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IN SHORT

USP TO DEVELOP COMPOUNDING STANDARDS WITH VETERINARY COLLABORATION

The United States Pharmacopeia voted in May to develop and revise compounding standards based on input from health care professionals, including veterinarians. The decision to approve Resolution 9—Compounding was made in response to requests from the AVMA and additional stakeholders.

The resolution reads as follows: “USP will continue to collaborate with stakeholders on standards to help ensure the quality of compounded drug preparations. New and revised standards for compounding, including beyond-use dates, will be developed based on data, scientific evidence, and input from recognized healthcare professionals and state and federal regulators.”

The white paper accompanying the resolution specifically identified veterinary medicine as an area for which additional support was needed. “Through stakeholder engagement, USP has learned of the request for standards specific to veterinary practitioners, who treat a range of species and practice in varied settings and environments,” according to the white paper.

The AVMA has worked for several years to communicate to the USP that veterinary medicine is inherently different from human health care and that veterinary professionals need pharmaceutical standards appropriate to the practice of veterinary medicine. In March, the USP agreed to consider the AVMA's request to develop veterinary-specific compounding standards.

The AVMA provides a range of resources to help veterinarians understand the fine points of prescribing and using compounded medications at avma.org/compounding.

TUFTS CREATES APP TO TRACK, STUDY EPILEPSY IN DOGS

To improve diagnostics and care for epileptic dogs, Dr. Ane Uriarte, assistant professor and veterinary neurologist and neurosurgeon at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, has created a free phone app called My Dog's Epilepsy.

Owners of epileptic dogs can use the app to record notes and to receive reminders about veterinary appointments and medication. The app also will allow owners to record their dogs’ seizures and upload the videos to a cloud-based database. By collecting footage of thousands of epileptic dogs, Dr. Uriarte hopes to give veterinary researchers the data they need to start classifying seizures in dogs and creating more-targeted treatments.

Dog owners can download the My Dog's Epilepsy app from the Apple Store for iPhones and from Google Play for Android phones.

RESEARCHERS INVESTIGATE HEARTWORM VACCINE

A new study is focused on developing a vaccine for heartworm that could provide protection against heartworm disease and help combat the growing threat of drug resistance to preventive heartworm medications.

Researchers at the University of Liverpool in England are identifying key proteins as the basis for a canine heartworm vaccine, according to a May 19 press release from the Morris Animal Foundation. The American Heartworm Society partnered with the foundation to fund the study.

Heartworm is caused by the parasitic filarial worm Dirofilaria immitis and can be fatal if not treated promptly. Heartworms spread as larvae from host to host through mosquito bites. Once mature, the worms cause inflammation of the blood vessels and can block blood flow, leading to clots in the lungs and heart failure, as well as liver or kidney failure.

The research team previously identified how other filarial parasites similar to D immitis avoid destruction by producing a protein that blocks a key pathway alerting immune systems to their presence. The team also identified a second protein that prevents T-cells from attacking the parasites.

The team suspects the same proteins produced by D immitis have a similar effect in dogs. In this study, the team first will confirm this theory. The researchers will then test how different surface proteins on immature worms interact with white blood cells from donor dogs to see which proteins optimally stimulate a dog's immune system, according to the release.

Please send comments and story ideas to JAVMANews@avma.org.

Veterinarians talk racial discrimination

Advocates say action needed to make profession more inclusive

Malinda Larkin

Dr. William Draper and his wife, Dr. Françoise Tyler, have been successful by any measure. They founded The Village Vets, one of the largest privately owned groups of veterinary hospitals in the metro Atlanta area. They have their own TV show, “Love & Vets,” on Disney+. And they have four children, one of whom is heading to law school and another who is studying neuroscience at Georgia Tech.

But Dr. Draper can also tell you about the challenges and racism he has faced as a Black man raised in Inglewood, California, who has practiced in the South for nearly 30 years.

In the mid ‘90s, he once had a client refuse to see him. The client said his dog “ain't seein’ no colored doctor,” even though his small dog was suffering from congestive heart failure and needed immediate care. Dr. Draper was able to convince the older white man to let him stabilize the dog, Tiny, which the client reluctantly did. The client would go on to request Dr. Draper for the remainder of Tiny's life and insisted Dr. Draper be the one to put Tiny to rest.

And then there was the time early in Dr. Draper's career when a white practice manager said to him, after a dog Dr. Draper was examining growled at him, that it was likely “due to the fact that Black people have a smell that's different than white people.”

Dr. Draper attended Tuskegee University, a historically Black university where his grandfather had worked and Dr. Draper had completed his undergraduate studies, following behind his parents, maternal grandparents, and maternal great-grandmother. He and his wife, who is also Black, graduated from Tuskegee with their veterinary degrees in 1991. He said even then, other institutions rarely admitted minorities. Now, he said, things have improved, at least in regard to institutions admitting minorities. In the general population, he's not so sure things have improved—and as the father of a Black son and three Black daughters, that concerns him greatly.

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Dr. William Draper is founder and owner of The Village Vets in the Atlanta area. “It saddens me to still have such blatant mistreatment of minorities in this day and age, particularly as the father of a young Black son and three young Black daughters. I have a son who is 22, and I've had to have discussions with him about staying safe here in Atlanta,” Dr. Draper said. (Photos courtesy of Dr. William Draper)

Dr. Draper and his wife, Dr. Françoise Tyler, graduated in 1991 from Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 2; 10.2460/javma.257.2.115

“I have a great life; I love my job, and I love Atlanta. I have clients of all colors, and they are, as a whole, amazing, caring people. I'm as fortunate as anyone I know, but I do see chinks in the armor of our communities and the world that worry me,” Dr. Draper said. “That I have to look at a video of a Black man being killed with a knee on his neck in 2020—that's blatant racism. I don't know why it's still happening in this day and age.”

SHINING A SPOTLIGHT

On May 25, George Floyd, a Black man, was killed in Minneapolis. During an arrest, Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kept his knee on the side of Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down.

Video of Floyd's death circulated widely in the following days, leading to widespread protests—eventually spreading to all 50 states as well as worldwide—with demonstrators calling for an end to police violence. The incident has also caused many white individuals to recognize and take a greater interest in fighting racial discrimination and inequality. For people of color, the fight is nothing new.

“The United States has a track record of historically and systemically disadvantaging certain racial groups,” states the American Medical Association, adding that racism and police brutality detrimentally impact the health of Black communities. During a June panel discussion, Dr. Aletha Maybank, the AMA's chief health equity officer and vice president, said structural racism causes emotional and mental harm, explaining, “Sustained exposure to racism in all of its forms increases our stress hormones, such as cortisol, which causes havoc on our physical bodies.”

The National Association of Black Veterinarians is among a handful of organizations working to increase diversity and inclusion in the veterinary profession and colleges. Its founder, Dr. Annie Daniel, told JAVMA News last year, “We believe that now is the time to bring attention to the fact that the numbers of Blacks in the profession have not increased in decades. … Our research over the past almost 10 years shows that diversity and inclusion have to be a strategically planned effort and resources must be allocated to ensure that the plan can be implemented and successful.”

Dr. Christina V. Tran, president of the Multicultural VMA, said “For better or worse, what's happening in the U.S. has spotlighted what needs to change in the profession, too. It's not enough to stand by and be silent and say, ‘It's not right, but it's not happening here.’ Everybody has to speak up and take action, or else nothing will change.”

A SAFE SPACE

Part of the MCVMA's mission is to advocate for the growing population of racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S. that isn't as well represented in the veterinary profession.

“If there isn't continuous effort put at the forefront, it's not going to happen. It starts early at recruitment and outreach to students coming in, then mentoring in the undergrad years and vet school and beyond,” Dr. Tran said.

The MCVMA hosted two virtual sessions the first weekend in June for its members of color to share their thoughts, feelings, and concerns about events surrounding Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests. The board members acted as facilitators. The MCVMA plans to offer more programming on its Facebook page for a wider audience in the future.

Dr. Tran, an associate professor at the University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine, said the group has seen an influx of white veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and veterinary students join since the video and protests made national news.

“They are looking for someplace safe to talk, and others have joined who want to help, who want to understand how they can best serve people of color,” Dr. Tran said. “We're almost trying to triage.”

MAKING A STATEMENT

Some veterinary organizations have issued statements in solidarity with those opposing racial discrimination, including Banfield Pet Hospital, the AVMA and Student AVMA, and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges.

HOW TO SUPPORT THOSE WHO ARE UNDERREPRESENTED IN VETERINARY MEDICINE
  • • Listen to podcasts such as “Diversity and Inclusion on Air: Conversations about Diversity, Inclusion & Veterinary Medicine” or “My Veterinary Life.”

  • • Read books such as “How to Be an Antiracist,” “Just Mercy,” “Navigating Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine,” and others listed at jav.ma/booklist.

  • • Participate in outreach efforts in underserved communities, such as reading or talking about veterinary medicine to students who are educationally disadvantaged because of socioeconomic status, race, or ethnicity. The AVMA provides resources at avma.org/education/tools-k-12-educators.

  • • Encourage your veterinary college to participate in the “This is How We Role” program started by Dr. Sandy San Miguel at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. It is an after-school program dedicated to diversifying the veterinary profession and focuses on disadvantaged students in kindergarten through fourth grade. Information is at purdue.vet/WeRoleLikeThis.

  • • Mentor students from different backgrounds from the high school level on up.

  • • Take a continuing education course focused on diversity and inclusion. AVMA Axon, the AVMA's online CE platform, offers courses on topics such as “Diversity, Marginalization and Intersectionality,” “Making a Change: From Comfort Zone to Brave Space,” and “Unconscious Bias: How it Affects Us and our Teams,” available at axon.avma.org.

  • • Complete a certificate program. Through AVMA Axon, the AVMA offers the Workplace Wellbeing Certificate Program, which includes a module on key attributes of inclusive work environments. In addition, Purdue's veterinary college offers the Online Certificate Program for Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine. It is designed for veterinarians and veterinary technicians, educators, students, and staff members who are seeking to improve their communication, leadership, teaching, and cultural competency skills. Visit purdue.edu/vet/humancenteredvetmed/overview.php to learn more.

  • • Join an organization or pay for associates or colleagues to join groups intended to empower minority professionals in the veterinary field. These include the National Association of Black Veterinarians, the BlackDVM Network, Pride VMC, Native American Veterinary Association, Association of Asian Veterinary Professionals, LatinX VMA, and Multicultural VMA. At the student level, there are the groups Veterinarians as One Inclusive Community for Empowerment and the Broad Spectrum Veterinary Student Association, the latter for LGBTQ individuals and their allies.

  • • Check out the new online portal from the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, “Talking About Race.” Visit nmaahc.si.edu/talkingaboutrace to learn more.

“Recent events have once again reminded us of the wide range of lived experiences of members of our global community. We note the disproportionate way that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting communities of color and we acknowledge how recent reports of maltreatment and violence toward minorities prompt feelings of fear, anxiety, and grief, especially when considering the long and persistent history of these events,” said the June 1 AAVMC statement. “The wellbeing of our entire community is vital. We encourage our Member Institutions to consider the factors that impact minorities and people of color differently when developing or offering wellbeing support for members of their communities. We encourage everyone in the academic veterinary medical community to embrace the values of diversity and inclusion. This is a time when we need mutual support, consideration and, perhaps most of all, grace.”

The AVMA released a statement on June 1 and another on June 2, available at jav.ma/AVMAstatement. Comments on social media suggested the AVMA hadn't gone far enough in expressing support for the protestors.

Dr. Tran said she understands the AVMA has to support a diverse audience, from members and student members to the general public, and that it's impossible to make everyone happy.

“There is a significant portion of the profession that is struggling now, that is looking for ways to heal and looking for support from colleagues who are not people of color,” she said. “It made perfect sense for the AVMA to come out and say something because this was … an outward expression to show support. I hope the AVMA can respond in a positive manner to what they've seen so far. I'm more interested in seeing the response and actions from the AVMA moving forward.”

IS THERE A CHOICE?

According to the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics report “Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity,” 92.8% of veterinarians in the workforce were white, making it one of the least-diverse health care professions. At the same time, there is a general consensus that increasing diversity in all of the health professions is necessary to reduce health disparities, meet the needs of a rapidly changing and increasingly diverse U.S. population, and graduate health professionals prepared to practice in an inclusive manner.

The 2030s are projected to be a transformative decade for the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The population is expected to grow at a slower pace, age considerably, and become more racially and ethnically diverse.

Although much has been accomplished in the way of improving diversity and inclusion in the veterinary profession, much progress still needs to be made.

The AVMA works to advance diversity and inclusion by embedding these principles into all of the work it does, instead of viewing them as a standalone effort, said Jen Brandt, PhD, director of well-being, inclusion, and diversity initiatives. For example, explicit expectations were made to have diversity and inclusion content in all of the presentations at the 2019 Veterinary Wellbeing Summit, rather than just offering one seminar. The AVMA also has actively engaged Black people, indigenous people, and other people of color as well as LGBTQ members of the veterinary community to participate in the AVMA's podcasts and educational programming (see sidebar). Further, the AVMA Council on Education incorporated diversity and inclusion in its standards for accreditation of veterinary colleges a few years ago.

To increase these efforts in light of recent events, the AVMA plans to create additional podcasts and videos for social media featuring more voices of diversity and at the same time direct its audiences to other podcasts and resources led by diverse presenters and thought leaders. AVMA's upcoming Brave Space certificate program, which will include five diversity-centered modules, is designed to encourage dialogue among those who hold differing views, identities, and experiences. This summer, the AVMA Virtual Convention will feature two prominent, Black thought leaders as keynote speakers, and the AVMA is developing plans with various multicultural associations to host online meetings that will feature mental health, diversity and inclusion, and acute trauma response.

The AAVMC has its DiVersity Matters initiative, which seeks to increase diversity at U.S. veterinary colleges. The organization is currently working on a project to develop a tool for diversity program assessment at AAVMC member colleges. The project is led by Lisa Greenhill, PhD, AAVMC senior director for institutional research and diversity.

A book by Dr. Greenhill, “Navigating Diversity and Inclusion in Veterinary Medicine,” came out in 2013, and many of its recommendations remain just as relevant now, including a portion written by Dr. Willie M. Reed, dean of Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. He wrote the following in the introduction:

“So if there is national consensus that diversity and inclusion are necessary competencies of graduating veterinarians, belief that a diverse and inclusive environment enhances excellence in the educational experience, and acceptance of the business case for diversity currently espoused by corporate America, will colleges of veterinary medicine fund diversity efforts and sustain them during downturns in the economy, or when there is a swing in the political pendulum? If we truly believe that the veterinary profession is strengthened by many perspectives and approaches to solving the societal issues such as health care disparities, are we prepared to take hold of the well-meaning goals and objectives pertaining to diversity and inclusion that litter the strategic plans of our professional organizations and veterinary colleges, and make them a reality for the profession rather than just politically correct rhetoric? Are we finally ready to tackle, in a comprehensive and consistent manner, the complexities of navigating a new journey to diversity and inclusion in the profession? Given the rapid demographic shifts in the US and current economic challenges, do we really have a choice if the profession is to sustain its workforce and retain its relevancy to society?”

Virus killing rabbits in Western U.S.

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus serotype 2 spreading among wild rabbits, hares

Greg Cima

A viral disease that kills wild and domesticated rabbits is spreading in the Western U.S.

Dr. Ralph Zimmerman, state veterinarian in New Mexico, said, “There are areas around the state where we're not seeing rabbits at all.”

In April, his state became the first in the U.S. with confirmed infections in wildlife with rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus serotype 2, which affects the European rabbits raised as pets or farmed and at least some wild rabbits and hares native to North America. It may affect related species, such as pika.

The disease threatens wild ecosystems and a domestic rabbit industry valued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at more than $2 billion, mostly in pet supplies and care.

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service spokesman Mike W. Stepien said May 27 that RHDV-2 had been detected this spring in domestic species, wildlife, or both in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. Among wild species, infections occurred in desert cottontail, mountain cottontail, black-tailed jackrabbits, and antelope jackrabbits. Study results also indicate Eastern cottontails are susceptible to the virus.

It also is spreading among domestic and wild rabbits in northern Mexico.

UNKNOWN MORTALITY RATE

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) indicates observed death rates for the virus have ranged from 5%-70%, with a mean mortality rate of 20% under experimental conditions. An April 2017 scientific article in the journal Veterinary Record indicates the death rate associated with RHDV-2 infections appeared to rise as the virus spread into Italy, citing two strains isolated in 2014 and 2015 that induced mortality rates of at least 80%.

A May 2020 scientific article in Veterinary Clinics of North America: Exotic Animal Practice indicates those rising death rates in Europe and recent study results suggest RHDV-2 has become more lethal. In one study, experimental infection of New Zealand white rabbits showed similar pathogenicity among RHDV-2 and RHDV strains, which kill 70%-90% of susceptible adult rabbits.

“Rapidly increasing fatality and infection rates suggest that RHDV-2 has evolved into a highly pathogenic calicivirus,” the article states.

Dr. Olivia A. Petritz is one of the report authors and an assistant professor of avian and exotic animal medicine at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She said estimating mortality rates for RHDV-2 in wildlife is difficult without good data on animal population sizes and infection status, which includes infected animals without clinical signs.

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OUTBREAKS OF RABBIT HEMORRHAGIC DISEASE VIRUS SEROTYPE 2

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 2; 10.2460/javma.257.2.115

She thinks additional RHDV-2 outbreaks are likely in the U.S.

Classic RHDV strains are highly contagious and lethal to only one species, the European rabbit, according to the OIE. Those strains emerged worldwide in the 1980s and 1990s, and they since have caused limited outbreaks in the U.S. among domestic European rabbits.

RHDV-2, discovered in 2010 in France, infected and killed European rabbits, European brown hares, Sardinian Cape hares, and Italian hares as it spread across Europe. In Australia, where European rabbits and brown hares were introduced as game species, RHDV-2 arrived in 2015 and has since reduced rabbit populations in some areas up to 80%, the Veterinary Clinics of North America article states.

The virus reached North America by 2016, when animal health authorities confirmed infections on hobby farms in Quebec, APHIS information states. From February 2018 to March 2020, it caused sporadic outbreaks among pet and feral European rabbits in British Columbia, Washington state, Ohio, and in one New York City veterinary clinic.

APHIS identified infections among pet rabbits in New Mexico in March 2020, and the state saw die-offs among wild rabbits before APHIS confirmed in April that the disease had spread to wildlife.

CLINICAL SIGNS, TRANSMISSION

Rabbit hemorrhagic disease, whether from classical RHDV strains or RHDV-2, often kills rabbits without outward signs of disease.

“Many times, the only signs of the disease are sudden death and bloodstained noses caused by internal bleeding,” APHIS information states. “Infected rabbits may also develop a fever, be hesitant to eat, or show respiratory or nervous signs.”

California Department of Fish and Wildlife information states that the disease causes liver inflammation and prevents blood from clotting.

“Death is due to massive internal hemorrhaging and liver impairment,” CDFA information states.

RHDV-2 infection has an incubation period of three to five days, and animals may develop subacute to chronic disease, with lesions, lethargy, anorexia, weight loss, and jaundice, according to the OIE. Subclinical carriers may shed the virus for months.

Infected animals have developed gastrointestinal dilation, cardiac arrhythmias, heart murmurs, and neurologic abnormalities, OIE information states. The CDFA's list of clinical signs also includes breathing difficulties, blue lips or mucous membranes, and bleeding from body cavities.

The virus spreads through contact with an infected animal or exposure to contaminated bodily fluids, hair, or carcasses, according to OIE information. Fomites and vectors—insect or animal—also spread the virus.

Contaminated rabbit meat may be one of the main methods of transmitting RHD to new countries, according to the OIE. How the disease entered the U.S. is unknown, according to APHIS.

APHIS officials are allowing the purchase of two killed-virus vaccines that are made in Europe and unlicensed in the U.S., but only under the direction of state animal health officials. The agency recommends using them only where the virus circulates in feral and wild rabbits.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture reported USDA officials had granted veterinarians permission to buy and distribute vaccine in their state, and Dr. Zimmerman hopes vaccination will help protect domestic herds in his state as well.

LOCAL POPULATION EFFECTS

By May 21, about 480 domesticated rabbits in New Mexico had died of RHDV-2 infection, and another 500 had been depopulated, Dr. Zimmerman said. Most of those rabbits lived on farms, which ranged from a few dozen to hundreds of rabbits, although some were pets that likely became infected after their owners stepped in wild rabbit waste.

Dr. Zimmerman said his state stopped testing wild rabbits after confirming the disease was spreading in native populations, but the effects seem to vary by region. Members of the public were reporting more deaths among cottontails, which tend to live closer to people than do jackrabbits.

Kerry Mower, PhD, wildlife health specialist for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, said June 1 that the number of deaths had been high among jackrabbits and cottontails in affected areas, but the impact remained unknown. His department received reports of areas where rabbits disappeared while adjacent areas seemed to be unaffected.

“We do expect the species that depend on rabbits as a prey base will be affected, but we cannot predict the extent,” he said.

Rabbits are ubiquitous in New Mexico, although the state has not monitored or estimated population sizes.

Dr. Deana Clifford, senior wildlife veterinarian for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said a black-tailed jackrabbit found dead May 7 became California's first confirmed case. It was among 10–20 dead jackrabbits found that week by a biological survey team working near Palm Springs in Riverside County.

In the subsequent two weeks, members of the public submitted about 35 reports of sick or dead rabbits, most in Riverside County and most describing a single dead rabbit, Dr. Clifford said.

“We are very early in the outbreak in California, so at this point we do not have a sense of how much mortality will occur,” Dr. Clifford said. “Large numbers of dead rabbits have been reported in other states, but there have also been continued sightings of live rabbits, so that provides some hope that some individuals will survive.”

The CDFW tested three more wild rabbits but found none positive for the virus, Dr. Clifford said. The state is focusing testing on counties neighboring Riverside County, areas of Riverside County that are distant from the first reported case, and species without known infections in the state, such as desert cottontail.

Dr. Clifford said the virus may have populationwide effects on rabbits, which are an important prey species. Her agency would need to conduct systematic surveys to estimate the mortality rate and potential population effects.

“The virus is very hardy in the environment, so we have focused on reducing the chances that human activities will spread the virus to new areas,” Dr. Clifford said. “We have a few small isolated rabbit populations in California, including the endangered riparian brush rabbit, so we are evaluating efforts we could do to protect that species.”

Dr. Zimmerman said in May that New Mexico authorities already were receiving increasing reports of coyotes in Albuquerque and other populated areas. He said the spread of the hemorrhagic disease raised concerns for the many species above rabbits in the food chain.

APHIS encourages veterinarians nationwide to watch for RHDV-2, report any suspicious illnesses or deaths to state and federal regulators, and submit samples for testing through the National Veterinary Services Laboratories’ Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory. RHDV-2 is a reportable disease in the U.S.

The agency was supporting diagnostic testing of wild rabbit carcasses, sharing information with state wildlife partners, and coordinating sample submissions and disease investigations.

Dr. Zimmerman urges biosecurity for anyone with rabbits, whether they own pets, show flocks, or meat-production herds. “Lock down and be cautious,” he said.

COVID-19 INFECTION CONFIRMED IN DOG, CATS

A German Shepherd Dog with respiratory illness has become the first dog in the U.S. confirmed to be infected with SARS-CoV-2.

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reported June 2 that the infected dog lived in New York state and was expected to make a full recovery. Another dog in the same home had antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 but no signs of illness.

The dogs live with one owner who developed COVID-19 and another who had clinical signs consistent with the disease.

Two cats in Illinois and Minnesota, respectively, were also infected this spring, as confirmed by test results released in early June, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Only a small number of animals worldwide have been confirmed to be infected with SARS-CoV-2, mostly after close contact with people sickened by the virus.

“We are still learning about SARS-CoV-2 in animals, but there is currently no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus,” the announcement states.

“Based on the limited information available, the risk of animals spreading the virus to people is considered to be low. There is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare.”

AVMA information indicates that, by June 1, fewer than 20 pets worldwide had been found to have evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection and that there had been no reports that pets were sources of infection in people. Reports released since February have included descriptions of infections among dogs in Hong Kong and cats in New York state.

In April, APHIS officials also confirmed infections among tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo, and Dutch authorities reported confirming infections among minks on commercial farms.

Cats with infections developed respiratory and gastrointestinal disease, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). An in-depth summary on the results of the tests performed on the German Shepherd Dog and other animals is at bit.ly/2zKHffI.

Bill aims to improve dog importation process

Healthy Dog Importation Act tackles tracking, disease-monitoring processes

Malinda Larkin

Legislation recently introduced by the three veterinarians in Congress would give new tools and authority to the federal government to monitor and safeguard the health of dogs being imported. The hope is to ensure that the federal government is appropriately screening the large number of dogs entering the country each year to ascertain they are healthy and to prevent the spread of infectious diseases that might be brought into the U.S. by imported dogs.

Admittedly, bringing a dog into the United States can be convoluted, given that no single federal agency has regulatory authority in this area. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection all have pertinent regulations, depending on the circumstances. There also are potential state and airline requirements before a dog can be admitted into the United States.

The CDC currently requires that all imported dogs must appear healthy. In addition, a valid rabies vaccination certificate may be required, depending on what country the dogs are coming from. The CDC published guidance for importers last year indicating that for the purposes of dog importation, it would interpret a country's rabies-free status to specifically mean that the country is free of the canine rabies virus variant, saying that this interpretation would allow federal authorities to better focus resources on preventing the reintroduction of the CRVV, versus other rabies virus variants, while still protecting public health.

Estimates suggest the USDA regulates, under the Animal Welfare Act, less than 0.28% of the estimated 1.06 million dogs imported into the United States each year, including 700,000 arriving at airports and 360,000 arriving at land border ports of entry with Canada and Mexico, according to the USDA's “Report on the Importation of Live Dogs into the United States,” published in June 2019.

Further, no statutory provisions currently require an import permit for the following situations:

  • • A dog someone gets outside the United States and brings back as a pet.

  • • Pet dogs that leave the United States and later return.

  • • Dogs that organizations acquire internationally and import for adoption within the U.S. when there is no payment for the animals.

  • • Dogs that may present disease risks other than those related to human or livestock health, such as distemper, canine influenza, and leishmaniasis.

The vast majority of imported dogs are assumed to be personal pets traveling with or to their owners, on the basis of data concerning the use of dogs in the United States collected by the USDA. In 2018, the USDA issued permits for 2,917 dogs that were imported for resale purposes under the Animal Welfare Act. Dogs have been denied entry into the United States for failing to comply with CDC regulations, including 317 dogs in 2018, 704 dogs in 2017, and 466 dogs in 2016.

About 10% of dogs are imported from countries where canine rabies virus is enzootic, according to CDC estimates. Since 2015, three canine rabies cases have been imported in rescue dogs adopted from countries with a high risk for rabies, CDC information states.

On May 19, the Healthy Dogs Importation Act (HR 6921) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Ralph Abraham, a Republican from Louisiana; Kurt Schrader, a Democrat from Oregon; and Ted Yoho, a Republican from Florida.

The legislation would require every dog entering the country to be permanently identified, in good health, and accompanied by a certificate of veterinary inspection. The health certificate must certify that the dog has received all required vaccinations and demonstrated negative test results required by the USDA. Dogs entering the country for resale, transfer, or donation must be at least 6 months old and accompanied by a USDA import permit. Exceptions include dogs being used for research purposes or needing veterinary treatment.

The bill would also streamline federal oversight, ensuring documentation and import permits are shared electronically among the USDA, the CDC, and Customs and Border Protection, while clarifying the USDA's key enforcement authority.

“State animal and public health officials, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the public have recommended that there be one Federal agency to oversee and set requirements for the importation of dogs,” according to the 2019 USDA report. “This recommendation may better help importers understand and comply with the Federal requirements and provide a more reliable method for tracking the number of dogs imported into the United States.”

The AVMA announced its strong support of the bill in a statement the same day the bill was introduced.

“For far too long, dogs have been entering the United States without proper inspection, increasing the risk of disease introduction and transmission,” said Dr. John Howe, AVMA president, in the statement. “We commend Reps. Ralph Abraham (R-LA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) for introducing common-sense legislation that would establish health and vaccination requirements for dogs imported into the US. The Healthy Dog Importation Act protects animal and human health by ensuring that imported dogs are healthy and free from disease and parasites before entering the United States.”

BRAKKE STUDY FINDS PANDEMIC MAKING IMPACT ON PET CARE

Findings from a new study by Brakke Consulting Inc. document substantial changes in veterinary care and purchasing of pet products during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “COVID-19: Impact on Pet Care” study draws on a nationally representative survey of 1,000 pet owners. Brakke Consulting is conducting the study in three waves, with the first wave having gone out the first week of May.'

This first wave found that nearly half of U.S. pet owners had been impacted economically by the pandemic, either through job losses or reduced income.

“Expenditures on pets have held up remarkably well given the financial burdens on pet-owning households,” said Dr. Robert Jones, president of Brakke Consulting, in an announcement about the results.

Since the beginning of 2020, 21% of pet owners had added a pet, but most of those pets were acquired in January and February. The highest number of pets was acquired in January, and the number declined each month. Younger people, under the age of 45, were more likely to add a pet than older people were.

Nearly 40% of pet owners had canceled veterinary appointments because of the pandemic. Among pet owners who tried to schedule an appointment but couldn't, about equal numbers said the clinic was closed or the clinic was only taking emergencies.

“Keep in mind that many people did have veterinary appointments,” John Volk, a senior consultant at Brakke, told JAVMA News. “While drop-offs were the most common, I was surprised by the percentage of pet owners who went inside the practice with their pet. There were some telemedicine appointments, also.”

The study found that some households had reduced expenditures on pet food and medications, and many had changed the way they purchase pet products.

Juggling kids and work during a pandemic

Veterinary professionals share how they're handling trying times with their children

Katie Burns

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic this spring, Dr. Michelle Meyer began overseeing distance learning for her three sons while continuing to practice—and found that cooking helped her cope. Dr. Kate Brucker was practicing while checking in with her two daughters and son back at home. Tasha McNerney, a veterinary technician, was balancing working with schooling her son and providing online content on anesthesia. Work got busier for Dr. Brenten Minick, a solo practitioner, but his wife is a behavioral teacher's assistant who started schooling their two sons at home instead. Dr. Kate Boatright was continuing to practice while a nanny cared for her infant son, but she still had plenty of worries.

These veterinary professionals are among the millions of working mothers and fathers figuring out how to handle these trying times with their children. The five found a few minutes to share their stories with JAVMA News.

MEYER

Dr. Meyer practices at Serenity Animal Hospital near Detroit and is president-elect of the American Association of Feline Practitioners. Typically, she works three, 10-hour days during the week and every other Saturday. During the pandemic, many staff members stopped working, and the clinic shortened its hours. Her schedule changed to working two days per week with shortened hours, plus every other Saturday.

“Work is completely different as clients are not currently allowed in the building,” Dr. Meyer said. “The only exception is for euthanasia procedures, where clients must wear a mask, and we only allow two clients in at a time.”

Dr. Meyer's three sons are Caden, 10; Declan, 6; and Linden, 3. During the pandemic this spring, Caden was learning remotely and submitting all his schoolwork online. Declan had a mixture of online work and a weekly packet of worksheets that Dr. Meyer picked up from school. Linden's early childhood education center even had an app for Dr. Meyer to submit photographs to his teachers of projects and activities he was supposed to be doing.

“It's probably the most multitasking that I have ever done in my career,” Dr. Meyer said. “Being a veterinarian, you inherently have to be an excellent multitasker. I work eight to 10 hours a day and come home to a messy house and have to still make dinner.”

Because Dr. Meyer was already leaving her house for work, she started doing all the shopping for the family. Her husband was working from home but has an autoimmune disease that limits his ability to help out with schooling or household chores.

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Dr. Michelle Meyer works at Serenity Animal Hospital near Detroit and is mom to Caden, 10; Linden, 3; and Declan, 6. (Courtesy of Dr. Meyer)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 2; 10.2460/javma.257.2.115

Dr. Meyer's shortened work schedule did allow her to get home earlier and have more time to spend with her family. As a result, she has been cooking more from scratch and trying out tons of new recipes.

A friend of the family owns a home day care center on a lake that the boys will attend during the summer. But first the friend was researching all the adjustments that have to be made for COVID-19. The family also plans to camp every weekend on a lake that is open and allowing access.

BRUCKER

Dr. Brucker practices at Albin Animal Hospital in central Illinois, splitting her time between the practice's two locations, in Mattoon and Charleston. Both locations started offering curbside service only, but the hours did not change, and Dr. Brucker continued to work Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, plus two Saturdays per month.

Dr. Brucker's children are Alyson, 14; Tessa, 11; and Jacob, 8. The children were on break in March when they got the announcement that the schools were closing. All the children's books and supplies were still at school. The district did not start online learning for two to three weeks. Dr. Brucker said, “After we started, learning looked very different for my children.”

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Dr. Kate Brucker works at Albin Animal Hospital in central Illinois and is mom to Alyson, 14; Tessa, 11; and Jacob, 8. (Courtesy of Dr. Brucker)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 2; 10.2460/javma.257.2.115

Jacob's teacher provided a weekly learning board with activities for each core subject, along with optional worksheets. Tessa's teacher used Google Classroom to provide assignments weekly. Alyson had to manage a different Google Classroom for each class. The children also were given assignments in art, music, and physical education to complete weekly, plus they had optional weekly Google Hangouts.

Dr. Brucker and her husband had to leave all three of the children home by themselves with Alyson supervising from approximately 8 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m. Dr. Brucker took over managing Jacob and his work on her day off each week, plus tried to keep the house somewhat clean.

“Alyson and Tess were responsible enough to manage their assignments on their own, with some occasional checking in from me,” Dr. Brucker said. “Jacob, however, needed a lot of support and prodding to get his assignments done. A lot of his learning unfortunately fell on Alyson because I was still working full time. What she couldn't get done with him during the day, while completing her own assignments, fell on my husband and me in the evening.”

Dr. Brucker and her husband tried their hardest, but the art, music, and PE assignments often went undone. They had the added complication of poor internet service. She was relieved when school ended and hopes the children will be back to in-person schooling in the fall.

For the summer, Alyson is doing field work with her father at Illinois Foundation Seeds, and Jacob is back at the in-home day care he attended when he was little. Tessa is hanging out at home, in touch with her parents by phone.

MCNERNEY

McNerney works as a veterinary technician focusing on anesthesia and pain management at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital, a specialty practice in New Jersey. Her husband, Rob Cantagallo, also is a veterinary technician, and he works at a dental specialty practice.

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Tasha McNerney is a veterinary technician at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital, a specialty practice in New Jersey, and mom to Oliver, 8. (Courtesy of McNerney)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 2; 10.2460/javma.257.2.115

McNerney's schedule had been four straight days in the clinic each week with at least a week each month spent traveling to other clinics to consult. Her schedule changed to sporadic days in the clinic, with every week being different, and her travel was canceled. The clinic was offering curbside service only, with employees required to wear a face mask at all times. A few of the smaller practices nearby had reduced hours, so the clinic was seeing many emergencies.

Work at home revolved around Veterinary Anesthesia Nerds, a Facebook group that McNerney founded in 2013. The group also offers a website, symposium, and podcast. McNerney has continued to create online content to help keep up-to-date information out there.

McNerney's son, Oliver, is 8. His school moved to online lessons, so McNerney had to learn how to work Google Classroom and relearn some second-grade math concepts.

“It's unbelievable, you feel like you're pulled into seven different directions,” McNerney said. “My husband has taken over certain days so I can go into the office, so we have just had to adjust to not being able to go in and pick up extra shifts as easily as we used to. And it's been hard to separate clinic and family time as I'm constantly answering anesthesia questions while I'm home with Oliver.”

McNerney didn't think she and her husband would send Oliver to summer camp, even if it opened, because they already had changed their work schedules to be home with Oliver on alternating days. She hoped the community pool would open so at least she would have somewhere to take Oliver for a few hours every afternoon she is home with him.

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Dr. Brenten Minick is a solo practitioner at Bel Aire Pet Clinic in central Illinois and dad to Jameson, 10, and Jack, 8. (Courtesy of Dr. Minick)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 2; 10.2460/javma.257.2.115

MINICK

Dr. Minick is the only veterinarian and owner at Bel Aire Pet Clinic in the village of Mount Zion, located in central Illinois near the small city of Decatur. The rest of his team consists of two veterinary technicians and a receptionist.

“Work has gotten busier,” Dr. Minick said. “We are doing curbside service and have our lobby closed. Not doing any work at home.”

Dr. Minick's two sons are Jameson, 10, and Jack, 8. His wife, Abby, is a behavioral teacher's assistant who went on spring break at her school and never went back because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker first closed the schools from mid-March until the end of the month. Schools transitioned to remote learning. On March 20, the governor extended the school closures through April 7. On April 1, he extended the school closures through April 30. On April 17, he extended the closures through the rest of the school year.

“I am very lucky to have a very supportive wife,” Dr. Minick said. “She does the heavy lifting when it comes to the children. But as a business owner, I am able to schedule myself out for blocks of time to make sure I can help when needed.”

Throughout the spring, Jameson and Jack were doing schoolwork at home. The school sent out packets to print, and the boys had daily work.

This summer, the boys are continuing to stay home with their mom, who has summers off because of her position.

BOATRIGHT

Dr. Kate Boatright practices at Butler Veterinary Associates Inc. & Emergency Center in Butler, Pennsylvania. Her work hours were reduced slightly during April in an effort to limit the number of people in the building at any given time, but the practice was so busy that things didn't seem much different than usual.

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Dr. Kate Boatright works at Butler Veterinary Associates Inc. & Emergency Center in Butler, Pennsylvania, and is mom to baby Connor. (Courtesy of Dr. Boatright)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 2; 10.2460/javma.257.2.115

The practice had been doing curbside service since late March and, as of early June, planned to continue for the foreseeable future.

“I am not doing work at home, though I considered it for a short time early on because of my concern of being exposed to the virus and bringing it home to my infant son,” Dr. Boatright said.

In early June, Connor was 9 months old. Dr. Boatright and her husband have a nanny because of their odd work hours. The three discussed the pandemic early on, and the nanny was comfortable continuing to take care of Connor.

“I have been very careful to minimize the number of items I bring from the clinic into the house and always make sure to change as soon as I get home,” Dr. Boatright said. “The other big struggle has been the emotional toll of the pandemic and the burnout I am experiencing.”

Many clients are unhappy with the restrictions her practice has put in place, such as not allowing clients in the building, not doing nail trims, and not taking nonurgent appointments. Dr. Boatright said the sheer volume of patients and seeing only sick animals and emergency appointments have been very wearing.

She said, “I'm grateful to have a happy child to come home to!”

Animal shelters brace for surrenders

Shelters implement procedures, plan for future

Kaitlyn Mattson

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A team from Animal Haven returns from rescuing animals after an owner died from the COVID-19 virus. (Photos by Nichole Chan/Animal Haven)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 2; 10.2460/javma.257.2.115

Leaders at animal shelters say they are preparing for a potential increase in surrenders related to financial challenges caused by COVID-19 job loss.

However, when the increase could happen isn't yet known. Shelters initially anticipated seeing an increase during the time marked by high numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, but sources reported no uptick. Instead, many shelters experienced an increased interest in fostering programs.

Dr. Robin Brennen, vice president of animal health and welfare at Animal Care Centers of New York City, said the animal shelter community has been working together during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The shelter community has been really proactive,” Dr. Brennen said. “People are speaking and helping each other out.”

NYCACC rescues and finds homes for animals in New York. The organization co-created the NYC COVID-19 Pet Hotline for owners who have COVID-19-related pet questions or concerns. The hotline helped over 5,000 animals from mid-April to the end of May and has kept a large number of animals from being surrendered to the NYCACC, which had taken in only 99 animals related to COVID-19 as of press time in June, Dr. Brennen said.

Dr. Jennifer Bolser, a board member of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, said there is a general concern about a potential increase in pet relinquishments because of long-term financial challenges.

“Housing insecurity and the inability to afford general care, including food and veterinary care, are potential reasons for increased relinquishments,” she said.

More than 42 million people in the U.S. have filed for unemployment from mid-March to early June, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the unemployment rate was 13.3% in May.

Dr. Brennen said the majority of calls to the hotline in May were related to medical issues, but the hotline is experiencing more calls about economic concerns.

“I don't have firm data, but, anecdotally, it is starting to shift to things like, ‘I have to move, and I can't take my pet with me.’ So, we are getting concerned,” she said.

CHALLENGES

Tiffany Lacey, president and executive director of Animal Haven, a nonprofit shelter in the Manhattan borough of New York City, said they are preparing for a potential financial-related surge, but the shelter is also dealing with kitten season.

“It is going to be a hard summer,” she said.

Lacey said shelters are facing additional challenges related to adoptions because operations have had to change to accommodate social distancing guidelines. For example, Animal Haven is not open to the public, and because potential pet owners cannot come in without an appointment, adoptions are taking longer than normal.

“The process is slow,” Lacey said. “That is one of the things we are experiencing now, and if there is an influx of animals and the process to get them out is slowed, this will be going on for a while.”

She is also concerned about animals being returned when recent adopters return to work and find they won't be able to handle the animal anymore because their life has gone back to somewhat normal.

MAKING PLANS

In preparation for potential financially related surrenders, Dr. Bolser said the shelter community is working to provide alternatives, including free pet food distribution, collaborating with housing entities and municipal leaders regarding housing regulations, providing extended shelter to pets of families in housing transition, and expanding affordable and subsidized veterinary care programs.

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Winter, a domestic shorthair cat, is relinquished to Animal Haven, a nonprofit animal shelter in the Manhattan borough of New York City.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 2; 10.2460/javma.257.2.115

HOW VETERINARIANS ARE HELPING

Dr. Kendall Houlihan, an assistant director in the AVMA Animal Welfare Division, said veterinarians are working to keep pets in homes by doing the following:

  • • Working in not-for-profit clinics or programs, the primary purpose of which is to provide important medical and surgical services.

  • • Providing pro bono services as a normal part of their private clinic's operations.

  • • Participating in angel funds that help pay for veterinary care, such as the American Veterinary Medical Foundation's Veterinary Charitable Care Fund.

“We are encouraged by the implementation of community-based pet relief resources, including pet food pantries, temporary sheltering, and subsidized veterinary care for those in need, all of which are aimed at keeping pets with their families,” Dr. Houlihan said. “These charitable services can play a role in supporting animal welfare by keeping otherwise good human-animal bonds intact.”

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Animal Haven is currently caring and finding fosters for animals who were left behind in a senior center that needed to be evacuated because of COVID-19 concerns. Egypt was one of the dogs rescued from the situation.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 2; 10.2460/javma.257.2.115

Some leaders are looking back at the Great Recession more than a decade ago as a potential guide to how the pandemic's economic challenges may play out.

Alex Munoz, director of the Animal Services Department for Miami-Dade County, said shelters did not see an increase in intake immediately in 2008.

“It was a year or two years after the crisis,” Munoz said. “We saw it go up about 10% to 15%. It was pretty obvious to us, and it wasn't just us. All shelters saw an increase around that time.”

Munoz said despite the concern of potential surrenders, shelters have a lot more tools now such as foster programs, lower animal populations, and greater community outreach.

“We're preparing. We have pet retention programs that work to keep people and pets together,” he said. “We have a conversation during the surrender that includes a pet retention conversation and how we can help them keep their animal.”

Miami-Dade isn't alone.

Tracy Elliott, the director of the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago, said the organization has done four specific things since March when the pandemic hit: clearing the shelter to the extent it could, taking advantage of the increase in volunteer fostering interest, providing a safe and temporary space for animals in need, and keeping its staff employed.

Elliott said the next phase is to provide more care in communities by increasing programs such as free pet food options.

“This lit a fire under an effort that was already underway,” he said. “If we provide services to pet owners, we can divert a lot of shelter intakes. Certainly, that's a win for the family and the animal.”

Elliot said he is not optimistic the Anti-Cruelty Society will be able to avoid financially related relinquishments.

“To be realistic, we need to be prepared,” he said.

A LOOK FORWARD

Jill Tucker, director of the California Animal Welfare Association, said despite some concern about the economic downturn, the community is hopeful.

“The sheltering community is doing a really good job managing this bizarre situation as they go,” she said. “There is going to be a lot of good coming out of this, like engaging and embracing the community and resolving problems within the community.”

Sources reported that shelters around the U.S. have seen a general increase in community engagement and interest during the pandemic. Many shelters have been able to effectively limit the number of animals inside the shelters.

“While the rapid and forced changes encountered to navigate COVID-19 have been very challenging, it has also led to favorable innovations,” Dr. Bolser said. “With community collaboration and support, the sheltering community is creating positive industry transformations, the silver lining to this difficult time.”

Dr. Brennen is ready for change.

“Sheltering will never go back to the way it was before,” she said. “COVID-19 has changed everything. We are going to have to come up with a different way to do things. We don't want to go back to a place that is just a dumping ground for animals. We want to keep the human-animal bond intact more, and we have been able to do that more. Time will tell if this will be permanent.”

PET OWNERS SWITCH TO ONLINE BUYING DURING PANDEMIC

Analysis by the AVMA Veterinary Economics Division

The AVMA surveyed more than 2,000 practice owners in April to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the profession. Results and an interactive dashboard are at jav.ma/impactonpractices. Part of the survey focused on overall client behavior, online sales behavior, and online sales changes.

WHAT?

About 75 % of veterinarians reported their clients switched to buying pet food or medications online.

SO WHAT?

Among veterinarians reporting clients had switched to online sales, about 73% said clients switched to the practice's online sales platform already in place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. About 4% said clients switched to an online sales platform newly opened by the practice as a result of the pandemic. About 23% said clients began purchasing from other online retailers, mostly Chewy, PetMed Express, and Amazon.

NOW WHAT?

Most practices that have online sales platforms report that volumes are increasing. Practices that don't offer online sales have an opportunity to provide value to clients and help support practice revenue.

Veterinarians maintain safeguards as states ease restrictions

COVID-19 still a concern as parts of the U.S. take a phased approach toward reopening businesses

Greg Cima

Dr. John Lu runs three veterinary practices in Queens, one of the New York City boroughs hardest hit by the COVID-19 virus.

Of his 10 doctors, two are recovering from SARS-CoV-2 infections, one is isolating himself because his wife became infected, and another is older and staying home to protect himself. Clinic staff members are worried but regrouping.

“We have pets that need to be helped,” he said.

Dr. Lu, medical director at Amerivet Partners, was reopening his hospitals six days a week in June, up from five in May and four in April. He estimated revenue in May was down 5%-10% from May 2019 only because he lacked the staff to meet client demand.

As of May 26, New York's state government determined all veterinary services were considered essential, letting veterinarians resume providing nonurgent care, according to the New York State Veterinary Medical Society. As local governments relaxed stay-at-home orders, veterinarians adjusted their practices but kept added protections to prevent disease spread.

Surveys by veterinary organizations indicate most clinics across the country added distancing measures this spring—especially curbside patient drop-off—to reduce the risk of disease transmission. Dr. Lu is among clinic owners who said they plan to continue using precautions as states remove restrictions affecting practices.

CLIENTS STAY OUTSIDE

As of June 1, New York City had about 200,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections with 52,000 hospitalizations, 17,000 human deaths confirmed to have been caused by the disease, and another 5,000 human deaths likely to have been a result of the disease, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Queens had 5,060 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 and 1,211 likely caused by the disease, the second most behind Brooklyn, which had 5,121 confirmed and 1,621 likely.

Dr. Lu said at least one Harlem-based veterinarian is among those who died (see JAVMA, July 1, 2020, page 26).

“In New York City, it's a pretty scary thing,” he said.

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Clinic staff members Angel Zhang (left) and Ivanka Juran bring pets into Queens Animal Health in New York City while clients return from the exchange spot to wait in their cars. (Courtesy of Dr. John Lu)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 257, 2; 10.2460/javma.257.2.115

Staff members at Dr. Lu's practices have been collecting pets that clients drop off at the front door. They wear N95 masks and gloves at all times at work and clean and sanitize surfaces and their gloves throughout the day.

He also is giving extra hazard pay to the support staff.

Dr. Sue Sayles said her clinic in southern Michigan eliminated all elective procedures in the first months of the pandemic, on orders from her state's governor. She performed only emergency care and rabies vaccinations at first and added leptospirosis vaccination in May.

“We also went to a curbside-only practice where no one was allowed in the building except for employees,” she said.

She made an exception when a pet was euthanized, allowing in one client per pet. Those clients wore masks and kept their distance from employees, she said.

Effective May 29, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lifted a requirement that health care providers delay some nonessential procedures, including veterinary procedures. By that day, Dr. Sayles said, her clinic was already fully booked for appointments and several colleagues had said they couldn't provide enough appointments to meet demand.

“The demand is so high, and we, in our office, have even stopped taking new clients,” she said. “We do hear on a daily basis, ‘Well, no one's taking new clients. I can't get in anywhere.'”

She hopes that demand will ease as veterinarians work through a backlog of wanted services.

Dr. Molly McAllister, chief medical officer for Banfield Pet Hospital, provided a statement that the company had been reinforcing precautions throughout its 1,000-plus hospitals. Those measures include cleaning, disinfection, physical distancing, drop-off appointments, increasing use of video and telephone consultations, and requesting form completion prior to arrival. The company also created a policy for supplemental pay for associates’ illnesses and quarantine, expanded company-paid sick leave, and offered professional counseling to associates and their family members.

Dr. McAllister said Banfield has encouraged veterinarians to exercise their professional judgment to determine which services and procedures may be postponed and has helped them locate information from reputable sources.

“It's times like these that we're reminded of the power of the human-animal bond,” she said. “Regardless of what life throws our way, pets are right there with us—and veterinary professionals tirelessly stand committed to being there for them.”

DISTANCING MEASURES COMMON

The AVMA surveyed more than 2,000 practice owners in April and found that 98% were limiting contact with clients. The AVMA published the results at jav.ma/impactonpractices.

About 84% of respondents to the AVMA survey asked clients to wait in their cars while animals were being examined or treated, and majorities reported that they had implemented contact-free payments, had implemented contact-free patient history collection, were seeing patients by appointment only, or were allowing drive-up drop-off.

Almost one-third had conducted telemedicine or other distance-based visits. One-fifth switched to emergency-only services.

About one-third indicated they were asking clients to maintain physical distances, and one-third asked ill staff members to stay home. Some veterinarians canceled appointments, sanitized and reused personal protective equipment, adopted new sanitation standards, asked that ill clients go home, or asked staff members to telecommute.

The survey also indicates many practice owners had steep declines in client visits and income, and about 5% stopped seeing clients.

Regional survey results similarly indicated clinics were trying to maintain distances between employees and clients.

On April 15, the Missouri VMA published survey results that indicate about 60% of respondents implemented curbside drop-off only and 33% provided curbside drop-off but let at least some clients enter their practices. About half of those surveyed indicated they had made no changes in their services offered.

Independent Vets, a company that provides relief veterinarians in the Northeastern U.S., found through a series of four surveys that more than 80% of respondents had added curbside drop-offs and 80% prohibited clients from entering the hospital. More than 60% added remote checkout.

EXPANDING SERVICES WITH CARE

Once Dr. Sayles lets clients enter the building again, she will admit one mask-wearing client per pet. They will sanitize their hands upon entry and move only between the exit and an examination room, where exhaust fans will run continuously.

Dr. Sayles said her clinic would resume elective procedures in June, though. She stocked enough PPE to last everyone in the office eight weeks.

She also had resumed boarding, along with curbside drop-off.

Staff members at Dr. Sayles’ clinic check their temperatures when entering the building and stay home when they are sick or if they live with someone who has COVID-19 symptoms. One employee has an elevated risk from infection and was staying home.

Dr. Sayles also added hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations and sanitizing wipes at each computer. She said the 19-person practice has had open discussions, and staff members expressed comfort with clinic procedures.

Dr. Sayles has heard varied responses from colleagues, most of whom are allowing curbside drop-off only and a few who let clients back into examination rooms. But sanitation, cleaning, and mask requirements seem to be universal, she said.

Dr. Lu said many people in Queens felt unsafe and a few of his staff members whose shifts were cut earlier in the pandemic wanted to remain at home. But others want to return.

“We love what we're doing,” he said.

Dr. Lu said veterinary practice always has been stressful, and COVID-19 added to that stress. But he thinks veterinary medicine is lucky in comparison with, say, the restaurant industry, and he is happy to help clients and pets that need veterinarians.

“It shows that our profession is a very important part in the community,” he said.

RESEARCHERS FOCUS ON COVID-19 VIRUS IN ANIMALS

Veterinary researchers continue to investigate the COVID-19 virus in animals and how the virus interacts between humans and animals.

The study “Susceptibility of ferrets, cats, dogs, and other domesticated animals to SARS-coronavirus 2” was conducted by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences Harbin Veterinary Institute.

The findings, which were published May 29 in the journal Science, showed that SARS-CoV-2 infects the upper respiratory tract of ferrets but is poorly transmissible between individuals. In cats, the virus replicated in the nose and throat and caused inflammatory changes deeper in the respiratory tract. In addition, airborne transmission occurred between pairs of cats under the experimental conditions. Dogs appeared not to support viral replication well and had low susceptibility to the virus, and pigs, chickens, and ducks were not susceptible to SARS-CoV-2.

Also, in May, scientists in the U.S. and Japan reported that cats in a laboratory setting can readily become infected with SARS-CoV-2 and may be able to pass the virus to other cats.

Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka, professor of pathobiological sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, led the study, published May 13 as a letter to the editor in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers obtained a SARS-CoV-2 isolate from a human patient and used it to generate a high dose of purified virus, which they then directly inoculated in the nasal cavity, trachea, and eyes of each of three cats. The following day, the researchers swabbed the nasal passages of the cats and were able to detect the virus in two of the animals. Within three days, the researchers detected the virus in all of the cats.

The day after the researchers administered the virus, they placed another cat that hadn't been administered SARS-CoV-2 virus in each of the first three cats’ cages.

Each day, the researchers collected nasal and rectal swab samples from all six cats to assess them for the presence of the virus. Within six days, all of the cats were shedding virus. However, none of the rectal swab samples contained virus.

Each cat shed SARS-CoV-2 from its nasal passages for up to six days. None of the cats showed signs of illness, and all of the cats ultimately cleared the virus.

“That was a major finding for us—the cats did not have symptoms,” said Dr. Kawaoka. He is also helping lead an effort to create a human COVID-19 vaccine.

In another investigation, pet owners who bring their animals to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University can choose to participate in the Coronavirus Epidemiological Research and Surveillance study.

Pets of consenting owners will have nasal and oral swab samples collected and tested for SARS-CoV-2. The study is also seeking area pet owners to test their animals at home. Volunteers receive a kit and are asked to collect swab samples over a two-week period and return them to the university.

A very small number of animals have tested positive for the virus, so even one presumptive-positive result would provide invaluable information, according to Kaitlin Sawatzki, PhD, animal surveillance coordinator for the study.

“The more we know what a virus looks like that can hop species, the better the chances of preventing it,” said Dr. Sawatzki, a postdoctoral scholar in the laboratory of Dr. Jonathan A. Runstadler at the Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health at Cummings.

DUTCH OFFICIALS INDICATE IT IS ‘PLAUSIBLE’ THAT MINKS MAY HAVE INFECTED HUMANS WITH COVID-19 VIRUS

The Netherlands has ordered a cull of all minks on farms identified as infected with SARS-CoV-2 over concerns the animals could be a potential reservoir for the COVID-19 virus and thus a source for future outbreaks in humans.

Dutch officials announced the June 3 depopulation order as a preventive measure to protect animal and public health from the virus, which sequence analysis and phylogenetic mapping suggest may have been passed from an infected mink to two farm workers.

Fur farmers will be reimbursed, the government said.

The SARS-CoV-2 outbreak was first reported at two mink farms in late April with roughly 12,000 and 7,500 animals, after some of the animals showed signs of respiratory disease.

By month's end, 2.4% of the minks had died on one farm and 1.2% on the other, according to a Dutch report published online May 18.

Several animal caretakers at each farm had developed symptoms consistent with COVID-19. It is believed that these caretakers transmitted the virus to the minks originally.

“Sequence analyses of mink-derived viruses imply the role of SARS-CoV-2-positive humans as a probable source of the initial infection, point at transmission between mink, and reveal possible exposure of workers to virus excreted by mink in the environment,” the report said.

Researchers are also looking at the virus in cats on the farms. It is not yet known what role, if any, the cats play in transmission of the virus, and additional studies are ongoing.

The United States is home to approximately 275 mink farms, according to Fur Commission USA, a trade organization representing the roughly $300 million industry.

The commission did not respond to a request for comment about the biosecurity protocols at U.S. fur farms.

Artificial Intelligence & Veterinary Medicine

Can machine learning live up to expectations?

R. Scott Nolen

More than a century ago, the automobile ushered in a new age that fundamentally remade the practice of veterinary medicine. Will artificial intelligence do the same?

Virtually every area of life is somehow touched by AI, enhancing our understanding of complex issues and making better outcomes more likely. In the human health care industry, AI is being used in image interpretation, disease diagnosis, patient monitoring, drug development, and even robotic surgery. Google and IBM have invested heavily in the AI health care sector, which is projected to hit $150 billion over the next decade.

Veterinary medicine and pet owners are also using AI technologies, most notably in the areas of radiography, triage, and diagnosis.

SCIENCE FACT VERSUS FICTION

Artificial intelligence is a field of computer science dealing with the simulation of human intelligence through the use of computers.

AI technology rapidly analyzes massive amounts of data according to a set of instructions known as algorithms to accomplish a specific task. These tasks run the gamut, from making an online book or movie recommendation to identifying a person based on their facial features.

And yet, the technology is nowhere near replicating human cognition or creativity. AI can only do what it's instructed to do, meaning that the algorithms used to sniff out tax fraud can't also forecast tomorrow's weather.

Thomas Strohmer, PhD, is a mathematics professor and director of the Center for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Research at the University of California-Davis. The center promotes interdisciplinary collaborations that use data science and AI to find solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems, such as climate change and affordable health care for everyone. Dr. Strohmer says there are two types of AI.

“One is a general, very high view of AI that can think and read like humans. This is a grand vision of AI that doesn't exist yet, right? It's science fiction and doesn't exist, not even close,” he explained. “Then you have the more narrow AI that you use for driving cars, language translation, and other really impressive applications. This is what we usually mean when we talk about AI: task-specific AI.

“But I should make it very clear, there is no ‘I’ in AI, not yet. The people who write these algorithms are very intelligent, but the algorithms themselves are not intelligent in a way that they can reason.”

In a 2019 report, the National Academy of Medicine wrote, “AI has the potential to revolutionize health care” and “offers unprecedented opportunities to improve patient and clinical team outcomes, reduce costs, and impact population health.”

The academy also sought to temper expectations about what AI could achieve, however. “One of the greatest near-term risks in the current development of AI tools in medicine is not that it will cause serious unintended harm, but that it simply cannot meet the incredible expectations stoked by excessive hype. Indeed, so-called AI technologies such as deep learning and machine learning are riding atop the utmost peak of inflated expectations for emerging technologies.”

DATA ANALYSIS

Dr. Krystle Reagan makes it clear that she isn't a computer scientist. Rather, she's a veterinary internist at the UC-Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and an advocate of AI. She helped develop an algorithm to detect Addison disease with an accuracy rate greater than 99%.

“We call Addison's disease ‘the great pretender’ because dogs come in with very vague clinical signs. The blood work can look like intestinal disease, it can look like kidney disease, it can look like liver disease. So it's one of those conditions that you really have to be on your toes,” Dr. Reagan said.

Blood work results from more than 1,000 dogs previously treated at the teaching hospital were used to train an AI program to detect complex patterns suggestive of the disease. The computer program was then able to use these patterns to determine whether a new patient has Addison disease. Dr. Reagan and her team published their findings in the July 2020 issue of the journal Domestic Animal Endocrinology.

Now Dr. Reagan is coding data from canine patients seen at the UC-Davis teaching hospital over the past decade in which leptospirosis was diagnosed or suspected but later ruled out. The project is a collaboration among Drs. Reagan and Strohmer and the center for data science and AI.

“Then we're using machine learning algorithms to try to identify subtle patterns in the blood work of these dogs that might help us categorize them as having leptospirosis or not earlier than we can with traditional diagnostics,” Dr. Reagan explained.

Timing is important when diagnosing leptospirosis, Dr Reagan said, because the disease can cause serious kidney problems that can become so severe as to require dialysis. “Unfortunately, the gold standard testing for leptospirosis requires two antibody tests about 10 days apart,” she continued.

“The gold standard tells us that I can't make a diagnosis until at least 10 days after illness. And we really need some sort of tool to help us give owners some guidance in terms of prognosis when we're looking at this ill dog and deciding whether or not to move forward with dialysis.

“We're hopeful that we can find patterns in the data that will help us classify our canine patients as having leptospirosis or not—or at least to help us say we think there is an 80% chance that your dog has leptospirosis or we think it's very unlikely that your dog has leptospirosis.”

X-RAY VISION

Radiography is another area where AI is being used with great success. Complex algorithms have been shown to be highly accurate in recognizing patterns in imaging data.

The National Academy of Medicine estimates that about 100 scientific reports dealing with AI in radiology were published in 2005, but the number of publications had increased to more than 800 in 2017.

“Tasks for which current AI technology seems well suited include prioritizing and tracking findings that mandate early attention, comparing current and prior images, and high-throughput screenings that enable radiologists to concentrate on images most likely to be abnormal,” the academy wrote in its 2019 report. “Over time, however, it is likely that interpretation of routine imaging will be increasingly performed using AI applications.”

The company Vetology has provided traditional veterinary teleradiology services since 2010. Two years ago, the company began offering the option of AI analysis of radiographs of the thorax, heart, and lungs in dogs. Results are ready within five minutes and promise an accuracy rate on par with that of a live veterinary radiologist, said Vetology founder and CEO Dr. Seth Wallack, a board-certified veterinary radiologist.

“Studies of MD radiologists have shown that, on average, they're correct about 70% to 75% of the time. I always tell people I would love to get the diagnosis right 80% of the time,” Dr. Wallack said.

“A feedback loop is crucial to AI improvement. When we catch a problem, we can ask, ‘What did the AI report say, and why did AI interpret it that way?’ Then we tweak things a little bit to help the machine learn, improving future AI results.”

Dr. Wallack recalled a recent case involving a referring veterinarian who thought a dog might be in left-sided heart failure. The owners were contemplating euthanasia. After receiving the Vetology AI radiology report stating there was no evidence of heart disease or heart failure, the referring veterinarian asked Vetology to have a board-certified veterinary radiologist examine the images. Dr. Wallack said, “I received that submission, and there was just enough rotation and fluid in the caudal thoracic esophagus that I thought to myself, ‘I totally see how this could be interpreted as pulmonary edema.’ It wasn't, and the Vetology AI system read it correctly. I think AI just saved a dog's life.”

He added, “Our belief has always been that receiving a Vetology AI radiograph report within five minutes or less after taking the radiographs will positively impact patient outcomes. That said, every day I'm blown away by what Vetology AI does.”

FUTURE PERFECT?

Dr. Rolan Tripp is interested in the future of the veterinary profession. He's been talking about it for 30 years and even founded the Veterinary Future Society. Dr. Tripp believes AI is the future of veterinary medicine. “I think most people don't understand how huge of an effect this is going to have, any more than when a hundred years ago veterinarians saw that first tractor out in the field and laughed when it broke down. Many veterinarians today think AI is a fad, but it isn't. It will revolutionize how we practice veterinary medicine, mostly in a good way,” Dr. Tripp said.

As president-elect of the Veterinary Medical Ethics Society, Dr. Tripp is acutely concerned about the ethical considerations of using AI in veterinary medicine. “This is an almost virgin territory because very little has been written on it and addressed it,” he said.

Dr. Tripp wants the AVMA to work with various stakeholder groups in taking a lead role in anticipating and accommodating the impacts AI technologies will have on the veterinary profession. “We should have a plan to try to steer this machine intelligence because it's coming in a big way, and most people don't understand that.”

People: DONATE BOOKS, JOURNALS, AND SUPPLIES

Veterinarians and students in foreign countries can make use of the unused textbooks, journals, instruments, equipment, and other supplies cluttering many veterinary clinics in the United States.

The AVMA maintains a list of individuals and organizations that collect contributions for various countries. The list is available at jav.ma/donate-books. Potential donors should call or email contacts on the list directly.

Individuals or organizations that collect contributions may inquire about being added to the list or updating their listing by calling 800–248–2862, ext. 6754, or emailing asuresh@avma.org.

CORRECTION

The article “Arce poised to make history this summer” in the July 1, 2020, issue of JAVMA News gave the incorrect veterinary organization in Dr. José Arce's response to, “What skills and qualifications do you bring to the office?” Dr. Arce was talking about his nearly 20 years of service in the AVMA House of Delegates.

Obituaries: AVMA MEMBER | AVMA HONOR ROLL MEMBER | NONMEMBER

GUY W. ALLEN

Dr. Allen (Louisiana State ‘96), 49, Arkadelphia, Arkansas, died Sept. 3, 2019. He was a veterinarian with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 20 years. Dr. Allen began his career with the USDA in the Food Safety and Inspection Service. In 1999, he joined the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Veterinary Services. During his tenure with Veterinary Services, Dr. Allen served as a field veterinary medical officer, was assistant area veterinarian in charge in Arkansas, and served as logistics deputy chief of the Green Team, one of Veterinary Services’ National Incident Management Teams. He deployed across the country during outbreaks of animal disease including avian influenza and also lent his expertise to the Bureau of Land Management for its Wild Horse and Burro Program.

Dr. Allen was recognized for his work with the NIMT and BLM and received several other honors, including an Excellence of Leadership Award from Veterinary Services’ District 4. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Amy Allen (Louisiana State ‘96), a small animal veterinarian in Arkadelphia; two sons; and a sister and a brother. Memorials may be made to Clark County Ecumenical Food Pantry, 107 N. 9th St., Arkadelphia, AR 71923, or American Heart Association, 7272 Greenville Ave., Dallas, TX 75231.

WESLEY H. ARCHER

Dr. Archer (California-Davis ‘75), 70, Greenville, Texas, died April 23, 2020. He served as a relief veterinarian since 2010 in Texas. Prior to that, Dr. Archer owned mixed animal practices in Missouri at Iberia and Dixon and worked for Banfield Pet Hospital in Texas. Early in his career, he worked in California and bred and raised Salers, Marchigiana, and Romagnola cattle. Dr. Archer is survived by his wife, Jorn Jamieson; two daughters and five sons; his grandchildren; and four sisters and a brother.

JOHN E. AWALT

Dr. Awalt (Georgia ‘58), 88, Rochester, Minnesota, died March 20, 2020. Following graduation, he established a practice in Bremen, Georgia, where he also farmed. Dr. Awalt was a veteran of the Navy. His son and two daughters survive him. Memorials may be made to Haralson County Animal Control, 1799 Macedonia Church Road, Buchanan, GA 30113.

ROY D. BERTOLET

Dr. Bertolet (Pennsylvania ‘46), 97, Hawley, Pennsylvania, died April 14, 2020. A small animal veterinarian, he owned Somerton Animal Hospital in Philadelphia for 34 years prior to retirement. Dr. Bertolet traveled to Honduras as part of a volunteer medical missionary group for several years. He was a member of Rotary International and the Masonic Lodge. A veteran of the Army, Dr. Bertolet attained the rank of colonel. He is survived by three daughters, two sons, 10 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and a sister. Memorials may be made to Bertolet Mennonite Meeting House, c/o Joyce Ginelli, 2740 Country Lane, Langhorne, PA 19047.

PHILIP H. DAVIS

Dr. Davis (Auburn ‘64), 85, Florence, Alabama, died March 6, 2020. Prior to retirement, he worked for Pfizer Animal Health as an industrial veterinarian, focusing on avian protozoology. Dr. Davis later served as a consultant and taught and lectured on the practical control of parasitic diseases in poultry. Early in his career, he served as associate state veterinarian in Alabama and practiced mixed animal medicine in Florence for 20 years.

Dr. Davis served in the Army and Alabama National Guard for 27 years, attaining the rank of colonel in the Army. His military service included serving in Operation Desert Shield in the Persian Gulf, commandeering the 161st Medical Battalion, serving three tours with Army Special Forces, and working as an Army veterinarian. Dr. Davis is survived by two daughters, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Memorials, notated in memory of Myrtie and Mary Davis, may be sent to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22478, Oklahoma City, OK 73123.

DUANE E. FLACK

Dr. Flack (Colorado State ‘59), 84, Greeley, Colorado, died March 31, 2020. Following graduation, he practiced large animal medicine in the Greeley area for six years. Dr. Flack then joined Monfort Inc. in Greeley as resident veterinarian. During his career of more than 30 years with the company, he served as general manager of the feedlot division, was group vice president, and served as chief executive officer of Monfort Integrated Genetics. Dr. Flack later established Associated Agricultural Consultants.

Active in organized veterinary medicine, he was a past president of what was known as the Colorado Cattle Feeders Association and was a past director of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Dr. Flack helped establish the Academy of Veterinary Consultants and served on committees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. In 1991 he received the CCFA Top Choice Award. That same year, the AVC named him Consultant of the Year. In 1996, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners honored Dr. Flack with the Award of Excellence.

He was a past president of the board of directors of the Milliken Fire Protection District and was a member and an awardee of the Greeley Jaycees. Dr. Flack is survived by his wife, Colleen; two daughters; nine grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and a brother. Memorials, toward a scholarship fund for veterinary students, may be sent to AVC Foundation, 305 W. Magnolia St. #267, Fort Collins, CO 80521, or may be made to Meals on Wheels of Greeley and Weld County, 2131 9th St., Greeley, CO 80631.

MARTIN P. HINES

Dr. Hines (Ohio State ‘46), 95, Raleigh, North Carolina, died April 20, 2020. A diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, he served from 1964 until retirement in 1983 as director of the division of epidemiology at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and as North Carolina state epidemiologist. Dr. Hines was also a visiting associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill from 1957–83 and at North Carolina Central University in Durham from 1966–70.

Following graduation, he practiced in Montgomery, Alabama, while also serving as a first lieutenant in the Army Veterinary Corps. After earning a master's in public health in 1949 from Harvard University, Dr. Hines worked as an assistant professor of bacteriology at the University of Georgia. From 1951–64, he was head of the veterinary public health branch in the division of epidemiology at the NCDHHS and served as state public health veterinarian.

Dr. Hines was a past president of the North Carolina Public Health Association, American Association of Food Safety and Public Health Veterinarians, and National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians. He served on the AVMA Council on Education, was a consultant to the World Health Organization, was a member of the North Carolina VMA, and was a fellow of the American Public Health Association. Dr. Hines authored the book “Disease Hunter: My Life as a Shoe Leather Epidemiologist.” He served in the Army Reserves for 32 years, attaining the rank of colonel. Dr. Hines received a Meritorious Service Medal in 1976.

His other honors included a Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1974 from The Ohio State University, AVMA Public Service Award in 1975, and Association of Military Surgeons of the United States’ James C. McCallam Award in 1976. Dr. Hines was inducted into the American Veterinary Epidemiology Society in 2013. He is survived by his wife, Ruth; two daughters and a stepdaughter; four grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. Memorials may be made to Christian Veterinary Mission, 19303 Tremont Ave N., Seattle, WA 98133; Raleigh Rescue Mission, P.O. Box 27391, Raleigh, NC 27611; or the Salvation Army, 615 Slaters Lane, Alexandria, VA 22314.

PAUL D. HOHMAN

Dr. Hohman (Iowa State ‘56), 87, Canton, South Dakota, died Nov. 18, 2019. Following graduation, he served in the Army for two years. Dr. Hohman subsequently moved to Canton, where he practiced large animal medicine until he retired in his early 60s. Active in organized veterinary medicine, he served on the South Dakota Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and was a past president of the South Dakota VMA. In 1982, Dr. Hohman was named SDVMA Veterinarian of the Year.

His wife, Marlys; two sons and three daughters; ten grandchildren; and two brothers survive him. Memorials may be made to the Jim and Caroline Deinema Canton Community Foundation, Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, 200 N. Cherapa Place, Sioux Falls, SD 57103.

ORIVAL W. LINDER

Dr. Linder (Kansas State ‘60), 89, Clay Center, Kansas, died Nov. 28, 2019. Following graduation, he owned a mixed animal practice in Clay Center for 28 years. During that time, Dr. Linder also took care of the animals at the Clay Center Zoo and at local county 4-H fairs. He later worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 15 years.

Dr. Linder served on the board of Clay County Unified School District 379 and was a member of the Kansas State Alumni Association, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, and Clay Center Elks Lodge. He served in the Army during the Korean War. Dr. Linder is survived by his wife, Jean; two sons and a daughter; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Memorials may be made to Clay Center Christian Church, 1021 Crawford St., Clay Center, KS 67432.

RAYMOND W. LUNDBERG

Dr. Lundberg (Pennsylvania ‘56), 94, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, died Dec. 6, 2019. Following graduation, he worked for the state of Pennsylvania, testing cattle for respiratory diseases. Dr. Lundberg subsequently moved to Fort Lauderdale, where he owned a practice until retirement in 2010. An Army veteran of World War II, he received several honors, including three Bronze Stars, two Battle Stars, and the French Legion of Honor. He is survived by his wife, Marian; two sons and two daughters; 10 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and a brother and a sister. Memorials may be made to Lanes Mills Memorial Church, 362 Rattlesnake Road, Brockway, PA 15824.

LINDA MCELHANEY ROBINETTE

Dr. Robinette (Washington State ‘70), 74, Pullman, Washington, died April 18, 2020. She owned Alpine Animal Hospital, a small animal practice in Pullman, for 47 years. Dr. Robinette was a member of the Washington State VMA. She raised Irish Terriers and was active in dressage training with Swedish Warmblood horses. Dr. Robinette is survived by her husband, Dr. Jack Robinette (Washington State ‘54), who is retired from the veterinary faculty of Washington State University, and by her sister.

BENJAMIN E. THARP

Dr. Tharp (Texas A&M ‘78), 64, Houston, died Dec. 10, 2019. He practiced small animal medicine at Voss Road Animal Clinic in Houston. Dr. Tharp's wife, Mary Ellen; two daughters and a son; four grandchildren; and two sisters and two brothers survive him. Memorials may be made to Kingsland Baptist Church, 20555 Kingsland Blvd., Katy, TX 77450, or to Christian Veterinary Mission, 9303 Fremont Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98133, cvm.org.

Please report the death of a veterinarian promptly to the JAVMA News staff via a toll-free phone call at 800–248–2862, ext. 6754; email at news@avma.org; or fax at 847–925–9329. For an obituary to be published, JAVMA must be notified within six months of the date of death.

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