Rabies and other public health policies revisited

Rabies and other public health policies revisited
Published on December 15, 2008
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The Executive Board has approved several recommendations from the Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine.

A new policy titled Rabies was approved, and six other policies were rescinded that addressed specific aspects of rabies—Rabies Vaccination Procedures, Rabies Vaccine Administration, CDC Rabies Section Chief, Rabies Vaccination for Cats, Oral Rabies Vaccines, and Model Rabies Ordinance.

This overarching rabies policy now encompasses the previous policies. The new policy states that the AVMA endorses the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control developed by the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians. Through its liaison representative, the AVMA council has had direct input in development of the compendium and subsequent revisions. The compendium is available from the NASPHV or the AVMA Scientific Activities Division.

As a guide for legislators and other government officials, the AVMA recommends the Model Rabies Ordinance. It is available from the Scientific Activities Division or by clicking here

The board approved a revision of the policy Shipment of Diagnostic Specimens, formerly titled Transportation of Hazardous Substances. The council had recommended that the title and internal references be revised so they are consistent with the issue the policy seeks to address—shipment of diagnostic specimens.

The revised policy concludes as follows: "Veterinarians are urged to review their methods of preparing diagnostic specimens and ensure that they are in compliance with all applicable guidelines and federal and state laws."

To be consistent with the issue at the center of another policy, the board approved the council's recommended revised policy Veterinary Opportunities in CDC Public Health Training Programs, superseding the policy CDC—Preventive Medicine Residency Program. The policy encourages the inclusion of veterinarians in programs that were once available only to physicians. The revision also strengthens the policy by providing for inclusion of other public health training programs offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The board approved AVMA participation in the Healthiest Nation Alliance, launched in April 2007. This initiative complements the AVMA's mission to improve animal and human health and advance the veterinary medical profession. The alliance was started by the CDC, the Association for State and Territorial Health Officials, and the National Association of County and City Health Officers. Its vision: to develop an integrated national system where all the participants value health and work together to achieve optimal health for all.

Relatedly, the board reaffirmed the policy Healthy People 2010, a decade-based national strategy to identify the most important opportunities for improving population health. Healthy People 2020 will eventually replace it. "The AVMA and the veterinary profession must poise themselves to continue to integrate veterinary contributions to human health and those of other medical professions," the policy states, in part.

The board discontinued the AVMA liaison relationship with the Zoonoses Education Coalition. The coalition was intended to be a group of diverse organizations partnering with the CDC to prevent zoonotic disease but was not successfully launched.

The board referred back to the council a recommendation to revise the policy Importation and Interstate Movement of Exotic and Native Wildlife, to emphasize a science-based process. Dr. Cook said the proposed revision "implies we're not concerned about movement unless there's a problem, but we are."