July 15, 2004


 Board delays decision on animal carcass disposal initiative

Posted July 1, 2004

In June, the Executive Board decided to postpone until the November board meeting the decision on an Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee recommendation to establish a task force to study the implications of animal carcass and tissue disposal on the veterinary profession. The committee had asked for $15,300 to establish the task force.

The United States disposes of carcasses, particularly diseased or potentially diseased carcasses, by rendering, composting, burial, and incineration. Several recent disease outbreaks including foot-and-mouth disease in Europe, and avian influenza and exotic Newcastle disease in the United States, have heightened awareness of potential disposal issues and highlighted the need for safe, economical disposal of large volumes of animal carcasses that may contain infectious and contagious tissues. In addition, scientists have become concerned about the difficulty in inactivating infectious prions that causes bovine spongiform encephalopathy and other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Rendering will not destroy these prions and incinerators have to operate at extremely high temperatures to effectively inactivate the misfolded proteins.

During discussion, it was brought to the board's attention that researchers at Kansas State University are currently studying this same issue. The findings of the researchers will be reviewed by the AALC at its next meeting. In light of this, the Executive Board considered it most appropriate to revisit the recommendation at its November meeting.