Spearheaded by the AVMA, a unique, new resource for veterinarians, potential clients, and other individuals to locate aquatic veterinarians and diagnostic laboratories was recently made public after more than a year in development. Individuals seeking the services of aquatic veterinary medicine can now access information on more than 2,000 veterinarians and 100 diagnostic laboratories for no charge at www.AquaVets.com.
Previously, information about the veterinarians and laboratories involved with aquatic species was known only through word-of-mouth, said Dr. David Scarfe, assistant director of the AVMA Scientific Activities Division.
"Two recent U.S. national animal disease emergency declarations, one affecting food-producing salmon, the other for ornamental koi and other carp, have clearly heightened the awareness of these veterinary needs," Dr. Scarfe said.
The databases were initiated with funds from the Department of Agriculture as a resource for reducing disease risks to commercial aquaculture. The databases incorporate all disciplines of veterinary medicine that involve any aquatic species, from crustacean and molluscan invertebrates to finfish, reptiles, amphibians, and marine mammals.
"The AVMA recognized that aquaculture is the fastest growing segment of agriculture," said AVMA President Henry E. Childers. "More than 47 percent of all animal protein consumed is seafood, a third of which is farmed, yet no single source of information on how to locate aquatic veterinarians or diagnostic laboratories existed. This has left aquaculture producers, animal owners, government agencies, and other veterinarians at a disadvantage."
Users can search the online databases using several criteria such as person or laboratory name, location, species type served, or disease and diagnostic test type. With password-protected access, veterinarians and laboratories can update their profile at any time, and new veterinarians and laboratories can easily register. As part of registration, veterinarians and laboratories can choose whether they want their information made public, and also if they want to subscribe to AquaVetMed, an e-mail news service moderated by the AVMA.
During the test phase of AquaVets.com, Dr. Scarfe said, the developers received a large number of requests from companion animal practitioners to participate.
"We always assumed that there were a large number of companion animal veterinarians servicing aquatic animal clients, but the response was quite surprising," Dr. Scarfe said. Consequently, he said, the developers will examine the possibility of adding modules to AquaVets.com for online continuing education, disease surveillance, diagnostic laboratory submissions, and certificates of veterinary inspection.
The AVMA, AUMS Ltd./Aquaculture Underwriting & Management Services, and GlobalVetLink LLC developed the databases as part of the National Risk Management Feasibility Program for Aquaculture. Partial support for the online databases was provided by the Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency's Federal Crop Insurance Corporation through Mississippi State University.
A brochure on the resources available at AquaVets.com may be obtained by calling the AVMA at (800) 248-2862, Ext. 6636.