2011 FSF Report

The program report for the 2011 Summer FSF program can be found by following this link 2011 MSU CVM SUMMER FSF Program Report . Enjoy!!

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AVMA Advocate – And Now, a Word from Some Fellows on Capitol Hill

Follow this link to read aboout Chelsea Render’s expereince in Washington DC – recently published in the AVMA advocate (Chelsea’s is the second in the series):

AVMA ADVOCATE – And Now, a Word from Some Fellows on Capitol Hill

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Fisherman for a Day

A few weeks ago, we went to a fee fishing facility located on a 40 acre lake.  The spring-fed lake had been stocked with several species, including yellow perch, bluegill, smallmouth bass, and a few rainbow trout.  For the VHS surveillance testing work we are doing this summer, we are taking samples from 60 fish per farm.  Most farmers use nets or traps to collect the 60 fish necessary for testing.  When we arrived to this facility, however, the farmer had no equipment but one fishing pole!  I volunteered for the job of “fisherman.”  What a fun day!  I got to catch 60 fish…and get paid to do it!  Although there were many fish species in the lake, all 60 I caught were yellow perch.  We suggested putting in predators such as pike to clear out some of the perch, as the farmer was disappointed that the perch population so outnumbered the other fish.  I’ve included a picture of me having fun fishing!

The only way to test for VHS is by taking tissue samples.  We are as humane as possible when euthanizing the fish to collect these samples.  If the farmer does not wish to keep the fish for food, we euthanize them with a chemical known as MS-222.  It is commonly used on fish farms as an tranquilizer or anesthetic for egg or milt (sperm) collection, fin clipping or tagging, immunizing, etc and in the pet fish business for surgeries, physical exams, and more.  If used at the correct dose, it induces a quick and humane death.  The second picture is of me with a fish I just euthanized with MS-222.  Fish euthanized with MS-222 need to be buried to prevent injury or death to wildlife or birds that may prey upon the carcasses.  If the farmer wishes to fillet the fish for food, MS-222 is not used because it would be unsafe to eat the meat.  In this case, we pith the fish, which is also considered humane euthanasia for fish by AVMA. 

Hannah Vanos
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The case of “Blazing Diarrhea”

I was able to help out with another interesting outbreak several weeks ago.  In June, an Amish family’s barn in south central Michigan caught on fire, with 240 one week old feeder calves inside.  With the barn roof ablaze, the Amish farmer was able to save half of the calves before fire fighters showed up.  Once on scene, the fire fighters were able to save another 60 calves before the flaming roof collapsed on the metal calf stanchions.  Courageously, the fire fighters then started to climb between the pens and under the fiery ruins, pulling calves out one by one.  The great news for the farmer is that he only ended up losing 26; the bad news for the firemen is that 20 out of the 34 present that day had diarrhea and other GI symptoms a week later.  One fire fighter was severely affected and hospitalized.  Some tests that were performed suggested cryptosporidium as the causative agent.

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Two weeks after the incident, CDC EIS officer and fellow DVM, Jenna Webeck and I took a trip to the farm to collect samples for crypto testing.  I expected to be pulling up to charred barn ruins.  Instead, we pulled up to a brand new barn; the Amish community had built a new one in just three days!  The farm was very well kept and even had a treated swimming pond with a nice clubhouse, dock, and slide that the family’s children played in all the time (Along with some Canada geese and other fowl).  As expected, the farmer was very pleasant and offered us coffee as he rehashed the events of the fire.  He blamed the fire on the diesel engine that ran the water pump for the farm (Evidently they can have modern “luxuries” for business use, like).  After the blaze started, the firemen had no water source to battle the flames except the nearby swimming pond.  Water was pumped from the pond into an inflatable reservoir.  From there it was used for the fire truck’s water hoses and for the firemen to wash themselves. 

Jenna and I collected 25 stool samples from the calves, and water samples from a hydrant and the nearby swimming pond.  We submitted them to the Center for Disease Control and MSU for testing.  As expected, 10 of the 25 calf stool samples turned out to be crypto parvum positive.  Four of the 25 calves were also positive for Giardia.  Somewhat surprising was that the treated pond water was what the lab described as “highly positive” for both cryptosporidium and Giardia. (http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/crypto/) (http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/rwi/illnesses/cryptosporidium.html)

 In the end, three of the 20 human cases were confirmed to be caused by crypto, while the other 17 are considered probable cases.  Exposure is thought to have been from ingestion of the pond water while washing, dunking their head, and/or drinking, as well as exposure to the calf manure.  Not so surprisingly, we recommended the family not let their children swim in the pond anymore.

News articles:



Jordan Assenmacher


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Aquaculute in the US – Safe, Healthy, and Environmentally Friendly Food

There was recently a great article about aquaculture in TIME magazine, found here: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2081796,00.html  I was encouraged that the article was in support of aquaculture, stating that American fish farms are doing a good job of making a safe, healthy, and environmentally friendly food.  Unfortunately, in Michigan, we currently only have about 55 fish farms.  It’s a small but growing industry, and I think public perception about fish farming is beginning to turn for the best.                  – Hannah Vanos

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FSF India – Wolfpack Continues to Explore Agriculture and Culture

Students in the FSF program in India continue to explore both Indian Agriculture and Culture.  They have been actively engaged in several projects focused on BVDV, Brucellosis and dairy nutrition.  Recently, they became involved in a project focused on developing screening protocols for bovine TB in Tamilnadu.  There experience with BTB in Michigan is serving them well.  Taking in the culture of India is part of the objective of the project.  Recently, the group traveled to Mudamali Wildlife Preserve for a back to nature experience (more to come).  Importantly, they learned about the importance of managing wildlife at the wildlife – agriculture interphase. 

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The State of Livestock in America – Hearings, Hearings, and more… Hearings.

 The 2012 Farm Bill will be uniquely challenging. Our nation’s enormous deficit has mandated that MAJOR spending cuts take place across all programs. The fast-paced House side has proposed some significant changes including disproportionate cuts to agriculture. While it’s recognized that agriculture, like everything else, will undergo budget cuts, Chairwoman Stabenow is standing firm that ag must not be unfairly cut in budget negotiations. For now, all some of us can do is wait. Drafting a bill as extensive as the Farm Bill requires research into a lot of programs that cover things from nutrition to conservation to farming. In our current economic climate, it’s more important than ever to establish priorities and gain input from stakeholders and those directly affected. One way that law makers gather information about the pertinent subject matter is to hold hearings. We have held a hearing for the Farm Bill almost every week since I’ve been here. Last week was the most exciting and interesting hearing of them all. Of course, I’m biased. The State of Livestock in America, was one of my special projects. With a topic as broad as livestock, it’s impossible to fit all of the important issues into a single 2-hour time period. But, we were able to recruit witnesses from pork, poultry, beef, and packing and bring together a diverse panel. Certain issues came up over and over again. One topic of heated debate was the proposed GIPSA rule, a rule that will change certain parts of livestock production and marketing. Another hot topic involved the price of corn, potential feed shortages, and the relationship to ethanol. Importantly, livestock producers had the opportunity to talk about the most useful programs supported by the Farm Bill. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides assistance to producers to help them improve their facilities and, among other things, meet the often challenging environmental regulations. Rick Sietsema from Saranac, MI testified on behalf of local turkey and hog producers. Other important issues that came up during the hearing included disease traceability, food safety, disaster programs (to assist farms impacted by drought, flood, fire, etc.), and veterinary shortages in rural areas. You can find a rebroadcast of the hearing on the Ag committee website: http://ag.senate.gov/site/calendar.html.

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