AASV “Advanced Techniques” conference offers small-group learning opportunities

The AASV’s second annual summer conference attracted 46 registrants to Ames, Iowa, on May 28 and 29 for small-group presentations addressing “Advanced Techniques for Swine Veterinarians.” In addition to veterinarians from the United States, Canada, and Trinidad, the attendees included nine veterinary students desiring to expand their knowledge and skills in the field of swine medicine.

Participants were shuttled through the newly remodeled facilities at Iowa State University (ISU) College of Veterinary Medicine for a series of lecture and lab modules featuring demonstrations, discussion, and case-study applications. A mobile ventilation unit helped illustrate key ventilation concepts, while live sows were utilized to demonstrate ultrasound measurement of backfat and to provide hands-on practice at flank-to-flank measurement for body-weight categorization. Attendees worked together in small groups to investigate diagnostic case studies and explore facility re-design options. Other sessions presented use of information technology in daily practice, prevention of carcass lesions, and effects of pig behavior and group dynamics on health and production.

Dr Rick Stowell, University of Nebraska, operates a demonstration unit during the AASV conference, “Advanced Techniques for Swine Veterinarians” to illustrate key points regarding controllers and variable speed fans

Photo of lecturer

Photo courtesy of Tracy Ann Raef

An evening reception and dinner provided an opportunity for social interaction as well as the sharing of practice tips. The following morning, many attendees participated in student-practitioner “speed interviews” prior to the start of the educational sessions. The 3-minute, one-on-one interviews allowed practitioners and students to become acquainted with each other and explore possibilities for future employment.

Veterinary students and practitioners take advantage of the opportunity to network during 3-minute “speed interviews”

Interviews photo

Photo courtesy of Tracy Ann Raef

The conference was made possible, in part, by generous financial support from sponsors: Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica; Fort Dodge Animal Health; Intervet; Novartis Animal Health, US; Pfizer Animal Health; and PIC. The participation of Iowa State faculty and staff, and the use of the ISU veterinary school facilities, were also key factors in the success of the conference.

The AASV Summer Conference Committee is chaired by Dr Mike Mull and includes Drs C. Scanlon Daniels, Jeff Harker, Erin Johnson, Randy Jones, Locke Karriker, and Jason Kelly. Plans for next year’s conference are underway.

Industrial Partners submissions due October 1

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians invites submissions for the Industrial Partners portion of the 40th AASV Annual Meeting to be held March 7 to 10, 2009, in Dallas, Texas. This is an opportunity for commercial companies to make brief presentations of a technical, educational nature to members of the AASV.

As in the past, the oral sessions will consist of a series of 15-minute presentations scheduled from 1:00 to 5:30 pm on Sunday afternoon, March 8. A poster session will take place on the same day. Poster authors will be required to be stationed with their poster from 12:00 noon until 1:00 pm, and the posters will remain on display throughout the afternoon and the following day for viewing by meeting attendees. All presentations – oral and poster – will be published in the proceedings of the meeting.

Restricted program space necessitates a limit on the number of presentations per company. Companies that are members of the Journal of Swine Health and Production Industry Support Council (listed on the inside front cover of JSHAP) may submit two topics for oral presentation. All other companies may submit one topic for oral presentation. Each company may submit one additional topic for poster presentation. All topics must represent information not previously presented at the AASV annual meeting or published in the meeting proceedings.

Topic titles, a brief description or abstract of the presentation content, and presenter information (name, address, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail address) must be received in the AASV office by October 1, 2008. Please identify whether the submission is intended for oral or poster presentation. Send to: Commercial Sessions, AASV, 902 1st Avenue, Perry, IA 50220; Fax: 515-465-3832; E-mail: aasv@aasv.org.

Authors will be notified of their acceptance by October 15, 2008, and must submit the complete paper for publication in the meeting proceedings by November 17, 2008. Companies failing to submit papers in a timely manner will not be eligible for future participation in these sessions.

Call for papers – AASV 2009 Student Seminar and veterinary student scholarships

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians announces an opportunity for up to 15 veterinary students to make scientific presentations during the Student Seminar at the AASV Annual Meeting on Sunday, March 8, 2009, in Dallas, Texas. Interested students are invited to submit a one-page abstract of a research paper, clinical case study, or literature review for consideration. Abstracts and supplementary materials must be received by Dr Alex Ramirez (alex@aasv.org) by midnight on Friday, September 26, 2008 (firm deadline). All material must be submitted electronically. Late abstracts will not be considered. The abstracts will be reviewed by an unbiased professional panel consisting of a private practitioner, an academician at a school from which no students have submitted an abstract, and an industry veterinarian. Students whose papers are selected for presentation at the meeting will be notified by October 15, 2008, and will be expected to provide the complete paper or abstract for publication by November 17, 2008.

To help defray the costs of attending the AASV meeting, Alpharma Animal Health provides a $750 honorarium to the student presenter of each paper selected for the seminar.

Veterinary students whose papers are selected for presentation at the meeting will be eligible to compete for several veterinary student scholarships awarded through the AASV Foundation. The oral presentations will be judged to determine the amount of the scholarship awarded.

Alpharma Animal Health funds a $5000 scholarship for the student whose paper, oral presentation, and supporting information are judged best overall.

The Eli Lilly & Company Foundation, on behalf of Elanco Animal Health, has provided $20,000 in additional funding, enabling the AASV Foundation to provide awards of $2500 each for 2nd through 5th place, $1500 each for 6th through 10th place, and $500 each for 11th through 15th place.

Students whose papers are not selected for oral presentation in the Student Seminar will be eligible to be considered for participation in a poster session at the annual meeting. Up to fifteen (15) posters will be selected through a competitive process. Alpharma funds a stipend of $250 for each student who is selected and participates in the poster presentation.

Complete information for preparing and submitting abstracts is available on the AASV Web site (http://www.aasv.org/annmtg/2009/studentseminar.htm). Please note: the rules for submission should be followed carefully. For more information, contact the AASV office (Tel: 515-465-5255; Fax: 515-465-3832; E-mail: aasv@aasv.org).

Former AASV Executive Secretary dies

Dr Fred Wertman (ISU ‘40) passed away on May 19, 2008, at the age of 91. Dr Wertman was the first AASV Executive Secretary and Treasurer, serving for 8 years. He was also Executive Director of the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association (IVMA) during that time. From 1940 to 1960, he was a mixed-animal practitioner.

In addition to holding a veterinary degree, Dr Wertman was a certified association executive of the Institute of Association Management. He was active in organized veterinary medicine, serving in the following roles: trustee, AVMA Professional Liability Insurance Trust; delegate to AVMA House of Delegates; secretary, IVMA Foundation for Student Financial Aid; chairman, AVMA Scientific Program Committee; president, National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners; secretary, Iowa Academy of Veterinary Practice; president, National Board of Veterinary Examiners; and president, US Animal Health Association.

Among his many awards, Dr Wertman received the IVMA President’s Award and the Stange Award for Meritorious Service in Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University.

Memorial services were held Thursday, May 29, 2008, at First United Methodist Church, Des Moines, Iowa.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in swine veterinarians: Results from AASV member survey

To estimate the prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in US swine veterinarians, nasal swabs were collected from 150 volunteers at the 2008 AASV Annual Meeting in San Diego. The survey is part of a study of MRSA in pigs, pork products, and swine veterinarians, sponsored by the National Pork Board.

Eight positive culture results (7.1%) were obtained from the 113 swine veterinarians. The 37 volunteers who were not veterinary graduates, mostly students, tested negative. Six positive results (7%) were obtained from 87 US swine veterinarians, and two from 26 veterinarians from other countries. Published estimates1 for the US population indicate a prevalence of the order of 1%. On the basis of spa typing, five of the eight isolates were closely related to the “livestock associated” MRSA clone that appears to be widespread in the Dutch and Canadian swine industries. Three of these isolates were obtained from US veterinarians from three different states, and the other two from Canadian veterinarians (n = 23). Together with a recent report of detection of this clone on a swine farm in Iowa, these findings indicate that this clone is present in the US industry and may be widespread (given that veterinarians from three states were positive).

The pig-associated clone can certainly cause human infections – a small number of cases, including some severe infections, have been reported from Holland. However, there is no report yet of fatal disease. As yet, this clone has not occurred in human cases in the United States that have been sampled as part of CDC surveillance activities. Dutch authorities have concluded that foodborne transmission is not a significant concern, and are focusing on occupational risk. Given that Holland (which has a rigorous surveillance system for MRSA) is an important pig-producing country and has been aware of high prevalence of exposure of workers for several years, this indicates that we are not likely facing any imminent crisis for occupational health in the industry. Together with Tara Smith (University of Iowa) and Wondwossen Gebreyes (Ohio State University), we will be pursuing further research to try to understand the epidemiology of MRSA in the US swine industry.

Minor injuries (eg, skin cuts) frequently occur on farms. Recognition that our workers may have an above-average risk of MRSA exposure should make us ensure that proper procedures are in place for rapid treatment of workplace injuries. It is important to practice good hygiene: wash hands regularly with soap and water; pay attention to existing and new skin wounds (clean and cover with bandages until healed); do not share personal items; and seek medical attention if concerned about any infections that develop.

For more information on MRSA, see the CDC Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/ar_mrsa_ca_public.html#8.

We would like to thank everyone who participated in the survey, and commend the willingness of the AASV members to be involved. All participants who requested to receive their results should soon receive notification by e-mail or mail.

Peter Davies, Matt Allerson, Sri Sreevatsan, Jeff Bender
University of Minnesota


1. Graham PL III, Lin SX, Larson EL. A U.S. population-based survey of Staphylococcus aureus colonization. Ann Intern Med. 2006;144:318-325.

Nominate outstanding colleagues for AASV awards!

Do you know an AASV member whose dedication to the association and the swine industry is worthy of recognition? The AASV Awards Committee requests nominations for the following five awards to be presented at the upcoming AASV annual meeting in Dallas.

Howard Dunne Memorial Award – Given annually to an AASV member who has made a significant contribution and rendered outstanding service to the AASV and the swine industry.

Meritorious Service Award – Given annually to an individual who has consistently given time and effort to the association in the area of service to the AASV members, AASV officers, and the AASV staff.

Swine Practitioner of the Year – Given annually to the swine practitioner (AASV member) who has demonstrated an unusual degree of proficiency in the delivery of veterinary service to his or her clients.

Technical Services/Allied Industry Veterinarian of the Year – Given annually to the technical services or allied industry veterinarian who has demonstrated an unusual degree of proficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of veterinary service to his or her company and its clients, as well as given tirelessly in service to the AASV and the swine industry.

Young Swine Veterinarian of the
– Given annually to a swine veterinarian who is an AASV member, 5 years or less post graduation, who has demonstrated the ideals of exemplary service and proficiency early in his or her career.

Nominations are due December 15. The nomination letter should specify the award and cite the qualifications of the candidate for the award. Submit to: AASV, 902 1st Avenue, Perry, IA 50220; Fax: 515-465-3832; E-mail: aasv@aasv.org.

Extra-label drug use revisited

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved Baytril® for use in swine, but prohibited any extra-label use. Similarly, FDA is proposing to ban extra-label use of cephalosporins as well by adding this class of drugs to the prohibited list. Drugs on the prohibited list cannot be used in an extra-label manner under any circumstances. This action affords us a good opportunity to revisit the regulations governing extra-label use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals.

In 1996, the FDA issued a final rule implementing the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act of 1994 (AMDUCA).1 This rule delineated the guidelines governing extra-label use of animal and human drugs and applies to both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Prior to enactment of AMDUCA, the use of any drug except in a manner specifically outlined on the label rendered the drug “unsafe” in the eyes of the law.

This act allows for drug use under AMDUCA only to treat disease, not for production uses. AMDUCA does not allow for extra-label use if there exists an approved food-animal drug which contains the needed ingredient, in the proper dosage form and labeled for and effective against the condition being treated. Extra-label use of a drug is approved if the existing labeled drug is clinically ineffective, provided that the veterinarian has a basis for determining that the approved drug is ineffective in the animals being treated. Drug cost is not an acceptable reason for extra-label use.

According to the FDA, extra-label use of drugs for reproductive purposes would, in most cases, not be considered treatment and is thus not allowed under AMDUCA. Preventive extra-label use is allowed if the veterinarian can substantiate that the health of the animals is threatened. However, AMDUCA does not allow for extra-label use of any drugs administered through the feed. Extra-label administration of feed-grade antibiotics is illegal under all circumstances.

Drugs may be used in an extra-label manner as prescribed under AMDUCA only if all of the following conditions are met:

1. There is a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (http://www.avma.org/issues/policy/ethics.asp#III):

a. The veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the health of the animal(s) and the need for medical treatment, and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarian’s instructions.

b. The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the animal(s). This means that the veterinarian has recently seen and is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal(s) by virtue of an examination of the animal(s) or by medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animal(s) are kept.

c. The veterinarian is readily available for follow-up evaluation, or has arranged for emergency coverage, in the event of adverse reactions or failure of the treatment regimen.

2. Use is permitted only by or under the supervision of a veterinarian. It is illegal for a layperson to use drugs in an extra-label manner without the approval of a veterinarian.

3. Only FDA-approved animal and human drugs may be used in an extra-label manner.

4. AMDUCA applies only to dosage-form drugs and drugs administered in the drinking water. The act does not allow for extra-label use through the feed.

5. The veterinarian is responsible for establishing prolonged withdrawal times to ensure no violative residues or any residues that may cause public harm. Some additional information may be found at http://www.farad.org/.

6. The FDA may specifically disallow the use of certain drugs or classes of drugs. This means it is illegal to use these drugs in an extra-label manner under any circumstances in food animals. A list of prohibited drugs can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations (http://www.fda.gov/cvm/Documents/530_41.pdf). The following drugs are prohibited for extra-label use in food animals (as of July 2, 2008):

a. Chloramphenicol

b. Clenbuterol

c. Diethylstilbestrol

d. Dimetridazole

e. Ipronidazole

f. Other nitroimidazoles

g. Furazolidone

h. Nitrofurazone

i. Sulfonamide drugs in lactating dairy cattle (except approved use of sulfadimethoxine, sulfabromomethazine, and sulfaethoxypyridazine)

j. Fluoroquinolones (this prohibits the extra-label use of Baytril® in food animals)

k. Glycopeptides

l. Phenylbutazone in female dairy cattle 20 months of age or older

7. AMDUCA allows only for therapeutic extra-label use of drugs. Use for production reasons is not allowed. Drug cost is not a factor in determining extra-label drug use.

8. Records must be maintained indicating the drug used (name and active ingredient), route of administration, dosage, number of animals treated, species treated, condition being treated, duration of treatment, and withdrawal time. These records must be kept for 2 years and are subject to FDA inspection.

9. Drugs dispensed for extra-label use must be labeled individually and the label must contain the name and address of the prescribing veterinarian (or the name of the veterinarian and the name and address of the dispensing pharmacy), the established name of the drug, directions for use (including species; identification of the animal or herd, flock, pen, lot, or other group; dosage frequency; route of administration; and duration of therapy), any cautionary statements, and withdrawal time. The FDA states that case-labeling is appropriate when large numbers of animals need to be treated in an extra-label manner for a short period.

The AVMA has designed a brochure and a flow chart to aid veterinarians with decision-making regarding the appropriate use of drugs in an extra-label manner. These reference materials can be accessed at http://www.avma.org/reference/amduca/amduca1.asp. Practical aspects of compliance with AMDUCA and the risks for swine practitioners have been reviewed.2 In addition, veterinarians who have questions about AMDUCA or extra-label use of drugs may contact FDA/CVM Division of Compliance, 7519 Standish Place, HFV-230, Rockville, MD 20855; Tel: 240-276-9200.


1. FDA AMDUCA Federal Register Notice. Federal Register. November 7, 1996 (Vol 61, No. 217). Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cvm/amducafr.htm. Accessed 15 July 2008.

2. Waddell, John T. A practical look at AMDUCA and the risks for swine veterinarians. Proc AASV. Nashville, Tennessee. 2001;321–329.

AVMA CEO comments on livestock welfare

The time for evolution is now

Teddy Roosevelt once said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

I believe the veterinary profession has been far too reluctant to take a position on animal welfare issues and, as a result, we have lost relevance with the public, the media, Congress, and with those actively engaged with the science of animal welfare. In the Teddy Roosevelt context, we have done “nothing.”

This reluctance is not without reason: the issues are complex, they are emotional, and we have many divergent perspectives within the profession. But our inability to take a well-founded position while an issue is still being debated in the court of public opinion has, all too often, resulted in our profession being marginalized and ignored. We have lost credibility with the public, public policy makers, other scientists, and even with segments of our membership.

It’s time for us to position ourselves squarely in the center of the animal welfare arena. We must work to become the focal point for animal welfare information and the first point of contact for scientists, the media, Congress, and others when these issues surface.

Animal welfare is one of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s highest priorities. Our Executive Board affirmed this position last summer when it approved five strategic planning goals that will guide our decision-making and the use of our resources. These goals range from addressing critical shortages in the veterinary workforce to ensuring the profession’s economic viability.

Our animal welfare strategic goal states that the AVMA is to be a “leading advocate for, and an authoritative, science-based resource.” This is more than a few written words that look good on paper. I am committed to making sure that we achieve this goal – and I invite the more than 5000 members of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners to join us in this endeavor.

The situation that recently unfolded at the Hallmark/Westland slaughter plant in Chino, California, underscores the fact that concern for the welfare of animals … especially those used as a food source … is prominent in the minds of the American public, and that the economic consequences of ignoring the welfare of animals can be devastating.

At the same time, I understand the economic realities of animal agriculture. I firmly believe that our animal welfare recommendations not only need to be consistent with science, but also practical and affordable. Sometimes this simply means having an implementation horizon that allows adequate time for making necessary changes. We can’t eliminate veal crates overnight, but we can eliminate them over a period of a few years. Typically, efficiency and welfare have to be balanced. But our positions not only need to be practical, they must also pass the “smell test” with the public. We should have realized, years ago, that veal crates have to go; the practice is simply not defensible in the court of public opinion. During the years that it took us to finally accept this inevitable conclusion, we lost an opportunity to provide leadership and were perceived as part of the problem, even within segments of the profession.

Another current topic is the use of pain-relieving medications and alternative approaches for castration and dehorning of cattle – something that many of you feel very strongly about, I’m sure. We must acknowledge that these procedures are painful and that we have the wherewithal to reduce or eliminate that pain. Can we continue to defend – to an increasingly interested, informed and sophisticated public – the practice of not using readily available pain-relieving medications or better approaches? If one agrees that such a position is not defensible and the outcome inevitable, then let’s go ahead and take a proactive stance, rather than having others take us there, while we drag our heels every inch of the way. We will eventually end up at the same place. We can either be seen as providing leadership or as being an impediment to humane animal care.

Improving our policy development process is just part of the solution. We also must improve our public education process. It is unfortunate that we have at times abdicated this role and are now feeling the consequences of having the public “learn” about animal welfare through headlines, 30-second sound bites, video clips, and Internet blogs. These issues are complex, and a solid position starts with considering all relevant perspectives, incorporation of the science, and evaluating all of the consequences.

I think we can learn a lot from a recent example – the unwanted horse issue. Our first mistake was to allow this issue to be framed as “horse slaughter.” In fact, the real issue is how to deal with some 90,000 to 100,000 unwanted horses every year. I believe we can explain to the public how humane slaughter is a preferred outcome to an unwanted horse being abandoned, left to die on its own, or being shipped to Mexico for slaughter, but this is a far more difficult educational process than the 30-second sound bite that simply suggests we need to oppose the “slaughter” of horses. We’re not pro-horse slaughter – we’re pro-humane treatment of horses.

Even as we work to educate the urban and suburban public on animal production practices, we must recognize and educate producers that what was an acceptable practice 30 years ago may not be acceptable today. And in today’s climate, as levels of social conscience increase because of incidents like that at Hallmark/Westland, the public is paying more and more attention. And as the public becomes more engaged, so too do our decision makers in state capitals and in Washington, DC. The fact that many of these politicians are also disconnected from the realities of rural and farm life also complicates matters. We need to educate them, as well.

At the end of the day, I’m suggesting it’s time for animal welfare evolution, not revolution. If we want to be relevant and a leader in the animal welfare arena, we need to proactively move forward in a very visible and timely manner. I am counting on our members, our allied organizations and our partners to join us in that process. Together, we will resume our rightful position as the acknowledged authorities on and stewards of animal welfare.

Ron DeHaven, DVM
Executive Vice President
American Veterinary Medical Association