First Communication Track Introduced at ACVIM Forum, Zoonotic Disease Keynote Topic

For the first time in 24 years, the ACVIM Forum featured a series of communication and management sessions on June 3, 2006, in Louisville, Kentucky. A total of 2,959 professionals attended the ACVIM forum, including 914 general practitioners, said Jenn Zohn, ACVIM spokesperson. Specialists in veterinary and human medical communications discussed relationship-centered care and ways to improve client communication while Amanda Donnelly, DVM, MBA, covered the increasingly important relationship between specialists and general practitioners.

Donnelly told the audience, which comprised generalists and specialists that a good working relationship could improve profit margins. A feature story that focuses on this topic will appear in the July/August issue of Trends Magazine.

During the keynote session, Frederick Murphy, DVM, PhD, discussed emerging zoonotic diseases and emphasized the fields of public health as well as infectious disease science for veterinarians.

“Eleven of the last 12 human infectious diseases in the world have come from animal sources,” Murphy told a packed audience. Although he joked about being called "Dr. Doom," Murphy asked veterinary professionals, “Are we doing enough or are we just focusing on the disease of the week?”

During his speech, Murphy touched on the 1918 influenza epidemic as well as Foot and Mouth Disease, Rabies, which still kills between 40,000 and 70,000 people every year, and Japanese encephalitis. Japanese encephalitis, which is related to the West Nile Virus, spread to India in 1999, invaded Queensland, Australia, and “is on the move,” Murphy said. "It is high on the threat list for invasion of our continent,” he added.

Noting that the number of passengers entering the United States has jumped from 43.8 million in 2004 to 47.5 million in 2006, Murphy emphasized the need for a truly global public health system that monitors disease in all countries instead of what he described as a provincial view of so-called threats.

Stating that diseases can be introduced by accident or intentionally, Murphy questioned why, when 500,000 animals are transported into the country annually, federal employees do not put more of an emphasis on testing to protect public health.

He praised the efforts of the Texas State Public Health Department, which has curtailed the spread of rabies with a creative bait program, and referenced a similarly successful program in Ontario. Citing impressive international efforts to study human and animal health in Canada and Australia, Murphy called U.S. initiatives – or the lack thereof – embarrassing.