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Animal Bytes

May 2018

New online courses available

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Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) affects the U.S. and global swine industries.

Research is starting to identify the role of host genetics with this disease. The industry has responded by changing genetic strategies to improve animal health. Yet many veterinarians go through school with minimal focus on these genetic strategies.

This online class is designed for anyone interested in learning more about genetic selection and the application of genetic improvement strategies to enhance animal health. The course will identify basic concepts of infectious disease biology and provide an introduction to genetics. It also focuses on genetics in the control of PRRS virus.

Who Should Participate in This Course?

Veterinary and graduate students, animal health professionals, veterinarians and other professionals working in swine production and animal health management, geneticists and immunologists, research and industry veterinarians, and international research partners.

Learning Outcomes

  • Synthesize the epidemiological and biological characteristics of an infectious disease.
  • Explain the bases of a genetic improvement program and how a program works.
  • Compare and contrast the various genetic selection tools and approaches and how they can be used to improve health.
  • Recognize the limitations of genetic improvement of health due to the pathogen’s biology and evolution.
  • Explain genetic approaches to control PRRS infections.

For More Information

Click this link for the University of Minnesota's website with information about the course, learning outcomes, continuing education credits, and course contributors.

Contact: Katherine Hagberg, University of Minnesota, 612-624-4230, ccapsconf3@umn.edu.

More stories...

Disease response training

There is still time to register for the Foreign Animal Disease Response training in Owatonna next Wednesday, May 23. The course and registration information is available by emailing coordinator.mnvmrc@gmail.com. There is no cost to attend this course, and it will count as 4 CE credits.

The Minnesota Veterinary Medical Reserve Corps and Minnesota Board of Animal Health collaborate to offer this educational opportunity.

  • Wednesday, May 23, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Riverland Community College Room 140
  • 965 Alexander Dr. SW
  • Owatonna, MN 55060

Please join us for an informative conference on how veterinary, agriculture and emergency professionals can be an asset in these responses.

  • Incident Command System review.
  • Foreign Animal Disease Response Overview.
  • Personal Protective Equipment.
  • 4 hours of continuing education.

Lunch will be provided. There is no cost to attend this course.

Harmful algal bloom season in Minnesota (a message from our friends at the Department of Health)

As the weather in Minnesota begins to warm, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) advises veterinarians to be on the lookout for possible illnesses and deaths related to harmful algal bloom (blue-green algae) exposure. Additionally, to better understand the incidence and geographic distribution of HAB-related illnesses in Minnesota, MDH requests veterinarians report suspect or clinically diagnosed cases of HAB-related illness to the MDH Waterborne Diseases Unit.

Cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, are found in freshwater systems everywhere in Minnesota but thrive when the weather is calm and sunny, water temperatures are higher than 75° F, and the water is enriched with nutrients, like phosphorous or nitrogen.  While not all blooms are harmful, cyanobacteria can produce three classes of toxins, hepatotoxins, neurotoxins, and dermatotoxins that can be extremely toxic to animals and humans. Animals can display a range of symptoms from skin irritation, vomiting and diarrhea to seizures and liver failure depending on the type and amount of toxin ingested. There are no specific antidotes to these toxins, and treatment is supportive. Visit the MDH website for additional information about symptoms, clinical findings, and treatment.

HABs are often described as looking like pea soup or spilled green paint but can take on a variety of colors and forms. In some cases, the algae can be suspended throughout the water column and a dense surface bloom will not form. There is no way to tell if a blue-green algal bloom is toxic just by looking at it. People and animals should avoid contact with water with a blue-green algal bloom and any algal debris that may wash up on shore. To see pictures of blue-green algal blooms and blooms caused by non-toxic algae, such as duckweed and filamentous green algae, visit the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) website. Instructions on how to perform simple, jar or stick tests to determine if the algae in the water is likely cyanobacteria can also be found on the MPCA website. In addition, MPCA staff can review pictures of algal blooms and advise if the bloom is likely comprised of cyanobacteria.

While limited funding is available to test a waterbody for specific cyanotoxins, toxin testing may be possible after a suspected HAB-related illness or death. Testing options can be discussed with MDH or MPCA staff when reporting a case. Reporting forms for small and large animals along with additional resources for veterinarians are on the MDH website. Report cases by phone to 651-201-5414 or 877-676-5414 or by fax to 651-201-5743.

Farmed Cervid Advisory Task Force meeting scheduled

The next meeting of the Farmed Cervid Advisory Task Force is scheduled for Wednesday, June 13 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association office in Buffalo, Minnesota.

Current agenda items:

  • Updates (Board of Animal Health, USDA, DNR).
  • Member reports on fencing requirements and exclusionary fencing, as assigned at previous May 2 meeting.
  • Member reports on defining regulatory requirements for preserves, as assigned at previous May 2 meeting.
  • Other additional items proposed by members.

Please send emails to farmed.cervidae@state.mn.us if you have any questions about this task force or its meetings.

Successful foot and mouth disease exercise

State and federal agencies, industry groups and stakeholders participated in a successful foot and mouth disease exercise last week. Multiple states across the country responded to simulated disease outbreaks to "leak-test" their emergency response. Minnesota's participants came away with some great initial reactions, and are already using lessons learned to better prepare for an animal disease emergency. Official after-action reports are currently being written to outline strengths and weaknesses identified during the exercise. Look for the full report in future editions of the Animal Bytes Newsletter.

Foot and mouth exercise photo