Veterinary Public Health
Section Newsletter
Spring 2010

 

Greetings from the Chair

Greetings, and there are several issues I’d like to pass on to the members. 

The first is to inform you that the trap neuter and release proposal (“Collaboration, not confrontation to manage feral and stray cat populations”) received a negative review by the APHA’s  Joint Policy Committee (JPC).   However, a very dedicated team of experts created an excellent appeal that answered the JPC’s concerns, and we are very optimistic it will receive a favorable review in July.

If you’ve checked out our APHA website lately, you’ll notice it is bare!  We will take care of that this summe,r but we would really like your help to determine what goes in it!  I recently requested that a website address be sent to all members to vote on a name change (attached here http://surverymonkey.com/s/G5DQDJV ).   I would very much like to hear from our members on what the SPIG is all about and to build a list of core competencies,  goals and objectives, benefits of our SPIG, issues to tackle, etc.  There are so many human-animal health issues and activities out there that it’s hard to know where to start.  APHA is very large and very active and offers opportunities to publicize and advance important health issues. I will pass on that food safety is a published legislative priority for APHA for this year.  Are there specific issues food safety issues we should be leading? If we don’t, it’s a guarantee someone else will!   Similarly there are numerous other organizations working veterinary public health issues, and I would really like to hear your thoughts on the best partnerships to develop.     Please feel free to add your comments in recent survey on a possible name change or directly to me at billcourt1@aol.com

 

Thank you!

Bill Courtney, DVM, MPH

Chair of the VPH SPIG of APHA

Thoughts from the Editor

When thinking of what to write for the newsletter, with a special interest group (SPIG) like ours devoted to health at the animal-human interface, as you will see, it is actually more difficult to discern what not to write about. 


Lately, it is nearly impossible to look at national news (or the Internet) without seeing some reference to the BP Oil disaster that struck the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010.  Political inclinations (or animosities) aside, the lack of a cogent response in a reasonable time frame has become cause for heated controversy.

 

Undoubtedly, the oil disaster holds many implications for public health, especially at the environmental level, as the oil leak continues to reach the southern coastline. There is also great cause for concern at the human-animal interface.  For one, there has been an incredible impact on wildlife, as the oil continues to pollute the coastal environment. It is necessary for individuals and organizations working with animals to coordinate with the relevant public agencies to create an effective response to curbing the damage caused by the oil leakage. 

 

Not only does the oil contamination affect wildlife, but it will affect any industry that relies on the Gulf of Mexico for commodities.  One important industry I think that will be affected immensely will be the fisheries/aquaculture industry. Whatever your reasons for eating seafood, whether they are to avoid red meat, attain various omega-3 fatty acids, or just palatal preference, if you eat any product that may be acquired from the Gulf of Mexico such as shrimp or fish, you may have to reconsider your food options. Likewise, regulatory measures must be taken to analyze various contaminants that may have come about as a result of the oil spill.

 

This current environmental threat clearly illustrates why public health requires a multidisciplinary approach, including the importance of looking at the “Animal-Human Health Connection.”  I hope as you read this newsletter, you will begin to see the role that individuals and organizations outside the realm of health care settings can contribute to and impact the public health. 

 

Jeein Chung, DVM, MPH

Coming Attractions at the APHA Annual Meeting

Here’s a glimpse of the poster and presentations at this year’s APHA Annual Meeting in Denver that cover topics related to the Animal-Human Health Connection:

 

3067.0 - SCI: Monday, Nov. 8, 2010: 8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m.
Animal- Human Surveillance, Emerging Infections, and issue of concern to
Veterinary Public Health [Oral #30668 contains 5 abstracts.]

3352.0 - SCI: Monday, Nov. 8, 2010: 2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m.
Animal abuse and child abuse: linkages and associations [Oral #28922
contains 5 abstracts.]

351.0 Business Meeting of VPH SPIG, Nov. 8, 2010, 6: 30 p.m. - 8 p.m.

4068.0 - SCI: Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010: 8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m.
The human- animal bond: the benefits, relationships and challenges
related to companion animals in care various settings [Oral #28912
contains 5 abstracts.]

4341.0 - PS-SCI: Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010: 4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
Posters on Zoonoses,: Neglected Tropical Diseases, Animal Issues and
Veterinary Public Health Topics [Poster #30674 contains 8 abstracts.]

Rabies Outbreak in NYC

Outbreak information courtesy Asha Abdool, MPH, of the NYC DOHMH, Zoonotic, Influenza, Vector-borne Disease Unit

 

For those of you who thought rabies is no longer a threat today, rabies is still considered a worldwide killer, accounting for more than 55,000 deaths each year. The sad part is, it is entirely preventable with proper vaccination of animals and people bitten by infected animals (see www.worldrabiesday.org).  And for those who think the problem is only something to worry about in developing countries, here is an update on the rabies epizootic happening in the Big Apple -- that’s right, New York City.

 

As of May 19, 2010, a total of 120 raccoons in and around Central Park (including two from Morningside Park and one from Riverside Park) have tested positive for rabies since last year.  Interestingly enough, raccoon rabies has been present in New York City since 1992, but has been limited primarily to the Bronx and Staten Island.  This is the first time it has been found in Manhattan proper.

 

In response to the threat, the City convened a Task Force consisting of representatives from local, state and federal agencies and organizations with expertise in rabies management including the United States Department of Agriculture, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Department of Health, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH), NYC Parks and Recreation and the Central Park Conservancy.  To counter the threat of rabies in New York City, the USDA Wildlife Services began a humane trap, vaccinate and release (TVR) program in and around the parks throughout New York City.  Raccoons caught in the humane traps are given a parenteral (non-oral) rabies vaccine, ear-tagged for identification and then re-released at the trap site. The TVR program ran for eight weeks and will be followed by another TVR program in the summer in order to vaccinate the young raccoons born this spring.  


More information on the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s rabies surveillance reports and information about rabies is available at www.nyc.gov/health/rabies.

Foot-And-Mouth Disease Outbreak in Asia

Although not directly affecting human health, the implications of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), a disease of great veterinary importance, still holds many implications from the standpoint of public health.  For one, it is considered an agent of major agricultural significance due to its high morbidity rate, meaning that it is very contagious to animals at risk for the disease; it also holds many implications as a bioterrorist agent due to its potential for high impact.

 

FMD is a viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals, including animals used for production of food such as cattle, pigs, sheep and goats, as well as other related wildlife species such as buffalo, elk, moose or deer.  Although not typically fatal, it causes at risk animals to develop fever and various blisters on the feet, mouth, and mammary glands, compromising the yield and marketability of animal-based food products such as beef or milk. 

 

The disease is endemic in parts of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America, but many developed regions of the world are free of the disease, including the United States and parts of Asia.  However, due to international commerce and travel, the disease continues to be great threat to those countries deemed free of the disease, especially among countries that are adjacent to endemic countries. Most recently, Japan and Korea began to report outbreak of FMD in late April, demonstrating the global significance of this veterinary disease.

 

As summarized in ProMED-mail (www.promedmail.org), the first case of the disease in Miyazaki, Japan was reported on April, 20 2010.  It was also the first outbreak of FMD in Japan since 2000. 

 

Japan is in a situation where the disease may break out "anywhere, anytime," agriculture minister Masahiko Yamada told reporters on June, 9, 2010.  The country has so far discovered about 186,200 cases of the disease, of which 152,871 were in pigs and the rest were mostly in beef cattle and dairy cows, according to the ministry.

 

To date, South Korea has culled about 50,000 animals since the first reappearance of the disease in South Korea on April, 9, 2010, although it appears that measures to control the outbreak are beginning to curb the current outbreak.

APHA Initiatives on Transportation and Public Health

As we all appreciate, our health is profoundly affected by our transportation decisions and options. Limited opportunities for physical activity, higher exposure to poor air quality, higher incidences of adult and childhood obesity and greater prevalence of asthma and cardiovascular disease are a few of the inequities brought by poor transportation policies. As part of our effort to enhance crosscutting activity and knowledge among various APHA members and sections, APHA is developing advocacy materials and helpful information related to the links between transportation and public health. If anyone is interested in learning more about this initiative, sharing success stories or lessons learned, or establishing a new Forum on Transportation and Public Health, please reach out to us! Interested members are asked to contact Eloisa Raynault at eloisa.raynault@apha.org .