Research, recognition, and relationships

Studies discussed, partnerships solidified at NAVC
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The launch of a major study of cancer in Golden Retrievers was just one of the highlights from this year's North American Veterinary Conference Jan. 15-19 in Orlando, Fla.

The Morris Animal Foundation announced the start of the Canine Lifetime Health Project, a 13-year longitudinal study intended to examine cancer in Golden Retrievers.

The foundation created the project to learn how to prevent cancer and other diseases in dogs by determining genetic, nutritional, and environmental risk factors.

2011 NAVC board of directors
Members of the 2011 NAVC board of directors: Front row: Dr. Charlotte Lacroix, director; Dr. David Senior, conference coordinator; Dr. Earl Rippie, secretary-treasurer; Lynne Johnson-Harris, 1st vice president; and Dr. Melinda Merck, director. Back row: Drs. Mark Smith, director; Colin Burrows, executive director; Earl Gaughan, director; Richard LeCouteur, director; Doug Mader, immediate past president; Laurel Kaddatz, president; Mark Crootof, director; Christine Navarre, director; and Gatz Riddell, president-elect.

The goal is to enroll about 2,500 Golden Retrievers ages 2 to 7. The project has already received support from animal health companies such as Hill's Pet Nutrition, Pfizer Animal Health, and Merial.

For more information visit and click on the "Major Health Campaigns" link under the "Our Research" tab.

This year's conference also featured enhanced collaboration with veterinary technicians and physicians.

The NAVC and the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America joined forces in a new partnership so that NAVTA's scientific meeting would be held at the conference. This was in addition to NAVTA's annual membership meeting, which has long been held in conjunction with the NAVC. This year's membership meeting was a luncheon Jan. 17.

"We believe that the new partnership will build on the strengths of each group. NAVTA will host a professional development conference this November, but has never wanted to duplicate the efforts of amazing scientific programs already in place," said NAVTA president, Denise Mikita, in a press release.

The American Medical Association was represented by its president, Cecil B. Wilson, MD. He talked to attendees Jan. 17 about the importance of unifying the health professions during the conference's One Health program, crafted to help bridge the divide between the health professions.

The daylong session at the NAVC covered field investigations of diseases, the relationships between infectious diseases and domestic and wild animals, international surveillance to detect zoonoses emerging in wildlife to prevent human pandemics, and equipping private practitioners—veterinarians and family practitioners—and public health officials with the information they need to act as sentinels against disease.

In an evening session, presentations were given by other one-health advocates, such as Dr. Lisa A. Conti, director of the Florida Department of Health's Environmental Health Division; Dr. Carina Blackmore, Florida state public health veterinarian; and Kevin M. Sherin, MD, director of the Orange County (Florida) Health Department.

During the Bayer Cutting Edge Symposium Jan. 19, Dr. Byron L. Blagburn presented findings from his study "Comparative efficacy of four commercially available heartworm preventive products against the MP3 laboratory strain of Dirofilaria immitis."

In this laboratory study, Advantage Multi for Dogs was the only product tested that was 100 percent effective against the D immitis strain.

The American Heartworm Society pointed out in its response to Dr. Blagburn's presentation that this study followed an earlier study that, using a different design, examined the single-dose efficacy of two heartworm preventives against the same laboratory strain of heartworms.

"Even though there were differences in the efficacy of the macrocyclic lactones, correlations between the behavior of the study strain and other field strains cannot be extrapolated. Additional research is needed to allow for full understanding and interpretation of the findings in these two studies," according to the response.

The Bayer study was published Jan. 11 online in the journal Veterinary Parasitology.

In other conference happenings, Dr. Stephen J. Ettinger was honored with the 2011 Mark L. Morris Sr. Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions in advancing veterinary care.

A diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, he authored the Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, which remains the gold standard among veterinary internal medicine resources, said Dr. Janet D. Donlin, chief veterinary officer at Hill's Pet Nutrition.

His career has included positions as staff cardiologist and assistant head of medicine at The Animal Medical Center in New York City; hospital administrator and internal medicine and cardiology team member at Berkeley Veterinary Medical Group in Berkeley, Calif.; and consultant to animal industry organizations.

Paid attendance at the 2011 NAVC hit a three-year high, with a 1.5 percent increase over 2010. Attendees hailed from 71 countries. In all, 14,026 registrants checked in, including 5,514 veterinarians, 1,365 veterinary technicians, and 754 veterinary students. Twelve "master classes" for veterinary technicians and 40 for veterinarians were offered as were more than 50 hands-on laboratories, which contributed to the total of more than 1,300 hours of continuing education offered.