JAVMA News

IN SHORT

LOS ANGELES GREENLIGHTS CITY-FUNDED TNR

The city of Los Angeles is moving ahead with a trap-neuter-return program after an environmental impact report concluded the program is not a significant threat to the environment.

The city council's unanimous approval of the EIR on Dec. 10, 2020, clears the way to use municipal funds for the Citywide Cat Program, on hold since 2009 pending a court-ordered review. Several birder organizations had sued to halt the program.

It is anticipated that at least 20,000 feral and unowned cats in Los Angeles will be spayed or neutered annually through the program. By sterilizing 20,000 free-roaming cats each year for 30 years, the births of more than 1.2 million unowned kittens will be prevented, the report states.

The EIR directs the city to develop a public education and outreach program to discourage outdoor feeding of free-roaming cats, a practice that attracts nuisance wildlife.

PILOT THERAPY GROUP CREATED FOR VETERINARIANS

A pilot program is available for veterinarians that aims to provide help with mental health issues they experience.

The Shanti Project, a San Francisco–based nonprofit that works with underserved members of the community, has created the Veterinary Mental Health, Support, and Resiliency Group. Shanti describes the group as “an empathetic and supportive space to understand how your peers are persisting through similar challenges,” with an emphasis on processing stress and grief, learning effective coping skills, implementing a healthier work-life balance, and renewing a love for veterinary medicine.

Five to 10 veterinarians will participate in a virtual hourlong session each week for 10 consecutive weeks. These sessions will be facilitated by clinical psychologists with expertise in grief and loss, career development, and trauma. The group is free thanks to an anonymous donor.

The organization will begin offering first-come, first-served drop-in groups later this spring.

For more information, email Dr. Katie Lawlor at klawlor@shanti.org or visit shanti.org/veterinarysupport.

Shanti also partners with Pets Are Wonderful Support, which provides support services for pets of seniors and individuals living with disability or illness.

AFLATOXIN-CONTAMINATED FOOD KILLS DOZENS OF DOGS

More than 70 dogs died of confirmed or suspected aflatoxin poisoning after eating Sportmix pet food.

A national recall includes bags of dog and cat foods sold under the Sportmix, Nunn Better, Pro Pac, and Splash Fat Cat labels, according to the Food and Drug Administration. As of Jan. 11, all of the deaths and illnesses had been linked with the Sportmix brand.

FDA officials announced Jan. 11 that a recall issued in December 2020 for the Sportmix pet foods was expanded to include more than 1,000 lots of pet foods made at Midwestern Pet Foods' Oklahoma plant. In addition to the known deaths, more than 80 other dogs became sick after eating Sportmix foods, although some suspected poisonings lacked confirmation through laboratory testing or veterinary record review.

The recall affects all foods that contain corn; expire by July 9, 2022; and were made in the Oklahoma plant, which is designated as “05” in a code on bags. Pet food that expires March 3, 2022, and was made in the Oklahoma plant, for example, would have a lot code beginning with “EXP 03/03/22/05,” according to an example from the FDA.

Details are available at jav.ma/sportmix.

Being AVMA president during a national crisis

President Douglas Kratt on his role during the pandemic and current social unrest

Interview and photo by R. Scott Nolen

Dr. Douglas Kratt assumed the AVMA presidency last July at a time of national crisis.

The country was several months into a lockdown necessitated by the novel coronavirus spreading across the world. At the same time, U.S. cities were roiled by protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by Minneapolis police in May, forcing every aspect of American society to reckon with its role in perpetuating systemic racial and social injustice.

Dr. Kratt talked to JAVMA News about his time as AVMA president, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the AVMA's reckoning with its position as the professional association for the least-diverse health care profession in the country.

Q. IT'S AN UNDERSTATEMENT TO SAY YOU BECAME AVMA PRESIDENT AT A VERY INTERESTING TIME.

A. It's been a very interesting time to be president of the AVMA, but as I said when I was campaigning, the presidency isn't about me, it's about the 96,500 AVMA members I serve. Yes, there are challenges. It's difficult to genuinely connect with people at a state or regional VMA meeting via Zoom. I miss those conversations you have during the breaks—answering questions face to face and explaining AVMA policies and strategy.

There have been a few silver linings. If I were traveling, I would probably attend as many as two meetings a week. Since I'm not on the road, I can have four Zoom calls in a day. It's a different kind of communication than I'm used to, but the information exchange is far greater and faster than it would be otherwise. Are there things that I would have loved to accomplish if I had had enough bandwidth? Absolutely. Veterinary student debt, starting salaries, and well-being are incredibly important issues to me, but the more pressing issues of COVID and social justice are the priority.

Q. HOW HAVE THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AND BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT IMPACTED YOUR AGENDA AS AVMA PRESIDENT?

A. The civil unrest rightly shifted my focus to diversity, equity, and inclusion within the veterinary profession, AVMA, and my own life. I'm often asked, “Why are we the least diverse profession in the country?” I don't deny that we are, and we're looking much more intentionally at the AVMA with respect to DEI. The AVMA has hired external experts to amp up our efforts internally. We're also working closely with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges on the Commission for a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Veterinary Profession, co-chaired by Drs. Christine Jenkins, chief veterinary officer for Zoetis, and Ruby Perry, dean of Tuskegee University's veterinary college.

It won't be a short-term effort or a quick fix; this is going to be a sustained effort, and we're not going to fix it in six months or a year. It's a problem we must address on multiple levels. I need to address it as Doug Kratt. Do I have implicit bias? Am I dissuading people of color from joining the profession in ways that I don't know about? What about at my clinic? Am I searching for a diverse employment base? Am I making POC (people of color) feel unwelcome at my practice without knowing it?

What about at the professional level? Are we putting up barriers there as well? (See page 346.) I truthfully believe that the vast majority of them are unintentional barriers. My personal belief is we need to start recruiting at the fifth-grade level. We know if we wait to reach out when they're juniors and seniors in high school that our profession has already lost a bunch of great people. (President-elect) Dr. José Arce and I have discussed potentially starting pilot programs in urban areas that teach kids about our profession.

Q. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS AVMA PRESIDENT FOR THE FIRST HALF OF YOUR TERM?

A. Part of my responsibility has been to be a calming voice. I listen to your concerns about the virus, then encourage you to take a deep breath, and say, “I'm a private practitioner, and I share your concerns.” Then I tell you about all the resources available from AVMA addressing those very concerns, whether it's “What do I do if a staff member at my clinic has contracted COVID?” or “Are pets at risk?” or “Is the food supply safe?” As a profession, we've stepped up. We've gotten the information out; we've addressed the current concerns about COVID and put the public at ease.

I understand that I don't understand what people of color have gone through. I'm a white male who grew up in the Midwest, and I'm very sensitive to that when I'm discussing DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion). Should I be the face of this discussion? That weighs on me, but we all need to be part of the solution.

Q. AS YOU TALK TO VETERINARIANS, ARE THERE ANY COMMON THEMES?

A. I will tell you economics is universal. Zoonotic disease and disease transmission are universal. I'm not sure how many people recall that, prior to February of 2020, we had a foreign animal disease that was taking up a lot of bandwidth: African swine fever. All the challenges that were on our plate prior to 2020 didn't just go away. My sales pitch is I'm very proud of AVMA. We're a relatively small organization with limited resources, but we found another gear for COVID. We educated our members on how to stay safe and the public about the impacts on animals. In Washington, D.C., the AVMA was working on the Paycheck Protection Program. We were dealing with all of those issues simultaneously and also able to come up with guidance for telehealth and telemedicine.

Q. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT THE SECOND HALF OF YOUR TERM TO LOOK LIKE?

A. Part of it will be transitioning us back to a new normal. We've been dealing with this pandemic for over a year, and my hope is that we can help members figure out when is it safe to go back to something besides curbside. I also want to take the opportunity to encourage Washington to strengthen the one-health framework and veterinary diagnostic laboratory funding because, unfortunately, there is going to be another pandemic. I don't like being a pessimist, but I'm being realistic. Veterinarians have shown our value during the COVID pandemic. Let's go ahead, let's sow the seeds and be prepared for the next time so we can be that step ahead.

Q. HOW DO YOU HOPE TO BE REMEMBERED AS AVMA PRESIDENT?

A. I hope not to be remembered as AVMA president. I'm joking but if I did my job, people will remember how AVMA responded during an incredibly difficult period both nationally and worldwide, not that Doug Kratt was president.

PRESIDENT-ELECT CANDIDATES MAKE THEIR CASE

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Dr. Grace Bransford

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 4; 10.2460/javma.258.4.327

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Dr. Lori Teller

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 4; 10.2460/javma.258.4.327

The two candidates for 2021–22 AVMA president-elect—Drs. Grace Bransford and Lori Teller—addressed the AVMA House of Delegates on Jan. 8 during the HOD's regular winter session.

The recorded presentations were aired during the virtual meeting, the last time the HOD will have convened before the regular annual session this July, when delegates elect the 2022–23 AVMA president.

This is the first women-only race for AVMA president-elect in the Association's history.

Dr. Bransford is a 1998 graduate of the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and a small animal practitioner in Marin County, California.

From 2018–20, Dr. Bransford was AVMA vice president. She has been involved in AVMA volunteer leadership for more than 20 years, serving on numerous councils and committees.

“This is a time of rapid, exponential change for issues facing our profession, and I feel well prepared and equipped to meet them,” Dr. Bransford said.

She cited her career experience, including 10 years in the advertising world and 17 years as a practice owner. As vice president, she represented the AVMA to veterinary students, faculty members, and deans around the world.

Dr. Teller is a clinical associate professor of telehealth at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, from which she graduated in 1990.

She currently chairs the AVMA Board of Directors and was a founding board member of the Women's Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative, dedicated to helping develop female leaders in veterinary medicine.

The AVMA president is the public face of the profession, Dr. Teller said, responsible for communicating and advancing the profession's goals within a variety of forums.

“I have amassed the vast experience needed to communicate with our members, our students, our stakeholders, our legislators, the public, and the media,” she said. “And I believe that I am the most qualified to serve you and our members as the next AVMA president-elect.”

HOD ELECTS TWO TO COUNCILS

In January, the AVMA House of Delegates filled two vacancies on AVMA councils. The HOD elected Dr. Boyd Parr of Newberry, South Carolina, to represent animal health on the Council on Public Health. The HOD elected Dr. Susan Tornquist of Corvallis, Oregon, to represent academic veterinary medicine on the Council on Research.

DELEGATES DISCUSS DUES, PROGRAMS FOR RECENT GRADUATES

By Katie Burns

The AVMA House of Delegates discussed a proposal to further reduce AVMA member dues for new veterinarians who graduate as Student AVMA members in good standing, weighing the benefits against those provided by other programs the Association currently offers recent graduates.

Ten state VMAs submitted the resolution recommending the expansion of reduced dues for deliberation during the regular winter session of the HOD in early January. The HOD voted to refer the resolution to the AVMA Board of Directors for consideration by the Strategy Management Committee and the Budget and Financial Review Committee.

Currently, new veterinarians receive free AVMA membership for the balance of the year that they graduate and a 50% reduction in dues for the next two consecutive renewal periods. Under the proposal, new veterinarians would still receive free membership in their graduating year. The proposal would then reduce dues to 25% of regular dues for the first full year of membership, maintain dues at 50% for the second full year, and reduce dues to 75% for the third full year, for a total of $180 in overall savings.

“The goal of this resolution is to financially assist recent graduates who are often burdened with substantial student loan debt, while bonding them to the AVMA as lifelong members,” according to the statement about the resolution.

Many employers pay their employees' dues, but numerous veterinarians pay out of pocket, said Dr. Richard Panzero, Arizona delegate, during discussion by the HOD.

Dr. Will McCauley, alternate delegate for Washington, D.C., said the financial burden to the AVMA of reducing dues would require reallocation of resources that would put programs at risk.

Dr. Ernest Godfrey, Florida delegate, said, “We do need to think about doing something to help economically the younger people who may not be joining because of the cost.”

Marie Bucko, president of the Student AVMA, said the offer of a dues reduction is thoughtful but doesn't help recent graduates solve the problem of crippling educational debt. She said, “This is our chance—and our opportunity really—to enhance and showcase the already established programs and to do more tangible resources to recruit and retain recent grads.”

Hidayah Martinez-Jaka, SAVMA president-elect, agreed that the resolution is a thoughtful gesture but said it would be of more value to veterinary students and recent graduates for the AVMA to increase programming in areas such as mental health resources, financial counseling, and continuing education and to continue work on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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Dr. José Arce, AVMA president-elect, presides over the regular winter session of the AVMA House of Delegates in early January. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 4; 10.2460/javma.258.4.327

According to background information from the AVMA Board, “In 2017, the AVMA began developing targeted resources focused on recent graduates' areas of primary concern: career development, financial health and personal wellbeing. The result included tangible resources including MyVeterinaryLife.com, the My Veterinary Life podcast, the Veterinary Debt Initiative, and the QPR suicide prevention program.” (QPR stands for question, persuade, refer.)

In other actions, the HOD voted to refer the rewritten Rules for AVMA Officer Election Campaigns back to the House Advisory Committee for clarification on provisions related to campaigning and endorsement. The campaign rules apply to the election process for AVMA president-elect and vice president, both elected by the HOD.

The HOD also amended the House manual to state that, in the future, the sitting chair of the Board and of the HAC may not run for president-elect or vice president.

When will veterinarians get COVID-19 vaccines?

AVMA leaders discuss vaccination, including AVMA efforts; plus child care during the pandemic

By Katie Burns

The first Americans started receiving the COVID-19 vaccines in mid-December. By late January, however, many veterinarians still weren't sure where they were in the line for vaccination.

The AVMA House of Delegates, during its regular winter session in early January, discussed the COVID-19 pandemic during the Veterinary Information Forum, and many delegates focused on the rollout of vaccines across the country.

The AVMA has successfully advocated for veterinarians to be among those prioritized for vaccination in federal-level guidance, but tactical decisions are made at the state, territorial, and local levels—and the situation continues to evolve.

Other delegates touched on ongoing difficulties with providing child care during the pandemic.

SNAPSHOTS OF SITUATIONS

Dr. Cheryl Greenacre, delegate for the Association of Avian Veterinarians, started the discussion by asking what state VMAs can do to advocate so that veterinarians will be listed as health care workers able to receive COVID-19 vaccines in Phase 1a.

Dr. José Arce, AVMA president-elect, said the AVMA has been advocating for veterinarians to be a priority group since September. The AVMA provided comments to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on the Discussion Draft of the Preliminary Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine. The draft was intended to inform the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations.

In Puerto Rico, where Dr. Arce lives, the territory's veterinary association met with the territory's health department and other health associations and, later, the National Guard. Veterinarians thought they were going to be in Phase 1b, as front-line essential workers, and they were surprised to be scheduled for late 1a. Dr. Arce suggested that state VMAs should contact the state health department and join with other health professions.

Dr. Carol Ryan, Missouri delegate, said veterinarians are scheduled for Phase 1b in Missouri. As of early January, no veterinarians or veterinary staff members had been able to be immunized. She was curious whether, in other states, staff members were included with veterinarians as a priority group.

In Puerto Rico, Dr. Arce replied, everyone on the veterinary team qualifies for the same phase. Veterinarians need to provide their license to practice and a form proving that a staff member works at a veterinary hospital.

Dr. Diana Thomé, Washington state delegate, said the Washington State VMA sent out a notification in early January that the state had added a catchall in Phase 1a to cover all health care workers. The WSVMA interpreted that to mean veterinarians and their teams. After the House of Delegates session, the WSVMA issued an update saying health officials subsequently told the association that veterinarians were in a later phase to be determined.

Dr. Jon Pennell, Nevada delegate, said the Nevada VMA and state veterinary board submitted a letter requesting that veterinarians be included in one of the earlier tiers for vaccination. Dr. William Grant, California delegate, said he had just heard the good news that the California Department of Public Health had designated veterinarians and veterinary staff members to be in Phase 1a.

AVMA EFFORTS

The AVMA comments to the National Academies used the following rationale:

  • Veterinarians and veterinary teams contribute directly to supporting the food and agriculture industries, providing services that are considered essential to continued critical infrastructure viability. In addition to providing critical support for the sufficiency and safety of our nation's food supply, veterinarians also help ensure the health and well-being of the pets that share our homes. Those pets have played an important role in supporting their owners' physical and mental well-being during the pandemic.

  • Veterinary teams are at risk of exposure. Although the veterinary profession has been creative in implementing important risk management controls during the pandemic, maintaining physical distance from our clients and staff members can be difficult when handling animals or performing medical procedures. To ensure animals receive appropriate care, we may be regularly exposed to members of the public who are symptomatically or asymptomatically ill, as well as to certain animal species that we know can be infected with SARS-CoV-2.

  • Veterinary professionals actively protect animal and public health through surveillance for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in animals. Our surveillance function extends well beyond SARS-CoV-2, encompassing other potentially zoonotic and nonzoonotic diseases.

  • The high degree of public trust in veterinary professionals supports veterinarians actively sharing public health messaging about the importance of vaccination. Such messaging is most effectively conveyed if veterinarians and veterinary teams have themselves received the vaccine.

The AVMA has developed a downloadable poster for the back office, “Fighting COVID-19 starts with you,” to encourage all team members to get vaccinated as early as possible.

The AVMA also has developed a list of answers to frequently asked questions about vaccination against COVID-19.

One question is, “Can practice owners require team members to be vaccinated against COVID-19 when a vaccine is available to them?”

The answer states that, according to guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: “Employers may, under certain conditions, bar employees from the workplace if they refuse to get a vaccine. … The EEOC warns, however, that this does not mean the employer may automatically terminate the employee. … For example, the employee may be entitled to an accommodation, such as performing work remotely. … State law may differ from federal law and may prohibit employers from requiring employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.”

CHILD CARE

As the vaccine rollout continues, working parents at veterinary practices and elsewhere continue to juggle doing their jobs with caring for young children as many schools and day cares remain closed.

Dr. Paul Toniolli, Utah alternate delegate, said his office manager started to work from home. He's had children come into the clinic, which is not ideal, but the building has an upstairs area. Some staff members have to stay home to watch their kids. He has stepped up the pace himself, working extra hours, and is simply being more flexible.

Dr. Lindy O'Neal, Arkansas delegate, said that as her two-clinic practice is continuing with curbside service, some examination rooms are not being used. The practice allows staff members to bring children in to have a place for them to go. One of the clinics even has a napping room. Children are not allowed to come if they are under quarantine, but using the empty examination rooms has been a creative way to be flexible.

AVMA: PRIORITIZE ANIMAL WELFARE, NOT MARKETING, IN TREATMENT DECISIONS

By Greg Cima

AVMA leaders advocate against withholding any necessary medications from livestock, including on organic and antimicrobial-free farms.

Those medications include drugs used to manage pain or infections.

A policy enacted Jan. 9 by the AVMA House of Delegates states that good animal welfare and veterinary care include administering necessary medical treatments.

“Veterinarians should uphold the health and wellbeing of their patients as their primary responsibility over animal care policies, production practices, marketing programs or any other competing interests that otherwise would direct the withholding of necessary medical therapy for relief from pain and disease,” the policy states.

The policy applies to all animals, but a statement published along with the resolution indicates the policy addresses concerns raised in livestock production. Food animal veterinarians needed a clear statement from the AVMA in support of judicious use of antimicrobials and other medications, according to the statement.

Before the House votes on issues, delegates divide into groups—known as reference committees—to discuss the proposals and recommend revisions.

In one reference committee meeting, Dr. K. Fred Gingrich II, executive director of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, said the House's caucus of food animal veterinarians supports the policy statement. He also noted the AABP has a similar position statement specific to antimicrobial administration, and he sees benefits to an AVMA statement that also applies to pain management.

Some dairy owners, for example, express reluctance to administering any pain management during calf dehorning because the most common option, meloxicam, is prohibited in organic production, Dr. Gingrich said. He told a producer trade group that the veterinarian of record should make those decisions, but he thinks it would be helpful to be able to also refer that group to the AVMA policy statement that all animals should receive pain relief.

“I think it's most unfortunate if an animal is withheld necessary pain medication or antibiotics because they're in a certain production marketing program,” Dr. Gingrich said. “And so I think this is very timely and very much advocating for the welfare of our food animal patients.”

In March 2018, AABP leaders published a position statement that cattle welfare should be the priority consideration in any marketing system, and even cattle in antimicrobial-free production systems should receive antimicrobials when the drugs are needed to treat disease. Owners of antimicrobial-free herds should create backup plans to sell beef and dairy products when those drugs become necessary, it states.

STATES MAY WANT TO DEFER DISCIPLINE WHEN VETERINARIANS SEEK TREATMENT

The AVMA advocates that state regulators consider leniency when veterinary professionals develop impairments but seek treatment to overcome those problems.

On Jan. 9, members of the AVMA House of Delegates voted to edit the AVMA Model Veterinary Practice Act to suggest that when veterinarians or veterinary technicians become unable to practice because of a physical or mental disability, state licensing boards should consider deferring disciplinary action upon receipt of signed agreements to enter approved treatment and monitoring programs. The model practice act states that examples of disabilities subject to disciplinary action include deteriorating mental capacity, loss of motor skills, and substance use disorders.

The AVMA publishes the Model Veterinary Practice Act for use by state regulators as they draft and revise rules on the practice of veterinary medicine. The added language states that deferred action should occur only in the absence of a conviction for a felony or any crimes related to controlled substances or sex offenses.

A statement provided to delegates with the resolution indicates the change in the model act closely aligns with a similar change enacted by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards, which publishes its own Practice Act Model.

The AVMA House of Delegates approved the current model act in August 2019, following a revision process starting in 2016.

NEW LISTINGS IN AVMA ANIMAL HEALTH STUDIES DATABASE

Below are some of the new listings of veterinary clinical studies in the AVMA Animal Health Studies Database. Information about participating in the studies is available at avma.org/findvetstudies.

  • AAHSD005201: “XRADIOS: Improving radiation therapy for dogs with osteosarcoma,” North Carolina State University.

  • AAHSD005202 “A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study of the analgesic effects of XT-550 canine IL-10 variant transgene in companion dogs with osteoarthritis,” North Carolina State University.

  • AAHSD005214: “Clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of surgery combined with Elias cancer immunotherapy as treatment for appendicular osteosarcoma in dogs;” Kansas State University; Veterinary Cancer Group-Pathway, Tustin, California; Friendship Hospital for Animals, Washington, D.C.; Veterinary Specialty Center, Buffalo Grove, Illinois; VCA Veterinary Care Animal Hospital & Referral Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico; BluePearl Pet Hospital/Hope Veterinary Specialists, Malvern, Pennsylvania; Veterinary Oncology Services and Research Center, West Chester, Pennsylvania; VCA Animal Diagnostic Center, Dallas; and VCA South Paws Veterinary Specialists, Fairfax, Virginia.

  • AAHSD005215: “Pharmacokinetics of oral chlorambucil in cats with cancer,” University of California-Davis and Colorado State University.

  • AAHSD005246: “Tolerability of oral paclitaxel in dogs with cancer;” Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital, Woburn, Massachusetts; Veterinary Specialty Hospital-Sorrento Valley, San Diego; Veterinary Specialty Hospital-North County, San Marcos, California; Veterinary Emergency and Referral Center, Honolulu; and Wisconsin Veterinary Referral Center, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

  • AAHSD005250: “Pilot study of partial ablation using high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) in feline injection site sarcomas,” Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

  • AAHSD005252: “Efficacy of a probiotic supplement in the reduction or control of clinical signs associated with canine atopic dermatitis;” The Ohio State University.

IMPROVE MENTAL HEALTH BY RECONNECTING WITH HUMAN NATURE

By Greg Cima

Shimi Kang, MD, prescribes daily downtime, social connections, and play to help people return to “being human.”

Dr. Kang said those activities help optimize brain function and move people from a stress-induced survival mode into calmer conditions that allow for personal growth. She is a psychiatrist, author on mental health, and clinical associate professor at the University of British Columbia, and she delivered the keynote address in a prerecorded video for the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference, held online Jan. 7–9.

“We're not meant to sit in front of a desk, staring at a screen all day,” she said. “We're meant to move our bodies, be in nature.”

As deer freeze in the headlights of an oncoming car, humans respond to stress with procrastination, indecision, perfectionism, and anger, she said. They find distractions through drinking, playing video games, and shopping.

“If you can understand your own stress response and that of the people around you, you can come from a place of understanding and not judgment,” Dr. Kang said.

In the 48-minute video, Dr. Kang described the roles of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems in people, as well as the activities that release beneficial amounts of endorphins, oxytocin, and serotonin versus those that only produce short bursts of pleasure through dopamine.

Exercises to slow a person's breathing can help alleviate physical responses to stress, as can focusing on unclenching one's jaws, she said. A cognitive mantra that states what is happening and acknowledges it will be OK helps shut down a survival-based internal alarm and move into an optimistic state. A person could say, for example, “I'm feeling really anxious right now” followed by “I know I'll be OK. This, too, shall pass.”

Dr. Kang recommended being firm but flexible in personal relationships, knowing others' roles and what is happening in their lives, and communicating with empathy and optimism. All relationships should be collaborative, she said.

She also said play is a mindset involving being comfortable with trying new and different activities, as well as being comfortable with mistakes and uncertainty. Those activities include reading, gardening, sculpting, cooking, coloring, visualization, and daydreaming.

In a workplace, encouraging play behaviors can include encouraging team members to attempt a task before giving them the solution, praising efforts rather than performance, using brainstorming, and otherwise encouraging healthy risks.

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Dr. Shimi Kang

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 4; 10.2460/javma.258.4.327

And she recommends bringing more of nature into people's lives, whether through imagery, houseplants, or cuddling with animals.

Dr. Kang also noted that people became more reliant on technology during the pandemic to connect, create, or consume entertainment, including media equivalents to junk food. She encouraged people to watch how they use technology and make sure they consume content in healthy ways.

Dr. Kang provides more information on her website, drshimikang.com, and her YouTube channel, Mental Wealth with Dr. Shimi Kang.

DEVELOPING YOUR CAREER IN A WAY THAT SUPPORTS YOU

By Katie Burns

Dr. Melanie Bowden knows that the young veterinarians she speaks to are, like her, working hard to be fantastic veterinarians—and probably working too much, at that.

She gave a talk at the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference, held virtually Jan. 7–9, on “Developing An Amazing Veterinary Career: A New Way of Evaluating Professional Development With the Goal of Your Career Supporting You.”

She encouraged young veterinarians to think about professional development more critically and with more intention, “so that you can be one of those veterinarians who practices for 50, 60 years because you love it and because it supports who you are as a person outside of work.”

Dr. Bowden gave a TED Talk on the same topic a year earlier, because she had seen, according to the description for the VLC session, “far too many amazing veterinarians quit and leave the field because they fell victim to a downward spiral from lack of support, unmet expectations, disengagement, being overwhelmed, becoming depressed and burning out.”

After earning her veterinary degree in 2016 from Washington State University, Dr. Bowden worked first for Banfield Pet Hospital and then at a small animal practice in Spokane, Washington. At those jobs, she thought she was doing really well, seeing a lot of patients and getting everybody out the door on time, although she often finished doing records late. But she wasn't really thriving, she was surviving. There were nights she would get home, and her boyfriend would know not to talk to her. Hoodie up, headphones on.

And she thought work-life balance meant working hard and playing hard. On her time off, she'd organize hikes, go on overnight backpacking trips, and go to all her friends' parties. Still, it was difficult to take paid time off for any reason without feeling guilt. She developed gastric reflux, then gastric ulcers, and started having panic attacks.

Dr. Bowden decided she had to figure out how to redefine her relationship with veterinary medicine. She turned to a wide variety of resources and went through professional coaching. A key resource was a fairly short book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, MD, about how to handle change.

She said veterinarians can examine their lives with the same SOAP format—subjective observation, objective observation, assessment, and plan—they use for their cases. In Dr. Bowden's version, the S is for the veterinarian's story. The O involves taking a look at eight dimensions of wellness—emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational, and social—and assessing work quality of life, drawing on Gallup's 12 questions for team engagement.

For the assessment portion, Dr. Bowden listed the following things that impact workplace satisfaction:

  • How we are paid—production versus salary.

  • PTO—how easy and guilt free it is to take time off.

  • Support from management.

  • Scheduling and changes at work—Do you have any say?

  • Feeling what you do is important and people care about their jobs.

  • If you noticed an area to improve outcomes, do you feel you would be heard?

Then, veterinarians can make a plan by writing down the attributes of their ideal job. What are you most frustrated or dissatisfied with in your current position? What is it that you value most? What are you willing to compromise?

Also: What must your occupation support in terms of financial need, family schedules, activities, other creative outlets or passions, and health?

Dr. Bowden eventually wrote this mission statement for herself: “I believe in relationship-centered care for patients, their owners, and my team members. I practice medicine with honesty, safety, intention, and quality. I lead by example and through empowering and inspiring others.”

A little over a year ago, Dr. Bowden transitioned to full-time relief work to achieve better work-life integration. Recently, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she accepted an emergency position in Maine where she works three times a week in addition to performing relief work.

VETERINARY LEADERS DISCUSS HOW TO COMBAT RACISM, BE AN ALLY

By Kaitlyn Mattson

Two sessions during the 2021 AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference, held Jan. 7–9, focused on tools for being an active ally to those who are racially or ethnically underrepresented in veterinary medicine and issues experienced by people in that group.

Lisa Greenhill, EdD, senior director for institutional research and diversity at the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, and Latonia Craig, EdD, assistant dean for inclusive excellence at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, talked to attendees about what allyship looks like during the session “Allyship for Transformational Leaders” on Jan. 8.

“Why is it important to think about allyship in terms of leadership? It is about how you activate and inspire your team,” Dr. Greenhill said. “We say there is no ‘I’ in team, but actually, there are a lot of identities that are a part of the team. That is what makes a team strong. That diversity is really beneficial to the overall team.”

Dr. Greenhill said leadership styles differ, but it is important to include allyship because it is how you inspire, advocate for, and protect your team.

“Radical honesty is imperative in allyship,” Dr. Greenhill said. “You have to be willing to be vulnerable. You've got to put yourself out there. If you're going to leverage your power and privilege to benefit marginalized folks, you have to be willing to lay it on the line.”

Dr. Craig said being an active ally also includes being empathetic.

“It requires you to try to understand where that person is coming from even if you don't have that lived experience,” Dr. Craig said.

Drs. Greenhill and Craig asked participants to answer the following questions after the session:

  • What are your core values?

  • What decisions have you made in your organization that reflect those values?

  • How would you describe the culture of your organization?

  • What are the gaps between your core values and the current culture of your organization?

  • What do you need to do to bridge the gap in pursuit of being a transformational leader?

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Lisa Greenhill, EdD

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 4; 10.2460/javma.258.4.327

“You have to be in this for the long haul,” Dr. Greenhill said. “Allyship expires in the next breath. You must live it. It is an action. You have to be committed, and it is a daily practice. You are either living your values or not.”

Dr. Allen Cannedy, director for diversity and multicultural affairs at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, asked why racism exists in veterinary medicine during the session “Combating Racism in Veterinary Medicine” on Jan. 9.

“For some, it is one of those mythical things that doesn't exist in their minds, and for those of us who see it and experience it, it is real. … As leaders, hopefully, you all believe it is real and it is affecting our profession, just as it does our society and our world.”

Dr. Cannedy, who is Black, discussed instances when he experienced racism within the profession, including trying to figure out whether clients who have Confederate flags would accept having him work on their animals.

“Racism is a tool that keeps prejudice and discrimination active and in place,” he said.

Dr. Cannedy discussed the following examples of racist behaviors and phrases:

  • Someone stating that their animal does not like Black people.

  • Intentionally mispronouncing someone's name.

  • Saying things such as “When I look at you, I don't see color” or “All lives matter.”

  • Using racial slurs.

  • Thinking people are dangerous on the basis of race or ethnicity.

  • Offering someone substandard service options on the basis of appearance.

  • Believing minorities dislike animals.

“Speak up when you hear them, and don't use them,” Dr. Cannedy said. “Try to support, understand, and appreciate when we say these things, (they) are burdens that will shorten our lifespan and shorten our longevity within the profession. Help us out. We have to have our allies and you all as leaders to support us in these challenges we face.”

Dr. Allen Cannedy recommends the books “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi, “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and “Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit” by Mary-Frances Winter.

SOME PETS PUTTING ON POUNDS DURING PANDEMIC, SOME GETTING MORE EXERCISE

Surveys of pet owners have found that some cats and dogs have gained weight during the COVID-19 pandemic, although some pets also have gotten more playtime or walks.

On April 9, 2020, VitusVet shared results from a survey of more than 1,000 pet owners about experiences with pets during stay-at-home orders early in the pandemic. Exercise was a popular theme, with 53% of respondents noting more playtime at home, and 39% saying they took more frequent dog walks.

In May and October 2020, Banfield Pet Hospital released results of surveys of 1,000 dog and cat owners examining the impact of people quarantining at home with their pets. In May, 42% of pet owners were exercising their pets more than they had before the pandemic. In October, 75% of people turned to their pets three or more times per day to feel better. Among common activities, 71% of people had playtime with pets, and 38% of people exercised with pets.

In addition to more attention, pets also might be getting extra treats or fuller food bowls, according to Banfield. Among survey respondents, 42% admitted their pet had gained weight as of October, compared with 33% as of May.

At the end of 2020, Hill's Pet Nutrition released results from a survey regarding pets' weight conducted in late November in partnership with Kelton Global, with responses from 1,021 dog and cat owners and 257 veterinarians.

Since the start of the pandemic, a third of owners of an overweight pet said their pet had become overweight during the pandemic. More than half of pet owners said they've been giving treats to their pets for no reason.

Among owners of overweight pets, 31% with overweight dogs and 24% with overweight cats felt it's harder to help their pet lose weight now, compared with before COVID-19, and 49% of veterinarians agreed that it's harder for pet parents to keep their pets at a healthy weight during the pandemic than before.

Algal blooms sicken people, animals across United States

400-plus animal illnesses found in first three years of federal surveillance

By Greg Cima

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A heron wades in a harmful algal bloom. (Courtesy of CDC)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 4; 10.2460/javma.258.4.327

The first data from a three-year federal surveillance program indicate harmful algal blooms sickened and killed hundreds of animals.

From 2016–18, the 18 states participating in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's surveillance program reported algal blooms sickened at least 389 people and 413 animals, according to the Dec. 18 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. All of the people survived, but 369 of the animals died.

Three-quarters of the animal illnesses occurred among wildlife, including 300 birds killed by a single freshwater bloom during May 2018 in California. Among domesticated animals, the blooms sickened at least 50 dogs, two cats, 36 cattle, four poultry, and two equids, according to the report.

Virginia Roberts is an epidemiologist in the Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch of the CDC National Center for Emerging Zoonotic and Infectious Diseases and lead author of the new report, and she is leading the CDC's One Health Harmful Algal Bloom Surveillance Working Group. As the project expands, she expects it will help show where blooms and illnesses occur, characteristics of the blooms themselves, and the effects on humans, domesticated animals, and wildlife.

The surveillance covers harmful blooms caused by subsets of algae and cyanobacteria in fresh water and salt water, according to the report. The blooms can be exacerbated by nutrient pollutants, such as phosphorus used in fertilizer, and rising water temperatures resulting from climate change.

Less than 1% of algal blooms produce toxins, and some blooms can be beneficial food sources, although even blooms without toxins can create anoxic conditions in water, block light to other organisms, and harm or clog fish gills, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In addition to causing illness through direct exposure, some of the toxins can accumulate in the food chain and cause seafood-related poisoning, Roberts said. Coastal blooms also can aerosolize toxins, as seen when people near red tides in Florida developed coughs and sore throats.

Blooms that are harmful, Roberts said, produce a wide range of toxic substances with varied effects on animals.

“We're concerned about the health impacts of those individual toxins and how they might mix together,” she said.

The CDC report indicates diagnostic tests for harmful algal bloom toxins are unavailable for routine clinical settings in human and animal medicine, so less than 5% of human or animal illnesses were confirmed.

Roberts said the states early to adopt the surveillance collected and provided data using their own methods and priorities. The figures collected so far show that people and animals are becoming ill across the country, she said.

“It takes a lot of work to conduct this type of surveillance and other types of public health surveillance,” she said. “You have to have the capacity to detect, investigate, and report these types of events.”

It also requires awareness of the risk of blooms and the need to report illnesses to public health authorities.

Dr. Katharine Benedict, veterinary epidemiologist in the Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch, said veterinarians can help improve the data collection when they know whether blooms are a problem in their area, collect good information on patients with known or suspected recent exposures to fresh or marine waters, and give state or local health departments information on those exposures.

About 90% of the blooms recorded in the first three years of surveillance occurred in fresh water, and people described visible scum in 39% of blooms, the CDC report states. The blooms peaked in July, and animal illnesses occurred May through September.

Dr. Benedict said veterinarians may be able to use data from the project in deciding whether to include harmful algal bloom toxicosis among their differential diagnoses. Although the signs of toxicosis can be nonspecific, identifying which are most common in pet or livestock species can help veterinarians understand how the blooms are affecting their patients, she said.

Among animals with clinical signs of illness, two-thirds had generalized signs such as weakness, lethargy, and anorexia, the report states. Half had gastrointestinal illness, and one in seven developed neurologic signs such as seizures and stumbling. Time to onset ranged from 15 minutes to four days.

Twenty-five animals received veterinary care.

Roberts and Dr. Benedict recommend that veterinarians in areas with harmful blooms teach pet or livestock owners how to prevent exposures and respond if their animals have been exposed. When dogs jump into water with a visible bloom, for example, the owners should wash them with tap water to stop them from ingesting the toxins as they lick their fur.

New forensic programs investigate deaths of unclaimed dogs and cats

International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association also releases standards for postmortem examinations

By Kaitlyn Mattson

As the field of veterinary forensics continues to develop, a forensic pathologist at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine has created two programs, A Dog Has No Name and A Cat Has No Name, to investigate the deaths of unclaimed dogs and cats. At the same time, the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association has released standards for postmortem examinations.

IDENTIFICATION PROGRAMS

Dr. Adam Stern, a forensic pathologist at the UF veterinary college, created the new programs to investigate the deaths of unclaimed animals in the Florida area. Since the programs' start in December 2020, more than 150 dogs and cats have been examined, including some from across the U.S.

“We're doing a long-term mortality study, looking at these animals and figuring out what is going on with them,” Dr. Stern said. “They're not all being hit by cars, and we are finding some interesting stuff. We are documenting it, including some suspicious deaths that we report to law enforcement.”

A Dog Has No Name and A Cat Has No Name are a collaboration between law enforcement and forensic specialists at Florida's Maples Center for Forensic Medicine.

One of the goals of the programs is to find the owners of the unclaimed animals.

“We have reunited some dogs to the owners for closure, and they were appreciative for what we did. It's doing a good deed, at the end of the day. Some of these people are going to be searching for a dog forever. We want to provide closure,“ Dr. Stern said. ”As a pathologist, I deal with end of life, that is all I do. This is a positive effect, the closure is positive.“

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Dr. Adam Stern, a forensic pathologist at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, created two new programs to investigate the deaths of unclaimed dogs and cats. (Courtesy of Dr. Stern)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 4; 10.2460/javma.258.4.327

Dr. Stern said the programs are also being used to train residents and students on death investigations. Most case investigations include a traditional autopsy and a gross examination with a postmortem CT scan and radiography.

“Anything we need to do, we will do,” Dr. Stern said. “If we have an owner that thinks it may be their cat, we have the capabilities to do a DNA comparison. We are also banking tissues from every case. We have reports from every case that include tissues, so we can go back and do retrospectives.”

Dr. Stern is also working to make other veterinarians across the U.S. aware of what the programs do and is currently willing to accept samples of unowned, stray, or street animals from anywhere in the U.S. The services are free of charge. Information is at jav.ma/noname.

NEW GUIDELINES

The guidelines on postmortem examinations, released in December 2020, include clinical best practices for identifying, documenting, and preserving evidence in crimes when animals are involved and there is suspected abuse.

The guidelines were a partnership between the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, and the National Forensic Science Technology Center at Florida International University.

“As board-certified pathologists and leaders in the field of veterinary forensic pathology, it is our duty to develop a set of standards to provide a framework to ensure that forensic postmortem examinations are performed to a minimum standard,” Dr. Stern said.

The standards include some of the following language related to how a veterinarian should perform a postmortem examination:

  • Investigate cooperatively with but independent from law enforcement and prosecutors.

  • Operate without any undue influence from law enforcement agencies and prosecutors.

  • Evaluate the circumstances of the reported death.

  • Determine the order of examination and sample collection on the basis of the individual case.

The guidelines can be found at jav.ma/IVFSA

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Top: Dr. Robert Reisman of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals gives a tour of the ASPCA necropsy laboratory in New York City. Bottom: The ASPCA assists with the removal of 50 neglected horses from a property in Florida. (Photos courtesy of ASPCA)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 4; 10.2460/javma.258.4.327

ASPCA OPENS VETERINARY FORENSIC SCIENCE CENTER

By Kaitlyn Mattson

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals announced in December 2020 the opening of its Veterinary Forensic Science Center in Gainesville, Florida.

The laboratory will support law enforcement across the country with cases of suspected cruelty to companion animals through services including necropsy services, radiography, CT scans, forensic osteology, forensic examinations of live animals, response to animal crime scenes, and excavations.

The 3,000-square-foot facility has a dedicated space for teaching, including a student office and a conference area. The facility is the only laboratory of its kind in the U.S. specializing in companion and other domesticated animals and employs three forensic veterinarians, a forensic veterinary assistant, and a crime scene analyst.

Dr. Rachel Touroo, who oversees the center, said she wants veterinarians to know the VFSC is a resource for them.

“We provide training like externships and webinars,” she said. “We can also consult on cases. If you have questions, reach out. If law enforcement reaches out, and they (the veterinarian) can't help, we may be able to assist.”

The center only accepts cases from law enforcement on criminal investigations, but it will also serve as a teaching facility to help prevent and respond to animal cruelty nationwide.

“Our goal is to empower communities to prevent and respond effectively to animal cruelty,” Dr. Touroo said. “We are here to assist the veterinary community, law enforcement, and advance veterinary forensic sciences.”

The opening of the center expands on the work that the ASPCA has been doing to support law enforcement with suspected cases of animal cruelty for years. The ASPCA has assisted law enforcement with more than 1,000 criminal investigations over the past 10 years involving animals and provided forensic support, according to a press release.

The ASPCA was also involved in the development of the clinical standards and best practices for postmortem examinations and investigations from the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association.

Veterinarians interested in learning more about the VFSC can email vfsc@aspca.org.

Protein in soil bacteria could help fight worms

Crystal proteins, already used on crops, show promise against Haemonchus contortus in ruminants

By Greg Cima

A protein made by common soil bacteria may help treat a widespread parasitic problem in ruminants, according to a recent study.

A related study also indicates the substance is highly toxic to a hookworm that parasitizes humans. But any commercial products—in veterinary or human medicine—likely remain years away.

An article published in November in the International Journal of Parasitology: Drugs and Drug Resistance describes promising results for a Haemonchus contortus treatment in sheep that uses crystal proteins contained in the cell walls of killed Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria. Inside a ruminant's digestive system, H contortus ingests dead bacteria containing the crystal proteins, which bind with the nematode's intestinal cells and kill the nematode.

Joseph F. Urban Jr., PhD, supervisory microbiologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, was among collaborators on the studies involving H contortus and the human-parasitizing hookworm Ancylostoma ceylanicum. He described the results as the most encouraging he has seen since development of ivermectin.

Dr. Urban noted that similar crystal lysate powders have been used as insecticides in farming for decades, and home gardeners dust their tomatoes with such products. Some transgenic food crops are modified to produce crystal proteins, he said.

The study involving H contortus in ruminants was a collaboration among researchers from the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the University of Massachusetts, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, the University of California-San Diego, Worcester State University, Utah State University, and the University of Rhode Island. A USDA announcement indicates the experimental treatment caused dramatic reductions of parasites in infected sheep without any observed harm to the sheep.

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This photo shows inactivated bacterial cells with cytosolic crystal, which recent study results suggest can be used to kill Haemonchus contortus nematodes in sheep. Further research on the substance may produce a new anthelmintic drug class. (Courtesy of Raffi V. Aroian, PhD/UMass Medical School)

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 4; 10.2460/javma.258.4.327

Dr. Ray M. Kaplan, professor of parasitology at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, said the crystal protein–based products are promising but likely years away from availability because of the need for further research on aspects such as dosing and delivery. If they become available, farmers and veterinarians would need to treat them with care and integrate them into parasite management plans that include adjunctive management. Otherwise, selection for drug resistance could reduce the effectiveness of these products just as has happened with approved anthelmintics, he said.

Dr. Kaplan has been collaborating on ongoing studies on use of the same crystal proteins to treat hookworms in dogs, with encouraging results so far.

CRY5B AND IBACC

The International Journal of Parasitology article indicates researchers experimentally infected goats and sheep with H contortus and administered each species a different treatment in oral suspension. Both treatment substances were forms of B thuringiensis crystal protein 5B, abbreviated as Cry5B. B thuringiensis naturally releases the crystals at the same time it releases spores.

The researchers tested this naturally occurring form of Cry5B in goats and found no effect on H contortus. But the research team found that Cry5B can become an efficient anthelmintic against H contortus larvae in sheep when the B thuringiensis are killed and the crystals remain contained within the dead bacteria's cell walls.

That active pharmaceutical ingredient is named IBaCC—inactivated bacterium with cytosolic crystal.

Sheep administered IBaCC had 72% lower parasite burdens relative to experimentally infected controls, and their fecal egg counts dropped 88%–96%. The study authors attributed the sharper drop in egg counts to a 96% reduction in female worms, versus a 60% reduction in males.

Raffi V. Aroian, PhD, a professor of molecular medicine at the UMass Medical School and one of the lead investigators for the studies on H contortus and A ceylanicum, suspects the different formulations explain most of the differences in the results between sheep and goats, and the International Journal of Parasitology article suggests the IBaCC version may keep more crystal proteins intact through the rumen before they enter the abomasum. The article also states that the differences may relate to factors such as the higher volumes and numbers of doses given to the sheep and differences between the sheep and goats themselves.

But Dr. Aroian said a yet-unpublished study shows that, contrary to statements in the International Journal of Parasitology article, smaller doses of IBaCC in sheep were effective against H contortus.

A scientific article published in December 2020 in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy—authored by some of the same researchers as the H contortus article—describes the development of IBaCC and indicates IBaCC was effective at killing human-parasitizing A ceylanicum hookworms in tests using hamsters. The article states that crystal proteins are considered nontoxic to vertebrates even at high doses and that people have used crystal proteins for more than 60 years to control caterpillar, beetle, black fly, and mosquito populations.

“IBaCC promises new hope for a new arsenal of anthelmintics against the most common parasites of humans and animals,” the article states.

WIDESPREAD RESISTANCE TO EXISTING DRUGS

Dr. Dante Zarlenga, a microbiologist in the ARS Animal and Parasitic Diseases Laboratory and one of the International Journal of Parasitology article co-authors, said in a message that drug-resistant H contortus is present on almost all sheep and goat farms in the U.S., and the parasites on farms are particularly resistant to ivermectin and its derivatives. Dr. Zarlenga also expressed doubt anyone was conducting large-scale studies or monitoring of parasite levels, parasite species, and drug resistance.

Dr. Kaplan said Haemonchus nematodes are ubiquitous, and he doubts a sheep or goat can go through the warm months of the year on a U.S. pasture without becoming infected. He is finalizing a manuscript on a retrospective study of resistance prevalence during 2000–16 on hundreds of farms.

Dr. Kaplan said his data indicate most farms appear to be down to one anthelmintic drug that works well, and some have none. The problem is worst in the Eastern U.S., he said.

Dr. Kaplan suspects parasites would develop resistance to Cry5B more slowly than they have to existing anthelmintics because it kills worms through a different mechanism of action than the existing drugs. But he expects widespread use could accelerate that selection process.

He cautioned that veterinarians and farmers still need to shift away from the idea they can eliminate parasites through pharmaceuticals and toward the recognition that parasites need management that includes adjunctive methods. Those include implementing the concept of refugia to leave some animals untreated, reducing drug treatments, monitoring pasture height and forage quality, maintaining lower stocking densities, and adding, say, tannin-rich plants or copper to ruminants' diets.

Even with a new anthelmintic class, Dr. Kaplan doubts farmers will see another era when monthly dewormers alone give them healthy, fast-growing, high-density herds.

Dr. Anne Zajac, a parasitology professor at Virginia-Maryland who was among the International Journal of Parasitology article authors, said the studies conducted so far on the crystal proteins showed the product's activity against parasitic nematodes, and further studies will help pinpoint the best doses and formulations. The next steps toward Food and Drug Administration approval include toxicological studies, although she said no studies have shown toxic effects of crystal proteins on vertebrates.

Dr. Zajac expects existing knowledge of how to produce crystal proteins as insecticides will aid production of similar products as commercial anthelmintics. Because Cry5B is one member of a family of crystal proteins under investigation, she expects current studies could produce multiple related products, some of which may be more effective than Cry5B.

Dr. Aroian said his laboratory is testing at least a half-dozen crystal proteins for effectiveness, although Cry5B is the furthest along. He and fellow UMass Medical School professor Gary Ostroff, PhD, plan to develop the products for humans and livestock in parallel investigations, and he wants to start work with the FDA to get the approvals needed for further clinical studies. He's searching for commercial partners, and he sees a need for the product among sheep producers in particular.

“We really are out there to make a difference in terms of helping people cope with these parasites, and we think that holds for humans and for livestock,” Dr. Aroian said. “This thing has tremendous potential to really help.”

Potential veterinary students face layered admission challenges

COST, REQUIREMENT DIFFERENCES COMPLICATE THE APPLICATION PROCESS

Story by Kaitlyn Mattson Illustrations by Dr. Vishal Murthy

Dr. Christina V. Tran, a first-generation Filipino American, completed her undergraduate degree at the University of California-Davis, where there is a preveterinary club and a robust animal science program. There was an abundance of readily available resources to help navigate the veterinary school application process. However, some students who go to institutions with small or no preveterinary clubs and lack preveterinary advisers may have more trouble accessing resources and finding information.

“It may not dawn on them to ask for help or reach out,” Dr. Tran said. “You would think it would be easier with the internet, but sifting through (lots of information) is difficult.”

Many potential veterinary students face obstacles unrelated to their academic abilities when applying to veterinary school. The challenges can range from the cost of application fees to undergraduate advisers who aren't knowledgeable about the requirements needed to attend veterinary school to varying admission requirements at each institution to difficulty in gaining enough veterinary experience hours. Issues also stretch back further than at the time of applying for admission. That said, a number of groups and individuals are looking at the process to see what improvements can be made.

PIPELINE PUZZLE

Dr. Tran, immediate past president of the Multicultural VMA and an associate professor at the University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine, said there are many barriers for people of color who want to enter veterinary school, which can cause issues with developing a diverse pipeline for the profession.

“I know that specifically with MCVMA, one of the things we have been doing to address this is focusing our efforts on K-12 outreach,” she said.

For example, MCVMA has a partnership with Nepris, a platform that connects educators to a range of professionals, to reach K-12 students and talk about veterinary medicine as a career.

Over half of nearly 1,000 high school and college-age students indicated they had considered becoming a veterinarian; however, 32% of those students changed their mind before graduating college, according to research released in September 2020 from Banfield Pet Hospital and Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine. Also, over half of the Black high school students who responded said the reason they no longer wanted to become a veterinarian was that someone persuaded them to choose a different career path. The research is available at jav.ma/factors.

Leaders are working to bridge the gap between wanting to become a veterinarian and going to veterinary school by mentoring and educating K-12 students. Two programs out of Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, This is How We Role and the League of VetaHumanz, are working specifically in this area.

Another platform, Pawsibilities Vet Med, a nonprofit dedicated to recruitment and retention of diverse students in veterinary medicine, is also working on this. The platform aims to address admission barriers through webinars and its mentorship program, as well as providing scholarships in the future.

Richard Barajas, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, said he is also focused on outreach to younger populations and demystifying the application process.

“First-generation students don't necessarily have the knowledge of what a good application looks like,” he said.

Barajas said he is still figuring out his new role—he started this past September—but he wants to focus on exposing students to different career paths within veterinary medicine.

FINDING MENTORS, ADVISERS

Dr. Brittany S. Moore-Henderson, director of admissions and a clinical instructor at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, said she knows the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges provides a lot of information, but it may be difficult for students to access it if they don't know where to look.

“It is so much a student has to go through to find out all the information they need,” she said. “As college students, starting off as a freshman, if you don't have resources or an adviser that can help direct you, it makes it difficult to navigate this career path.”

Many undergraduate programs lack specific animal health or veterinary advisers.

Dr. Bernard M. Fischer is an associate professor of pediatric research at Duke University Medical Center and a preveterinary adviser who has worked with students who have gone on to veterinary school all over the country. Dr. Fischer is also the AAVMC liaison to the National Association of Advisors of Health Professions. He is currently working on an adviser toolkit for premedicine advisers to adapt their resources to preveterinary students.

“The toolkit goes through everything involved with going to veterinary school,” Dr. Fischer said, adding that he hopes it will go live this spring. He wants people to feel comfortable working with preveterinary students and know what resources are available and whom they can reach out to if they have questions.

The toolkit will include key information about course requirements for admissions, community service and shadowing requirements, and letters of recommendation.

Dr. Moore-Henderson also suggests students reach out to various veterinary schools for admission information. “Veterinary schools are open to contact from students if they don't understand the pre-requirements and the process,” she said. “Students that don't have preveterinary clubs or advisers, I advise them to become a part of the American PreVeterinary Medical Association. You don't have to be at a university with a preveterinary club, it is open to anyone.”

COST

Students, even those who have mentors, may face an additional barrier related to the cost of applying to veterinary school.

Dr. Tran said the overall cost to apply and be accepted can be a real challenge, especially as potential students are encouraged to apply to multiple institutions.

“Students play a guessing game if they have financial concerns,” Dr. Tran said. “I have X amount of dollars to pay for this. If you do have the money to apply but you are in California and you are invited to a veterinary school on the East Coast for an in-person interview, how do you get out of school and how do you fund traveling to the interview?”

More applicants to veterinary school applied for a fee reimbursement in 2020 than ever before. The program from the AAVMC through the Veterinary Medical College Application Service, which is used by all veterinary institutions in the U.S. except for those at Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University, offers eligible students a reimbursement of the first application fee of $220.

Diana L. Dabdub, director for admissions and recruitment affairs at the AAVMC, said the program reimbursed nearly $200,000 to applicants for the 2020–21 cycle. The AAVMC plans to offer the program again for the next cycle but also has plans to expand it.

Jenna Henshue, director of admissions at Wisconsin's veterinary school, said she sees cost as a multifaceted barrier.

“As we think about students applying to veterinary school, they are often reviewed academically and nonacademically, but sometimes your economic status can have an effect on both of those things,” she said. “From an academic standpoint, GPAs are competitive, but if you are in a position where you have to work through undergrad, you may experience some lower grades. … In the nonacademic realm, admission committees are looking for breadth and depth in animal science experience, but if you are a student who needs to work during undergrad, some of those extras are limited because of time.”

Henshue said that along with the cost of admissions, the debt-to-income ratio for a newly graduated veterinarian is also a concern for many students and their families.

COVID CHANGES

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dabdub said, the AAVMC surveyed veterinary colleges about admission changes related to requirements such as accepting online coursework, accepting pass-fail laboratory grades, forgoing a letter of recommendation from a veterinarian, dropping the Graduate Record Examination, relaxing experience hours, and allowing for virtual interviews.

“I don't think anyone ever thought we would be in this position and for this long,” Dabdub said. “Everyone pivoted well, but now we are thinking about what is coming up and what will impact us for the next cycle.”

Future concerns for incoming students could include not having any letter grades at all because the majority of their undergraduate degrees included pass-fail coursework.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to many institutions removing the GRE requirement. Previously, about half of AVMA Council on Education–accredited veterinary institutions required the examination. However, because of the pandemic, more have removed this requirement.

Dabdub said only about 13 veterinary schools still require the examination.

“While the pandemic made some things tougher, it allowed some institutions to be able to make changes sooner in terms of the GRE being dropped,” she said. “There has been a shift in moving away from the typical standardized test and grades.”

The AAVMC has a resource for applying to veterinary school at jav.ma/apply and has a resource for potential students on how to apply and requirements, including a school directory detailing each institution's modified requirements because of COVID-19, at applytovetschool.org.

The 2021–22 VMCAS application cycle opened Jan. 21, and the VMCAS website now features an updated page on admissions requirements for veterinary schools that enables applicants to more easily review requirements for each veterinary school by using filter options. Also new for this cycle is a school comparison feature that allows prospective applicants to compare school requirements. On the VMCAS application itself, the essay requirement has been changed from three questions to one question, and applicants will now be asked to denote up to five of their most important experiences.

THE FUTURE

The AVMA Council on Education recently formed a working group on diversity and inclusion. The council previously made changes to its Standards of Accreditation in March 2017, embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion language throughout because the council said it believes DEI should be integral to veterinary education. The current working group is charged with identifying areas for improvement in the language used in the COE's Standards of Accreditation. The working group will also assess including language around pipeline programs.

Other areas of improvement in bridging barriers for potential students could include further pipeline development and providing more mentoring opportunities for young people interested in veterinary medicine.

Also, Dabdub said the lack of standardized admission requirements, which could further break down barriers, has been an ongoing conversation.

“This was a huge light bulb that went off when I joined the AAVMC a year ago—a goal might be: Consider more global requirements for veterinary medicine,” she said. “I don't know when that might happen as many of these schools have had these processes individually for decades.”

Dr. Tran said that despite challenges still existing, conversations are leading to more action.

“There is no quick fix. It's a marathon, and we need to keep it at the forefront and think systemically.”

People

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF LABORATORY ANIMAL PRACTITIONERS

EVENT

Virtual meeting, Oct. 26, 2020

PROGRAM

More than 170 members participated in the meeting. Dr. Stephen T. Shipley, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, delivered the keynote address, “Sled Dogs, Snow, and Moose Stew—One Veterinarian's Iditarod Adventures.” A virtual continuing education seminar titled “Novel Approaches to Pain Management” was held on Oct. 1. The seminar drew 123 attendees and covered acupuncture, fish analgesia, multimodal analgesia in exotics, management of pain and distress in zebrafish, and laser therapy.

Recordings are available for purchase via the ASLAP website until April 1 and will provide five CE credits.

BUSINESS

The society has a balanced budget submitted and approved for 2021 and is in good shape financially, with more than a year's worth of operating expenses in reserve in savings accounts. As an AVMA-allied organization, ASLAP has representative positions to fill on several AVMA committees.

OFFICIALS

Drs. Carrie Freed, Columbus, Ohio, president; Sally Thompson-Iritani, Seattle, president-elect; Bernard J. Doerning, Lexington, Kentucky, secretary-treasurer; Steven T. Shipley, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, immediate past president; and AVMA delegate and alternate delegate—Drs. Patricia V. Turner, Wilmington, Massachusetts, and Suzanne Craig, Charleston, South Carolina

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Dr. Carrie Freed

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 4; 10.2460/javma.258.4.327

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Dr. Sally Thompson-Iritani

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 258, 4; 10.2460/javma.258.4.327

AMERICAN COLLEGE OF VETERINARY RADIOLOGY

The American College of Veterinary Radiology welcomed 44 new diplomates in 2020. They are as follows:

DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING

Audrey Claire Billhymer, Gainesville, Florida

Kristopher Brand, Houston

Krista Bruckner, Corvallis, Oregon

Emily Elizabeth Burke, Raleigh, North Carolina

Antonia Amelia DeJesus, Bayside, New York

Claire Sigrid Aurora Doyle, Point Lookout, Australia

Christine Lynn Gremillion, Bryan, Texas

Lester C. Hallman, Manhattan, Kansas

Jordan Taylor Hatfield, Houston

Frances Elizabeth Hinkle, Raleigh, North Carolina

Kryssa Leigh Johnson, Knoxville, Tennessee

James Joseph Karnia, Columbia, Missouri

Marc A. Ledesma, Upland, California

Jane Renee Lund, Madison, Wisconsin

Timothy James Manzi, Philadelphia

Patricia Mendoza, Beloeil, Quebec

Emily Morrison, Cincinnati

Garrett Swann Oetelaar, West Lafayette, Indiana

Alex Karl Ohlendorf, College Station, Texas

Hayley Marie Paradise, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Michael Perlini, Athens, Georgia

Jonathan Plenn, Fort Collins, Colorado

Mark John Plested, Potters Bar, England

Stephanie Marie Seller, Stamford, Connecticut

Nikia Stewart, Calgary, Alberta

Joseph Timothy Sweeney, Columbus, Ohio

Justin Alexander Whitty, Campbellton, New Brunswick

Sabrina Stricklin Wilson, Davis, California

Rebecca Donnelly Woodworth, Davis, California

Ashley Elizabeth Yanchik, Bryan, Texas

EQUINE DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING

Lindsey Jeanae Gilmour, College Station, Texas

Jody Erin Lawver, East Lansing, Michigan

Samantha Josephine Loeber, Madison, Wisconsin

Erin Gordone Porter, Gainesville, Florida

Lauren Ann Russell, College Station, Texas

Natasha Werpy, Archer, Florida

RADIATION ONCOLOGY

Erica Buchanan, Annapolis, Maryland

James Elliott, Raleigh, North Carolina

Dah-Renn Fu, West Lafayette, Indiana

Tiffany Lee Wormhoudt Martin, Fort Collins, Colorado

Imke Schoepper, Davis, California

Audrey I. Stevens, San Diego

Katherine Anne Sweet, Raleigh, North Carolina

Nathaniel Van Asselt, Madison, Wisconsin

Obituaries

AVMA MEMBER | AVMA HONOR ROLL MEMBER | NONMEMBER

ANDREW M. BAILEY JR.

Dr. Bailey (Auburn '60), 90, McCarley, Mississippi, died Oct. 30, 2020. Following graduation, he joined his father, Dr. Andrew M. Bailey Sr., in practice in Winona, Mississippi. In 1975, Dr. Bailey began working as a federal veterinarian in Aliceville, Alabama. He later rejoined the family veterinary practice in Winona. Dr. Bailey was a member of the Mississippi VMA. He served in the Air Force during the Korean War. Dr. Bailey is survived by his wife, Nita; a daughter and a son; five grandchildren; and a brother. Memorials may be made to Winona Christian School, 1014 S. Applegate St., Winona, MS 38967, or the Salvation Army, 1400 10th St., Sarasota, FL 34236, salvationarmysarasota.org.

MICHAEL K. EBERLE

Dr. Eberle (Iowa State '80), 73, Des Moines, Iowa, died Sept. 14, 2020. He owned Eberle Animal Hospital, a small animal practice in Des Moines, prior to retirement in 2017. Dr. Eberle served on the Iowa Board of Veterinary Medicine for nine years, chairing the board for four years; was a member of the Iowa VMA and a past chair of its Legislative Committee; and was a past president of the Des Moines VMA. He also served nine years as president of the board of directors of the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, establishing its annual Iowa Dog Jog fundraiser and heading its fundraising drive for the construction of its first central Iowa facility. Active in his community, Dr. Eberle was a past president of the Friends of Des Moines Parks and established its annual fundraiser, Fore the Parks. In 2017, the Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department named him Volunteer Friend of the Year.

Dr. Eberle was a veteran of the Army. He is survived by his wife, Paula, two brothers, and two sisters. Memorials may be made to the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, 5452 NE 22nd St., Des Moines, IA 50313; Friends of Des Moines Parks, 1551 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Des Moines, IA 50317; Companion Animal Fund, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ames, IA 50011; Broadlawns Medical Center, 1801 Hickman Road, Des Moines, IA 50314; or Iowa Public Broadcasting Service, 6450 Corporate Drive, P.O. Box 6450, Johnston, IA 50131.

JAMES L. EHLER

Dr. Ehler (Ohio State '67), 85, Bridgewater, Vermont, died Aug. 10, 2020. He owned a small animal practice in Hightstown, New Jersey, prior to retirement in 1988. During that time, Dr. Ehler also owned an equine boarding facility. Earlier in his career, he worked briefly for Squibb Corp. in New Jersey. Dr. Ehler was a veteran of the Army. He is survived by two daughters, two sons, and five grandchildren. Memorials may be made to The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, 2700 Horizon Drive, Suite 120, King of Prussia, PA 19406, theaftd.org.

ROBERT K. MAYNARD

Dr. Maynard (Michigan State '79), 67, Spring Hill, Florida, died Sept. 13, 2020. Following graduation, he was in large animal practice in Michigan. Dr. Maynard subsequently practiced small animal medicine at Adkins 301 Pet Hospital in Zephyrhills, Florida, and You've Got a Friend Low Cost Pet Clinic in Mascotte, Florida. During his career, he also served as a relief veterinarian and was involved in emergency animal services in Hawaii. Dr. Maynard is survived by his wife, Wendy; a son, stepson, and stepdaughter; three grandchildren; his mother; and two sisters. Memorials may be made to The Restoration Center of Florida, a nonprofit organization providing support for women previously incarcerated, and sent to 13460 Olympic Village Lane, Brooksville, FL 34614, trcfl.com.

ROBERT E. OKIN JR.

Dr. Okin (Auburn '73), 71, Columbiana, Alabama, died Oct. 25, 2020. A small animal veterinarian, he most recently practiced at All Creatures Pet Hospital in Gardendale, Alabama, and Forestdale Veterinary Clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. Earlier in his career, Dr. Okin owned Valleydale Animal Clinic in Birmingham for more than 30 years. A diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, he served as president of the Jefferson County VMA from 1981–85. Dr. Okin is survived by a son, a daughter, three grandchildren, and a sister. Memorials may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105; American Cancer Society, 1100 Ireland Way, Suite 300, Birmingham, AL 35205; or Shelby County Humane Society, 381 McDow Road, Columbiana, AL 35051.

JOHN W. PAUL

Dr. Paul (Ohio State '72), 86, Canandaigua, New York, died Oct. 29, 2020. He worked for Hoechst Roussel Vet in Somerville, New Jersey, prior to retirement in 1998. During his career, Dr. Paul helped develop Panacur and Regu-Mate for use in equines. He was a past president of the American Academy of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics and was a past treasurer of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Active in his community, Dr. Paul served on the board of directors of the Ontario County Historical Society in Canandaigua, was a member of the Canandaigua Scientific Association, and established the Parkinson Support Group of the Finger Lakes. He was a veteran of the Army. Dr. Paul's wife, Patricia; a son; two grandchildren; and a great-grandchild survive him. Memorials may be made to the Parkinson Support Group of the Finger Lakes, P.O. Box 131, Canandaigua, NY 14424, or First Congregational Church, 58 N. Main St., Canandaigua, NY 14424.

ROSSANA PEREZ-FREYTES

Dr. Perez-Freytes (Wisconsin '10), 37, Davenport, Florida, died July 31, 2020. A diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, she served as an internal medicine clinician and was the medical and internship director at Veterinary Healthcare Associates in Winter Haven, Florida. Earlier in her career, Dr. Perez-Freytes was an associate veterinarian at Prestonwood Animal Clinic in Houston and served as a relief veterinarian in the Spring and The Woodlands areas of Texas. She is survived by her parents, a sister, and a brother. Memorials may be made to the Rossana Perez-Freytes Memorial Scholarship Fund, Attn: Heidi Kramer, Senior Director of Development, University of Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association, 1848 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53726.

GARY A. PONDER

Dr. Ponder (Louisiana State '85), 68, Flippin, Arkansas, died Nov. 11, 2020. Following graduation, he practiced in Russellville, Arkansas. Dr. Ponder subsequently established White River Veterinary Clinic, a mixed animal practice in Flippin. His wife, Toni; two sons and a daughter; and a sister survive him. Memorials, toward a preveterinary discretionary fund in memory of Dr. Gary Ponder, may be sent to Arkansas State University Foundation, P.O. Box 1990, State University, AR 72467. Memorials may also be made to Hospice of the Ozarks, 701 Burnett Drive, Mountain Home, AR 72653, or Have a Heart Pet Shelter, 657 AR-202, Yellville, AR 72687.

CLYDE E. TAYLOR

Dr. Taylor (Auburn '60), 85, Ridgeland, Mississippi, died Oct. 24, 2020. A diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, he was a charter faculty member of Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. During his tenure, Dr. Taylor taught, served as extension veterinarian and coordinator of special programs for the veterinary college, and was assistant to the dean. He retired in the late 1990s.

Prior to joining the veterinary college in 1976, Dr. Taylor worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was in private practice in Brandon, Mississippi. Active in organized veterinary medicine, he was a past president of the Mississippi and Central Mississippi VMAs and served as Mississippi's alternate delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates from 1996–2007 and as delegate from 2007–09. Dr. Taylor was a member of the Mississippi Cattlemen's Hall of Fame and MVMA Hall of Fame. In 1983, the American Association of Food Hygiene Veterinarians honored him with the Outstanding Teacher of Veterinary Food Hygiene Award. Dr. Taylor was named Mississippi Veterinarian of the Year in 1992 and the American Association of Extension Veterinarians' Extension Veterinarian of the Year in 1993. In 2007, he received Auburn University's Wilford S. Bailey Distinguished Alumnus Award. Dr. Taylor was also a past recipient of the Dean's Pegasus Award at the Mississippi State veterinary college.

He served 20 years in the Mississippi Air National Guard, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. Dr. Taylor's three children, five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and a sister survive him. Memorials may be made to the Dr. Clyde E. Taylor Endowed Scholarship, MSU Foundation, P.O. Box 6149, Mississippi State, MS 39762.

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