Top Veterinary Stories of 2014
Happy 2015! I hope you and your animals all had a successful New Year’s Eve in whichever way you chose to celebrate it and that you are enjoying a restful start to the New Year.
I thought I’d take this opportunity to reflect on 2014 in terms of events relevant to the large animal veterinary field. This is what I’ve come up with:
The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus continued to spread throughout the U.S. in 2014 since its detection in April 2013. However, the USDA granted conditional licensure to a vaccine against the virus in the fall. Hopefully, surveillance data collected over the past six months and continually throughout 2015 will provide helpful information in order to determine if use of the vaccine is making a difference in the infection rate. The USDA has declared PED a reportable disease so that disease progression can be monitored.
- California Crome
With almost cringe-worthy predictability, we came this close to a Triple Crown winner in horse racing. Again. California Chrome wowed fans with easy wins in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness this past spring, the first two races of the coveted Triple Crown in Thoroughbred racing. But, like I’ll Have Another in 2012 and Big Brown in 2008 (and ten others since 1978), it was the Belmont that became this racehorse’s folly in June in New York, where he came in a disappointing tie for fourth. There hasn’t been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. We are sorely overdue. Maybe 2015 will be the year?
- Vet Mobility Act
On August 1, 2014, the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act was signed into law. This was a great relief to mixed and large animal practitioners who work out of their trucks to provide medical care to patients outside of the clinic and across state lines. Prior to this Act, it was illegal for veterinarians to transport controlled substances for use outside of a registered location (e.g. the clinic) under the Controlled Substances Act and some veterinarians were finding themselves in trouble with the DEA as they were going about normal veterinary business from their trucks on farms. Large animal vets rejoiced at the passage of this act!
As the largest Ebola epidemic in history continued its rampage in West Africa in 2014, panic spread as the first case of Ebola was reported in the US. Concerns for our own health and the health of our pets were increased when Spanish health officials euthanized a dog belonging to an Ebola victim and people began asking: can I get Ebola from my pet? The American Veterinary Medical Association was quick to collaborate with the CDC on this and provided veterinarians with tentative answers to clients’ (and veterinarians’) many questions. It does not appear currently that people can get the Ebola virus from dogs or cats and there have been not reports of these animals contracting the disease in West Africa.
- Antimicrobial resistance
More and more a hot topic issue, antimicrobial resistance seems to be in the news more than ever. In 2014, the FDA issued plans to phase out medically important antibiotics that are given to farm animals in feed when used for production purposes, meaning for growth promotion as opposed to disease treatment and control. These antibiotics will also be phased from over-the-counter to prescription only. These are some very large changes for large-scale farms and a few years have been allowed for the logistics to be worked out.
Dr. Anna O'Brien