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GonaCon vaccine could offer lasting results for managing wild horse population

Research team in the field
A Colorado State University research team devised a dart delivery technique to administer an immunocontraceptive vaccine to wild horses. (Courtesy of Dan L. Baker, PhD)

Colorado State University recently released a study touting the use of the GonaCon-Equine immunocontraceptive vaccine as a longer-lasting solution to decreasing fertility in wild horses.

The CSU research team first vaccinated mares at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota in 2009 and saw a modest decline in foaling. Researchers decided to re-administer the vaccine to the same mares in 2013.

"No one had tried revaccinating with GonaCon-Equine and it's proving to be much more successful than we expected. ... It has been about 90 percent effective for going on four years now," said Dan L. Baker, PhD, co-principal investigator on the project and an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

The vaccine produces antibodies against gonadotropin-releasing hormone, which prevents the mares from ovulating and from displaying sexual behavior, said Terry M. Nett, PhD, co-principal investigator on the project and a professor in the CVMBS' Department of Biomedical Sciences.

This new vaccine could aid in better controlling the population of wild horses. The number of wild horses and burros that can live in balance with the ecology of public lands is 27,000 but there are currently 82,000 wild horses and burros living on public lands, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Merck offers video interviews with editorial board members

The Merck Veterinary Manual has added a series of video interviews with its editorial board members to its collection of digital resources. Board members discuss their personal experiences in veterinary medicine, provide career advice, and explore current issues in animal health.

The interviews feature Drs. Peter D. Constable, dean of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine; Peter R. Davies, a professor of swine health at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine; and Katherine E. Quesenberry, head of avian and exotic pet medicine at the Animal Medical Center in New York City.

The interviews are available by clicking on "Editorial Board" under the "About" tab.

Survey finds moral distress among veterinarians

Veterinarians across many practice types and demographic categories experience widespread ethical conflict and moral distress, according to a study published Oct. 15 in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

A survey of nearly 900 current and former practicing veterinarians in the U.S. and Canada found a majority felt conflicted over appropriate patient care. Seventy-nine percent of respondents reported being asked to provide care they considered futile, and more than 70 percent reported having no training in conflict resolution or self-care.

"Our findings show that many veterinarians are distressed and anxious about their work and are troubled by many of the requests that are made of them," the study authors wrote. "Many feel like they are just 'going through the motions' and although many are troubled, very few receive any professional help. The majority of respondents who do take action to cope with their distress talk with colleagues or others, presumably informally, instead of seeking professional help."

The authors concluded that ethical conflict and resulting moral distress may be an important source of stress and poor well-being among veterinarians that is neither widely recognized nor well-defined. They encouraged the adoption of tools used to decrease moral distress in human health care workers.

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Related JAVMA content:

Exploding population of wild horses, burros strains BLM (Sept. 15, 2018)

Wild horse, burro population still out of control (Oct. 15, 2015)

Report criticizes management of wild horses (Aug. 15, 2013)

Vaccine could reduce wild horse overpopulation (April 15, 2012)

Wild horses could face euthanasia (Nov. 1, 2008)

Fixing the patchwork that is veterinary wellness support (Oct 1, 2017)