a VFD order when needed.”

The honeybee and aquaculture resources are available from the web-page on VFD basics at http://jav.ma/avmavfd.

Wildfires kill cattle, pigs

Thousands of animals dead, ranches devastated

By Greg Cima


Courtesy of Mark Spare

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942

Thousands of cattle and pigs died in early March wildfires.

Official counts of animals killed were unavailable by mid-March, but reports from affected states indicate the fires burned more than 2,000 square miles in southwestern Kansas, northwestern Oklahoma, and the Texas Panhandle.

Heather Lansdowne, communications director for the Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health, said most of the thousands of animals known to have been injured or killed in Kansas were cattle, and she heard reports that, in some areas, 60–80 percent of cattle owners’ herds had been killed. She noted that the state was in the early stages of assessments.

Kay Ledbetter, a communications specialist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, said her state lost an estimated 2,500 cattle and 1,900 hogs in the fires.

Danny Nusser, north regional program leader for the AgriLife Extension Service, said the fire struck during the middle of calving season. The Texas Panhandle has a dry climate, but moisture over the past few years had created a boom in grass growth this year, providing ample forage and fuel for a wildfire, he said.

The grass probably will grow back within two years, Nusser said. The losses are devastating for the ranchers and the communities that depend on agriculture, he said, but they are resilient enough to bounce back.

Dr. Rod Hall, Oklahoma's state veterinarian, said fires in his state killed about 6,000 sows in two barns, and the death count for cattle in his state is expected to total about 3,000. He heard 20 horses and small numbers of other livestock, such as sheep and goats, also had died, as had wild animals unable to outrun the smoke and flames.

On one day, Dr. Hall said, a fire 15 miles wide in Oklahoma was fueled by winds between 60 and 70 mph.

“Pretty much anything in the path was going to get killed,” he said.

The largest group of fires, which became known as the Starbuck Fire, started March 6 in Oklahoma and spread into Kansas, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. It burned more than 300 square miles in Oklahoma and more than 700 square miles in Kansas, destroying homes and infrastructure and killing livestock, according to reports from the Oklahoma Forestry Services.

Information from Kansas’ state government indicates that group of fires burned more than 85 percent of Clark County, home to about 2,000 people.

Dr. Randall Spare, a veterinarian and rancher in the Clark County seat of Ashland, said some of his clients lost more than 90 percent of their cattle, including some with herds that had numbered more than 1,000 head.

The pastures had been thick with dry grass that the cows could eat while calving. When the fire started, sustained winds gave ranchers little chance to move their animals out of harm's way, he said.

After the fire swept through, Dr. Spare saw burnt cattle carcasses, cattle that were alive but unable to open their eyes, and calves unable to nurse on their mothers’ burned udders.

The landscape is now barren, empty of grass, trees, cactuses, and sagebrush, he said. Yet, he said, the grass would grow back with as little as an inch of rain.

Ranchers have gathered their surviving cattle, many of which have been living on donated hay, he said.

Dr. Hall said a mix of fire, smoke inhalation, and stress killed the cattle. Veterinarians have told him they were saving the cattle they could and euthanizing the others.

He noted that ranchers care about the animals they raise, and their deaths have to be devastating.

Dr. Hall said some ranchers will need years to recover their businesses, and others never will. For those close to the margin and burdened with debt, he said, federal indemnity programs may be insufficient.

Oklahoma's government is trying to help coordinate emergency responses within the state and serve as an information clearinghouse, Dr. Hall said. Most of the recovery efforts, such as matching hay donors with cattle owners in need, are being handled by local organizations or local branches of broader organizations, such as the Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service.


A calf is temporarily housed by Deerfield Feeders after a wildfire on its owner's ranch. (Courtesy of Dr. Tera Rooney Barnhardt)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942

Dr. Hall also said U.S. Department of Agriculture officials have helped ranchers file paperwork for reimbursement or identify the best locations to bury livestock. Oil industry companies have provided heavy machinery, such as bulldozers, to help with carcass disposal.

“We like to brag about the Oklahoma spirit and the way we all jump in and help each other out,” he said.

In addition, USDA officials announced March 21 that another $6 million would be available through the USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help farmers, ranchers, and woodland owners restore grazing land, rebuild fences, protect damaged watersheds, and implement conservation measures to mitigate losses.

Dr. Spare has worked in Clark County 27 years, and his clients are friends. He said many of the ranches have survived more than 100 years through tremendous resilience.

Dr. Spare said the ranchers in Clark County see themselves as stewards of their cattle and land, and they tend to work toward their cattle's well-being before their own.

He expressed confidence they would recover, despite the arduous work and high cost. Each mile of fencing alone costs $8,000-$10,000, and a rancher might need to replace hundreds of miles of it, he said.

Despite his own losses, with 2,000 acres of his property burned and some of his own cattle killed, Dr. Spare said his job is to encourage and help others. To him, a living is a byproduct of a veterinarian's service to others.

Dr. Spare said the fire's devastation is a reminder the region needs young veterinarians who can work with the next generation of ranchers and their cattle. Without veterinarians, he said, the fire would have resulted in chaos.

Brachycephalic dogs more affected by many conditions

An analysis of Nationwide's pet insurance claims reveals that dogs of brachycephalic breeds—those having a broad, short skull—are more often affected than other dogs are by many common conditions, even after excluding conditions related to brachycephaly.

Nationwide released the Brachycephalic Breed Disease Prevalence Study on March 8 at the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas. The analysis excluded conditions related to brachycephaly such as brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome, entropion, and keratoconjunctivitis sicca and excluded conditions unrelated to anatomy, such as accidents and infectious diseases.

Brachycephalic dogs were more likely than other dogs to have certain ophthalmologic issues:

  • • Corneal ulcers, 6.34 percent of brachycephalic dogs, 1.4 percent of others.

  • • Ocular trauma, 2.15 percent of brachycephalic dogs, 0.92 percent of others.

  • • Conjunctivitis, 10.81 percent of brachycephalic dogs, 7.76 percent of others.

Brachycephalic dogs also were more likely than other dogs to have certain dermatologic issues, including the following:

  • • Malignant skin neoplasia, 0.46 percent of brachycephalic dogs, 0.25 percent of others.

  • • Fungal skin disease, 3.07 percent of brachycephalic dogs, 1.61 percent of others.

  • • Pyoderma, 18.93 percent of brachycephalic dogs, 14 percent of others.

  • • Otitis externa, 25.32 percent of brachycephalic dogs, 19.34 percent of others.

  • • Allergic dermatitis, 18.55 percent of brachycephalic dogs, 14.02 percent of others.

Among other conditions seen more frequently in brachycephalic dogs, pneumonia had a prevalence of 1.60 percent in brachycephalic dogs, compared with 0.77 percent in others. The prevalence of hyperthermia was 0.26 percent in brachycephalic dogs, compared with 0.11 percent in others.

According to the report summary: “By examining the issues of brachycephalic dogs from a different angle—analyzing common conditions, not brachycephalic-specific ones—Nationwide has expanded the field of inquiry and set a foundation for further study. In so doing, the company is assisting veterinarians, pet owners, breed associations and other stakeholders in the common goal of working together to improve the health of these popular dogs.”

The report is available at http://nationwidedvm.com/studies-and-research.

Drug changes not affecting pig health, so far

Drug, vaccine use adjusted before antimicrobial use restrictions increased

By Greg Cima

Federal controls over antibiotic access and use increased at the end of 2016, requiring veterinarian oversight of hundreds of drug applications.

Swine veterinarians said at a late February meeting in Denver that the change has required some adjustments in practices, but several veterinarians reached during and after the meeting indicated the changes have had no noticeable effects on pig health, so far.

Dr. Paul Ruen, a partner at Fairmont Veterinary Clinic in Fairmont, Minnesota, and a lecturer at the American Association of Swine Veterinarians’ annual meeting, noted in an interview after the meeting that raising a pig to market weight takes six months, so pigs on their way to market had started their lives before the restrictions took effect.

“Where there's a need to use, we can still use antibiotics to treat,” he said. “It hasn't been restrictive in the sense that, as long as we have access to those medications, we're able to take care of a problem that shows up.”

He had lectured at the meeting on how his veterinary practice prepared for increased oversight of antimicrobial use through veterinary feed directives, which are similar to prescriptions. That involved increasing communication with feed mills, educating clients, and forming new administrative habits.

In agreements with pharmaceutical companies, the Food and Drug Administration removed over-the-counter access to antimicrobials that were administered in livestock feed or water and are in the same drug classes the FDA considers important for human medicine, replacing that access with requirements for VFDs for antimicrobial administration in feed and prescriptions for administration in water. The agency also removed all production claims, such as growth promotion, for those drugs.

Drugs both considered important for human medicine and distributed through over-the-counter sales have accounted for about 60 percent of the volume, by weight, of all antimicrobials distributed for administration to livestock, according to FDA drug sales data from 2015, the most recent available.

Maintaining health

Cary Sexton, a practitioner from Deep Run in eastern North Carolina and an attendee at the AASV meeting, said outside the lecture halls that his four-veterinarian practice began making changes before the new year and tried to make the transition simple for clients. That included switching to feeds that would not require VFDs and increasing consultation on which medications were needed.

“What it really opened up for us was the ability to get back in the conversation about feed because it really had been handled by the nutritionists up to that point,” he said.


Dr. Michael Murphy, a veterinary medical officer with the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, talks during a panel Q&A session following a presentation series on antimicrobials. (Photo by Greg Cima)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942

Dr. Sexton said antimicrobial use had been declining among finishing pigs for several years, and veterinarians had been increasing the use of vaccines against preventable bacterial diseases.

Like Dr. Ruen, Dr. Sexton said he had seen no major changes in swine health, but “It's really a little bit early in the program to know what the long-term effect is.” He said the same is true about effects on antimicrobial resistance.

Dr. Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian for the National Pork Producers Council, also said she has heard of no health effects on pigs from the restrictions. She thinks people in the swine industry have been easing into changes in antimicrobial use over the past two years, adjusting vaccinations and other practices.

She also said veterinarians remain able to order antimicrobial administration to pigs in times of disease vulnerability or stress, which may have prevented the types of disease outbreaks seen as other countries implemented more restrictions on antimicrobial use. She said Denmark, in contrast, had a rise in post-weaning scours following prohibitions on antimicrobial prophylaxis during the late 1990s.

Increasing accountability

As veterinarians get used to the increased oversight of antimicrobial use, one of the lecturers at the AASV meeting predicted, their accountability will grow.

“More veterinarian responsibility is coming, not less,” Dr. Matthew Turner said. “The conditions of use for these drugs are going to be updated. There's going to be a lot of education about antimicrobial stewardship practices in the future.”

Dr. Turner, head of operations for JBS Live Pork, said providing effective oversight of drugs will involve exceeding the minimum requirements of regulations. Veterinarians need to do better at monitoring and developing benchmarks for antimicrobial use, defining doses by biomass. They also need to maximize efficiency of those drug uses, he said.

“We've got an opportunity to improve health management practices,” Dr. Turner said. “We do. I do as a practicing veterinarian, and everybody in here does.

“We can all do a better job making decisions and improving our clinical skills.”

Doing what is right for pigs also may require advocating on the animals’ behalf to ensure antimicrobials remain available for disease prevention, Dr. Turner said. That is critical when dealing with, for example, Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, which he said is causing chronic harm at the point when pigs show clinical signs of illness.

As herd sizes continue increasing, farms also need to learn how better to manipulate pigs’ immune systems, particularly through vaccination, he said. Rapid pen-side diagnostics also would aid medical decision-making.

Focusing more work on disease prevention promises to increase opportunities for some companies.

Dr. Mark W. Bienhoff, who works in Des Moines, Iowa, for Kemin Industries and attended the AASV meeting, said his company is developing technologies that could, for example, keep pathogens out of livestock feeds, prevent water contamination, and disinfect rooms in farm buildings.

“Antibacterials, the typical things that veterinarians have always depended on, are going away—or their use will be a lot more limited,” he said.

Preventing the illness rather than treating a sick animal also increases profit, he said. Human medicine has been shifting toward prevention, and he thinks veterinary medicine is catching up. He sees that as a positive change.

Responsible antimicrobial use needs to involve an understanding of what drug resistances are present on a farm, according to Dr. Randall Singer, a professor of epidemiology in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, another AASV lecturer.

“If you don't know that the population on your farm has or does not have certain resistances, you may just be making that situation worse,” he said.

Dr. Singer noted that drug resistance on a farm can be unrelated to drug use, as genes conferring resistance to one or more antimicrobials can be present in the absence of selection pressure from any antimicrobials. Humans did not create antimicrobial resistance but have added momentum to its proliferation, he said.

Dr. Michael Murphy, a veterinary medical officer with the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, said during one session on antimicrobials and a subsequent Q&A session that FDA investigators have been asked to phase in enforcement of the changes in antimicrobial availability and use, starting with an emphasis on education about the VFD rule. “There will be time in the future when we shift from education to compliance,” he said.

That time frame has not been announced. But he quoted a colleague in the CVM's enforcement division as saying, “You only get one free tutoring lesson.”

Herd sizes, trade risk pig health

Swine veterinarians preparing for emergence of more diseases

By Greg Cima

About 1 million pigs cross state lines each week destined for other farms, where they are fed or bred, said Dr. Jeffrey J. Zimmerman. That total does not include pigs sent to slaughter.

With that rate of migration, outbreak responses need to start within hours of discovering infectious diseases, he said.

With more movement of pigs, trucks, and feed, the probability of a disease transmission event increases until it “becomes a certainty,” he said.

Dr. Zimmerman, a professor of diagnostic and production animal medicine at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, said growth in pig herd sizes over the past several decades also has made the herds more vulnerable to diseases.

“Larger herds reduce our ability to achieve herd immunity, and basically, we have relied on herd immunity forever,” he said. “It's been our friend. Why was influenza seasonal before? Because we achieved herd immunity.

“Those herds of 50 or 100 animals—you could achieve solid herd immunity, and the virus disappears.”

Dr. Zimmerman delivered his analysis during a late February lecture at the American Association of Swine Veterinarians’ annual meeting, which included lectures and lecture series on disease and biosecurity topics. The swine industry has endured deadly outbreaks including porcine epidemic diarrhea since 2013, watched as poultry producers fought an influenza outbreak during 2015, and kept vigil for entry of foot-and-mouth disease and other diseases circulating in swine of trading partners.

Dr. Egan Brockhoff, a partner at Prairie Swine Health Services in Red Deer, Alberta, said that, without question, “We are living in a transboundary disease world.”

Industry intensification, livestock concentration, and livestock mobility all present big stakes for North American swine producers.

Dr. Brockhoff said porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome and Seneca Valley virus infection could disrupt commerce. African swine fever would be devastating. And he questioned how swine veterinarians would respond if Nipah virus emerged in North American pigs.

He wants improved attitudes toward biosecurity on farms and improved communication among farms. Success in disease control relies on shared information, and he envisions a North American information system for the swine industry as well as a swine industry biosecurity standard for the continent.

Lessons from HPAI

Dr. Jill Nezworski, a veterinarian from Buffalo Lake, Minnesota, provided the perspective of a veterinarian who worked with poultry producers during the 2015 outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, during which about 50 million poultry were depopulated or killed by influenza. About 42 million of those were chickens.

Dr. Nezworski said poultry producers who ensured staff members paid close attention to signs of disease—more so than would be warranted under usual circumstances—fared better than they would have. Yet, she said, some companies first reacted to outbreak signs with denial, claiming their turkeys likely had heat stress.

But the H5N2 influenza virus caused rapid deaths, she said, noting that one group of young turkeys was all but wiped out by flu before she and colleagues could depopulate.

While the outbreak was spreading, disease authorities promoted spread of the virus by depopulating flocks in the order in which those farms reported infections, rather than on the basis of infection risks such as the sizes of farms, their proximity to other farms, or the regional poultry density.

High foot traffic between “clean” and “dirty” areas on each farm increased the risk of disease spread, despite biosecurity measures, Dr. Nezworski said. The outbreak responders also may have overwhelmed rural areas’ carrying capacities for humans, and the small numbers of, say, hotels could have created contact between people who were working at farms with infections and those working on farms without.

Poultry producers also need to address disease risks associated with live-haul trucks and be ready to stop all poultry movement, even if temporarily. Farm operators need to know that their premise is not immune to an outbreak, as passing audits does not confer safety.

Dr. Nezworski also said more discussion is needed on how to depopulate animals more quickly, when necessary.


Dr. Jeffrey J. Zimmerman, a professor of diagnostic and production animal medicine at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, delivers the Howard Dunne Memorial Lecture during the AASV annual meeting.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942

Changes in herds, security

Dr. Rodney “Butch” Baker, a former AASV president and retired senior clinician from Iowa State University, recalled that, soon after graduating from veterinary school, he visited a farm with an unusual odor and spread transmissible gastroenteritis from that farm to three others that he visited the same day. Swine veterinarians have made progress since then, but they still need more work on biocontainment, he said.

Keeping pathogens off farms requires teaching people and having them buy into biosecurity, with long-term acceptance needed for it to work. He noted that some farms require temperature readings of all employees and visitors, and farms should require that people don shoe covers before exiting their vehicles.

Weaknesses in biosecurity for transportation remain Dr. Baker's largest concern in preparing for FMD. He said that, when a truck that hauls pigs enters farm property, the farm could require that the drivers remain in the trucks. But he also noted that existing truck washing services can cost $500, explaining why some trucks running pigs to slaughter plants will go a week without cleaning more thoroughly than sweeping.

Dr. Baker also cited his own interactions with customs officials in saying that concerns about entry of fruits and vegetables seem to be more prominent than concerns about animal diseases, and he said the U.S. has minimal disease protection at borders.

Dr. Zimmerman said a typical swine farm in the 1980s had fewer than 200 pigs, contrasted with the mean herd size today of at least 3,000 pigs.

The U.S. Census of Agriculture's hog inventory backs Dr. Zimmerman's estimate. Figures from the 2012 census indicate that, among farms with at least 25 pigs, the mean herd size was about 3,050 pigs. When every farm with at least one pig is counted, the mean was about 1,000 pigs.

He also said swine farms shipped about one-eleventh as many pigs across state lines to other farms in 1980 as they did in 2015.

Citing a study on persistence of influenza in pig herds (J R Soc Interface 2016;13:20160138), Dr. Zimmerman said in a herd of at least 3,000 pigs, influenza may be able to circulate indefinitely.

High turnover rates within herds, such as 200 percent turnover rates in finishing barns and 40 percent in sow herds, work against herd immunity, he said. Large populations have continuous disease circulation, with bigger and more frequent outbreaks, he said.

“We're going to need more and better vaccines if we're ever going to get on top of herd immunity,” he said.

Doing what is best for pigs

By Greg Cima


Dr. Alejandro “Alex” Ramirez

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942

Dr. Alejandro “Alex” Ramirez said swine veterinarians remind one another that doing what is best for pigs is their top priority.

“Are we doing this because we have interest or it's a way that we can generate more income, or are we trying to do this to really improve the health and welfare of the pig?” he said. “And I think our profession's very good about reminding ourselves that we do care for the animals.”

In February, Dr. Ramirez, an associate professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine at Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, started his one-year term as president of the American Association of Swine Practitioners. He wants to continue the AASV's efforts to support veterinarians in practice through guidance on decisions that affect the health and care of pigs, which are under threat from endemic, emerging, and foreign diseases.

By advocating a global perspective, he thinks the AASV can help improve pigs’ health. Ignorance about swine health problems in other countries, such as China and Russia, is no longer acceptable.

“Whatever happens internationally will come and impact us at some time,” he said.

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome remains a challenge. This viral disease that is deadly for pigs has cost the pork industry billions of dollars since emerging in the U.S. during the late 1980s. Veterinarians are monitoring other threats, such as porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, which was discovered in April 2013 and had killed an estimated 7 million pigs by April 2014. PED is believed to have emerged through importation of contaminated feed from China.

With such diseases, Dr. Ramirez said, “Our concern has been, once they get in, can we detect them quick enough before they spread?”

A foot-and-mouth disease outbreak would have serious animal health and trade implications, he said, noting that one-quarter of U.S. pork is exported.

While veterinarians address those challenges, they also endure higher scrutiny of their medication decisions. Since January, veterinarians have gained oversight of the use of feed-and water-administered antimicrobials that are in drug classes considered by the Food and Drug Administration to be important for human medicine.

That oversight comes through elimination of over-the-counter access to drugs that had accounted for about 60 percent of the volume, by weight, of all antimicrobials administered to livestock during 2015, according to the most recent drug sales data available from the FDA. Those drugs now are available through veterinary feed directives or prescriptions.

“I think we're going to continue doing the right things, but the true implication is now we have to spend more time documenting that process,” Dr. Ramirez said.

That will include keeping records that will help regulatory agents understand a veterinarian's decisions.

“With our current regulations in the U.S., I think veterinarians are still able to focus on the prevention and treatment of diseases, and I think those are big areas for us that help minimize any of the health consequences,” he said.

Dr. Ramirez also expressed concern that the ability to maintain trade is less certain under the current federal administration. Restrictions, whether imposed by the U.S. or by other countries in retaliation, could upset the trade balance and create substantial problems, he said.


The AASV's newly installed officers are Drs. Nathan Winkelman, vice president; C. Scanlon Daniels, president-elect; George Charbonneau, immediate past president; and Alejandro “Alex” Ramirez, president.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942

The AASV will voice opinions about the consequences of decisions affecting trade, as the financial implications could affect pig health and welfare, he said.

Dr. Ramirez grew up in Mexico as a dual citizen, a city boy in Guadalajara whose mother was from Iowa, where his parents met during his father's medical residency. His father was a physician, and his mother, a nurse.

In Mexico, he particularly enjoyed being around livestock during visits to his uncle's farm, a rustic home with about 200 cattle, one or two sows, and no electricity. He came to the U.S. to attend Iowa State University as an undergraduate in the animal science program and stayed on as a veterinary student until graduation in 1993.

Over the course of 11 years of practice in northwest Iowa, Dr. Ramirez shifted his focus from cattle to swine. His practice was going well, and he had three children between 6 months and 6 years old, when he “literally woke up and said, ‘You know, I was always interested in teaching.'”

He returned to ISU to earn his Master of Public Health degree, and he began working in the swine health education program while earning the doctorate he would complete in 2011.

“Coming back to become a student and a faculty member at the university, that passion, that interest in swine, continued to grow, and I had more opportunities to be involved with the AASV,” he said.

His passion for the veterinary profession, for swine medicine, and for working with students fueled his desire to participate in the AASV, as did the camaraderie he felt from the shared goals within the organization.

“I felt that I could be part of a great association, and, hopefully, have some impact,” he said.

Dr. Ramirez became president during the AASV's annual meeting, which this year ran from Feb. 25–28 in Denver. His fellow officers for the year are Drs. C. Scanlon Daniels, Dalhart, Texas, president-elect; Nathan Winkelman, Sartell, Minnesota, vice president; and George Charbonneau, White Lake, Ontario, immediate past president.

Five swine veterinarians honored by AASV


Dr. Mark Eisenmenger

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942


Dr. Rodger Main

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942


Dr. Jeffrey Harker

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942


Dr. Joshua Ellingson

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942


Dr. Thomas Wetzell

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942

Five swine veterinarians received awards for contributions to the swine industry and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.

Dr. Mike Eisenmenger, a consultant and practitioner for the Swine Vet Center in St. Peter, Minnesota, received the 2017 Swine Practitioner of the Year Award, which is given for proficiency and effectiveness in delivering veterinary services. He has been in veterinary practice since graduating from the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1983.

Dr. Rodger Main, a professor and operations director for the ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, received the 2017 Howard Dunne Memorial Award for important contributions and outstanding service to the AASV and swine industry. Dr. Main led the laboratory during a period of substantial growth, and it has provided customer-centered service to swine veterinarians. He also has worked on AASV and National Pork Board committees throughout his career.

Dr. Jeffrey Harker, a partner at Swine Health Services in Frankfort, Indiana, received the 2017 Meritorious Service Award for outstanding service to the AASV. His practice's clients range from owners of small show pig herds to contract growers in integrated production systems, although most clients have family farms. Dr. Harker is an AASV district director and the AASV delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates. He has served on AASV committees and worked with the 4-H Club, National FFA Organization, and NPB.

Dr. Joshua Ellingson, a partner with AMVC Management Services in Audubon, Iowa, received the 2017 Young Swine Veterinarian of the Year Award, which is given to a member who graduated within the preceding five years and has demonstrated the ideals of exemplary service and proficiency. Dr. Ellingson also is associate director and a board member of the Swine Medicine Education Center at the ISU CVM.

Dr. Thomas Wetzell, who lives in Cleveland, Minnesota, and works on the U.S. swine professional services team of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, received the Technical Services/Allied Industry Veterinarian of the Year Award. It honors swine industry veterinarians for proficiency and effectiveness in delivering veterinary service to their companies and clients as well as for tireless service to the AASV and swine industry. Dr. Wetzell works with swine veterinary practices and production companies in the Upper Midwest.

American College of Veterinary Microbiologists

The American College of Veterinary Microbiologists welcomed nine new diplomates and recognized one diplomate who is now certified in three specialties, following the certification examination it held Dec. 2–3, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. The college also conferred honorary member status on Dr. Sharon Patton, Knoxville, Tennessee. The new diplomates are:


*G. Kenitra Hammac, West Lafayette, Indiana

Chien-Che Hung, Hong Kong

Sarah Nicole Schmitt, Zurich


Felix N. Toka, Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis


Matthew Brewer, Ames, Iowa

Jon Jason Drake, College Station, Texas

Brian Herrin, Stillwater, Oklahoma


Dhammika H. Navarathna, Potomac, Maryland

Aimee Noelle Reed, Gresham, Oregon

Vinay Shivanna, Manhattan, Kansas

*Dr. Hammac was previously certified in virology and immunology.

Ohio VMA


Dr. Linda Lord

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942


Dr. Tod Beckett

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942


Dr. Liesa Stone

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942

Event: Midwest Veterinary Conference, Feb. 23–26, Columbus

Awards: Veterinarian of the Year: Dr. Linda Lord, Columbus. A 1999 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Lord is a professor and associate dean for professional programs at the OSU CVM. She is a past president of the Ohio VMA and serves as the association's alternate delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates. Dr. Lord is a member of the board of trustees of the Capital Area Humane Society and a member of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians.

Officials: Drs. Tod Beckett, Dublin, president; Liesa Stone, Columbus, president-elect; Ellen Yoakam, Ashland, vice president; Barb Musolf, Spencer, secretary; Dave Bauman, Maineville, treasurer; Kevin Corcoran, Xenia, assistant treasurer; Scott Pendleton, Cadiz, immediate past president; and AVMA delegate and alternate delegate—Drs. Robert Knapp, Columbus, and Linda Lord.

Minnesota VMA

Event: 120th annual convention, Feb. 23–25, Minneapolis

Program: The convention drew more than 2,200 attendees and included a panel discussion on solutions for the challenges of delivering pet care to low-income families.

Awards: Veterinarian of the Year: Dr. Earl Thompson, Albert Lea. A 1955 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Thompson founded and serves as program director for the Nepal Social Service Fund, a Minnesota-based nonprofit providing agricultural, veterinary, health, and educational programs to the people of Nepal. Early in his career, he practiced in Freeborn County. President's Award: Dr. Jerald Sprau, Elkton. A 1968 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Sprau owned Scenic Hills Animal Hospital prior to retirement. He served as president of the MVMA from 1988–1989. Distinguished Veterinary Service Award, given for service to the veterinary profession and contributions to animal well-being: Drs. Gala Beckendorf, Nicollet; Kevin Haroldson, Park Rapids; and David Wright, Buffalo. A 1981 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Beckendorf practices at Nicollet Veterinary Clinic. She was honored for her work as coordinator of educational displays in the Nursery of Knowledge at the Minnesota State Fair's Miracle of Birth Center, an agricultural education exhibit. A 1975 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Haroldson owns Back Roads Veterinary Clinic. He was recognized for his work in large animal obstetrics and reproduction at the Miracle of Birth Center, where he recently helped establish the Hen House, a display featuring laying hens in various types of housing. A 1977 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Wright owns Wright Veterinary Services, also practicing at Buffalo Equine and Large Animal Clinic. Emerging Leader Award: Dr. Anna Ruelle, Young America. A 2011 graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Ruelle owns Countryside Veterinary Clinic. Outstanding Industry Representative Award: Hilary Salzwedel, Jordan. Salzwedel is district sales manager at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health. In 2015, she served as a regional development coach for the company's Midwest region, training new representatives in the classroom and in the field. Salzwedel was recognized for her service to Minnesota veterinarians and for promoting the profession.

Officials: Drs. Tim Krienke, St. Paul, president; David Fell, Jackson, president-elect; Joni Scheftel, Mayer, vice president; Jim Winsor, Inver Grove Heights, secretary-treasurer; and Ginger Garlie, Stillwater, immediate past president

Virginia VMA


Dr. Mark Finkler

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942


Dr. J. Phillip Sponenberg

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942


Dr. Pamela Hand

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942


Dr. Wesley Parquette

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942


Dr. Derek Vandrey

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942

Event: Virginia Veterinary Conference, Feb. 14–16, Roanoke

Awards: Paul F. Landis Veterinarian of the Year: Dr. Mark Finkler, Roanoke. A 1980 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Finkler owns Roanoke Animal Hospital. He also serves as an adjunct professor at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Finkler is a past president of the Virginia VMA. Distinguished Veterinarian Award: Dr. J. Phillip Sponenberg, Blacksburg, in recognition of his professionalism, compassion, and humanity while practicing veterinary medicine. Dr. Sponenberg earned his veterinary degree from the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences in 1976 and his doctorate in veterinary medicine from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1979. He serves as a professor of pathology and genetics in the Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. Veterinary Service Award: Dr. Pamela Hand, Free Union, for excellent representation of the veterinary profession through active community involvement and veterinary service. A 1979 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Hand served as a behavioral science clinician at the University of Minnesota prior to retirement in 2007. She continues to educate the community on dog behavior and trains Labrador Retrievers to serve as service dogs in Virginia and Minnesota. Recent Graduate Leadership Award: Dr. Wesley Parquette, Manassas. A 2013 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Parquette practices at Pender Veterinary Centre in Fairfax. Mentor of the Year: Dr. Derek Vandrey, Amissville. A 2000 graduate of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Vandrey practices at Warren County Veterinary Clinic in Front Royal. Business: The VVMA has partnered with the McLaughlin Young Group to offer an assistance program for members. The program is designed to help with family problems, stress, work-life balance, work-related issues and concerns, depression, substance abuse, grief and loss, and healthy living.

Officials: Drs. Melinda McCall, Louisa, president; Jason Bollenbeck, Leesburg, president-elect; Kelly Gottschalk, Richmond, vice president; Martin Betts, Charlottesville, secretary-treasurer; and Margaret Rucker, Lebanon, immediate past president

One Health Day returns in November

One Health Day, which debuted in 2016, will again be held Nov. 3. The One Health Commission, One Health Initiative team, and One Health Platform Foundation are calling on individuals and organizations to begin planning one-health education and awareness projects. Last year, One Health Day generated over 150 events in 35 countries, engaging 17,000 participants. In 2017, student awards will go to the top event in each of four global regions. Go to www.onehealthday.org.

Obituaries: Carl A. Osborne 1940–2017


Courtesy of the U of M CVM

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 250, 9; 10.2460/javma.250.9.942

Dr. Carl A. Osborne, a luminary in the field of veterinary nephrology and urology admired as much for his compassion, faith, and humility as for his considerable professional accomplishments, died March 5 of complications from Parkinson's disease. He was 76.

Born in Pittsburgh on Sept. 17, 1940, Dr. Osborne moved with his family to Richfield, Indiana, when he was 9 years old. He received his DVM degree from Purdue University in 1964, joined the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine faculty that year, and would remain there for 53 years.

In an Oct. 17, 2011, interview for the University of Minnesota's Academic Health Center Oral History Project, Dr. Osborne recalled that his love for animals, demonstrated early in life and supported by parents Andrew and Ella, led him to a career in veterinary medicine. “I can never remember wanting to do anything else,” he said. “Helping others is my passion, and I don't want to change.”

During the 1960s, the U of M veterinary college was among a handful that offered a doctorate in clinical disciplines. At first resistant to the idea of additional training, Dr. Osborne relented and chose as his research focus the upper and lower urinary tracts, reasoning he could help more animals by elucidating the causes of renal and urinary tract disorders than by specializing in one species.

“I'm not going to choose between an ugly pig and a beautiful dog. They're all precious. In fact, if somebody asked me, and they often do, what species do you like best? I say, ‘I'm not a species racist',” he said in the Oral History Project interview. In 1970, Dr. Osborne was awarded a doctorate for his thesis on percutaneous biopsy of the kidney.

Dr. Osborne helped in 1972 to found the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, which was awarded probationary approval by the AVMA the following year. A charter diplomate of the ACVIM, Dr. Osborne served as president from 1973–1974 and was twice elected chair of the specialty college's board of regents (1974–1975, 1976–1977). Additionally, he was president of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association from 1982–1984.

Arguably, Dr. Osborne's greatest professional achievement came in 1976 when he was appointed chair of the U of M CVM Small Animal Clinical Sciences Department, a position he held until 1984. Three years earlier, he had begun the Minnesota Urolith Center at the college. The center has analyzed more than a million stones from around the world and continues to research diseases of the urinary system in companion animals, led by Dr. Jody Lulich, a professor of veterinary clinical sciences and former colleague of Dr. Osborne.

“My fondest memory of Carl is from an internal medicine meeting in San Diego,” Dr. Lulich said. “We were walking to find a place for dinner. We passed a homeless man begging. His clothes were soiled, the hair on his head and face disheveled, unkempt, and filled with debris. Carl asked if he was hungry. When the man said yes, we walked him back to our hotel and Carl treated him to dinner in the fanciest restaurant.

“The veterinary profession—no, the world—is smaller today.”

Dr. Osborne was one of the veterinary college's one-health pioneers and innovators in comparative medicine. In the 1970s, he held a joint appointment at the university's School of Medicine working with the pediatric nephrology division. His revolutionary work in the dissolution of urinary stones in dogs, cats, and humans began with funding from the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

“At that time, paralyzed veterans had indwelling catheters, and they developed urinary tract infections that led to the formation of stones,” he said in a 2012 interview about one health in “Profiles,” the college magazine. “We first developed the model in dogs, but once you can dissolve stones in one species, it opens up the dissolution of stones in all species.”

Over his storied career, Dr. Osborne received over 50 teaching and research awards, including honorary Doctor of Science degrees from Purdue University and the University of Ghent in Belgium. The college established the Osborne-Hills Chair in Nephrology and Urology in 1998, and the first Robert R. Shomer Award was given to Dr. Osborne in 2005 for his achievements in veterinary ethics.

Dr. Osborne died peacefully at a St. Paul, Minnesota, hospice in the company of family, friends, and Chloe, his longtime service dog. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Lynn, sons Andy and David, daughter Amy Meyer, and four grandchildren.

By R. Scott Nolen

AVMA member AVMA honor roll member Nonmember

Ralph E. Ayers

Dr. Ayers (Georgia ‘55), 89, Daleville, Virginia, died March 4, 2017. He founded Valley Animal Hospital in Roanoke, Virginia, where he practiced mixed animal medicine until retirement in 1995. Dr. Ayers was a founding member of Emergency Veterinary Services of Roanoke. He is survived by two sons, a daughter, six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Danny D. Cole

Dr. Cole (Texas A&M ‘77), 65, Weatherford, Texas, died Nov. 26, 2016. He owned Alta Mesa Animal Clinic, a small animal practice in Fort Worth, Texas, for 33 years. Dr. Cole is survived by his wife, Kay; two daughters; and a son. Memorials may be made to the Small Animal Heart Trust Fund, Veterinary Medicine Development, 4461 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843, http://vetmed.tamu.edu/giving/opportunities/heart-trust.

Lloyd H. Elliott

Dr. Elliott (Tennessee ‘92), 50, Franklin, Kentucky, died Feb. 13, 2017. He co-owned Crocker Animal Hospital in Franklin, where he practiced mixed animal medicine with a special interest in orthopedic surgery. Dr. Elliott traveled on mission trips to eastern Kentucky and Nicaragua, volunteering veterinary services while there. He is survived by his wife, Laura, and two sons. Memorials may be made to Sulphur Spring Baptist Church, P.O. Box 462, Franklin, KY 42135, or Baptist Medical and Dental Mission International, 11 Plaza Drive, Hattiesburg, MS 39402.

Gordon G. Goodband

Dr. Goodband (Michigan State ‘46), 94, Walpole, Massachusetts, died Dec. 15, 2016. He co-owned Bruce Animal Hospital in Dedham, Massachusetts, with his brother, the late Dr. G. Clifford Goodband (Michigan State ‘43), practicing mixed animal medicine for 30 years.

Dr. Goodband also organized and held annual rabies clinics in Walpole and served several years as the town's animal control officer. He was in the Air Force from 1953–1955, attaining the rank of captain.

Dr. Goodband's three sons, a daughter, seven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren survive him.

Winifred M. Morenz

Dr. Morenz (Wisconsin ‘88), 56, East Swanzey, New Hampshire, died Jan. 23, 2017. She was the founder of Park Place Veterinary Hospital, a mixed animal practice in Keene, New Hampshire.

Dr. Morenz is survived by her husband, Edward; two daughters; and a son. Memorials may be made to Unbound (a nonprofit organization providing assistance to the poor), 1 Elmwood Ave., Kansas City, KS 66103, or Catholic Charities of New Hampshire Inc., 215 Myrtle St., Manchester, NH 03104.

Gavin E. Peck

Dr. Peck (St. George's ‘09), 37, Wilsall, Montana, died Nov. 15, 2016. He co-owned Sage Trail Veterinary Clinic, a mixed animal practice in Wilsall, where he focused on large animal medicine.

Dr. Peck is survived by three children.

Kenneth R. Storck

Dr. Storck (Missouri ‘65), 78, Sherry, Wisconsin, died Feb. 27, 2017. Following graduation, he worked in Huntley, Illinois, for a year, before moving to Seattle, where he practiced small animal medicine. In 1970, Dr. Storck returned to Huntley to practice large animal medicine. He later became co-owner of Bovis Veterinary Services, originally located in Rudolph, Wisconsin, and subsequently located in Auburndale, Wisconsin. During the 1970s, Dr. Storck also served as a partner at a practice on Grand Cayman Island. He retired in 1998.

Dr. Storck was a member of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners and the Missouri, Northern Illinois, Washington State, and Wisconsin VMAs. He was also a member of Lions International and his Elks Lodge, receiving the Lions Club Melvin Jones Fellowship in 1987. Dr. Storck was a Sherry volunteer firefighter and served on the Blenker-Sherry Sanitary Sewer District Board. His wife, Sally; two sons and a daughter; and two grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to the Wisconsin Lions Camp, 3834 County A, Rosholt, WI 54473, or Elks Scholarship Fund, 113 E. 2nd St., Marshfield, WI 54449.

Werner H. Weiseth

Dr. Weiseth (Kansas State ‘46), 99, Ashland, Nebraska, died Jan. 29, 2017. He owned a practice in Plainview, Nebraska, for several years. In retirement, Dr. Weiseth volunteered in the community, most recently with Carol Joy Holling Camp near Ashland. He was a member of the American Legion.

Dr. Weiseth is survived by four children, nine grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren. Memorials may be made to Carol Joy Holling Camp, 27416 Ranch Road, Ashland, NE 68003, or WELCA, American Lutheran Church, 1941 Silver St., Ashland, NE 68003.

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