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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Healthy Animals Newsletter

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Issue 1, June 1999
About this Newsletter

Healthy Animals: An ARS Priority

U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists have been at the forefront of animal health research since the department's inception in 1862. Early successes included the landmark discovery in 1889 that a tick-transmitted protozoan causes Texas cattle fever and the development of the anti-hog-cholera serum in 1906.

Today, animal production, product value and safety , including all aspects of animal health, is one of the three priorities of the USDA's chief scientific agency, the Agricultural Research Service. The components of ARS' animal health research program include

Within these general programs, researchers at ARS laboratories study everything from disease epidemiology and transmission to diagnosis and vaccination. Scientists also work to keep animals healthy through optimum nutrition and management systems that reduce stress

And the list of accomplishments grows every year. In 1998, ARS researchers announced the first noninvasive test for scrapie , a fatal brain disease of sheep and goats. Other ARS scientists helped discover that dogs host Neospora caninum, a parasite that causes pregnant cows to abort. That finding provides a missing key to understanding some cattle abortions.

Early on, research efforts were often geared towards animal survival. Now many programs address chronic problems like mastitis in dairy cows or ascites in poultry that can occur in large-scale production agriculture.

ARS can also quickly mobilize its resources to address emerging diseases or outbreaks, such as new strains of avian leukosis in poultry or vesicular stomatits in cattle and horses. State-of-the-art quarantine facilities at some of the laboratories also allow ARS to study disease agents that may pose a threat to U.S. agriculture in the future, or which affect international trade.

Now, as in the past, ARS strives to keep animals healthy and productive. Be sure to visit the links below to find out more about ARS research.

Research Briefs

The first approved modified live fish vaccine for catfish against enteric septicemia has been developed by ARS researchers. Intervet, Inc., Millsboro, Del., has licensed the vaccine.
Phillip H. Klesius and Craig Shoemaker, (334) 887-4526

Poultry should be vaccinated for mycoplasmosis before they begin laying eggs--at 10 weeks of age--to maximize egg production, report ARS researchers.
Scott L. Branton, (601) 323-2230

A new ARS test detects swine atrophic rhinitis in 3 days. Other tests take longer and aren't always reliable.
Karen B. Register, (515) 239-8275

A new guide to animal handling and transport is available from the ARS' National Agricultural Library.
Brian Norris, (301) 504-6778

ARS researchers discovered that a fungus-produced compound called myriocin may help save horses exposed to fumonisin- contaminated corn.
Ronald Riley, (706) 546-3377

Better Salmonella detection methods in poultry may result from an ARS discovery that Salmonella pullorum has flagella and can therefore propel itself through bodily fluids. previously, researchers believed this strain did not have this transport ability.
Peter Holt, (706) 546-3442

The leaves from forage peanut plants are just as nutritious for goats as alfalfa, ARS scientists found.
William Windham, (706) 546-3513

A gamma-irradiated vaccine for coccidiosis developed by ARS scientists can help producers deal with the disease. The vaccine isn't feasible as the only long-term solution because it is difficult to produce, but researchers are investigating several additional options.
Harry Danforth, (301) 504-8300

Click here to view additional research briefs.

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Last Modified: 2/6/2007
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