OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of veterinary medicine

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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Selenium added to
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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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College of Veterinary Medicine

About the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine: The primary mission of the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine is to serve the people of Oregon and the various livestock and companion animal industries by furthering the understanding of animal medical practices and procedures. Through research, clinical practice and extension efforts in the community, the college provides Oregon's future veterinarians with one of the most comprehensive educations available anywhere.

OSU lifts quarantine for equine influenza, cites swift biosecurity as key to halt outbreak

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A horse treated for equine influenza at Oregon State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine earlier this month has fully recovered, and the large animal hospital there is once again accepting equine patients.

The horse, which recently arrived in Oregon from Texas, was quarantined at the hospital for 10 days.

“We chose to temporarily close the hospital to equine patients with non-emergency symptoms for a week as an added precaution because equine influenza can spread rapidly among horses and other equines,” said Keith Poulsen, an internal medicine specialist at the Lois Bate Acheson Veterinary Hospital. “Everything is back to normal now, and the horse has returned to its home in eastern Oregon.”

Equine influenza is the most common contagious respiratory pathogen for horses, though it is not transferable to humans or other animal species. Most animals that contact the disease fully recover.

The Large Animal Internal Medicine and Surgery Services program at OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine worked closely with the state veterinarian’s office to inform veterinarians and horse owners about the disease. Several horses from the sale in Hermiston, Ore., contracted respiratory disease consistent with equine influenza, Poulsen said, but no hospitalized horses at the OSU Veterinary Hospital developed respiratory disease.

Poulsen and his colleagues suggest that horse owners use caution when traveling with their horses and to contact their veterinarian or the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine with questions about equine influenza or any infectious disease.

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Keith Poulsen, 541-737-2858

OSU treats horse for equine influenza; warns horse owners to be vigilant

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A horse from Eastern Oregon that was referred to Oregon State University’s veterinary teaching hospital because of illness has been diagnosed with equine influenza virus, a highly contagious respiratory disease in horses that typically is not fatal.

The four-year-old quarter horse mare, which recently arrived in Oregon from Texas, has been placed in isolation and is being treated.

OSU veterinary clinicians say 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 is especially dangerous to foals and the foaling season just started,” said Keith Poulsen, an internal medicine specialist at the Lois Bate Acheson Veterinary Hospital in OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “The virus can be spread by direct contact with nasal discharge, or when aerosolized from coughing.”

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

Poulsen said 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. Horse owners should also consult with their veterinarian about vaccinations, he added.

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

“The good news is that many disinfectants can easily kill the equine influenza virus, and thoroughly cleaning stalls and equipment can help prevent the virus from spreading,” Poulsen said.

The Eastern Oregon horse was purchased at a sale in Hermiston last weekend and several horses that were in close contact with it also have developed signs of illness, though they have not yet been diagnosed with equine influenza virus, officials say.

The horse will remain at OSU in isolation until it fully recovers. As an added precaution, the OSU hospital is only accepting equine patients requiring emergency treatment until Wednesday, Feb. 27. Horses being referred for elective surgery, lameness or non-emergency conditions will be delayed until after Wednesday.

“The college has some of the most sophisticated isolation facilities of any facility in the country,” noted Helio de Morais, interim director of the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Hospital. “Safely treating animals such as these – and working with veterinarians and animal owners around the state to prevent the spread of these diseases – is what we do best.”

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Keith Poulsen, 541-737-4812

Ornamental fish industry faces problems with antibiotic resistance

NEWPORT, Ore. – The $15 billion ornamental fish industry faces a global problem with antibiotic resistance, a new study concludes, raising concern that treatments for fish diseases may not work when needed – and creating yet another mechanism for exposing humans to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The risk to humans is probably minor unless they frequently work with fish or have compromised immune systems, researchers said, although transmission of disease from tropical fish has been shown to occur. More serious is the risk to this industry, which has grown significantly in recent years, and is now a $900 million annual business in the United States.

There are few regulations in the U.S. or elsewhere about treating ornamental fish with antibiotics, experts say. Antibiotics are used routinely, such as when fish are facing stress due to transport, whether or not they have shown any sign of disease.

“We expected to find some antibiotic resistance, but it was surprising to find such high levels, including resistance in some cases where the antibiotic is rarely used,” said Tim Miller-Morgan, a veterinary aquatics specialist with Oregon State University. “We appear to already have set ourselves up for some pretty serious problems within the industry.”

In the new study, 32 freshwater fish of various species were tested for resistance to nine different antibiotics, and some resistance was found to every antibiotic. The highest level of resistance, 77 percent, was found with the common antibiotic tetracycline. The fish were tested in Portland, Ore., after being transported from Colombia, Singapore and Florida.

Findings of the study were reported in the Journal of Fish Diseases.

The bacterial infections found in the fish included Aeromonas, Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus and others, several of which can infect both fish and humans.

“The range of resistance is often quite disturbing,” the scientists wrote in their report. “It is not uncommon to see resistance to a wide range of antibiotic classes, including beta-lactams, macrolides, tetracyclines, sulphonamides, quinolones, cephalosporins and chloramphenicol.”

Problems and concerns with antibiotic resistance have been growing for years, Miller-Morgan said. The nature of the resistance can range widely, causing an antibiotic to lose some, or all of its effectiveness.

There have been documented cases of disease transmission from fish to humans, he said, but it’s not common. It would be a particular concern for anyone with a weak or compromised immune system, he pointed out, and people with such health issues should discuss tropical fish management with their physician. Workers who constantly handle tropical fish may also face a higher level of risk.

From an industry perspective, losses of fish to bacterial disease may become increasingly severe, he said, because antibiotics will lose their effectiveness.

Anyone handling tropical fish can use some basic precautions that should help, Miller-Morgan said. Consumers should buy only healthy fish; avoid cleaning tanks with open cuts or sores on their hands; use gloves; immediately remove sick fish from tanks; consider quarantining all new fish in a separate tank for 30 days; wash hands after working with fish; and never use antibiotics in a fish tank unless actually treating a known fish disease caused by bacteria.

“We don’t think individuals should ever use antibiotics in a random, preventive or prophylactic method,” Miller-Morgan said. “Even hobbyists can learn more about how to identify tropical fish parasites and diseases, and use antibiotics only if a bacterial disease is diagnosed.”

On an industry level, he said, considerable progress could be made with improvements in fish husbandry, better screening and handling, and use of quarantines, rather than antibiotics, to reduce fish disease.

The ornamental fish industry is large and diverse, including trade of more than 6,000 species of freshwater and marine fish from more than 100 different countries. About half the supply originates in Asia, and freshwater farming of ornamental fish is a rapidly growing industry.

Also increasing is the number of trained fish veterinarians, who can help fish hobbyists to reduce disease loss and save treasured pets. More information is available from the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Fish Veterinarians. A database of aquatic veterinarians is available online, at http://aquavetmed.info

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Tim Miller-Morgan, 541-867-0265

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