Weekly companion animal news: October 2, 2023

$5.2 million grant will help University of Georgia incorporate spectrum of care into veterinary education

The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine received a $5.2 million gift from the Stanton Foundation to renovate and expand its existing Pet Health Center into a new spectrum of care clinic, as well as to restructure its curriculum to promote the spectrum of care approach. Veterinary students will now be trained in providing more than one approach to an animal’s diagnosis to best fit the financial needs or other preferences of the owner. The funding will help incorporate the spectrum of care philosophy across all four years of students’ veterinary training. The college will work alongside local practitioners to execute the vision, WUGA reports.

Veterinary Emergency Group launches blood bank program for dogs

Veterinary Emergency Group has debuted its VEG Blood Bank program and is currently accepting dog donors at its local hospitals in the Washington, D.C., and Boston areas, dvm360 reports. The blood collected will be stored to be used at VEG or by local veterinary clinics to help save dogs’ lives. The program plans to expand nationally, with blood banks being brought to Philadelphia and Tampa next. According to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, to be eligible to donate blood, typically dogs must be updated on their required vaccinations and free of any medications aside from flea, tick and heartworm preventives. Dogs that have received blood transfusions and those with cardiac conditions may be ineligible. There are also age and weight requirements.

Seattle animal hospital says it will be the country’s first worker cooperative veterinary practice

Beginning this fall, Seattle’s Urban Animal will become the country’s first worker cooperative veterinary practice, the organization announced. This will allow its 110 employees to share in the governance and profits of the 11-year-old company. In transitioning to a limited cooperative association, Urban Animal joins approximately three dozen worker cooperative-based businesses in Washington but is the first veterinary practice of this kind, according to the announcement. Dr. Cherri Trusheim, Urban Animal’s founder, will gift a portion of the company to seed it, with the goal of becoming a 100% employee-owned worker co-op over time.

U.S. veterinary colleges increase seats at accelerating rate

The number of first-year veterinary students enrolled for the 2022-23 school year at U.S. veterinary colleges exceeded 4,000 for the first time, according to data from the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges. From 2012-23, the number of first-year students at U.S. veterinary colleges increased an average of 2.7% per year, or by a total of 37.7%, from 2,938 to 4,047. On average, seats have increased 2% annually since 1980. Overall enrollment for U.S. colleges of veterinary medicine hit 15,157 for the 2022-23 academic year compared with a total of 11,255 U.S. veterinary students in 2012-13. These growing numbers come not only from existing veterinary colleges expanding their class sizes, but also from new veterinary colleges that are currently enrolling veterinary students—three of which have or will be graduating their first classes between now and 2025. The AVMA reports.

In pharmacy school, veterinary topics are lacking

Pet owners sometimes must visit a human pharmacy in order to get their pets’ prescriptions filled. But often the pharmacist is not versed in veterinary medicine. Gary Koesten, president of Vet Pharm Consulting and former director of pharmacy services at 1-800-PetMeds, understands the importance of education and training manuals for newly hired pharmacists. “I have found that there really is no training for pharmacists in veterinary pharmacy, as part of a typical pharmacist education,” he said. “When I retired from PetMeds and realized that there was this lack of information for pharmacists, I formed this company in order to provide training for independent pharmacies and chain pharmacies.” PowerPak, a continuing education company for pharmacists, offers a set of programs that lead to a certificate in veterinary pharmacy. “It’s a broad background for those pharmacists who are interested in veterinary pharmacy,” says Koesten. Dvm360 reports.

Elanco’s canine parvovirus treatment could revolutionize care for the fatal disease

Elanco’s canine parvovirus monoclonal antibody treatment is the first USDA conditionally approved therapy of its kind that directly targets canine parvovirus, one of the most deadly and contagious viruses impacting dogs, USA Today reports. The treatment has been found to shorten the course of the disease, resolving some of the worst symptoms more quickly, limiting hospitalizations and increasing survivability. The treatment is administered intravenously in a single dose and works by binding to the virus directly, blocking entry into host cells. The first puppy to receive Elanco’s monoclonal antibody was considered high-risk due to her young age and small size. She was brought in on a Friday and tested positive. The treatment was administered the same day. By Monday morning, she was tested once more, and results came back negative.

Cat scratch-related pathogen continues to elude recognition

Despite decades of research and evidence that the infection commonly known as cat scratch disease can cause chronic, systemic illness, those most often affected—veterinarians and others who work in animal care—struggle to be taken seriously by physicians. The role of Bartonella (the genus of bacteria responsible for cat scratch disease) in chronic illness remains a mystery to most physicians, and the occupational risk of acquiring Bartonella infection often is underestimated by veterinarians and others who work with animals. The prevalence of infection is unknown. For many patients, the illness transmitted by the saliva of infected cats or fleas and other insect vectors causes only temporary, if acute, symptoms. But in some patients, it’s an insidious disease that can wreak long-term havoc throughout the body and cause a range of debilitating conditions affecting the heart, nervous system and musculoskeletal system, the VIN News Service reports.

Cancer drug shortage takes toll on doctors

As of mid-September, there were 27 oncology medicines on the official FDA shortage list. Widely used chemotherapy drugs cisplatin and carboplatin have been in short supply for months, forcing human doctors and veterinarians to make challenging treatment decisions. Supply chain disruptions affecting the few pharmaceutical companies producing these drugs have meant a recent dramatic reduction in the available supply. Intas, an India-based pharmaceutical company, made about half the key cancer drugs used in the United States until late last year. The company’s production of key cancer drugs was suddenly halted after the FDA found evidence of safety and quality violations at the company’s plant in Gujarat, India, last fall. Analysts now project that the shortage may persist through the fall and possibly longer, the AVMA reports.