Reduce stress on your pets and veterinarians are asked to submit scrapie samples

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board of animal health

Animal Bytes

September 2023

Keep avian influenza out of your flock this fall


There's no telling when or where Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) might infect poultry in Minnesota. One thing scientists and veterinarians can say for certain is spring and fall tend to be the highest risk seasons for your flock to be exposed to the virus. You can prepare your flock, either backyard or commercial operation, to lessen the risk of infection with biosecurity and some basic adjustments to your daily chores.

Our partners in the fight against avian influenza have prepared excellent resources to guide you through the best biosecurity for your location. The Poultry Team over at the University of Minnesota Extension maintains a webpage bursting with information and expert insights for backyard bird owners. Commercial poultry owners can work with their state/federal inspectors, industry group, or veterinarian to check in on their biosecurity efforts. Additionally, the USDA has a vast library of resources in its "Defend the Flock" program. View the library and find what you need for your flock on the USDA website.

You can always find the latest status of HPAI detections in Minnesota and across the U.S. on our Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Response webpage.

Keep reading...

Dogs and cats not only deserve a pit stop; it's the law

The Board of Animal Health is often known for responding to animal disease and swooping in to stamp out its spread. Did you know we also have a heavy focus on preventing disease? One often overlooked contributor to animal disease is stress. This should sound like a familiar talking point when thinking about human health; stress can lead to higher susceptibility to getting sick. It's also true for animals like our beloved dogs and cats.

Focus on reducing stress on your pets during long journeys to keep them healthy. Cars and trucks can travel for hours and hundreds of miles before needing to stop for gas or to recharge. People often stop more frequently than that to stretch their legs, grab a snack or find a restroom. Dogs and cats deserve, and are required to be provided, similar breaks to get out of the crate or backseat and stretch their legs for 20 to 30 minutes during long road trips. Minnesota Statute 346.39 Subdivision 3 states:

When dogs or cats are transported in crates or containers, the crates or containers must be constructed of nonabrasive wire or a smooth, durable material suitable for the animals. Crates and containers must be clean, adequately ventilated, contain sufficient space to allow the animals to turn around, and provide maximum safety and protection to the animals. Exercise for 20 to 30 minutes and water must be provided at least once every eight hours. Food must be provided at least once every 24 hours or more often.

If you're headed across the country with your companion animal for work, vacation or to head south for the winter you should plan and prepare to offer your animal a break along the way to minimize their stress. You'll arrive at your destination with a happier and healthier dog or cat. While you're thinking about it, you should also check into any rules or regulations your destination might have on transporting companion animals or vaccine requirements.

Brains needed: searching for scrapie samples

Scrapie, a fatal disease affecting sheep and goats, has been around in the U.S. for seven decades. Thanks to national disease surveillance, genetic testing and official identification requirements, cases of scrapie have been drastically reduced. However, there are still scrapie-positive animals being discovered. The two most recent cases were a sheep tested in Wisconsin in 2021 and a goat in Indiana in 2019. Animal health officials were unable to identify the flock/herd of origin in each case, which may mean there are farms with undiagnosed cases of scrapie.

To finish the fight against scrapie, we must find the last few cases of the disease. This involves testing sheep and goats that are showing signs of scrapie as well as mature animals that may be incubating the disease.

Veterinarians are on the front line for identifying this disease and can help by contacting Animal Health Officials to collect and submit brains for scrapie testing. Please contact the Board or our local USDA Veterinary Services office if you examine an adult sheep or goat with ataxia, tremors, skin conditions like pruritus, or other neurological signs, or if you have a client with an adult sheep or goat that dies or has to be euthanized (even if the cause of death is known).

Minnesota USDA Area Office

Don't drop your guard on canine influenza

Please talk to your vet about canine influenza during your dog's annual wellness checkup. You may discover the canine influenza vaccine is just what your furry friend needs to stay happy and healthy.

Protecting dogs' health

U.S. Swine Health Improvement Plan wraps up annual meeting

The U.S. Swine Health Improvement Plan (US SHIP) is designed for the prevention, response, and recovery of trade impacting disease(s) in the swine industry. Members include producers, slaughter facilities, and official state agencies. The organization meets annually at a House of Delegates meeting to vote on proposed standards and resolutions to the plan.

A few of the takeaways from the September 2023 meeting include:

New standards:

  • Established a technical committee to evaluate issues that may impact responses during a disease event.
  • Streamlined US SHIP movement records unless required as part of state or federal regulations.
  • Approved summary data available for review by US pork industry stakeholders for demonstration of freedom of disease.

Approved resolutions:

  • Established a US SHIP Exhibition Swine Working Group
  • Integrated Feral Swine Mitigation plans into Secure Pork Supply plans
  • Developed a pathway to incorporate USDA ASF/CSF case compatible submissions to veterinary diagnostic laboratories into US SHIP sampling and testing.

September Quarterly Board Meeting

The Board will meet at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, September 27 for its third quarterly meeting of the year. There are both in-person and online options access the meeting. View the current meeting agenda and meeting information on our website.