The American Association of Avian Pathologists is celebrating its 50th anniversary while looking to the future.
The AAAP holds its annual meeting in conjunction with the AVMA Annual convention. This year, Dr. Richard Witter spoke about the "Origin and evolution of the American Association of Avian Pathologists: 50 years of dedication and accomplishment."
Dr. Witter, a member and former chair of the AAAP history committee, said a group of avian pathologists first began discussing the need for a national organization in the early 1950s. Regional conferences had been successful to various degrees, but they did not represent the whole country.
Drs. Leland Grumbles, John Delaplane, and Henry Van Roekel led a meeting of avian pathologists in August 1957 to form a national association. Members adopted a constitution during the 1958 AVMA Annual Meeting. The AAAP soon took responsibility for publishing the journal Avian Diseases, which also dates to 1957.
"The AAAP was conceived as an inclusive organization that embraced veterinarians and nonveterinarians in academic and commercial work," Dr. Witter said. "These constituencies continue to form the fabric of this organization, with activities in many areas of poultry medicine carried out by more than 29 committees.
"Priorities are placed on advancing science, on undergraduate and graduate training, and on educational materials. Strong liaisons exist with the AVMA and a number of other politically active organizations."
The AAAP membership has expanded from just under 100 to just under 1,000 during the course of its five decades. Diversity has increased, with growing contingents of female members and members from Latin America. Recently, AAAP leaders created a category for international members outside the Americas.
"The American Association of Avian Pathologists is an organization that exerts leadership within the field on an international basis, even though our focus is here in the United States and the Americas," Dr. Witter said.
He said the AAAP offers a journal, a long list of publications, and the meeting every year in conjunction with the AVMA convention. In the beginning, the meeting program included a dozen presentations. Now the program averages 200 presentations. The AAAP also hosted meetings of the World Veterinary Poultry Association in 1977 and 2003.
Dr. Witter added that AAAP members originated the idea of a specialty board—the American College of Poultry Veterinarians—though the ACVP is independent.
Dr. Charles Hofacre, AAAP secretary-treasurer, said his group has been successful in part because it includes researchers. He said the AAAP provides not so much continuing education as up-to-date research, which is necessary now that the poultry industry has consolidated into large farms.
"You can't afford to make too many mistakes, and you can hardly afford to learn on the job," Dr. Hofacre said. "You really have to apply some of the new technology that's available."
This year, the AAAP began publishing Avian Disease Digest. The publication translates the scientific findings from the journal Avian Diseases for farmers and laypeople who take care of poultry health.
In the future, Dr. Hofacre said, the AAAP plans to provide more information about poultry issues to policymakers at the national and state levels. The organization also plans to communicate more with the public about issues such as avian influenza. See opposite page for the AAAP meeting report.