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board of animal health

Animal Bytes

December 2017

Quarterly meeting this Wednesday

The next quarterly meeting of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Room 280
1333 Gortner Avenue
St. Paul, Minnesota, 55108

Click this link to view the latest agenda.

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Avian flu remains a lingering threat

The U.S. Geological Survey recently released a study that analyzed the genome of the deadly avian influenza viruses that spread throughout the United States in 2014-2015. The study concluded that even though the viruses likely evolved in Asia, they infected North American wild birds and spread to domestic poultry in a process known as spillover.

Once established, the outbreak in domestic poultry was able to persist without further transmission from wild birds. “Results from our study are important because they can help managers enhance biosecurity and guard against the most likely sources of avian flu outbreaks in the United States,” said Dan Grear, a disease ecologist with the USGS National Wildlife Health Center and the lead author of the study. Click this link to read the full story.

Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP)

The VMLRP is a federally funded program administered by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to help qualified food animal veterinarians offset a portion of their debt incurred while earning their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or equivalent degree.

On an annual basis, NIFA requests nominations for shortage areas from State Animal Health Officials in every state. A review panel composed of federal and state animal health experts convenes to evaluate each request. The NIFA program manager uses these evaluations to make the final decision for approving or disproving a shortage area designation.

A veterinarian willing to commit at least three years to providing veterinary services in a designated shortage area may apply. If selected, the applicant will receive repayment of student loan debt in the amount of $25,000 per year.

In fiscal year 2017, Minnesota was approved to accept applications for five shortage areas throughout the state. Three Minnesota veterinarians received awards.

  • A primarily food animal practitioner serving cattle, small ruminant and swine producers in Cottonwood, Jackson, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone and Rock counties. This shortage area is among the most populous animal production areas in Minnesota where it is essential to retain veterinary expertise and services.
  • A large animal practitioner serving primarily cattle, swine and small ruminant producers and serving as an official veterinarian for a state-federal livestock market. This veterinarian’s practice area includes Carlton, Pine and St. Louis and surrounding counties. Producers in this area are widespread and access to veterinary services is limited. Retaining a veterinarian who is willing to serve a variety of clients over a large geographic area is essential.
  • A mixed animal practitioner working with cattle, swine, small ruminants and poultry in northwestern Minnesota including Kittson, Roseau, Red Lake, Marshall, Pennington and Polk counties. This area has an abundant number of livestock producers with a limited number of veterinarians who serve them. Multiple practitioners in this area are near retirement making it imperative to retain a competent and skilled veterinarian in this rural part of the state.

Shortage nominations for fiscal year 2018 were submitted in November and should be posted for applicants later this month. Congratulations to all of last year’s awardees! We sincerely appreciate your commitment to Minnesota livestock producers and our agriculture industry.

Click this link to learn about the program and apply.

Wolf Attacks on Livestock Applications due December 15, 2017

Due to a late harvest that kept producers in the fields longer than average, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is extending the deadline for the Wolf-Livestock Conflict Prevention Grant applications to December 15, 2017.

The grants provide reimbursement for costs of approved practices to prevent wolf-livestock conflicts. Eligible expenses for the grant program will include any or all of the following items:

  • Purchase of guard animals.
  • Veterinary costs for guard animals.
  • Installation of wolf-barriers which may include pens, fladry and fencing.
  • Installation of wolf-deterring lights and alarms.
  • Calving or lambing shelters.
  • Other measures demonstrated to effectively reduce wolf-livestock conflicts.

Producers must live within Minnesota’s wolf range, as designated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, or on property determined by the Commissioner of Agriculture to be affected by wolf-livestock conflicts. Any premise with animal species produced for profit and documented to have been killed by wolves in Minnesota historically is eligible. This includes bison, cattle, chicken, deer, donkey, duck, geese, goat, horse, llama, mule, sheep, pigs and turkey.

The grant application must be emailed or postmarked by 5:00 p.m. on December 15, 2017. Work for this first grant cycle must be done and expenses reported by June 30, 2018. The application and more information can be found at

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns about contact with animals in public settings

There are many wonderful benefits of human-animal contact at places like fairs, educational farms, petting zoos, and schools. However, it is important to know animals sometimes carry germs that could make people sick. Even animals that look clean and healthy can still carry harmful germs.

The Compendium of Measures to Prevent Diseases Associated with Animals in Public Settings prepared by the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians provides standardized recommendations for use by public health officials, veterinarians, animal venue operators, animal exhibitors, and others concerned with disease control and with minimizing risks associated with animals in public settings.

To further prevent zoonotic diseases associated with animals in public settings, the CDC provides a toolkit of selected resources is available. This toolkit contains examples of regulations pertaining to animal exhibitions, printable posters with messages on how to stay safe while interacting with animals, and a checklist of best practices for petting zoos.

Supporting Farmers

Down on the Farm Brochure Image

Stress factors are on the rise for Minnesota farmers. Many face financial problems, price and marketing uncertainties, farm transfer issues, production challenges, and more. You may know farmers who are struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, feelings of indecision, or suicidal thoughts.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is partnering with a number of other organizations to offer a free, three hour workshop to help agricultural advisors (and others who work with farmers) recognize and respond when they suspect a farmer or farm family member might need help.

Printable brochure: Down on The Farm: Supporting Farmers in Stressful Times (pdf)

Online registration: