Successful Treatment for Canine Spinal Injuries

Lab tests have shown that an injection of a liquid polymer known as polyethylene glycol (PEG), if administered within 72 hours of serious spinal injury, can prevent most dogs from suffering permanent spinal damage. Even when the spine is initially damaged to the point of paralysis, the PEG solution prevents the nerve cells from rupturing irrevocably, enabling them to heal themselves.

“Nearly 75 percent of the dogs we treated with PEG were able to resume a normal life,” said Richard Borgens, director of the Center for Paralysis Research in Purdue’s School of Veterinary Medicine. “Some healed so well that they could go on as though nothing had happened.”

The research, performed at Purdue, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and Texas A&M University, appears in the December issue of the Journal of Neurotrauma.

In the study, 19 paraplegic dogs between 2 and 8 years of age were treated with a PEG injection within 72 hours of their injury as an addition to the standard veterinary therapy for spinal injury. This standard treatment includes injection of steroids, physical rehabilitation with swimming, and surgical removal of any offending chips of bone remaining in the spinal area after injury. This group of 19 was compared with a second group of 24 dogs that received only the standard treatment.

“The control group was taken from historical cases of dog injury that were similar to those in the 19 dogs we treated,” Borgens said. “We didn’t want to tell any owners who walked in with injured dogs that their pets were not going to receive something that might help. So we looked at the results that the standard treatment had on dogs that had suffered similar injuries in the past.”

After treatment, the dogs’ improvement was measured based on criteria including desire to move, deep and superficial pain perception, and transmission of electrical impulses through the nerve tissue.

“More than half of the dogs in this study were standing or walking within two weeks of treatment,” Borgens said. “In most cases, you could usually notice positive signs within three to five days.”

Another 16 dogs were injected with a different substance called P-188, a mixture of 80 percent PEG along with other chemicals, which also was thought to have potential as a treatment.

“However, dogs treated with the P-188 mixture did not perform as well as those treated with PEG,” Borgens said.

Trauma to nerve cells causes their membranes to weaken and even rupture. Though the cells may survive, this membrane damage causes them to lose the ability to produce and carry nerve impulses along their membranes from one cell to the next.

“Worse yet, chemicals seeping out of the dying spinal cord cells send a ‘suicide signal’ to other nearby cells, causing a chain reaction that kills off more cells than the initial injury did,” Borgens said. “Until now, the end result has been irreparable damage to the spinal cord, causing partial or complete paralysis to the victim.”

PEG is able to intervene in this process by repairing the initial membrane damage. It has been known for decades that two cells that touch each other can become one big cell if PEG is added to the fluid they live in. Because of this surprising ability, PEG is sometimes called a “fusogen.”

About five years ago, Borgens and his partner, Riyi Shi, found that they could actually fuse hundreds to thousands of severed nerve fibers of the guinea pig spinal cord with only a two-minute PEG treatment. This observation led to developing the polymer as a repair agent that would mend the broken membranes of nerve cells after traumatic injury.

Though PEG’s action as a fusogen has been known prior to their work, the exact mechanism that occurs at the membrane to fuse or mend it is still poorly understood. Borgens said that many membrane specialists believe it has much to do with the ability of PEG to quickly and dramatically remove water from the cell membrane that floods into the cell after suffering damage. This makes it difficult for the cellular membrane to heal on its own.

“Imagine children blowing bubbles with wands, the kind with a small round hole at the end,” Borgens said. “The polymer acts like a soap film that covers the hole and draws the water away. In the PEG-sealed membrane, the fatty oils that form the center of the membrane can mix again, free of the water that had likely repelled them. Once PEG dissolves away from the area, water molecules once again help to induce and preserve the restructured membrane.”

In spite of the fact that the exact mechanism is yet to be completely understood, Borgens said it is known that PEG has been both injected and ingested by humans as a component of other medicines and is completely safe. Curiously, PEG only covers damaged cells and tissues when injected into the blood stream and is not found in healthy or undamaged tissues nearby. These facts paved the way for clinical testing on paraplegic dogs at Purdue’s School of Veterinary Medicine by Dr. Peter Laverty and his colleagues, and on paralyzed dogs at a partner institution, the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, by neurologists Joan Coates and Robert Bergman. These efforts could mean relief for many dogs that are prone to spinal injury.

“Certain dog breeds can easily injure their backs simply by jumping off a couch,” Borgens said. “Up to this point, little could be done for dogs or humans with such injuries – even with immediate attention and the highest standard of care. Decompression surgery and injections of steroids, like methyl prednisone, have done little.”

However, with Borgens’ and Shi’s discovery of PEG’s effects on crushed spinal cord tissue, a new and safe therapy may be even closer to human trials since naturally injured dogs responded so well to it.

“In most dogs, we found a PEG injection within 36 hours can restore sensitivity and even mobility within three weeks,” Borgens said. “These results are unprecedented in paralysis research.”

While such news should be inspiring for pet owners, Borgens strongly cautions those who think a cure for human paralysis is right around the corner.

“There are significant differences between canine and human spinal cords that must be addressed before this treatment can be applied to people,” Borgens said. “In dogs, for example, some of the control of walking actually takes place in the spine, while in humans all of this control resides in our brains. Additionally, PEG cannot just be used off the shelf – it must have a high level of purity for it to be effective. This is very promising research, but it won’t be available in your hospital for some time.”

On the other hand, once these issues are ironed out, Borgens said the next step would be human trials.

“We do not anticipate this treatment to have any significant effect on people who have suffered from spinal injuries in the past,” he said. “But once it is refined, we hope it will prevent future spinal injuries from paralyzing victims permanently. I would like a supply of PEG to become standard on every ambulance.”

Funding for this research has been provided by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the state of Indiana and the Mari Hulman-George Endowment.

Purdue’s Center for Paralysis Research was established in 1987 to both develop and test promising methods of treatment for spinal cord injuries.

In addition to work with PEG, the center has a number of other ongoing research projects. Borgens also oversees work with oscillating field stimulators, devices that stimulate growth of spinal cord tissue by means of electrical fields. The center also is working with another druglike ingested substance called 4-aminopyridine, which has shown potential in reversing the injury-induced loss of nerve potentials in damaged nerve fibers.

New NIH Cataract Study

NEW NIH STUDY LINKS LEAD EXPOSURE WITH
INCREASED RISK OF CATARACT

Results from a new study show that lifetime lead exposure may increase the risk of developing cataracts. Researchers found that men with high levels of lead in the tibia, the larger of the two leg bones below the knee, had a 2.5-fold increased risk for cataract, the leading cause of blindness and visual impairment.

“These results suggest that reducing exposure of the public to lead and lead compounds could lead to a significant decrease in the overall incidence of cataract,” said Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, one of the National Institutes of Health, provided support to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital for the nine-year study, which is also focusing on lead’s contribution to hypertension and impairment of kidney and cognitive function. The findings on risk of cataract are published in the December 8th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Lead is found in lead-based paint, contaminated soil, household dust, drinking water, lead crystal, and lead-glazed pottery. Following exposure to lead, the compound circulates in the bloodstream and eventually concentrates in the bone.

The Harvard researchers tested whether bone lead levels measured in both the tibia and patella, also known as the kneecap, were associated with cataract in an ongoing study of men taken from the Boston area.

“Given the strong association between tibia lead and cataract in men, we estimate that lead exposure plays a significant role in approximately 42 percent of all cataracts in this population,” said Debra Schaumberg, Sc.D., assistant professor of medicine and ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School and lead author of the study. “While lead in both the tibia and patella was associated with an increased risk of cataract, tibia lead was the best predictor of cataract in the study sample.”

According to Schaumberg, cataracts develop as a result of cumulative injury to the crystalline lens of the eye. “Lead can enter the lens, resulting in gradual injury to certain proteins present in the epithelial cells, and this eventually results in a cataract,” she said.

The Harvard researchers are among the first to use bone lead in studying the effect of lifetime lead exposure on disease risk. “The best biological marker for estimating a person’s cumulative exposure to lead is provided by skeletal lead,” said Dr. Howard Hu, professor of occupational and environmental medicine at the Harvard School of Public Health and co-author of the study.

“Since blood lead levels reflect only recent exposures, they are not likely to predict the development of age-related diseases such as cataract, which take many years to develop.”
Cataracts, a clouding of the lens resulting in a partial loss of vision, are very common in older people. By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. Other risk factors for cataract include diabetes, smoking, long-term alcohol consumption, and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet sunlight.

“The prevention of age-related cataract remains an important public health goal,” said Schaumberg, “In addition to the obvious problems of reduced vision, the visual disability associated with cataracts can have a significant impact on the risk of falls, fractures, quality of life, and possibly even mortality.”

Vets Keep Close Watch on Canine Disease

Veterinarians Keep Close Watch on Potentially Deadly Canine Disease

– New Website Profiles the Latest Info on Recent Outbreak of Leptospirosis –

From Boston and Buffalo, to Chicago, Denver, Houston and San Diego, veterinarians across the country are keeping a close watch on the recent outbreak of leptospirosis, a potentially deadly canine disease that has already killed several dogs this summer.

Leptospirosis thrives in water sources and is commonly found after periods of heavy rain. Animals that come into contact with water sources that have been contaminated with urine of infected wildlife are most at risk.

A new website, www.dvmvac.org, profiles the latest information on the outbreak of Leptospirosis. The site, which educates veterinarians and pet owners about the important role vaccines play in the health of animals, also features break-through research on canine and feline vaccine development and helps to clarify the debate regarding annual and extended vaccination schedules.

“For many diseases such as Leptospirosis, vaccines remain the single most important element of a pet’s preventative healthcare program,” said well-known vaccine expert Dr. John Ellis, Professor of Veterinary Microbiology at the University of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine, “The site, www.dvmvac.org, answers questions by members of the veterinary profession and the pet-owning public about vaccine efficacy and safety.”

Lyme disease expert, Dr. Steve Levy stated that Lyme is another disease that requires annual vaccination. Levy said, “Annual vaccinations play a critical role in maintaining the immunity necessary to break the Lyme disease cycle. This site is an important new tool to expand our reach as veterinarians and further public awareness about the use of vaccines in dogs and cats.”

Other advisory board members for www.dvmvac.org include:

  • Steven Krakowka, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVP, Ohio State University
  • Gary Norsworthy, DVM, Dipl., ABVP, San Antonio, TX
  • James Evermann, MS, Ph.D., Washington State University
  • Dr. Margret Casal, Assistant Professor of Medical Genetics, University of PennsylvaniaIn addition to interviews with veterinary academia and testimonials from practicing veterinarians,www.dvmvac.org offers information for both veterinarians and pet owners.The section for veterinarians includes topics on:
  • Safety, efficacy and duration of immunity of vaccines
  • Killed vs. modified-live vaccines
  • Sarcomas
  • The role adjuvants play in vaccine efficacyThe pet owner section features information on:
  • Facts about vaccination
  • Disease risk factors
  • Canine and feline diseases controlled by vaccinationThe new vaccine website is currently funded through an educational grant by Fort Dodge Animal Health, based out of Overland Park, Kan.

 

Survey of Optometrists

SURVEY OF OPTOMETRISTS SHOWS FINANCES AND STAFF AS MAJOR PROBLEMS AFFECTING GROWTH

In the second in a series of articles addressing surveys The Practice Solution Magazine has conducted on the optometry, veterinary and dentistry professions, we are releasing the results of the optometry survey. Our surveys are conducted one-on-one by our trained survey team with doctors all across the United States and Canada.

The benefit of doing these surveys on the phone, rather than by questionnaire, is the ability to get all the questions answered in detail. This makes the The Practice Solution Magazine survey a bit more unique as a thorough analysis can be done of the responses.

A wide diversity of practitioners was surveyed. This ranged from doctors just starting out to doctors who have practiced for over 40 years. Fifty seven percent of those surveyed are in solo practices. Seventy two percent of those surveyed have less than five staff members.

Our survey of optometrists clearly showed that staff and financial problems are what doctors consider the primary barriers affecting the expansion and viability of optometric practices. Nearly three quarters of the doctors surveyed believed those were their most serious problems. As discussed below, these two key problems are only the outward symptoms of a much more basic underlying factor.

These problems have resulted in time consumption and lost efficiency amongst 41% of respondents while 26% felt it directly affected their bottom line. Twenty two percent believed that it resulted in stress and an overworked environment

Most of the doctors surveyed stated they didn’t learn enough in graduate school to run a practice and one hundred percent wanted more business courses to be taught in graduate school. This is indicative of the overall responses that show staff issues and finances are the key problem areas.

This also addresses the true underlying reason why the great majority of our respondents experience these financial and staff management problems. Without proper business training, it is completely expected that doctors, on the whole, would be unable to truly manage staff or finances appropriately. And, thus, the above symptoms of this lack of training are so strongly evident. One doesn’t expect an untrained lay person to be able to perform the duties of a trained doctor. Likewise then, why should a person trained to be a doctor, but never trained in business management, be expected to be competent and conversant with all the issues and problems with running a business – which is what a healthcare practice is.

To rectify not gaining an adequate education in school, seventy five percent said they attend seminars, business courses, lectures and other forms of continuing education (CE). We’ve found that many doctors spend a tremendous amount of time pursuing the education they needed to receive in school.

One disturbing figure was that over one quarter of those surveyed forgo all training and attempt to learn the business side solely by trial and error. That one out of every four doctors surveyed are “managing by chance” is cause for concern. While not true in every case, a lack of pursuit of some form of practice management education is a significant contributing factor in the struggle and sometimes failure of so many practices and businesses in the first few years of operation.

The Practice Solution Magazine has already started a new evolution of surveys for optometrists and we plan on releasing the results of that in the coming year.

The rHuPH20 Enzyme

WASHINGTON /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. a development stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of recombinant human enzymes, announced that results from new preclinical studies with Halozyme’s recombinant human PH20 (rHuPH20) hyaluronidase enzyme were presented at the 2005 American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) Symposium on Cataract, IOL and Refractive Surgery, American Society of Ophthalmic Administrators (ASOA) Congress on Ophthalmic Practice Management, and the Clinical and Surgical Staff Program in Washington, D.C.

The data were presented at the ASCRS Innovators Session by Herbert E. Kaufman, MD, Boyd Professor of Ophthalmology and Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine in New
Orleans.

Dr. Kaufman presented preclinical safety and pharmacology animal studies demonstrating that when viscoelastic agents commonly used in cataract surgery were placed in the eyes of animals, injection of Halozyme’s rHuPH20 enzyme into the front of the eye significantly reduced the incidence and severity of intraocular pressure (IOP) rises.

Such pressure “spikes” are believed to occur when viscoelastic materials used in the surgical procedure clog up the eye’s drainage canals and prevent fluid from properly draining out of the eye, a process that can potentially result in permanently dilated pupils,
persistent glare, pain, and discomfort, and retinal and optic nerve vascular occlusion. Dr. Kaufman’s data also showed that injection of rHuPH20 into the front of the eye caused no toxicity to the corneal endothelial cells in the eye.

“These findings further support an innovative new application of the rHuPH20 enzyme and warrant further investigation,” said Gregory Frost, PhD, Halozyme’s Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer. “Minimizing surgical complications from cataract surgery could be helpful for a large number of patients, given that more than 13 million cataract surgeries are performed worldwide every year.”

Halozyme’s hyaluronidase (rHuPH20) is a highly purified, recombinant form of a naturally occurring human enzyme and is being investigated for its ability to break down hyaluronic acid (HA), the space-filling “gel”-like substance that is a major component of tissues throughout the body. The rHuPH20 enzyme can degrade most viscoelastic agents used in clinical practice and therefore could potentially be developed for use as a viscoelastic “antidote” in patients undergoing cataract surgery, in which viscoelastic
agents are used in every case to prevent damage to the cornea.

Treatment For Childhood’s Most Common Eye Disorder

Surprising results from a nationwide clinical trial show that many children age 7 through 17 with amblyopia (lazy eye) may benefit from treatments that are more commonly used on younger children.

Treatment improved the vision of many of the 507 older children with amblyopia studied at 49 eye centers. Previously, eye care professionals often thought that treating amblyopia in older children would be of little benefit. The study results, funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), appear in the April issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

“Doctors can now feel confident that traditional treatments for amblyopia will work for many older children, said Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the NEI. “This is important because it is estimated that as many as three percent of children in the United States have some degree of vision impairment due to amblyopia. Many of these children do not receive treatment while they are young,” he said.

Amblyopia is a leading cause of vision impairment in children and usually begins in infancy or childhood. It is a condition resulting in poor vision in an otherwise healthy eye due to unequal or abnormal visual input while the brain is developing in infancy and childhood. The most common causes of amblyopia are crossed or wandering eye (strabismus) or significant differences between the eyes in refractive error, such as, astigmatism, farsightedness, or nearsightedness.

Children in the study were divided randomly into two groups. One group was fitted with new prescription glasses only. The other group was fitted with glasses as well as an eye patch, or the eye patch along with special eye drops, to limit use of the unaffected eye. These children were also asked to perform near vision activities. The patching, near activities, and eye drops force a child to use the eye with amblyopia. Patching was prescribed for periods of two to six hours daily, while the eye drops were administered daily for the children seven though twelve years of age.

The study investigators defined successful vision improvement as the ability to read (with the eye with amblyopia) at least two more lines on a standard eye chart. The study investigators found that 53 percent of children age seven through twelve years who received both glasses and treatment with patches and near activity met this standard, while only 25 percent of those children in this age group who received glasses alone met the standard. For children age 13 through 17 years who were treated with both glasses and patches (these children did not get drops), 25 percent met the standard while 23 percent of children of these ages who received only glasses met the standard.

The study also revealed that among children age 13 through 17 years who had not been previously treated for amblyopia, 47 percent of those who were treated with glasses, patching and near activities improved two lines or more compared with only 20 percent of those treated with glasses alone. Despite the benefits of the treatment, most children, including those who responded to treatment, were left with some visual impairment. They did not obtain “20/20″ vision.

Rates of Success Treating Children With Amblyopia In Clinical Trial.*
Treatment Group ** Optical Correction Group (glasses only)
Ages seven through 12 53 percent 25 percent
Ages 13 through 17, no prior treatments 47 percent 20 percent
Ages 13 through 17 25 percent 23 percent
* The standard for success in the trial was a child’s ability to read at least two more lines on a standard eye chart using the eye with amblyopia. This may not be the maximum possible benefit that can be achieved with treatment.
** Treatment was eye patching, special eye drops, and near vision activities for ages seven through 12; eye patching and near activities for ages 13 through 17.
“This study shows how important it is to screen children of all ages for amblyopia.” said study co-chairman Richard W. Hertle, M.D., Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Commented co-chairman Mitchell M. Scheiman, O.D., Pennsylvania College of Optometry, “This study shows that age alone should not be used as a factor to decide whether or not to treat a child for amblyopia. The opportunity to treat amblyopia does not end with the pre-school years.”

It is not known, say the authors of the current study, whether vision improvement will be sustained in these children once treatment is discontinued. The NEI is supporting a one-year, follow-up study to determine the percentage of amblyopia that recurs among the children who responded well to treatment, as well as many other clinical studies of amblyopia at eye centers nationwide.

Dr. Sieving also commented that the current study results are “a wonderful example of the adaptability of the human visual system and brain. The NIH is exploring ways to take advantage of this adaptability in order to better understand and treat vision problems and other neurological conditions.”

The study described in this release was conducted by the NEI-funded Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group. The Group focuses on studies of childhood eye disorders that can be implemented by both university-based and community-based practitioners as part of their routine practice. The study was coordinated by the Jaeb Center for Health Research in Tampa, Florida. A list of study centers is attached.

For background information regarding amblyopia, please visit www.nei.nih.gov/ats3/background.asp.
A list of current study centers is available online at www.nei.nih.gov/ats3/centers.asp.

The National Eye Institute is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is the Federal government’s lead agency for vision research that leads to sight-saving treatments and plays a key role in reducing visual impairment and blindness. The NIH is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

West Nile Virus Remains Threat For Unprotected Horses

1,341 U.S. Cases Reported in 2004: Equine Health Experts Urge Vaccination

OVERLAND PARK, Kan./PRNewswire/ — Despite extensive media coverage of equine West Nile virus — as well as the availability of a vaccine for horses — the potentially deadly disease continues to threaten equines, with 1,341 new cases reported in 38 different states from January through mid-December in 2004. Equine health experts continue to appeal to horse owners to vaccinate unprotected horses, as well as properly booster previously vaccinated animals to maintain immunity.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released statistics that highlighted the disease’s anticipated spread westward, reporting that California, which had only one reported case in 2003, had 536 confirmed cases in 2004, earning it the designation of the leading state for incidence of the disease. According to the California Department of Health Services, 42 percent of the equine West Nile virus cases in 2004 were fatal.
Other states hard hit by West Nile virus last year include Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi.

“With West Nile virus spreading to the West Coast, the disease is now considered endemic in all areas of the country,” said Dr. Tim Cordes, Senior Staff Veterinarian for Equine Diseases at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Inspection Service. “We recommend that all horses be vaccinated as a primary means of prevention.”

According to animal health experts, the interaction of many variables and conditions cause the disease to continue to proliferate. These factors include weather, the environment, migratory bird pathways and mosquito populations. Because the interplay of all these variables is vital for the disease to spread, the risk of exposure and geographic distribution can vary and change significantly from year to year. That is why horse owners are urged to consult with their veterinarian and have their horses vaccinated.
Encouragingly, the overall incidence of the disease has been decreasing over the past two years. In 2003, cases declined by 70 percent from the previous year, and in 2004 they declined again by 75 percent. The declines in equine West Nile virus cases over the past two years can be attributed in part to immunity – from both effective vaccines and the development of natural immunity among the horse population.

Fort Dodge Animal Health developed the first West Nile virus vaccine for horses in 2001. More than 16 million doses of the West Nile- Innovator® vaccine have been administered safely to horses coast to coast since its approval by the USDA. West Nile-Innovator has been proven 94 percent effective in a severe laboratory challenge where horses were exposed to West Nile virus at levels significantly higher than found in nature.

The first cases of equine West Nile virus were detected in 1999, with 25 horses being afflicted with the disease that year. Since then, the USDA has received reports of West Nile virus in all 48 states in the continental United States, with more than 22,600 horses having contracted the disease. Approximately one-third of horses clinically affected with West Nile virus die or are euthanized.

AAEP Issues New Guidelines on WNV Vaccination

Noting the serious effects of West Nile virus, along with the unpredictable geographical risk of exposure to the disease from year to year, the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) recently released guidelines recommending all horses in North America be immunized against West Nile virus.

The AAEP Guidelines note proper vaccination of previously non- vaccinated horses involves administration of two doses of vaccine three to six weeks apart. In endemic areas, boosters are warranted according to how severe the virus is in the region. Once the first series of vaccinations are complete, horses should be vaccinated semi-annually or more frequently, depending on the risk in the area they are located. Annual revaccination is best completed in the spring, prior to the onset of peak mosquito season.

Horse owners are advised to discuss the AAEP Guidelines with their veterinarian to determine the best vaccination protocol for their region. Many veterinarians in Southern states where mosquitoes are active year- round prefer to vaccinate horses semiannually or more frequently to help ensure uniform protection throughout the year. Further, the Guidelines recommend horses that have been naturally infected with the disease should be vaccinated one year after the acute illness and included in a routine vaccination program.

While the AAEP reported vaccination is the primary method of reducing the risk of infection, it also noted preventive management practices may help minimize the transmission of West Nile virus from infected mosquitoes. Included among these practices is the elimination of standing or stagnant water, the use of anti-mosquito repellants, and keeping horses in barns from dusk to dawn, the prime feeding time for mosquitoes.

Now is the Time to Vaccinate and Booster

West Nile virus typically increases in incidence through the summer months with peak infection rates in August and September. However, many equine health experts strongly advocate horse owners have their animals vaccinated prior to the start of mosquito season. Horse owners with animals already vaccinated should consult with their veterinarian to discuss a routine boostering protocol based on the disease risk in their region.

 

California VMA Files Lawsuit Against City of West Hollywood

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA /PRNewswire/ — The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) filed a lawsuit against the City of West Hollywood in Los Angeles County Superior Court in March challenging the city’s ban on animal declawing.

The CVMA contends the ordinance — Municipal Code Chapter 9.49, first adopted by the West Hollywood City Council on April 21, 2003 — is in direct conflict with and preempted by the California Veterinary Practice Act and the Business and Professions Code, which invalidates the West Hollywood measure.

“Just like medical doctors, veterinarians in California are highly regulated by the State of California,” says Dr. Jon Klingborg, president of the CVMA. “We simply cannot have local city councils approving laws that conflict with state law. This restricts pet owners from seeking the best possible treatment and prevents us from practicing veterinary medicine as well.”

Last December, the California Department of Consumer Affairs issued a legal opinion declaring that state law supersedes local law, and the practice of veterinary medicine is governed “solely” by the Veterinary Practice Act and the state Veterinary Medical Board.

Additionally, the legal opinion affirmed that Section 460 of the state’s Business and Professions Code “expressly preempts the City of West Hollywood’s declawing ordinance.”

In recent months, the City of West Hollywood has attempted to assume more of the state’s regulatory responsibilities. It passed one ordinance that restricts the rights of veterinarians who practice within the city boundaries and has proposed another. As a membership organization with members in Los Angeles County and the City of West Hollywood, the California Veterinary Medical Association has an obligation to protect the right of all California veterinarians to practice veterinary medicine as regulated by the California Veterinary Practice Act.

“The practice of veterinary medicine should be left to veterinarians with the best interests of the patient and animal owners in mind,” says Dr. Klingborg. “When legislation becomes necessary for such issues as declawing or ear cropping, there is no doubt it should be conducted by the California State Legislature within the confines of the Veterinary Practice Act.”

The CVMA believes the court will declare the City of West Hollywood’s ordinance banning animal declawing as unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable. The CVMA has also asked the court to declare the city’s February 7 proposal to ban such other “non-therapeutic procedures” as tail docking and ear cropping as equally unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable.

Should the court conclude that West Hollywood’s Municipal Code Chapter 9.49 and its provisions are preempted, the CVMA has requested an order commanding the city to rescind the provisions.

“It is unfortunate that the CVMA is forced to pursue this issue through legal action,” says Dr. Klingborg. “But clearly the West Hollywood City Council stands in direct opposition to the rights of veterinarians to practice medicine in the best interest of their patients and clients.”

Noah’s Ark Veterinarians International to Provide Assistance

Noah’s Ark Veterinarians International will be providing emergency veterinary assistance to animal victims. In the wake of the tsunami devastation, Sri Lanka is under an increased threat of disease outbreaks.

Noah’s Ark Veterinarians International (NOAV), a newly formed Israeli/US Veterinary Non profit relief organization, is preparing to set up a fully-equipped, modern veterinary hospital in Sri Lanka in response to appeals from the Sri Lankan health and animal authorities.

NOAV, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Veterinary Services of Sri Lanka, is also initiating a program to address the immediate outbreak of Human Rabies due to the conditions following the Tsunami disaster and to assist them in implementing a long term nationwide modernization program to eradicate the disease.

In addition, NOAV volunteers and funding will be assisting in projects dealing with the care and medical relief for wildlife and domestic animals in the area.

According to the Sri Lankan Minister of Agriculture and animal and livestock, more than 30000 Sri Lankan families depend on livestock to generate their household income hence the urgent need for global assistance in resupplying farm livestock, and housing, feeding and medical care for the existing animals that support the regional economy.

NOAV International was founded by Israeli Veterinarian, Dr. Eytan Kriener of “the House of Veterinarian Doctors” Macabim, Israel, in response to the enormous devastation wrought by the tsunami in East Asia.

In early March 2005, a NOAV volunteer flew to the tsunami-hit region to meet with high-ranking officials to discuss how veterinarians could aid the relief effort. Initiating Noah’s Ark Veterinarian’s International relief organization (NOAV) Dr. Kreiner has funded the Sri Lankan Tsunami Project solely through donations from private individuals and leading Israeli corporate sponsors.

El-Al Israel Airlines and Flying Cargo have pledged to fly the hospital equipment food and medicines as far as Bangkok, Thailand. Nestle Purina donations of pet food are stocked at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, along with medical supplies from Sar-El Medical. The IDF Medical Corps, hospitals and health organizations are all contributing medical equipment. But the mission is still a work in progress.

To complete NOAV International’s medical inventory and logistical requirements to reach Sri Lanka, NOAV is issuing an urgent appeal to all aid and relief organizations, philanthropic institutions and individuals. NOAV is urgently seeking additional equipment and further sources of funding to complete this mission.

NOAV needs to raise $75000 to cover the following expenses:
-Funds to cover the costs of additional medical equipment
-Funds to cover round-trip travel and living expenses for rotating Vets and Volunteers
-Funds to move the cargo from Bangkok to Sri Lanka
-Volunteer Veterinarians to rotate in one to two month sessions on location
-Veterinarian Medical Schools Internships, Volunteer students, vet techs and volunteers with interests in animal welfare and care to partner with this effort
-Interns or volunteers to assist with the nonprofit NOAV International fundraising effort in the USA
-Frequent Flyer Miles donations to NOAV International Flight Bank
-Volunteer Veterinarians with international experience in tropical and emergency medicine in voluntary advisory or on site capacity
-Immediate and urgent donation of 6 roundtrip economy plance tickets from Amman, Jordan to Sri Lanka
-The Sri Lankan Mission Project target operations start date is June 2005

From The Editor’s Desk

They say that change is good. If that’s true, then The Practice Solution Magazine will take a nice step forward this year with the changes we have underway

First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Matthew Bratschi and I’ve recently accepted the position of Managing Editor for The Practice Solution Magazine.

We’ll be regularly contacting our readers to find out what they liked best about the magazine and areas that could be fine-tuned.

We’ll be adding regular features to the magazine including profiles on doctors and businessmen that are outstanding in their fields. A FAQ (frequently asked questions) page will be added as well as an e-mail “hotline” to me for direct communication.

The purpose of The Practice Solution Magazine is to provide an information source on practice and small business management issues that fills an existing need amongst healthcare and business professionals.

Previously, The Practice Solution Magazine has concentrated solely on members of the healthcare profession. This year we will branch out somewhat into general small business, although healthcare will remain our primary focus. There are, simply, common management problems in all small businesses – i.e. staff management, financial management, getting new patients/customers, etc. With the proper management education there are solutions to all of these problems, no matter the type of business one operates.

As many of you know, surveys are the crux of The Practice Solution Magazine. This issue spotlights recent surveys conducted on optometrists all over the country. There is some fascinating information that was uncovered that applies to all industries. This is something that we are finding out in our ongoing surveys of practitioners in the fifty States and Canada. Apparently, there are universal truths.

The article that explains the results of the survey is the first in a series of articles outlining issues that YOU have said are the biggest problems in your practices and businesses. Our next issue will address the results of our surveys with veterinarians and the following issue will highlight the results of our surveys with dentists.

I look forward to making The Practice Solution Magazine your first stop for industry news and interaction. It’s great to be here!

Matthew Bratschi
Managing Editor
The Practice Solution Magazine