Summer meeting addresses animal diseaseWritten by Liz LeSatz
As the news of two confirmed brucellosis-positive cattle broke during the WVMA gathering, it was up to Wyoming State Veterinarian Walt Cook to provide information and updates. A meeting on the situation took place in Pinedale Tuesday after the WVMA meeting (see related story on the cover of this week’s Roundup).
Cook also used the WVMA gathering to present information about several other veterinary issues affecting the state.
After an unusually large outbreak of bluetongue in sheep last fall, Cook addressed prevention of the disease for this production year. Due to difficulties in getting legal vaccine to the state at a reasonable cost before bluetongue season is over, Cook advised producers to use insecticides. He recommends Python ear tags for cattle and insecticide sprays that repel Culicoides. Both are approved for use in sheep.
Cook also said a producer meeting on bluetongue control is set for July 14 in Casper. Producers can contact the Wyoming Livestock Board at 307-777-7515 for further information.
Cook also touched on the resistance he has seen to the implementation of the National Animal Identification System in Wyoming.
“I don’t really care if Wyoming uses NAIS, but we need to have some system to track animals more efficiently than our current one,” Cook said.
He says more support has been rallied behind a Wyoming traceback program and the topic will be discussed further at a listening session Aug. 13 in Douglas during the Wyoming State Fair.
Vet Student Loan Repayment
Cook announced the proposed rules for the Veterinarian Loan Repayment program are out for public comment until June 25 and applications will be accepted starting July 1. The repayment program is part of an effort to increase the number of food animal veterinarians in the state.
Reportable Diseases and Health Certificates
Cook urged veterinarians and producers to report cases of disease to protect producers and consumers. “Last year the bluetongue situation was grossly underreported,” he said. “We have reportable disease requirements for a reason.”
Cook is also concerned about reports that veterinarians are approving health certificates without looking at the animals. Cook said a shipment of foot-rot infected sheep from Wyoming arrived in South Dakota with signed health papers and he urged veterinarians to make sure animals are actually healthy before issuing a certificate.
Aside from Cook’s update, leaders in the state and national veterinary field were on hand addressing current issues and concerns. WVMA President Dr. Kelly Palm said she sees similar veterinary topics coming up year after year, but the hottest issues in the state are brucellosis and the new loan repayment program. Palm emphasized the importance of the loan repayment program.
“A lot of large-animal practitioners will retire in the next 10 to 15 years, so this program hopefully will draw food animal vets to the state and keep them here,” she said.
The summer meeting also hosted American Veterinary Medical Association President Greg Hammer. Hammer practices in a small animal and equine clinic in Delaware but during his year as president he’s promoting the AVMA and its issues.
Hammer advocates for veterinarians in both the public and government arenas. He is currently promoting legislation that would give grants to U.S. veterinary schools to expand facilities and therefore turn out more graduates. He says S. 746 and H.R. 1232 would do just that.
The second topic Hammer is pushing is increased awareness of animal welfare. He said animal welfare means different things to different people, but he promotes the approaches that work best scientifically.