Industries, pests among policy topics

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The AVMA supports research on the mining and drilling industries, elimination of feral hogs, and use of the least damaging pest control.

A new AVMA policy supports efforts to remove, control, or eradicate feral swine. (Courtesy of Chris Jaworwoski/Alabama DCNR)

In April, the AVMA Executive Board approved those new policies, expanded support for availability of alternative disinfectants during animal disease emergencies, and shortened the policy on vaccination principles.

Environmental issues

The board members approved the following policy on extractive industries, including mining, drilling, dredging, and quarrying:

Extractive industries

AVMA supports objective scientific research on extractive industries’ impacts on animal health, foods of animal origin, and the environment.

Dr. Robert H. Poppenga, chair of the AVMA Committee on Environmental Issues, which proposed the policy, thinks discussions on the subject began with concerns about hydraulic fracturing and related animal and public health issues. That led to talk about other extractive industries, such as those involving oil sands and mines, and the effects of those industries on wild and domesticated animals.

Dr. Poppenga said uneven amounts of information are available on the effects of exposure to products associated with the various extractive industries. For example, he said the effects of petroleum on the environment have become known because of oil spills, whereas less information is available on the long-term consequences of hydraulic fracturing and its associated waste products.

Committee member Dr. Brant Schumaker said that the environmental effects of fuel development have been of concern, studies on some of those industries are in their infancy, and much of the available information is anecdotal.

“Certainly, there is potential in any extractive industry for health effects,” Dr. Schumaker said. “We just wanted to promote science-based studies.”

The policy supports building a body of literature that is based on controlled scientific experimentation, if possible, or at least epidemiologic studies with controls for bias, Dr. Schumaker said.

The board also passed the following CEI-recommended policy in support of eliminating feral swine:

Policy on feral swine

The AVMA fully supports scientifically based regulation and/or legislation at the federal, state, and local level which:

  1. Facilitates the removal of all feral swine from private and public lands to safeguard and protect animal, human, and ecosystem health; and
  2. Funds research into scientific methods for control and eradication of the feral swine population.

Dr. Peggy Anne Hawkins, who represents swine practice on the CEI, said the group considered the issue because the animals pose disease risks and damage wetlands, wooded areas, and fields.

“The policy is very simple from the AVMA point of view that we do not want to see feral swine being encouraged,” she said. “We would like to see them eradicated, basically.”

Feral swine carry diseases such as pseudorabies, which has been transmitted to domesticated swine, Dr. Hawkins said. She cited a 2007 outbreak in Wisconsin and the resulting difficulty in moving animals out of the state.

If feral swine became infected with foot-and-mouth disease, they could transfer the disease to domesticated animals, with devastating results, Dr. Hawkins said.

“The swine industry is at risk—at huge risk—because of these feral swine,” Dr. Hawkins said.

The board also approved the CEI-recommended policy "Integrated Pest Management," which advocates for controlling pests through the use of methods that are the most economical and least hazardous to people, property, the environment, and nontarget animal species.

Broadening, condensing policies

Board members also approved replacing a policy, "Citric Acid as a Disinfectant for FMDv," with a broader policy, "Disinfectants for Foreign and Emerging Animal Diseases." The AVMA now advocates that the Environmental Protection Agency allow emergency uses of disinfectants that are not registered with the agency during foreign and emerging animal disease outbreaks, provided those disinfectants are shown to be effective and safe.

The previous policy advocated that the federal government allow use of citric acid as an emergency disinfectant against FMD, and such use has been approved.

A revised version of the AVMA Vaccination Principles passed by the board provides guidance on vaccine administration that is similar to that in the previous version. However, the policy no longer includes guidance on subjects such as multiple-dose vials, regulatory issues, and vaccine licensing and labeling.