OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of veterinary medicine

Smithsonian mobile exhibit on May 19 explores the human-animal bond

 

CORVALLIS, Ore. - The special relationship between humans and animals is explored in a new mobile exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution, which will be open in the Reser Stadium parking lot at Oregon State University on Monday, May 19.

“Animal Connections: Our Journey Together,” a custom-built exhibition housed on an 18-wheel truck that expands into 1,000 square feet of space, is traveling throughout the United States. It’s free, and will be open to the public in Corvallis from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“Animal Connections” marks the 150th anniversary of the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the exhibit is made possible through the support of founding sponsor Zoetis, Inc., and the AVMA.

A video of the exhibit is available online, at animalconnections.com

The exhibition focuses on animals in the home, on the farm, at the zoo, in the wild and at the veterinary clinic. Visitors are offered a variety of ways to learn through informative displays, dynamic videos and interactive experiences. The exhibit also highlights the roles veterinarians play in the health of animals.

“At the AVMF, we are committed to advancing the well-being and medical care of animals,” said Michael Cathey, AVMF executive director. “This exhibition will not only help inspire the next generation of veterinarians, but improve current animal care through a better understanding of the role animals and veterinarians play in our lives.”

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OSU Pet Day planned for May 3

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University will hold its 27th annual Pet Day on Saturday, May 3, when the College of Veterinary Medicine opens its doors for tours, booths, displays and a number of family-oriented events.

Pets are welcome at this always-popular event, on a leash.

Pet Day is designed as a way for the College of Veterinary Medicine to give back to the community, and help Oregon residents understand its operations and legacy of public service. It usually attracts 3,000-4,000 visitors, many who bring their pets. The child-friendly event, which will be held rain or shine, is created, organized, and staffed by students.

Vendors and volunteers from organizations will staff booths at the event and provide information on animal health and wellness, nutrition, adoption and therapy.  Many also provide free samples and other resources, spanning the four-legged gamut from pet food to shelter medicine.

Among the returning activities will be dog agility demonstrations, live reptiles, a petting zoo, tours of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, a pet costume contest, a dog frisbee show, a cat photo contest, and more. Food booths are also available.

Participants and their pets may join the Fun Run/Walk event at 9 a.m.; online preregistration for that event is requested by April 18. 

Pet Day runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Magruder Hall, located on 30th Street in Corvallis just south of Washington Way, and adjacent to the athletic department’s Truax Indoor Center. Admittance and most activities are free, but there is a small charge for a few of the events.

More detailed information on the various events and registration for the fun run/walk is available online at http://vetmed.oregonstate.edu/pet-day

Pet Day is sponsored by the College of Veterinary Medicine, and supported by Banfield Pet Hospital, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Zoetis, Nestle Purina Pet Care Co., the Oregon Animal Health Foundation and the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

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Veterinary hospital resuming normal operation after equine influenza outbreak

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Oregon State University has resumed normal operations following an outbreak of equine influenza, which for the past two weeks kept it from accepting horses for anything but emergency services.

There were six confirmed cases of equine influenza, a highly contagious respiratory disease in horses that usually isn’t fatal, but is a particular concern to foals and pregnant horses, since it can cause abortion. The original source of the infection appears to be a horse admitted to the hospital. Four horses are still shedding the virus but are now contained in an isolation facility, and all are expected to make a full recovery.

All horses in the Large Animal Hospital are testing negative for the virus, and stalls have been disinfected, then left empty for at least 48 hours, an adequate time to kill any remaining flu virus in a dry environment.

“We’d like to thank all of our clients for their patience and cooperation while we worked through this issue,” said Ron Mandsager, interim associate director of the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital. “The most important thing is to protect the health of all our animals. Unfortunately, equine influenza is endemic in the U.S. and sometimes these situations occur.”

Equine influenza is not transferable to humans or other animal species, but can spread rapidly among horses and other equines. It is the most common contagious respiratory pathogen for horses and most animals fully recover. However, young, elderly or pregnant animals are more at-risk for viral diseases such as equine influenza.

“The incident should be a reminder to all horse owners,” said Keith Poulsen, associate professor of large animal internal medicine. “It’s important to vaccinate their animals, practice good biosecurity, and monitor horses closely when they are in contact with other horses during and after events like fairs, competitions and trail rides.”

The first clinical sign of this disease in horses is typically a fever, followed by cough, nasal discharge and lethargy. Horses with a fever of greater than 102.5 degrees should be seen by a veterinarian.

Anyone who has concerns about the health of their animals should contact their veterinarian or the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital at OSU, at 541-737-2858 or http://vetmed.oregonstate.edu/

Hospital officials say they plan to investigate the impact the outbreak has had on hospital operations and the local equine community.

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Keith Poulsen, 541-737-6939

Cognitive decline with age is normal, routine – but not inevitable

CORVALLIS, Ore. – If you forget where you put your car keys and you can’t seem to remember things as well as you used to, the problem may well be with the GluN2B subunits in your NMDA receptors.

And don’t be surprised if by tomorrow you can’t remember the name of those darned subunits.

They help you remember things, but you’ve been losing them almost since the day you were born, and it’s only going to get worse. An old adult may have only half as many of them as a younger person.

Research on these biochemical processes in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University is making it clear that cognitive decline with age is a natural part of life, and scientists are tracking the problem down to highly specific components of the brain. Separate from some more serious problems like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, virtually everyone loses memory-making and cognitive abilities as they age. The process is well under way by the age of 40 and picks up speed after that.

But of considerable interest: It may not have to be that way.

“These are biological processes, and once we fully understand what is going on, we may be able to slow or prevent it,” said Kathy Magnusson, a neuroscientist in the OSU Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, and professor in the Linus Pauling Institute. “There may be ways to influence it with diet, health habits, continued mental activity or even drugs.”

The processes are complex. In a study just published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers found that one protein that stabilizes receptors in a young animal – a good thing conducive to learning and memory – can have just the opposite effect if there’s too much of it in an older animal.

But complexity aside, progress is being made. In recent research, supported by the National Institutes of Health, OSU scientists used a genetic therapy in laboratory mice, in which a virus helped carry complementary DNA into appropriate cells and restored some GluN2B subunits. Tests showed that it helped mice improve their memory and cognitive ability.

The NMDA receptor has been known of for decades, Magnusson said. It plays a role in memory and learning but isn’t active all the time – it takes a fairly strong stimulus of some type to turn it on and allow you to remember something. The routine of getting dressed in the morning is ignored and quickly lost to the fog of time, but the day you had an auto accident earns a permanent etching in your memory.

Within the NMDA receptor are various subunits, and Magnusson said that research keeps pointing back to the GluN2B subunit as one of the most important. Infants and children have lots of them, and as a result are like a sponge in soaking up memories and learning new things. But they gradually dwindle in number with age, and it also appears the ones that are left work less efficiently.

“You can still learn new things and make new memories when you are older, but it’s not as easy,” Magnusson said. “Fewer messages get through, fewer connections get made, and your brain has to work harder.”

Until more specific help is available, she said, some of the best advice for maintaining cognitive function is to keep using your brain. Break old habits, do things different ways. Get physical exercise, maintain a good diet and ensure social interaction. Such activities help keep these “subunits” active and functioning.

Gene therapy such as that already used in mice would probably be a last choice for humans, rather than a first option, Magnusson said. Dietary or drug options would be explored first.

“The one thing that does seem fairly clear is that cognitive decline is not inevitable,” she said. “It’s biological, we’re finding out why it happens, and it appears there are ways we might be able to slow or stop it, perhaps repair the NMDA receptors. If we can determine how to do that without harm, we will.”

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Kathy Magnusson, 541-737-6923

OSU names Susan Tornquist interim dean of veterinary medicine

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Susan Tornquist, associate dean in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University, has been named interim dean of the college.

She succeeds Cyril Clarke, who will become dean of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine effective Oct. 1.

Tornquist has been on the faculty at Oregon State since 1996, most recently as associate dean of student and academic affairs in OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where she also is a professor of clinical pathology. Her research interests have focused on immune responses to infectious and metabolic diseases in animals, particularly llama and alpacas.

As associate dean Tornquist has helped the college grow its enrollment, coordinate student internships, build partnerships with the Oregon Humane Society and other organizations, and make student experiential learning a hallmark of the program.

Tornquist received her veterinary medical degree from Colorado State University and her doctorate in veterinary pathology from Washington State University.

Sabah Randhawa, OSU provost and executive vice president, said Tornquist will transition into the role of interim dean over the next several weeks. He has begun a national search to fill Clarke’s position.

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Sabah Randhawa, 541-737-2111

Veterinary hospital managing equine influenza outbreak

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Oregon State University will not accept horses for anything but emergency services until at least Tuesday, July 30, due to an outbreak of equine influenza virus at the hospital.

Three horses are known to be infected with this virus, and others could be, officials say. The virus is a highly contagious respiratory disease in horses that typically is not fatal, but is a particular concern to foals and pregnant horses, since it can cause abortion.

Other than equines, the situation will not affect the care of any other small or large animals at the hospital.

The three infected horses have been placed in isolation and are being treated. Officials say they wish to emphasize that this is equine influenza virus, not equine herpes virus-1, a more serious disease that is often confused with the influenza virus.

Equine influenza is not transferable to humans or other animal species, but can spread rapidly among horses and other equines. It is the most common contagious respiratory pathogen for horses and most animals fully recover. However, young, elderly or pregnant animals are more at-risk for viral diseases such as equine influenza.

“Equine influenza virus is endemic in the U.S., and we just happened to catch these cases,” said Keith Poulsen, an internal medicine specialist at the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital in OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “We’ve acted quickly so that hopefully no other animals will get infected.”

The Large Animal Internal Medicine and Surgery Services program at OSU is working with the state veterinarian’s office to inform veterinarians and horse owners about the disease.

The first clinical sign in horses is typically a fever, followed by cough, nasal discharge and lethargy. Horses with a fever of greater than 102.5 degrees should be seen by a veterinarian.

Infected horses can “shed” or transmit the virus for up to 10 days after incubation, although the peak of shedding is three to five days after infection. Horses that show signs of the disease should be isolated from other horses for 10 days after clinical signs first appear.

The virus is easily killed by many disinfectants, and thorough cleaning of stalls and equipment can help prevent the virus from spreading. Vaccination of horses during an outbreak in a training facility or barn can be beneficial, in consultation with a veterinarian.

Anyone who has concerns about the health of their animals should contact their veterinarian or the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital at OSU, at 541-737-2858 or http://vetmed.oregonstate.edu/

The OSU equine facility typically treats 5-10 horses at a time. All horses currently hospitalized will be monitored closely and tested for equine influenza prior to discharge.

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Keith Poulsen, 541-737-6939

OSU Vet Med dean accepts job on East Coast

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Cyril Clarke, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University since May of 2007, announced his resignation on Thursday to accept a position on the East Coast.

Clarke will become dean of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine effective Oct. 1.

Sabah Randhawa, OSU provost and executive vice president, praised Clarke for his leadership in growing the state’s only veterinary program.

“His leadership has enabled the College of Veterinary Medicine to grow the veterinary teaching hospital, increase the research infrastructure, expand the college’s partnership with the Oregon Humane Society, and advance collaborative research and graduate education initiatives in the Division of Health Sciences,” Randhawa said. “We wish him the best in the next phase of his career.”

During Clarke’s tenure as dean, the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine also went through a $12 million expansion of Magruder Hall, increased its student enrollment and faculty, and significantly expanded the Veterinary Teaching Hospital clinical service.

Randhawa said he would appoint an interim dean during the next several weeks and launch a national search for Clarke’s replacement.

Clarke, who was educated in South Africa, spent 20 years at Oklahoma State University prior to coming to Oregon State.

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Sabah Randhawa, 541-737-2111

Cyril Clarke, 541-737-0811

Flu vaccines aimed at younger populations could reduce transmission

The study this story is based on is available in ScholarsArchive@OSU: http://bit.ly/14ZuFi0

 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The huge value of vaccinating more children and young adults for influenza is being seriously underestimated, experts say in a new report, while conventional wisdom and historic vaccine programs have concentrated on the elderly and those at higher risk of death and serious complications.

A computer modeling analysis was just published in the journal Vaccine, in work supported by the National Institutes of Health. The study suggests that children in school and young adults at work do the vast majority of flu transmission. Programs that effectively increase vaccination in those groups would have the best payoff, the research concluded.

The key point: If you don’t catch the flu, you can’t die from it. Breaking the cycle of transmission benefits everyone from infants to the elderly, the researchers said. And at stake are thousands of lives and billions of dollars a year.

“In most cases, the available flu vaccine could be used more effectively and save more lives by increasing the number of vaccinated children and young adults,” said Jan Medlock, a co-author of the study and researcher with the Department of Biomedical Sciences in Oregon State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

“That approach could really limit the cycle of transmission, preventing a great deal of illness while also reducing the number of deaths among high risk groups,” he said. “Approaches similar to this were used in Japan several decades ago, and they accomplished just that. Our new analysis suggests we should reconsider our priorities for vaccination.”

In a perfect world and in accord with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers agree that almost everyone over the age of six months should get the flu vaccine, unless they were allergic to the shot or had other reasons not to take it. But in the United States, only about one-third of the population actually gets a flu vaccine each year. Historic efforts have been focused on people at higher risk of death and severe disease – often the elderly, and those with chronic illness, weakened immune systems, health care workers or others.

With existing patterns of vaccine usage, the problem is enormous. Seasonal influenza in the U.S. results each year in an average of 36,000 deaths, more than 200,000 hospitalizations, an $87 billion economic burden, and millions of hours of lost time at school and work – not to mention feeling sick and miserable.

The flu vaccine up until 2000 was only recommended for people over 65, Medlock said, and other age groups were added in the past decade as it became clear they also were at high risk of death or complications – children from age six months to five years, and adults over 50. Just recently, age was taken completely out of the equation.

“Clearly we would want people at high medical risk to get a flu vaccine as long as it is abundant,” Medlock said. “But what we’re losing in our current approach is the understanding that most flu is transmitted by children and young adults. They don’t as often die from it, but they are the ones who spread it to everyone else.”

The population and disease transmission modeling done in the new study outlines this, and concluded that a 25-100 percent reduction in deaths from flu or its complications could be achieved if current flu vaccine usage were shifted to much more heavily include children and young adults, as well as those at high risk.

One obstacle, experts say, is the historic reluctance to add even more vaccines to those already received and often mandated for school-age children.

“A simple program we could consider in our K-12 schools would be to have the school nurse, or other local professional, give every child an annual flu shot, with the parents being informed about it in advance and having the option to decline,” Medlock said.

“Vaccinating children could prevent a great deal of illness and save many lives at all ages, not just the children,” he said. “More aggressive educational campaigns to reach young adults would also be helpful.”

Collaborators on this research included scientists from Yale University and the University of Texas. It was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

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Jan Medlock, 541-737-6874

OSU study finds selenium added to alfalfa boosts calf growth, immunity

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study by Oregon State University researchers has found that adding selenium to fields planted with alfalfa will allow the perennial forage crop to “take up” the important mineral in its tissues, providing better feed for calves and other livestock.

The findings are particularly important, researchers say, because selenium delivered through plants in an organic form is much safer than directly feeding selenium to calves in an inorganic form, such as salt.

Results of the study have been published in part in the journal PLOS One.

Selenium is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in heavy concentrations in some parts of the country, and at low levels in others – including Oregon. Ranchers often provide selenium in supplements to livestock, but applications must be done carefully because too much of the mineral can be harmful to animals.

Providing the mineral in organic form greatly lessens the threat of toxicity, according to Jean Hall, a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at OSU and lead author on the PLOS One article.

“When selenium gets picked up by the plant, it goes right into the amino acid selenomethionine, and when the animals consume it, the selenium gets stored in the muscle in a benign way,” Hall said. “The ranchers we’ve spoken with are extremely interested in these results, because not only does it appear this is safer for the animals, it may be cost-effective as well.”

During field trials, selenium was applied at varying levels to alfalfa hay fields after the first of three scheduled cuttings. Regardless of the level of selenium applied, the plants had taken up 83 percent of the selenium by the time of the second cutting. The remaining 17 percent of the applied selenium was taken up in the alfalfa by the third cutting.

The percentage of selenium uptake by the alfalfa was consistent regardless of the amount applied, according to Hall. “If we doubled the amount of selenium, the plants took up twice as much,” she said.

The researchers then fed selenium-fortified alfalfa to calves and compared their growth to control animals. Several weeks later, the calves with supplemented diets had higher blood selenium content levels at a rate commensurate with the amount of selenium applied to the fields. The calves fed selenium-fortified alfalfa also weighed up to 10 percent more than calves fed alfalfa without selenium.

Weight growth by the calves increased with additional selenium, Hall said, though there was more variability than the linear response by the plants.

“We also tested weaned calves to see if selenium-fortified alfalfa might boost the efficacy of vaccinations, giving a boost to the animals’ immune system,” Hall said, “and it appears that is the case. Calves fed the selenium-fortified alfalfa had increased antibody production – at a rate that mirrors the amount of selenium applied.

“The study demonstrates that selenium-fortified hay boosts the growth and vaccination response of weaned beef calves, which results in decreased mortality and improved slaughter weights,” she added.

Hall is a fifth-generation Oregonian who comes from a cattle ranching family in Douglas County. She is part of a long history of selenium studies at OSU that go back 50 years.

“Oregon is the only state where you can artificially fertilize fields with selenium,” Hall said, “and because most areas of the state are deficient in the mineral, this may be a strategy to consider for ranchers. Some countries, including Denmark and Finland, require fertilization in fields to increase the amount of selenium in the food chain, so the precedent is there.”

Other authors on the paper, all from OSU, include Gerd Bobe, Janice Hunter, William Vorachek, Whitney Stewart, Jorge Vanegas, Charles Estill, Wayne Mosher and Gene Pirelli.

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Jean Hall, 541-737-6532; jean.hall@oregonstate.edu

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Oregon cattle
Selenium added to
alfalfa fields boost
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Assay developed to rapidly detect disease that hurt oyster industry

The study this story is based on is available in ScholarsArchive@OSU: http://bit.ly/11nabvq

 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Scientists in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University have developed a new, inexpensive and precise way to detect the toxin secreted by Vibrio tubiashii, a bacterial disease that a few years ago caused millions of dollars in losses to the oyster aquaculture industry in the Pacific Northwest.

When perfected and commercialized, the new assay should give oyster growers an early warning system to tell when they have a problem with high levels of this toxin and must take quick steps to address it. Findings were just published in the Journal of Microbiological Methods.

V. tubiashii has caused major problems for oyster growers in recent years, especially in 2007 when a major outbreak almost crippled the industry. When the bacteria and the toxin it produces reach unacceptably high levels, they can kill the tiny seed oysters before they have a chance to grow.

“We still need to improve the sensitivity of the test and better quantify results, but it should provide information in about 30 minutes that used to take three or four days,” said Frances Biel, a faculty research assistant in the OSU Department of Biomedical Sciences. “That type of rapid detection will let oyster growers know they have a problem while they can still do something about it.”

The oyster die-offs that began happening in the late 2000s appear to have various causes, researchers say, including changes in ocean acidification. Some measures were taken to help deal with the acidification, but widespread die-offs continued to occur that couldn’t be linked to that problem. The vibriosis disease caused by this bacteria was found to be a major concern. The largest shellfish hatchery on the West Coast, in Oregon’s Netarts Bay, faced near closure as a result of this crisis.

“Shockingly little was known about V. tubiashii at first, and the toxins that it produces,” said Claudia Hase, an OSU associate professor of veterinary medicine. “It secretes a zinc-metalloprotease compound that’s toxic to shellfish, and that’s what our new assay is able to detect.”

Besides oysters, this bacteria and toxin can also affect shrimp, clams and other marine species important to aquaculture.

The new assay uses a “dipstick” that has proven superior to another approach which was tested, and conceptually it’s similar to a human pregnancy test. It uses monoclonal antibodies that recognize the particular toxic protein of concern.

Marine food farming around the world depends on hatchery and nursery production of large quantities of high quality, disease-free larvae, experts said. Vibriosis in various species has been linked to major problems around the world since the late 1970s. This and other research at OSU has made significant progress in understanding the pathogenicity and toxicity of V. tubiashii.

Aside from farmed oysters and other seafood, there have also been declines of wild shellfish in some locations in recent years on the West Coast. It’s likely that increasing levels of vibriosis are related to that, researchers said. Declining coral reefs also suffer from a closely related bacterial species.

This research was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Claudia Hase, 541-737-7001

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Oyster larvae

Oyster larvae