What is the veterinarian's role in the opioid epidemic, and what's new with avian influenza?

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board of animal health

Animal Bytes

December 2018

Board response to low pathogenic avian influenza continues

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More flocks control marketed in 2018 low path avian influenza response

Six of eight infected flocks have been control marketed as part of the Board's response to the 2018 LPAI outbreak in Stearns and Kandiyohi Counties. Soon after flocks are control marketed, the empty barns undergo a virus elimination process using heat for 72 hours, which has been effective in eliminating influenza virus. After, the litter and other materials are removed. Environmental testing after the process is complete ensures the barn is virus negative before any new birds are placed.

As a reminder, controlled marketing is an approved method for recovered (virus negative) birds to continue into the food supply chain. You can follow the updates in our response efforts at our Disease Response Updates website.

One major step all poultry producers can take to reduce the risk of disease on their farms is to practice good biosecurity. The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recently released educational resources for poultry producers. Learn more in the Defend the Flock resource center.

Keep reading...

Concern over the spread of the Asian Longhorned Tick in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stepped up its response to 2018 detections of the longhorned tick in the U.S. The CDC is working with public health, agricultural, and academic experts to understand the possible threat posed by the spread of the Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornus) in several states. Specifically, its aim is to:

  • Determine the geographic distribution of the Asian longhorned tick in the United States.
  • Determine the kinds of pathogens carried by Asian longhorned ticks that could infect people in affected states. Pathogens found in these ticks in other parts of the world include Borrelia, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, Rickettsia, and Babesia.
  • Determine what new laboratory tests are needed to detect pathogens that could be introduced or spread by these ticks in the United States.
  • Establish a clean colony (ticks with no pathogens) for studies.
  • Determine how frequently the Asian longhorned tick bites people and animals in the United States.
  • Determine effective prevention and control strategies. 

The Board of Animal Health is meeting with Minnesota's tick experts to determine the impact of this tick on the state's livestock population. Find the latest resources on the Board's new tick webpage.

Common biosecurity gaps identified during outreach efforts

Dr. Dave Wright has been conducting outreach on the Secure Pork Supply plan. He identified biosecurity gaps during recent workshops and meetings with producers. Here is a list of the most common issues and some solutions:

  • Post biosecurity manager’s contact information.
  • Identify Perimeter Buffer Area (PBA) access points at each feed bin and pit opening with signs.
  • Provide Standard Operating Procedure notifications for drivers and delivery and service personnel who visit the site, and maintain signed “Employee and Visitor Arrival Agreements” on file.
  • Establish a secured gate with signs at the site entry.
  • Maintain delivery logs to identify visitors that may not be recorded in other locations.
  • On-site cleaning and disinfection stations are often not in place. Producers should plan for temporary cleaning and disinfection stations:
    • Dedicate another structure on the premises (outside of the PBA) as a temporary cleaning and disinfection station.
    • Designate an off-site location, such as a nearby truck wash.
    • Transfer animals at the PBA to a trailer located inside the PBA.
  • Post a sign to designate the parking area.
  • Request and list PINs for buying stations, packing plants, feed mills and truck washes.
  • Document a written intervention strategy for morbidity and mortality; i.e when to call the vet.
  • If multiple buildings are on one site, it is acceptable to establish more than one perimeter buffer area. The goal of the PBA is to keep the virus or anything carrying the virus away from the buildings housing the animals.

Veterinary alert

The Anoka County Sheriff's Office sent out the following alert.

It has come to our attention that an unknown person has been calling a number of veterinary clinics in the Twin Cities over the past 10 days and impersonating a member of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office and/or Anoka County Attorney’s Office. The caller will typically state something to the effect that the recipient has failed to appear for jury duty, and there is a warrant out for their arrest. The recipient is then told to give the caller their cell phone number, and that they should immediately report to the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office. Of course, none of this is true, and there have been no warrants issued. We also want to assure you that while law enforcement is unclear as to the motive for the calls, there is no reason to believe anyone is in any danger.

If you have already received one of these calls and have not yet reported it to law enforcement, please do so at your earliest convenience.
Most importantly: If you receive one of these calls in the future, please immediately contact the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office before returning any calls to any numbers left by the caller.

Update on Official ID for Sheep and Goats

The USDA recently implemented more changes regarding the availability of free official ear tags for sheep and goats. At this time, ear tag orders are limited to 100 free metal serial ear tags every 2 years. These 100 orange metal serial tags are available by calling 1-866-USDA-TAG or by ordering online at this link. The USDA has discontinued distribution of all plastic ear tags, flock/herd ID tags, plastic and metal ear tag applicators, until further notice. Please visit the USDA’s Sheep and Goat Identification website for a complete description of vendors and identification options available for purchase.

The opioid epidemic and veterinarians

Veterinarians have a great responsibility when treating and prescribing medications to animals, especially when opioids are involved. Unfortunately the national opioid epidemic requires veterinarians to not only think about the animals they treat when prescribing opioids, but the potential for people to use or abuse those controlled substances.

68% of rural Americans believe increasing education around opioid resources would be an effective means for solving this crisis.

Here are some resources for you to learn more about the crisis and what you can do to make a difference.

Learn more about the opioid crisis in farm country.

Check out these resources for veterinarians from the AVMA.