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April 15, 2020

WVC becomes Viticus Group

Organization’s annual conference draws over 16,000, features cat food that reduces allergens
Published on March 25, 2020

The Western Veterinary Conference became WVC in 2014. Now the organization has been renamed as Viticus Group, reflecting its expansion to education in human health, while the annual conference remains WVC.

Attendance was over 16,000 for the 2020 conference, held Feb. 16-19 in Las Vegas. The program provided continuing education in the categories of small animal, food animal, equine, avian and exotics, practice management, and veterinary technology. The AVMA offered sessions on several subjects at the conference, including “Planning in the Present for Your Financial Future” and a series on animal transport. Some of the sessions will be available on AVMA Axon, the Association’s online CE platform.

During the conference, Nestle Purina PetCare announced the April release of Purina Pro Plan LiveClear, the first cat food that reduces allergens in cat hair and dander.

Drs. B. Duncan X. Lascelles and Sheilah A. Robertson
Drs. B. Duncan X. Lascelles and Sheilah A. Robertson present during the hands-on lab “Elevating Care for Osteoarthritis in Cats” at the WVC Annual Conference this past February in Las Vegas. (Courtesy of WVC)

Viticus group

Since 1928, WVC as an organization has provided CE to veterinary professionals. The organization was founded in Logan, Utah, as the Intermountain Livestock Sanitary Association and was renamed the Western Veterinary Conference in 1965, then WVC in 2014.

Viticus Group logo
WVC will now be known as Viticus Group, providing continuing education for both veterinary and human health professionals. The name “Viticus” combines the Latin term for life, “vita,” and the Latin term for doctor, “medicus.” (Courtesy of WVC)

The organization will now be known as Viticus Group, providing CE for both veterinary and human health professionals. The WVC name will be retained for offerings associated with the veterinary community, including year-round courses and the annual conference. Viticus Group was selected as the name for the overall organization to capture its mission for the human health division as well as the veterinary division.

Viticus Group’s facilities for hands-on learning will receive upgrades and additions to accommodate more events for veterinary and human health. These facilities will be known as the Viticus Center. The former Oquendo Center will now be called Viticus Center–Oquendo Campus. The new 71,000-square-foot facility recently acquired by Viticus Group is called Viticus Center–Eastern Campus.

“We’re excited about the expansion to include human health education as a focus along with veterinary education because it means we can influence more lives for the better,” said Andrea Davis, CEO of Viticus Group, in a Feb. 19 announcement. “Though we have a new face and a new name, our commitment to supporting veterinary and human health professionals by providing them access to affordable, advanced continuing education with cutting-edge technology in state-of-the-art facilities remains the same.”

The 2020-21 WVC officers are Dr. Robert Smith, Stillwater, Oklahoma, president; Dr. Brian Poteet, Tomball, Texas, president-elect; Dr. Debbie White, Las Vegas, vice president; veterinary technician E. David Stearns, Fall Creek, Wisconsin, secretary-treasurer; and Dr. Dennis McCurnin, Las Vegas, immediate past president.

Cat food

Pro Plan product package
Pro Plan LiveClear Adult Chicken and Rice

The cat food that reduces allergens, Purina Pro Plan LiveClear, is the culmination of more than a decade of Purina research, according to a company announcement.

“Cat allergen management is a significant problem, with one in five adults worldwide sensitive to cat allergens,” said Ebenezer Satyaraj, PhD, in the announcement. He is an immunologist for Nestle Purina Research and lead investigator for the research that led to the development of Pro Plan LiveClear.

The protein Fel d 1 is the major cat allergen, causing responses in up to 95% of cat allergen–sensitive individuals. Fel d 1 is produced in the salivary and sebaceous glands of cats, transferred to the cat’s hair and skin during grooming, and shed into the environment via hair and dander.

“All cats produce Fel d 1, although the amount can vary widely between individual cats and fluctuate throughout the year,” Dr. Satyaraj said. He noted that, despite popular myths, no cats are hypoallergenic, and all cats produce Fel d 1, regardless of breed, age, hair length, color, housing, sex, or size.

The Pro Plan LiveClear diet is formulated using a key protein sourced from eggs that contains an anti–Fel d 1 antibody. A study published last year in the journal Immunity, Inflammation and Disease found that feeding the diet was shown to significantly reduce the allergens in cat hair and dander by a mean of 47%, starting in the third week of daily feeding. In this same study, 97% of cats exhibited a reduction of active Fel d 1, with individual variability.

“From the standpoint of the owner and the veterinarian, it is important to note that Pro Plan LiveClear neutralizes the major cat allergen without impacting the physiology of the cat,” said Dr. Jason Gagné, Purina director of veterinary technical communication, in the Purina announcement. “Because scientists do not know precisely why cats produce Fel d 1, our goal was to neutralize the protein rather than inhibit its production. Meanwhile, a 6-month safety study proved that the egg product ingredient coating the LiveClear kibble is completely safe for the cat to eat. The ingredient’s action occurs in the mouth, but once swallowed, it is digested like any other protein.”

AVMA sessions

At WVC, the AVMA offered CE tracks on the topics of cannabis and opioids, air transport of companion animals, financial planning, and well-being and healthy workplaces.

The sessions going up on AVMA Axon cover a macro view of veterinary economics; practical tactics to address debt; the critical link between debt and behavior; steps to purchase a practice with debt; civility in the workplace; animal transport by air, above and below the wing; air travel from the animal’s perspective; and the what and why of certificates of veterinary inspection in pre-travel examinations.