October 01, 2015


 1955 - 1965

Posted Sept. 16, 2015

Antibiotics were a “wonder drug,” veterinarians were becoming more specialized, and the U.S. was shifting from the Atomic Age to the Space Age. 

The JAVMA was filled with radiographs, black-and-white close-up photos of clinical subjects, and portraits of unsmiling men with precise haircuts. Also, starting in 1961, the editors made the unfortunate choice of distinguishing their journalism section by printing it on yellow pages. 

The Journal’s editors and contributors lauded expanding uses of antibiotics as revolutionary for veterinary practice and animal nutrition, treating disease, stimulating growth, and maybe someday preserving food. At least one dog food advertisement boasted of the “bonus benefit” of antibiotics. 

"Recent experiences with antibiotic-resistant organisms in mastitis, diarrheas, and other diseases have indicated the desirability of a rapid antibiotic-sensitivity test," read a June 1, 1956, article accompanying these photos.

But even mid-1950s articles noted public concern about residues and assertions that widespread administration and residues could reduce drug effectiveness. 

“It has even been suggested that certain antibiotics which are extensively used by physicians be banned for use on food-producing animals,” a 1958 editorial states.   

By the late ’60s, the editors and AVMA would see potential needs to re-examine the routine administration of antibiotics and study the risks of drug resistance and residues. 

Before then, journals of the mid-’50s also reminded veterinarians that they were living in the Atomic Age, whether in descriptions of the uses of radioactive cobalt to sterilize screwworm flies and clear the pest from areas of the U.S., fears of radioactive isotopes in food, results of national sampling for radioactive fallout following atom bomb tests, or reports on meetings of medical officials discussing responses to atomic warfare.   

A Feb. 1, 1960, JAVMA editorial, “When the bombs fall,” urged preparation to provide mass casualty care. An article published the same year included the understatement that “The simultaneous detonation of a large number of thermonuclear weapons over this nation would result in widespread radioactive contamination of farms and agricultural resources by fallout, with serious consequences to the nation’s agriculture.” 

Capt. Keith Kraner, a veterinarian, holds a dog wearing a pressure suit and oxygen helmet as part of research related to space exploration. This photo appeared on the cover of the March 1, 1960, issue.

And starting in the late 1950s, editorials and articles also described increasing specialization in veterinary medicine and the loss of the general practitioner. The urban population was rising, increasing the demand for pet veterinarians. Farms were consolidating, and livestock industries were combining, requiring veterinarians better equipped to deal with larger numbers of animals.

As a June 1, 1957, guest editorial said, “Yes this is a changing world. The Dodo bird couldn’t make it, but we feel sure that the veterinarian will.” 

The Dodo bird couldn’t make it, but we feel sure that the veterinarian will.”

A guest editorial from the
June 1, 1957, issue of JAVMA

By 1963, “the profession’s burgeoning interest in small animals” showed in JAVMA’s scientific articles, 41 percent of which were on small animals. About 50 percent were on large animals, yet more articles were related to dogs than to any other single species.

JAVMA also covered veterinarians’ contributions toward humanity’s ascent beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

The March 1, 1960, JAVMA cover article “Animals precede men into space,” showed veterinarians’ contributions in biomedical research related to space exploration. Veterinarians would work on human and animal tests; examine the first chimpanzee astronaut, Ham, after his 1961 flight aboard a Mercury capsule; and become eligible to apply for astronaut appointments. Despite a Nov. 15, 1966, notice indicating veterinarians could apply to conduct experiments in orbiting satellites, no veterinarians would go into space until 1993.  

In other news, the Salk vaccine developed to prevent polio in humans already had potential to help animals, as seen in research toward a vaccine against vesicular stomatitis. And other article topics included studies of hip dysplasia, particularly in German Shepherd Dogs; rabies eradication efforts; mastitis in dairy cows; and the potential use of electricity-induced anesthesia of dogs.