A citizen science project found that cats will sit within an optical illusion of a box as readily as they will sit in an actual box and similar square-shaped objects.
As detailed in the Applied Animal Behaviour Science study published this July, available at jav.ma/squares, participants taped paper shapes to the floor to create three options: the Kanizsa illusion, with Pac-Man shapes facing inward at four corners to create the optical illusion of a box; the actual outline of a square; and a control using Pac-Man shapes facing outward. Participants recorded their cats’ reactions to the stimuli over six days.
Although only 30 participants completed all the trials—with attrition being one of the shortcomings of citizen science studies, researchers noted—nine cats selected at least one stimulus by sitting within the contours, illusory or otherwise, with all limbs for at least three seconds.
“This study revealed that cats selected the Kanizsa illusion just as often as the square and more often than the control, indicating that domestic cats may treat the subjective Kanizsa contours as they do real contours,” according to the abstract.
EVERYCAT FOUNDATION AWARDS $300,000 FOR FELINE HEALTH STUDIES
In May, the EveryCat Foundation, formerly the Winn Feline Foundation, announced $304,100 in funding for the following feline health studies.
“Whole exome sequencing to identify candidate gene and immunotherapy treatment options in feline oral squamous cell carcinoma.”
“Feline peritoneal- and ascites-associated macrophages in health and in cats with feline infectious peritonitis: Leveraging an anticoronaviral clinical trial.”
“Development of a rapid CRISPR CasRx diagnostic tool for feline infectious peritonitis.”
“Eﬀects of early life experiences on later problematic behaviors in rescued, fostered, shelter kittens.”
“Use of a liposome–toll-like receptor complex (LTC) immune stimulant in the treatment of eﬀusive FIP—A clinical trial.”
“Intestinal S100/calgranulin expression in cats with chronic enteropathy—Paving the way for novel non-invasive biomarkers and pathway-specific treatment options.”
“Glucagon-like peptide 2 in cats with inflammatory bowel disease.”
“Creation of a feline living bioarchive and feline induced pluripotent stem cells for use in investigations into feline tooth resorption & other feline diseases.”
“Hormonal regulation of appetite in cats with and without chronic kidney disease.”
“PPARα as metabolic target to restore intestinal permeability in an intestinal organoid model of feline diabetic enteropathy.”
“D-dimer isolation and analysis of immunoreactivity in dogs, cats and horses.”
“Development of a questionnaire for the detection of cognitive decline in elderly cats.”
“Determining the in vitro intrinsic clearance (feline microsomes) and in vivo pharmacokinetic profile of remdesivir in cats with naturally occurring feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).”
“Determining the clinical efficacy and safety of remdesivir for the treatment of naturally occurring feline infectious peritonitis.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q&A: HOD to decide historic AVMA election
Bransford and Teller are candidates in first women-only AVMA president-elect contest
Interviews by R. Scott Nolen
This July, the AVMA House of Delegates will decide the first women-only race for AVMA president-elect in the Association's 158-year history. The election's winner, either Dr. Grace Bransford, former AVMA vice president, or Dr. Lori Teller, AVMA Board of Directors chair, will go on to become the 2022-23 AVMA president and the fourth woman to hold that post.
In the following interviews, Drs. Bransford and Teller explain why they’re running for president and how they think SARS-CoV-2 has changed the veterinary profession. Their responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
Q. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING PART OF THE FIRST WOMEN-ONLY RACE FOR AVMA PRESIDENT-ELECT?
A. It is always exciting to feel one is part of history, especially of the AVMA with its century-and-a-half–plus legacy. I think of the “first” individuals in our profession's history—each and every one a trailblazer and leader in their own right. The first African American veterinarian, Dr. Henry Stockton Lewis, graduating in 1889; the first women veterinarians, Drs. Elinor McGrath and Florence Kimball; and more recently, our first female AVMA presidents; our first woman AVMA executive vice president, Dr. Janet Donlin; and our first AVMA president from Puerto Rico, Dr. José Arce. We are seeing more firsts for our AVMA record book, and it is an exciting time. If elected, I would be the first Asian American president-elect in AVMA history.
I’m sure we will see more AVMA president-elect candidates like this, but I look forward to seeing more elections with firsts. I encourage all who have the desire and passion to run for this AVMA position.
Q. THE WINNER WILL BE ONLY THE FOURTH FEMALE PRESIDENT IN AVMA’S 150-PLUS–YEAR HISTORY. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT?
A. I feel fortunate that I have been a part of AVMA long enough to see each of those women serve their presidency, starting with Dr. Mary Beth Leininger in 1996-97 as our first AVMA female president, along with Drs. Bonnie Beaver and René Carlson. Each president has served as an inspiration to me and left a legacy of their own. I was honored to serve with Dr. Beaver on the 20/20 Vision Commission, and Dr. Carlson was a mentor to me as she was to so many AVMA volunteer leaders. Each led in their own unique way and demonstrated not so much what it was to be a strong female leader, but a strong leader period.
I tend not to look at leaders by gender or gender preference or by age, race, ethnicity, or veterinary discipline, but by what leadership qualities they exhibit. I have witnessed strong leadership up close by observing great leaders in AVMA during my 20 years of service to our esteemed organization. Our three female presidents have demonstrated what it is like to lead and tackle the tough issues, but so have countless other AVMA presidents. I would like to see more female AVMA presidents in the future but also those of all sizes and stripes.
Q. WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE AVMA PRESIDENT?
A. I sometimes reflect on my career, first as an advertising executive with my marketing and strategic planning training, then my career transition to a veterinary student and graduate, becoming a veterinary practice owner, and as an AVMA volunteer with over two decades of experience. I believe it all comes together now to provide me with a unique set of skills and experiences to serve as AVMA president.
I have always seen this organization as a family. I have learned so very much from every member, volunteer, council and committee member, staﬀ person, member of the Board of Directors, the House of Delegates. They have all helped to shape my professional and personal future. When I mentor others, I hope that I am providing the wise counsel that I received for many years. I want to continue paying it forward for the gift that I was given when I started serving with AVMA and provide my skills and experience to the people and projects that I touch.
Q. WHAT QUALITIES AND SKILLS DO YOU BRING TO THE POSITION?
A. Along with the aforementioned professional skill set, I bring a listening ear, the ability to ask thoughtful and insightful questions, the training to look at an issue from all angles, and the creativity and optimism of an innovator. I’m also a 2013 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School Executive Veterinary Leadership Program, and I look forward to using that knowledge in my presidency. You can learn more about me on my website: GraceForAVMA.com.
Q. WHAT IS YOUR ELEVATOR SPEECH ABOUT WHY THE HOD SHOULD ELECT YOU?
A. I bring the old and the new to this position. I have over 20 years of experience serving the AVMA in many capacities, including as a former AVMA vice president. I know what it's like both as an associate and as a practice owner. I became a second-career veterinarian, after making a major transition from an advertising executive to a veterinary professional. I come from a diverse background, being raised by an adoptive father from Montana and an adoptive mother from Japan. It all gives me unique insights into how AVMA and our profession can adapt and grow for years into the future.
Q. DO YOU THINK THE SARS-COV-2 PANDEMIC HAS CHANGED THE DELIVERY OF VETERINARY SERVICES? WHAT ABOUT THE PROFESSION ITSELF IN TERMS OF PREVENTING THE NEXT OUTBREAK? WHICH CHANGES DO YOU THINK WILL STAY, AND WHICH DO YOU THINK ARE TEMPORARY?
A. Absolutely. Homebound clients and curbside service created distance between veterinarians and the families and animals they serve, but in some ways the pandemic has had positive eﬀects. It opened up opportunities for more house call veterinary care and telemedicine with a veterinarian-client-patient relationship in place. In my practice, I felt the distance and the resulting feeling of losing some of that personal touch. Medicine is one of the most personal services one can deliver, and it's on us as leaders to help practitioners adapt.
We focus on science, which is a significant part of the mission statement of the AVMA. I’ve spoken with veterinarians involved in government and nongovernmental organizations who had predicted such an outbreak. This pandemic has elevated the visibility of veterinarians and the role we play in public health and society at large. Focusing on one health—the intersection of animal, human, and environmental health—the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak has provided a fitting example of this interplay. More and more young careers will come out of one health, and that is where a lot of new opportunities lie.
How can we help with prevention in the next outbreak? In our mission statement, we make a commitment to “advancing the science and practice of veterinary medicine to improve animal and human health.” That says it all—we support the phenomenal advances in our scientific community regarding infectious disease, and our job as veterinarians is to prevent or reduce the harmful impacts, physical and mental, we all just experienced in this pandemic. Looking at how we changed, convenience and value will never go away, but neither will our personal touch.
Q. WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF ACCOMPLISHING DURING YOUR TIME AS AVMA VICE PRESIDENT?
A. I’ve been proud to work with students—hearing their incredible ideas and plans, helping the next generation of veterinarians. For example, at the first-ever AVMA Virtual Student Town Hall, which focused on well-being. I worked with the students to connect the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and Lincoln Memorial College of Veterinary Medicine via Zoom. They talked with each other in a group setting about their well-being program successes, concerns, and issues. Having students from these two great schools come together and learn from each other, 2,500 miles apart, was spectacular to see.
I so loved serving as a leadership example to so many students and getting to know them. I enjoyed hearing their concerns and issues and helping them realize that their ideas and opinions are critical to the success of our profession and that they are also not and never alone.
Being a keen student of change management, I also loved shepherding the AVMA vice president's transition to also working with the faculty of our veterinary schools. I enjoyed managing the focus groups to listen and learn about faculty needs and ultimately getting support objectives on paper. Dr. Sandra Faeh is doing a wonderful job as vice president and continues to make that transition a great success.
Q. WHEN YOU LOOK BACK AT THE END OF YOUR PRESIDENCY, HOW WILL YOU KNOW THAT YOU HAD AN IMPACT?
A. I am often told I am a connector and a collaborator. I love bringing people together, helping them generate ideas, and seeing where all of our eﬀort can take us. It's hard to have a solid metric around an AVMA president's impact. It is a collective team eﬀort of member volunteers, AVMA staﬀ, and other organizational alliances. As the pandemic demonstrated, what may start as a given year's goals and objectives may dramatically change, and one must spin on a dime to redirect and head in a brand-new direction.
I think I will sense that I had an impact if I feel I made a diﬀerence by doing some of the things I do best for the AVMA: connecting, collaborating, communicating, and creating. Perhaps my goal is one best said by Robert Baden-Powell, “Leave it better than you found it.”
Q. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING PART OF THE FIRST WOMEN-ONLY RACE FOR AVMA PRESIDENT-ELECT?
A. I think it's very exciting. The AVMA has had some amazing leaders serve as president, both men and women. The next president-elect will stand atop very big shoulders. I feel fortunate to have many mentors who have served in that role and who make themselves available to me. They have shared some great advice with me through the years and during my campaign.
Q. THE WINNER WILL BE ONLY THE FOURTH FEMALE PRESIDENT IN AVMA’S 150-PLUS–YEAR HISTORY. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT?
A. The previous female presidents—Drs. Mary Beth Leininger, Bonnie Beaver, and René Carlson—really set the bar high. It would be an honor to continue their legacy. I hope and think that I can. With a profession that is now predominantly female, I would love to serve as a role model to those who are currently navigating their way—whether it's learning how to be involved in advocacy, become a leader, or juggle the roles of professional and parent.
Q. WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE AVMA PRESIDENT?
A. I have been blessed to serve in many diﬀerent positions with the AVMA—on committees, the House of Delegates, and the Board of Directors. In those roles, I’ve had the privilege of interacting with colleagues who represent the broad spectrum of everything you can do with a veterinary degree, and I have gained tremendously from these experiences. I want to be AVMA president to share the great things that we do and to encourage others to contribute. Volunteers and staﬀ have been singularly dedicated to meeting the needs of the profession. We are a small profession with a big heart, and it will take all of us to protect and promote what we have and propel us forward. There is strength in our collective wisdom. As president, I can give voice to that wisdom.
Q. WHAT QUALITIES AND SKILLS DO YOU BRING TO THE POSITION?
A. I have worked in private practice in various roles since I was 12, and now I’m on the veterinary faculty at Texas A&M University teaching our future colleagues. I have served in organized veterinary medicine at the local, state, and national levels, including as president at each level. I have served on foundation boards and as a trustee for the Texas VMA Veterinary Political Action Committee. I have also been a founder of and board trustee for a high school for children with significant learning diﬀerences. I have had a monthly radio show for about 12 years, write regular articles for both the news media and veterinary journals, and speak at regional, national, and international meetings. I am extremely well organized, and I get things done. I am a connector and love to bring people together to work through problems. I am a networker.
There is no way any one person can know everything there is to know about being a veterinarian. Before serving as the Texas VMA president, I built a network of people who worked in other aspects of the profession. That way, if an issue arose that I was not familiar with, I had expert colleagues on speed dial who could provide me with accurate and timely information to help. I am fiercely loyal and do not like it when others try to infringe on our profession, and I will constantly advocate on our behalf. I have excellent communication skills and am not easily flappable, so I am comfortable speaking with a variety of people and audiences. I am adaptable and fully recognize that as veterinary medicine changes and progresses, the AVMA needs to readjust as well. I am in the trenches every day, so I can represent to the AVMA the views and needs of those still hard at work, to ensure that we maintain our focus and our strategic plan on what is important to our current and future members.
Q. WHAT IS YOUR ELEVATOR SPEECH ABOUT WHY THE HOD SHOULD ELECT YOU?
A. Organized veterinary medicine encompasses the hearts, the souls, and the brains of the profession. I have a long history of service to the profession at all levels, and I have proven that I can get things done. I know what it's like to work in private practice and then transition to another path in academia, how to successfully handle the many diﬀerent issues that face the profession, how to make hard decisions, and how to communicate. I believe in teamwork and collaboration with our members and others. The AVMA is a rock-solid organization, and I would like to continue supporting our mission on behalf of our members. The AVMA rocks!
Q. DO YOU THINK THE SARS-COV-2 PANDEMIC HAS CHANGED THE DELIVERY OF VETERINARY SERVICES? WHAT ABOUT THE PROFESSION ITSELF IN TERMS OF PREVENTING THE NEXT OUTBREAK? WHICH CHANGES DO YOU THINK WILL STAY, AND WHICH DO YOU THINK ARE TEMPORARY?
A. Most definitely. We are very fortunate that the AVMA advocated for veterinary medicine to be an essential service so we could continue to provide care for our clients and patients. Practices had to be nimble to find ways to provide the same excellent care while keeping staﬀ and the public safe. Curbside service became the new normal in many places, and some clients will want that to continue even after everything fully reopens. Many veterinarians will make that an option; I know that we will. Others miss the opportunity to be together in the exam room. Veterinarians will continue to encourage and build on the relationship of mutual trust that develops between client, patient, and veterinarian.
Food animal veterinarians have been in overdrive to maintain the integrity and safety of our food supply. There are many steps in getting food from farm to table, and veterinarians ensure that we continue to have safe foods to eat. Our colleagues in research and public health put in many extra hours during the pandemic to learn everything possible about SARS-CoV-2 and its impact on humans, animals, and the environment. They have played a role in its diagnosis, treatment, vaccine development, and more, and they will continue to create new and better ways for us to detect and prevent future diseases before they become outbreaks. The use of telemedicine also grew significantly during the pandemic. We continue to learn much about how to best incorporate telemedicine into veterinary care, what works and what doesn't, and what clients, veterinarians, and staﬀ like and don't like about it. Telemedicine will be around for the long haul, and its use will evolve as we learn more about best practices.
Q. WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF ACCOMPLISHING DURING YOUR TIME AS CHAIR OF THE AVMA BOARD OF DIRECTORS?
A. I am extremely proud of the BOD for its ongoing flexibility to meet the needs of our members while managing their own busy work lives. At meetings, the BOD reviews input from the House of Delegates, our councils and committees, members at large, and staﬀ and ensures that we continue to do our best on behalf of the profession. Our Government Relations Division has been phenomenal at advocating on our behalf, regarding animal welfare, education, business-related issues, and more.
The BOD has continued to encourage expansion of our wellness, animal welfare, and economic resources. We are partnering with other organizations to build on each other's expertise and resources. We recognized issues around workforce utilization, whether at the veterinarian or support staﬀ level, and are doing more research in this realm so that appropriate policies and resources are created. We have projects under development to increase nondues revenue so dues will stay at a manageable level. We continue to address diversity, equity, and inclusion eﬀorts in the profession.
Q. WHEN YOU LOOK BACK AT THE END OF YOUR PRESIDENCY, HOW WILL YOU KNOW THAT YOU HAD AN IMPACT?
A. Objective impact will be measurable by an increase in membership numbers, both new and renewed, and by an increase in people's positive opinions about the AVMA. It will reflect an increase in the number of outside organizations seeking AVMA's input and knowledge. Subjective impact is harder to measure. If elected, I would be the first mom to serve as AVMA president. I want people to know, whether they’re parents or not, that it is possible to have a thriving, well-rounded life within and outside the profession. There are ups and downs, to be sure, but if one person can tell me that I inspired them to make a diﬀerence, then I will know I have been impactful.
AVMF PROVIDING GRANTS FOR CHARITABLE CARE RELATED TO PANDEMIC, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
It's not uncommon for clinics to encounter pet owners who have fallen on hard times, for one reason or another, but still seek care for their pets. Veterinarians generally want to oﬀer charitable care, but that's not always financially feasible.
To help practitioners take on these cases so animals can get the care they need, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, in partnership with Merck Animal Health, announced April 15 that the AVMF is launching the new National Veterinary Charitable Care Grant Program. Created to help individuals and families unable to aﬀord care for sick or injured pets in certain situations, the program reimburses AVMA members who provide services at discounted rates or at no charge.
“This program is designed to improve access-to-care issues, especially as they relate to ongoing financial hardship due to COVID-19 and domestic violence,” said Dr. David Granstrom, AVMF assistant executive director, in an AVMF press release. He added the program also contributes to the well-being of the veterinary health care team and members of the public struggling to aﬀord veterinary care for their pets.
The new National Veterinary Charitable Care Grant Program uses the resources of the Foundation to raise funding and streamlines the process of reimbursement to veterinarians. The program is supported by $200,000 in grants from Merck Animal Health and individual donations. The grant program does not require clinics to be enrolled or to raise funds, according to the press release.
Instead, the new program allows for direct reimbursement to veterinarians for care of animals whose owners are in financial need—including reimbursement for medicine and necessary veterinary care.
To be eligible for reimbursement, applicants must be a current AVMA member, and the request for reimbursement must benefit those experiencing financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic or domestic violence. A reimbursement cap of $500 for grant requests related to COVID-19 has been set in anticipation of high demand and to provide assistance for as many animals as possible with the funds available. No cap is currently in place for requests related to domestic violence. Funding for the grants is administered by the AVMF.
The new grant program is designed to build on the success of the AVMF Veterinary Care Charitable Fund, which oﬀers clinics the opportunity to raise funds to provide charitable care within the clinic. The VCCF program paid for the care of more than 1,000 animals in 2020. Practices enrolled in the VCCF program are eligible to apply for funding through the new grant program.
To learn more about the American Veterinary Medical Foundation's new National Veterinary Charitable Care Grant Program, make a donation, or apply for grants, visit vcare.avmf.org.
MANATEE DEATHS PROMPT FEDERAL PROBE
By R. Scott Nolen
Federal wildlife officials are investigating hundreds of Florida manatee deaths during a two-month period earlier this year.
In March, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission informed a Florida Senate committee that 403 manatees had died across Florida between Jan. 1 and Feb. 26. Approximately 85 manatee deaths were reported during the same period in 2020.
The majority of this year's deaths occurred in the 156-mile-long Indian River Lagoon on Florida's Atlantic coast. It is believed that manatees may be starving owing to a decline in seagrass, their primary food source, killed oﬀ by algal blooms.
“The timing of the deaths is associated with manatees aggregating at warm-water sites, and we believe there's an interaction between large numbers of manatees at these warm-water sites and food availability,” explained Gil McRae, director of the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, to the Florida Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee in March.
McRae's testimony led Stephanie Murphy, a Florida representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, to request that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declare the deaths to be an unusual mortality event as defined under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which the agency promptly did. The UME designation authorizes the federal government, working in coordination with Florida and nonprofit organizations, to investigate the cause of the dieoﬀ and to take immediate steps to prevent more manatees from dying.
Since 1991, 71 unusual mortality events involving marine mammals have been declared.
“Florida's diverse animal life is deeply important to people in our state, and few creatures are more beloved than the manatee,” Murphy said in a statement. “I’m pleased that, in response to my request, the federal government has determined the spike in manatee deaths requires a swift and decisive response.”
The West Indian manatee is one of Florida's environmental keystone species, Murphy added. The manatee population in Florida was only 1,300 when aerial surveys began in 1991 and grew to 6,300 as of 2016, 25 years later, because of conservation eﬀorts.
PUBLIC HEALTH EXPERTS SAY NOW IS THE TIME TO ADVOCATE ON DRUG RESISTANCE
By Greg Cima
Stephen Morrison, PhD, said now is the moment to push for investments in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.
Dr. Morrison, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and director of its Global Health Policy Center, said that, as the world reaches greater confidence and stability in the fight against COVID-19, public health leaders should plan how to rebuild federal, state, and local public health systems. He expects the public will be anxious to move on and forget the pandemic, and health authorities should position themselves to take advantage of the attention on health now.
He was one of four speakers during a May 13 presentation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on building resilient health systems to combat the threat of antimicrobial resistance. CDC officials plan for the webinar to be the first in a series providing expert perspectives on challenges related to antimicrobial resistance in a changed world.
As the threat of the pandemic fades, Dr. Morrison said, the threat of antimicrobial resistance persists. He expects failures and shortcomings exposed during the pandemic will lead to conversations about improved public health data collection, understaﬀed public health systems, and better integration of public health and clinical medicine. And he sees opportunities to push for research and development in public health.
“As we move to a calmer moment of more careful meditation around what we are to do as a country, at home and abroad, I’m hopeful,” he said.
Ramanan Laxminarayan, PhD, founder and director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy, said the COVID-19 pandemic—caused by a coronavirus that evidence suggests spread through animals to humans— illustrates the need to embrace the one-health concept. If COVID-19 is unable to teach that lesson, he said, nothing will.
He also called for comprehensive study of animal and human environments, as well as a look at what nations are doing well in human and animal health and their shortcomings. More judicious use of drugs is part of the response, but he warned that lack of access to antimicrobials also kills people. He recommends investments in vaccines against more bacterial pathogens, infection control, and water sanitation as pillars of the response to antimicrobial resistance.
Ben Park, MD, chief of International Infection Control and Prevention in the CDC Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, leads CDC eﬀorts to build sustained capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to health care–associated infections. He said better-designed health care systems and infrastructure could help prepare those systems for modern threats, but that work requires investment, training, and expertise.
Highly drug-resistant bacteria present a looming threat in hospitals and communities, and, as with SARSCoV-2, asymptomatic people are fueling spread across the world. Achieving health security in the U.S. depends on what happens abroad and whether eﬀorts, such as programs from the CDC, are eﬀective at breaking transmission chains, Dr. Park said.
Dawn Sievert, PhD, is a senior science adviser in the Antibiotic Resistance Coordination and Strategy Unit in the CDC Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. She's also a scientific leader for the CDC Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network as well as a leader in the CDC and FDA Antibiotic Resistance Isolate Bank. She sees a need to learn now from COVID-19 and prepare for the next big emergency so health care systems can manage an influx of patients while maintaining defenses against antimicrobial resistance.
Dr. Sievert also described persistent work by the CDC and agency partners in recent years on identifying and responding to infections that endanger human health.
“Even in the midst of the pandemic, all of this work continued over the past year,” she said. “Sometimes, we had to shift things around, but we still managed to keep it all going.”
Q&A: UGA joins federal influenza research network
Director S. Mark Tompkins, PhD, describes his goals for improving knowledge on influenza
Interview by Greg Cima
The University of Georgia is host of the newest institution in a federal influenza research network.
That institution also is the only one in the network linked with a veterinary college.
S. Mark Tompkins, PhD, is director of the Center for Influenza Disease and Emerging Research, a new institution in the Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance, which is a network funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases within the National Institutes of Health. He is also a professor of infectious disease in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine.
A university announcement indicates the contract with the NIAID comes with up to $92 million in funding over seven years. In 2019, UGA received a separate NIH contract worth up to $130 million to establish a collaborative influenza vaccine innovation center, the announcement states.
The other institutions in the research network are at Emory University, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Tompkins talked with JAVMA News about the NIH contract and his hopes that the center will grow and diversify UGA's research portfolio. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
Q. COULD YOU DESCRIBE THE IDEA BEHIND THE CENTER AND YOUR GOALS FOR IT?
A. The program that we’re advancing is focused on a few key aspects of influenza, seeking to understand why some individuals infected with flu end up having a severe disease versus a more mild disease. And so why do some people become hospitalized—both adults and children—while other people have a milder case of influenza?
We have projects where we’re working with diﬀerent hospitals around the U.S. and internationally to collect and analyze samples from individuals that get the flu, whether it's a mild case or severe case where people might be hospitalized.
Some populations have more severe flu infections more often than other populations. This has been seen in diﬀerent indigenous populations around the world. And so we have projects where we’ve partnered with groups to actually study influenza infection and vaccination in indigenous populations in Australia and the Americas.
A third area that is tied into these human studies is our general understanding of why, when some people become infected, they get severe disease. So, we have experimental studies to understand disease severity using culture systems, animal models, and samples from humans as well.
We know quite a bit about influenza A, and we’ve studied it intensely for years because it can cause pandemics—really good rationale for that. There's actually a lot less known about influenza B.
“As a general concept, our center is really built around the idea of understanding influenza infection and how it varies across populations and varies with viruses and how we can be better prepared to address it, providing information for vaccine development, drug development, and public health responses.”
S. Mark Tompkins, PhD, director of the Center for Influenza Disease and Emerging Research
So, one area that we’re focusing on is flu B and understanding how it may behave diﬀerently—using animal models, human studies, and computational biology— working with ecologists here at UGA to model infection, to understand how flu A and flu B are diﬀerent, to help with not only vaccine development but then also public health responses.
As a general concept, our center is really built around the idea of understanding influenza infection and how it varies across populations and varies with viruses and how we can be better prepared to address it, providing information for vaccine development, drug development, and public health responses.
We are also involved in pandemic preparedness and response, and so we have or are developing activities to help with virus risk assessment and be poised, if there is another pandemic, to help with a pandemic response through our network, working with the other institutions, centers, and the NIH in terms of providing resources and expertise.
Another important element of our center is training and capacity building. We have components to oﬀer training grants, workshops, and other activities to really grow the research community, particularly around influenza, but also for public health and pandemic preparedness.
Q. HOW WILL THE CENTER WORK WITH THE OTHER NIAID-FUNDED INFLUENZA CENTERS?
A. NIAID really works to encourage cross-center interactions so we are not siloed on projects. Whether it's through regular cross-center activities, calls, and webinars but also—when we can get back to in-person meetings— having our annual meetings where all of the individuals at all the centers meet to present their work and discuss advancing the field. Those opportunities, as well as new funding opportunities, not only advance the field but also encourage that cross-pollination.
There are networkwide training programs where we could send people to work in other laboratories and other centers, or other labs at other centers might send their people here to learn specific skills or develop a project.
All these centers have similar initiatives to expand the capacity around influenza research and pandemic preparedness. NIAID really orchestrates it, but individual centers and investigators develop new collaborations and seed ideas through active engagement across the network.
Q. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN STUDYING INFLUENZA?
A. I’ve been studying influenza for about 20 years now. I got my PhD in immunology at Emory and studied basic immunology and then I did a postdoc at Northwestern University Medical School, where I studied autoimmune disease, particularly multiple sclerosis. After that, I moved to the FDA, and that's where I started working on influenza, particularly looking at novel influenza vaccines and understanding immune responses to those vaccines. In 2005, I got recruited to UGA and have continued to study aspects of influenza virus emergence, infection, and pathogenesis along with collaboratively developing vaccines and other interventions.
Q. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE THAT YOU WANT TO SAY OR EXPAND ON?
A. I will say, with a great deal of pride, that this is a major achievement for myself, certainly, but also for the institution. We’re in a very elite group, so I think that's worth recognizing that the University of Georgia really has worked and built a very strong infectious disease program that is recognized nationally and internationally. Second, I’d like to note that we certainly could not have even submitted, let alone been awarded, this contract without the incredible support of the Office of Research here. So it does speak to the investment into research at UGA. And, certainly, we received a lot of support from the College of Veterinary Medicine as well.
PARASITES POSE GREATER RISK TO PETS IN 2021
The risk of exposure to pathogens causing heartworm disease, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis continues to increase throughout the United States as ticks and mosquitoes continue to expand their ranges.
The Companion Animal Parasite Council's annual Pet Parasite Forecast for 2021 released in May highlights areas of concern where more can be done to lower the risk of exposure of companion animals to vectors of disease.
The CAPC forecasts are the work of parasitologists and statisticians to identify regions of the country that may experience higher parasite risks in the months ahead. Numerous factors are analyzed, including the number of positive tests for diseases and the influence of weather patterns, vegetation indices, and human population density.
The prevalence of heartworms is expected to be much higher than in previous years in areas along the Mississippi River, throughout the southern portions of the interior Midwest, and along the Atlantic coast north into Virginia and southern New Jersey, according to the CAPC forecast.
As the prevalence of heartworm continues to increase in the mid-Atlantic region and into the megalopolis regions of the Northeast, heartworm infections are more likely to impact the health of increasing numbers of dogs in those areas.
Veterinarians in states with historically lower prevalence are again cautioned about the increasing risk of heartworm infection and are encouraged to have a discussion with their clients about the changing prevalence. This is particularly important in the interior Midwest— Indiana, central and northern Illinois, and southern Iowa—and lower Michigan and Ohio in the Great Lakes region.
LYME AND OTHER DISEASES
The geographic distribution of Lyme disease continues to expand southward and westward. Particularly large increases are expected in eastern Kentucky, northeastern Tennessee, western Michigan, and Ohio. High-risk hot spots are predicted in parts of northwestern and southwestern lower Michigan and southern and northeastern Ohio.
The CAPC advises veterinarians in regions of historically high prevalence and in forecasted regions of increased risk to reinforce their recommendations for aggressive tick control.
Additionally, veterinarians in regions where the prevalence of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases is low to moderate are advised to use CAPC forecasts to explain the need for testing and prevention.
The CAPC forecasts also address the spread of ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis in dogs. Information about these and other tick- and mosquito-borne diseases along with the 2021 forecast are available at capcvet.org.
Concerns raised over focused versus full inspections at research facilities
USDA APHIS says inspections take into consideration many factors and remain unannounced
By Greg Cima
Leaders at a Harvard University–based legal clinic are questioning whether a federal agency is risking the welfare of research animals by conducting partial, focused inspections, rather than full inspections, of certain research facilities.
In response, officials with the Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service contend that far from weakening the inspection process, the risk-based inspection system makes the best use of agency resources by focusing attention on those facilities that need it the most.
In early May, Science magazine published an article that describes a policy at APHIS of allowing focused inspections under the Animal Welfare Act of research facilities that have been accredited by AAALAC International, a private nonprofit organization that includes the AVMA among its member organizations.
FULL VERSUS FOCUSED INSPECTIONS
Officials with APHIS and the Harvard University Animal Law & Policy Clinic disagree on whether full inspections are required under the AWA and whether focused inspections can provide sufficient guarantees that research animals are treated well.
Katherine Meyer, director of the Harvard legal clinic, said in a message to JAVMA that the law requires full inspections each year to ensure laboratories comply with minimum standards of humane treatment.
The animals already sacrifice their lives, she said, and they deserve protections that guarantee their care.
The Harvard clinic provided a copy of a USDA memorandum, labeled as “for internal use only,” that indicates APHIS enacted a policy in February 2019 that mandated performing only focused inspections at AAALAC-accredited research facilities unless the facilities requested full inspections. The document states that, of the first 322 inspections performed since the policy was enacted, 151 involved AAALAC-accredited facilities, and 91 of those facilities underwent focused inspections.
“We heard that some facilities requested a full inspection because they were concerned about the appearance of a ‘focused inspection’ (since such inspections have historically occurred to follow up on complaints involving animal welfare or direct noncompliance),” the USDA memo states. “We also heard that facilities and inspectors appreciate the ability to focus the inspection, and inspectors remain confident with the animal welfare at the facilities.”
APHIS spokesperson Lyndsay Cole provided a statement that AAALAC accreditation is one factor considered in determining whether a facility will receive a focused inspection, as is a facility's previous compliance with the AWA. Inspections remain unannounced, laboratory facility officials don't know whether they will receive a focused inspection, inspectors may decide at any time to instead conduct a full inspection, and the agency keeps the information on how it determines which facilities will receive focused versus full inspections confidential.
INSPECTION STANDARDS AND PRACTICES
Dr. Kathryn Bayne, CEO of AAALAC International, said in a statement that the organization strives to ensure responsible animal care and use and that AAALAC's accreditation program is complementary to USDA inspections. A USDA policy of conducting focused inspections by default at all AAALAC-accredited facilities would be impractical as the USDA and AAALAC International have substantial diﬀerences in their oversight programs, she said.
Dr. Bayne noted that AAALAC's accreditation standards exceed federal requirements and its accreditation program is part of a matrix of animal research oversight that includes APHIS and the National Institutes of Health Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. AAALAC has promoted humane and responsible care and use of research animals for more than 50 years, she said.
Dr. Stuart Leland, chair of the Veterinary Consortium for Research Animal Care and Welfare and director of research integrity and assurance at Princeton University, believes federal law gives APHIS discretion on how to conduct its investigations and decide how best to ensure animal welfare. Dedicating resources where they are most needed could help improve animal welfare at institutions that lack resources or haven't proven their ability to comply with the AWA and its regulations, he said.
He and counterparts from other research institutions have been aware for years that APHIS could conduct focused inspections in one of three areas regulated under the AWA: animals, facilities, or records. His facilities’ two most recent AWA-related inspections were both focused ones, the first on the animals and the second on records.
Dr. Leland also said the focused inspections may let APHIS officials conduct deeper dives into certain aspects of a facility, rather than taking a broad look at all AWA-regulated activities during each inspection.
Asked whether the focused inspections are good policy, Dr. Leland said he would wait to see agency data that would allow comparisons across years in terms of violations found and citations issued. Finding similar numbers of violations and citations would suggest the inspection system at least meets the quality of the previous system, he said, although he acknowledged other variables could aﬀect those figures.
The Science article and a related announcement from the Harvard Law School Animal Law & Policy Clinic both suggested that APHIS officials adopted the policy without public announcement, meaning the public may not have been aware of the change. A researcher with the legal clinic discovered the policy in documents obtained through a public records request filed on behalf of two advocacy organizations, Rise for Animals and the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Still, Dr. Donna Matthews Jarrell, president of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, said in a statement that ACLAM leaders and other members of the laboratory animal community had been aware of the changes in USDA policy and that those changes had been major discussion points at meetings, gatherings, and webinars in 2019. She noted that discussions at one of those meetings, the Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research's annual conference on animal care and use, included discussions of the topic that were open to the public.
EDUCATION COUNCIL SCHEDULES SITE VISITS
The AVMA Council on Education has scheduled site visits to six schools and colleges of veterinary medicine for the remainder of 2021.
Comprehensive site visits are planned for the University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine, July 18-22; Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, Aug. 29-Sept. 2; Long Island University College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 10-14; Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 24-28; Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Nov. 7-11; and The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Nov. 14-18.
The council welcomes written comments on these plans or the programs to be evaluated. Comments should be addressed to Dr. Karen Martens Brandt, Director, Education and Research Division, AVMA, 1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL 60173. Comments must be signed by the person submitting them to be considered.
HORSE RACING SAFETY AUTHORITY MEMBERS ANNOUNCED
By Kaitlyn Mattson
The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority announced its board of directors and standing committee members, including several prominent equine veterinarians, in May.
The authority was created by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, which was part of a 5,500-plus–page, $2.3 trillion bipartisan government funding bill signed into law at the end of 2020. The authority is an independent, nongovernmental entity that will create and enforce uniform standards for horse racing safety and health in the U.S. It's tasked with various responsibilities, including enforcing anti-doping rules, enforcing medication control, and enhancing racetrack safety. The authority will be overseen by the Federal Trade Commission and has been charged with contracting with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to oversee the anti-doping and medication control program on a national basis.
A previously formed nominating committee was responsible for selecting members of the board of directors of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority as well as members of its two standing committees, on anti-doping and medication control and on racetrack safety.
The nominating committee was established this past October through the collective eﬀorts of Thoroughbred industry stakeholders, including Breeders’ Cup, Churchill Downs Inc., Keeneland Association, and The Jockey Club. The committee was composed of seven members with diverse backgrounds: co-chairs Len Coleman and Nancy Cox, PhD; Katrina Adams; Dr. Jerry Black, a veterinarian; Gen. Joseph Dunford; Frank Keating; and Ken Schanzer.
The board of directors consists of nine members, five of whom were selected from outside the equine industry. Four members were selected as representatives of various equine constituencies.
“The appointments of five equine veterinarians to the Horseracing Integrity & Safety Authority's governing bodies brings scientific expertise and devotion to equine health to this new era in U.S. horse racing,” said Dr. Scott Hay, 2021 president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, in a statement. “The AAEP has long-supported the creation of uniform rules in the sport, and we are thrilled that all racehorses will soon compete under the same stringent safety and integrity protocols.”
The members of the board of directors are as follows:
Steve Beshear, former Kentucky governor.
Adolpho Birch III, chief legal officer for the NFL's Tennessee Titans.
Leonard Coleman, former president of MLB's National League.
Ellen McClain, former president of the New York Racing Association.
Charles Scheeler, former federal prosecutor.
Joseph De Francis, previous senior executive for various Thoroughbred racing entities.
Dr. Susan Stover, a professor of surgical and radiological sciences at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
Bill Thomason, immediate past president of Keeneland.
D.G. Van Clief, former president of Breeders’ Cup.
The members of the Anti-Doping and Medication Control Standing Committee are as follows:
Adolpho Birch III.
Jeﬀ Novitzky, vice president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Kathleen Stroia, senior vice president of sport sciences and medicine and transitions for the Women's Tennis Association.
Jerry Yon, previous member of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
Dr. Jeﬀ Blea, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board and the UC-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Mary Scollay, a veterinarian who is executive director and chief operating officer of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.
Scott Stanley, PhD, professor of analytical chemistry at the University of Kentucky's Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center and director of the Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory.
The members of the Racetrack Safety Standing Committee are as follows:
Dr. Susan Stover.
Dr. Lisa Fortier, James Law professor of surgery and former Cornell Equine Park faculty director at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. She recently became the editor-in-chief of the AVMA journals (see page 29).
Peter Hester, MD, orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine.
Dr. Paul Lunn, dean of North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Carl Mattacola, PhD, dean of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro School of Health and Human Sciences.
Glen Kozak, senior vice president of operations and capital projects for the New York Racing Association's facility and track operations.
John Velazquez, North America's leading money-earning jockey who holds the record for most graded stakes wins.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association commended the selection of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority members.
“The HISA Authority and standing committee appointments announced today include a diverse group of individuals with the right combination of independence and relevant experience necessary to establish uniform national anti-doping and racetrack safety standards as well as implement the tough but fair enforcement procedures essential to ensuring compliance with these standards,” said Alex Waldrop, president and chief executive officer of the NTRA, in a statement.
The issue of doping and medication in horseracing came up again recently when Medina Spirit, winner of the Kentucky Derby on May 1 at Churchill Downs, tested positive for 21 picograms of the steroid betamethasone. The drug is illegal when found in a racehorse's blood on race day.
Bob Baﬀert, Medina Spirit's trainer, acknowledged the horse was treated with the anti-fungal drug Otomax, which includes betamethasone. Baﬀert later recanted the statement and said a veterinarian recommended the drug because the horse had dermatitis but that Otomax was not used on race day.
Baﬀert was temporarily suspended by New York racing officials from entering horses, including Medina Spirit, in the June 5 Belmont Stakes. The suspension, which also applies to two other Thoroughbred tracks in New York, partly resulted from Medina Spirit's positive test after the derby.
A federal research team reported progress toward creating a commercial vaccine against the devastating African swine fever virus.
An article published in May in the Journal of Virology indicates Department of Agriculture scientists at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York created an attenuated vaccine candidate that can reproduce in a continuous cell line, overcoming a limitation that previous vaccine candidates required fresh macrophages from live swine. USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists had developed a previous vaccine candidate that oﬀered eﬀective protection, but the macrophage requirements prevented large-scale production.
Two of the article authors—USDA ARS research microbiologists Manuel Borca, PhD, and Douglas Gladue, PhD—said in a joint message that the ASF virus requires primary swine macrophages to replicate, and those macrophages do not divide. The researchers adapted an ASF virus to reproduce in a cell line that was developed at the ARS from primary porcine epithelial cells, and the attenuated vaccine candidate they produced with that modified virus protected swine as well as their previous vaccine candidate.
The researchers saw no clinical signs of illness among 20 swine that were vaccinated and experimentally inoculated with live ASF virus.
ASF is highly dangerous to commercial swine breeds, and outbreaks can wipe out entire herds. In 2018, the disease emerged in China, the world's largest pork producer, killing unknown millions of pigs.
Drs. Borca and Gladue said in their message they were working with a commercial partner to further evaluate the vaccine candidate.
NUTRITIONAL CONVERSATIONS, FRONT AND CENTER
Veterinary experts suggest steps to navigate nutrition and diet
By Kaitlyn Mattson
Dr. Julie Churchill knows food is intertwined with how people show care and love to each other and their animals.
Dr. Churchill, a professor in clinical veterinary nutrition at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and a board-certified nutritionist, said, “Nutrition and nurturing are linked.” Which may be why over half of the dogs and cats in the U.S. are overweight, according to data from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Nearly 70% of pet owners said they would like veterinarians to recommend a diet for their pet, according to survey results from APOP from 2018.
Pet food and treats totaled $42 billion in sales in the U.S. in 2020, according to data from the American Pet Products Association.
Nutrition is an integral part of proactive veterinary care. Sometimes it can be a simple topic to discuss with clients, and other times conversations about nutrition and diet can be fraught with challenges. Veterinarians can navigate them by leveraging tools such as sending a nutritional assessment before examinations, teaching pet owners about body condition scores, and implementing empathic communication techniques.
Dr. Churchill said pet owners want these conversations, and veterinary teams must have them.
“We (societally) lose sight of what healthy looks like. We are not used to what a healthy pet looks like or feels like,” said Dr. Churchill, a board member of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention and the Pet Nutrition Alliance. “We (as veterinary teams) have to be the antidote to that.”
STARTING THE CONVERSATION
Kara Burns, a licensed veterinary technician with a specialty in nutrition, said veterinary teams should start a discussion with open-ended questions.
“I ask what is being fed and why,” Burns said. “Pet owners typically have a reason for their choice of food. To fully understand the pet owner and their decision, we have to ask, ‘Why?’”
For example, pet owners may be vegetarian and feed their pets a vegetarian diet as well, which is important information for a veterinary team to have when discussing nutrition. The team should educate pet owners on the nutrients animals may need in their diet.
Burns is president of the Pet Nutrition Alliance, an organization dedicated to raising awareness around integrating nutritional assessment into veterinary care and promoting veterinary teams as sources for pet nutrition information. The PNA has calorie calculators, tools for creating nutrition plans, and resources for understanding pet food at jav.ma/PNA. The PNA oﬀers a client communication resource at jav.ma/communication.
Dr. Sarah Abood, founder of consulting firm Sit, Stay, Speak Nutrition, speaks with veterinary team members who don't feel comfortable discussing nutrition and diet because they are such multifaceted topics.
Dr. Abood suggests figuring out what the root of that anxiety is. It could be a fear of not having enough time during an examination, a concern about owner compliance with diet suggestions, or a feeling of not wanting to fight with a client who may already have researched diets and doesn't want advice from the veterinary team.
A lack of belief in science and evidence is also a concerning extra layer to a nutrition conversation, Dr. Abood said. However, in her experience, many pet owners do want to talk about nutrition with their veterinary team.
Dr. Churchill said nutrition will typically come up during an examination because clients want advice. She prepares clients for the conversation before an appointment by sending a note before the visit.
“It sets the mindset that we are a nutritional-focused practice,” she said. “If you ask them ahead of time, they’re able to take pictures beforehand, and it is easier so they don't have to remember the name,” of pet foods and treats.
Dr. Jackie Parr, a clinical assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, says her service won't see clients for nutritional services until they’ve submitted a diet history form.
Dr. Parr, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, said veterinary teams have been talking about nutrition for decades. Questions about vomiting, skin or coat issues, and bowel habits are all related to nutrition.
She also suggests telemedicine appointments can make nutrition conversations even easier.
“There is a lot of important information that can be captured,” she said. “Two partners can join a video call over their lunch break. More family members can be on together. With telemedicine, we can reiterate a plan to the whole family.”
Dr. Churchill said training pet owners how to assign a body condition score can also be beneficial. It can keep them involved and aware of their pet's health. A body condition score is an estimate of body fat percentage and is used in conjunction with body weight and a muscle condition score. The most common body condition scoring systems use a nine-point scale.
Dr. Churchill tells clients to do an assessment once a month.
Dr. Joseph Bartges, a professor of medicine and nutrition at Georgia's veterinary college and a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, said the body condition score is critical.
“It is easy to say that a cat looks thin, but the body condition score provides an actual number,” Dr. Bartges said. “If you quantify the information, you can notice trends and head them oﬀ.”
There is also variation in weight within breeds. For example, a male Labrador may weigh between 80 and 100 pounds, he said. What is its healthy weight? A body condition score can help determine that.
TALKING THROUGH CHALLENGES
Dr. Churchill said there are always challenging conversations.
“Sometimes it is not the right time in a family's life,” she said. “They have other things, especially during the pandemic. There are a lot of other problems. Plant seeds of concern, and give them permission not to act now, but let them know when they’re ready, you’ll be there.”
Dr. Abood agrees. She said veterinary teams will have less anxiety and frustration around conversations related to nutrition if they assume not every client is ready to make a change.
“Think about it as an ongoing conversation,” Dr. Abood said. ” They’re not always ready to make a commitment. They need motivation and support. If you have a philosophy where you think about it as ongoing support, it will be easier to keep engagement.”
Dr. Bartges added that despite the potential challenges, there is no excuse not to talk about nutrition.
“As a priority, it should be high,” he said. “All dogs and cats have to eat. It's 100%.”
The veterinary nutritional experts suggest the following tips for talking about nutrition:
Don't enter a conversation with preconceived notions.
Use the whole veterinary team to promote nutrition and share information.
Consider adding a nutrition section on the clinic's website.
Include communication around nutrition in every examination.
Ask open-ended questions.
Don't suggest only one diet or one brand.
Educate yourself on diﬀerent foods and diets.
Be open to hearing about a diet you may not know about, and be willing to learn.
Send a note before an appointment to ask about nutrition and diet.
Use tools and resources on nutritional assessments and body condition score charts.
Dr. Churchill said being nonjudgmental and empathetic are also key.
“Take the judgment out of the conversation,” she said. “Most obese pets I meet, they’re all loved.”
Dr. Julie Churchill, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, discusses how training clients to perform a body condition score assessment themselves is beneficial.
People: Fortier picked as next AVMA editor-in-chief
Noted equine orthopedic surgeon takes helm from Matushek after 12 years
By Malinda Larkin
Dr. Lisa A. Fortier joins the AVMA staﬀ as editor-in-chief of the Association's journals and director of the Publications Division, eﬀective June 28. A career-long member of the AVMA, Dr. Fortier has over 25 years of experience in the veterinary profession and is now the 15th leader of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association and American Journal of Veterinary Research.
Dr. Fortier holds the title of James Law professor of surgery at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. She most recently served as director of equine programs and associate chair for research and graduate education at the veterinary college. She also was editor-in-chief of The Journal of Cartilage and Joint Preservation, the official open-access journal of the International Cartilage Regeneration and Joint Preservation Society. Prior to that, she served as president of the ICRS, and she also launched the society's first journal, Cartilage.
In her new position, Dr. Fortier aims to help readers better understand the relevance of scientific manuscripts that appear in the AVMA journals, enhance their timeliness and relevance, increase the publications’ online portfolio, and expand readership on a more global level.
The objective of the AVMA Publications Division is to drive AVMA member value and satisfaction by publishing world-class peer-reviewed scientific journals.
BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE
In 1991, Dr. Fortier received her veterinary degree from Colorado State University. She went on to complete an internship in large animal surgery and medicine at Illinois Equine Hospital in Naperville, Illinois, and a residency in large animal surgery at Cornell. She also earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine at Cornell in 1998 and was a postdoctoral fellow in pharmacology in 2001. She is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.
Before joining the AVMA, Dr. Fortier saw patients and performed surgery in the Equine Clinic at Cornell in Ithaca, New York, and as a staﬀ surgeon at the Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialists hospital in Elmont, New York. Her primary research interests involve equine orthopedic surgery, tendonitis, and arthritis with special interests in regenerative medicine including platelet-rich plasma, stem cells, and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein.
Dr. Fortier's research has received over $20 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, foundations, and other sources. Her laboratory at Cornell investigates the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the development of arthritis with the ultimate goal of identifying novel molecular targets for the treatment or prevention of arthritis.
In addition, Dr. Fortier is a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and has since 2014 been with its On Call program, a media assistance program that provides timely health updates on equine athletes during nationally televised events. She was recently named to the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority's Racetrack Safety Standing Committee (see page 22).
“Throughout her career, Dr. Fortier has distinguished herself as a clinician, scientist, educator, and communicator,” said Dr. Douglas Kratt, AVMA president, in a press release. “We are delighted that she will be bringing her expertise as a surgeon, as the author of more than 150 publications, and as an editor to her new position leading AVMA's veterinary journals.”
One of Dr. Fortier's mentors was the late Dr. Joe Foerner, a renowned equine surgeon who was head of the clinic where she completed her internship. She recalls asking him why he was so involved with the AVMA and not other organizations.
“I remember he told me, ‘If you want to influence and improve every veterinarian's life, you get involved in the AVMA.’ I stayed a lifelong member because of what he said. Those words stuck with me forever,” Dr. Fortier said. “It was serendipitous because on the day I was oﬀered the position (as AVMA editor-in-chief), I was operating on a horse using the Foerner (knife) elevator.”
MATUSHEK STAYING ON
Dr. Fortier succeeds Dr. Kurt Matushek, who has served as head of the Association's journals and Publications Division since 2009. He joined the division as an assistant editor in 1992 and was promoted to associate editor five years later.
Highlights of Dr. Matushek's tenure at the AVMA include developing and implementing the structured format for abstracts published in the JAVMA and AJVR and overseeing the writing of the original version of the style guide for scientific manuscripts published in the journals. “Veterinary Medicine and the Law” and “Diagnostic Imaging in Veterinary Dental Practice” are two of the JAVMA features that he has been involved in developing over the years. Now Dr. Matushek is transitioning into a new role within the Publications Division.
“With such a long tenure under his belt, now is the perfect time for Dr. Matushek to transition his eﬀorts to include helping advance the digital capabilities of our scientific publications, along with the Publications team's foundational work of editing manuscripts,” said Drs. Kratt; Lori Teller, chair of the AVMA Board of Directors; and Janet Donlin, AVMA CEO, in a May 12 announcement. “An exciting initiative is underway to redesign our journals website and move to a new, more modern and accessible web platform, and Dr. Matushek's special expertise will be particularly valuable in that eﬀort. We thank Dr. Matushek for his ongoing commitment to the AVMA and our members.”
AVMA MEMBER | AVMA HONOR ROLL MEMBER | NONMEMBER
JOHN HAROLD BONNER
Dr. Bonner (Michigan State ′52), 100, Elkhorn, Wisconsin, died April 26, 2021. Following graduation, he established a mixed animal practice in Walworth, Wisconsin, focusing on dairy cattle and swine. In 1984, Dr. Bonner founded a feline practice in Walworth, working there until 1999.
In 1993, he established Elderhaven, a retirement home for seniors in Walworth, expanding the facility in 2015. Dr. Bonner was a member of the Wisconsin and Rock Valley VMAs and was also a member of the rescue squad for the town of Linn, Wisconsin. His three nieces and three nephews survive him.
ANTHONY R. BOTT
Dr. Bott (Texas A&M ′44), 102, Cornwall, Pennsylvania, died April 30, 2021. Following graduation, he served in the Army during World War II. Dr. Bott received a Victory Medal and two battle stars for participating in the North Apennines and Po Valley campaigns in Italy. He subsequently served as a first lieutenant in the Army Veterinary Corps.
In 1947, Dr. Bott joined Corn Belt Laboratories, a business owned by his family, producing pharmaceuticals and biologics for the veterinary industry. The company was acquired by Rohm and Haas Co. in the early 1970s, at which point he became director of one of its subsidiaries, Whitmoyer Laboratories Inc.
Dr. Bott was a past president of the American Association of Industry Veterinarians and the Illinois State VMA. His two daughters, a son, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren survive him. Dr. Bott's father, Dr. Anthony E. Bott, was a 1913 graduate of the Chicago Veterinary College, which operated in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and grandfather Dr. Robert Rives was an 1892 graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College, then an independent institution in Toronto. Memorials may be made to Cornwall United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 687, Cornwall, PA 17106, or Cornwall Manor, 1 Boyd St., Cornwall, PA 17106.
ROBERT P. CORLEY JR.
Dr. Corley (Louisiana State ′91), 56, Bossier City, Louisiana, died Dec. 14, 2020. An equine veterinarian, he established Equine Track Associates in 1994 in Vinton, Louisiana. Dr. Corley's practice focused on Thoroughbreds. Early in his career, he worked in New Jersey and Texas. Dr. Corley is survived by his fiancee, Ginger Pickett; his mother; and four sisters. Memorials may be made to the Bienville Education Foundation, Robert P. Corley Sr. Scholarship Fund, c/o Cathy Crain, 152 Orchard Valley Circle, Ruston, LA 71270.
JOHN W. BILL LAMBERT JR.
Dr. Lambert (Texas A&M ′66), 79, Lafayette, Louisiana, died March 7, 2021. He practiced small animal medicine in the Lafayette area for 52 years. Dr. Lambert was a member of the Louisiana VMA and Acadiana Area Veterinary Association. He served as a captain in the Army Veterinary Corps during the Vietnam War. During that time, Dr. Lambert was chief of the Fort Sill Veterinary Treatment Facility in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He was honored with a certificate of achievement for his service.
Dr. Lambert is survived by his wife, Bette; two sons and a daughter; six grandchildren; a great-grandchild; and a brother and a sister.
ROBERT M. PURVIS
Dr. Purvis (Auburn ′85), 66, Monticello, Florida, died April 2, 2021. Following graduation, he practiced in Florida at Lake Wales and Tallahassee before becoming a partner at Animal Medical Clinic in Monticello. Dr. Purvis later served as extension veterinarian at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University College of Agriculture and Food Sciences, where he was also an instructor in the veterinary technology program.
During his career, he reviewed state and federal laws for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture; helped diagnose West Nile virus in Florida, coordinating the use of new and alternative treatments for infected horses; served as head veterinarian of regulatory operations for the Jeﬀerson County Kennel Club; and was a member of the emergency management team for Jeﬀerson County.
A talented musician, Dr. Purvis led the Encore Band, performing at various events and raising money for several charities. He also served as a substitute musician for several bands in the Southeast. Dr. Purvis is survived by two sons, a grandchild, two brothers, and two sisters. Memorials may be made to Big Bend Hospice, 1723 Mahan Blvd., Tallahassee, FL 32308.
REED W. RINGS
Dr. Rings (Missouri ′57), 89, Dayton, Ohio, died Nov. 3, 2020. Following graduation, he practiced small animal medicine in Missouri at Cape Girardeau, St. Louis, and Kansas City. From 1964-68, Dr. Rings worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Troy, Missouri. He went on to earn a master's in laboratory animal medicine from the University of Missouri and served as the animal resource director for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services from 1971-77 in Lansing. Dr. Rings then joined Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, where he was an associate professor until 1979. He next served as animal resource director for 13 years at the College of Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and later in the same capacity at what was known as the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo until retirement in 1997.
Dr. Rings is survived by three sons, a daughter, 10 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and a sister. A son, Dr. Bret Rings (Kansas State ′92), and a granddaughter, Dr. Ana Kay Guimaraes (Ohio State ′13), are also veterinarians. Memorials, with the memo line of the check notated to the Dr. Reed and Margaret Ann Rings Scholarship Fund, may be made to the College of the Ozarks, P.O. Box 17, Point Lookout, MO 65726, cofo.edu/donate (please select the option of “other” in the designation section and specify Dr. Rings’ name in the “in memory of” section and the name of the fund in the comments section).
CLYDE K. SMITH
Dr. Smith (Michigan State ′51), 95, Sevastopol, Wisconsin, died Feb. 8, 2021. Following graduation and after earning his doctorate in microbiology from the University of Notre Dame, he joined The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. During his more than 20-year tenure, Dr. Smith served as a professor and conducted research at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster. He retired in 1986.
Dr. Smith was a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists and a member of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners. He was a past president of the Wooster Noon Lions Club and was active with the Boy Scouts of America. Dr. Smith served in the Navy during World War II. His four sons, 10 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren survive him. Memorials may be made to Unity Hospice, 2366 Oak Ridge Circle, De Pere, WI 54115; Door County Land Trust, 23 N. 5th Ave., Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235; or the Nature Conservancy, 342 Louisiana St., Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235.
RICHARD L. SOPIARZ
Dr. Sopiarz (Illinois ′70), 77, Beecher, Illinois, died April 18, 2021. A small animal veterinarian, he owned Richton Park Animal Hospital in Richton Park, Illinois. Dr. Sopiarz was a lifetime member of the Illinois State VMA. He is survived by three sons, a daughter, and 10 grandchildren.
BARBARA A. WYSS
Dr. Wyss (Ohio State ′96), 58, London, Ohio, died April 15, 2021. A small animal veterinarian, she most recently worked at Upper Heights Veterinary Clinic in Huber Heights, Ohio. Early in her career, Dr. Wyss practiced at Miami Valley Animal Hospital in Kettering, Ohio, and served as a relief veterinarian throughout the state.
She was a member of the Ohio VMA. Dr. Wyss is survived by her husband, Chuck, and a daughter and two sons. Memorials may be made to the International Society for Endangered Cats Canada, 124 Lynnbrook Road SE, Calgary, Alberta T2C 1S6, Canada, wildcatconservation.org.