October 15, 2015


 1955 - 1965

Posted Sept. 30, 2015

The late 1950s and early 1960s saw a flurry of technological and sociological changes in the United States. In 1955, the polio vaccine developed by Jonas Salk was licensed, and rock ’n’ roll music entered the mainstream. Passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, and 1964 was followed in 1965 by enactment of the Voting Rights and Higher Education acts and the institution of Medicare and Medicaid. This era also saw the addition of Alaska and Hawaii to the union, the start of the race to explore space, the beginning of the Vietnam War, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The practitioner is intrusted with the prevention of disease and the care and treatment of the sick and anything he can do to improve that service and to conserve time is worthwhile. He is in the front line in serving the public and maintaining the reputation of the profession. In his hands must be the finest equipment in the finest condition if he is to do his part properly.”

"Portable equipment for general veterinary practice” in the May 1, 1956, issue

As reflected in the pages of JAVMA, the veterinary profession was evolving during this time. Subjects of social and economic importance and the direction of the veterinary profession were addressed in reports and editorials pertinent to the geographic distribution, workloads, and salaries of veterinarians; the important role of veterinarians in public health, natural disasters, meat and poultry inspection, the feed industry, and research; and the vertical integration of the agriculture and livestock industries. Issues discussed in editorials included ethical concerns related to advertising, promotion of drugs by the pharmaceutical industry, veterinarian ownership of biological and pharmaceutical supply firms, and how practice specialization would impact the profession.

Also of interest were changes in veterinary school curricula reflecting the expansion of medical knowledge; changes in student demographics and the question of whether an urban background might be an impediment to success compared with the previously traditional rural experience; and the development of objective, multiple-choice examinations by the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and the Professional Examination Service and their implementation by veterinary state boards.

JAVMA became a twice-monthly publication in January 1956. The Journal at that time covered an array of topics in large and small animal medicine and surgery, most commonly on cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, horses, dogs, and cats. Reports involving laboratory animals, farmed mink, pet birds, and wild animals were also found. An “Organization” section reported on AVMA leadership and meeting activities, AVMA annual convention programs and highlights, information from meetings of groups such as the U.S. Livestock Sanitary Association, selected abstracts from other journals, and news stories. In addition, veterinarians contributed articles describing the layout, functionality, and case capacity of their clinics; business advice; and even modification of vehicles used for farm calls.

Pictures that ran with a May 1, 1956, article on portable equipment for veterinary practice show the open trunk of a ’55 Packard 400 hardtop, converted for use as a mobile medical and surgical supply.​

Advances in radiology and anesthesia, particularly controlled use of inhalant anesthetics, led to improvements in diagnostic testing and surgical techniques, including orthopedic surgery and cesarotomy in large animals. The discovery of new anthelmintics as well as insecticides and acaricides, notably those including organophosphates, gave rise to studies of their effectiveness and toxic effects in various species. Reports abounded on epizootiology, identification, management, and prevention of infectious diseases—including hog cholera, leptospirosis, brucellosis, erysipelas, shipping fever, and rabies—and on concentrated efforts toward the eradication of hog cholera and brucellosis in the United States. Vesicular exanthema of swine was declared eradicated in 1959.

The August 1955 article “The physical examination of rhesus
monkeys” chronicled researchers’ problems with how the
monkeys were to be caught and held while being examined.
The researchers found the “only satisfactory method of
holding was by hand, with the attendant grasping the
monkey’s arms and pinning them behind its back with one
hand and holding the animal’s head or hindlegs with the
other” (as shown in this picture).

With the development and widespread use of drugs for treatment of disease and enhancement of growth came increased understanding of and concern over drug residues in foods and antimicrobial resistance of infectious organisms. In 1956, a study was published that assessed antimicrobial susceptibility and resistance of organisms isolated from cattle with mastitis and found a disparity between in vivo and in vitro effectiveness of commonly used antimicrobials. That same year, the Journal published its first article describing practical use of a previously characterized disk method for antimicrobial susceptibility testing of microbes.

Other notable reports of the time included the description of experiments and observations leading to development of the California mastitis test in March 1957; a February 1959 article on the first institute on veterinary public health practice, held at the University of Michigan School of Public Health; and a January 1963 report from the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia, the first of its kind.