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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Healthy Animals Newsletter

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Issue 18, May 2004
About this Newsletter

Information Center Devoted to Animal Welfare

Where can one go to find the latest news online about such topical issues as avian influenza, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or chronic wasting disease, from sources ranging from scientific journals to popular media publications? A good place to start is the National Agricultural Library's (NAL) Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC).

pigletsAWIC was created in 1986 as a result of Congressional amendments to the 1985 Animal Welfare Act. The website contains links to the latest government publications concerning not only lab animals, but farm animals and zoo and circus wildlife.

AWIC is physically located in Beltsville, Md., and is part of the Agricultural Research Service. It is staffed by eight people, most of whom have backgrounds involving animal research or degrees in animal science. Their website contains hundreds of useful links concerning a wide range of issues. The websites chosen as sources for information are carefully screened first, and only the most informative are included on AWIC.

Due to the number of queries the AWIC staff received from the public, they developed a section on their site about companion animals, or pets. For example, many members of the public have asked for the guidelines required to take animals abroad, so these regulations can be now found there. This section also contains many other helpful resources. One Web page provides links to information about organizations that rescue potbellied pigs, rabbits and other animals. Another page includes a section with links to publications concerning livestock guard dogs. There's also a page with information on "service animals" such as seeing-eye, seizure and hearing dogs.

The concept of finding alternatives to traditional scientific research techniques is explored on the website as well. This section contains resources that examine some of the different methods that can be used to limit pain and suffering in animals used for research purposes.

AWIC periodically hosts one-and-a-half-day workshops for individuals who are responsible for providing information to meet the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act. AWIC has trained thousands of people in Beltsville and at other locations by taking the workshop on the road several times a year.

The center periodically produces a newsletter, Animal Welfare Information Center Bulletin, with topics ranging from how police officers should respond to emergencies involving animals, to the subject of tail docking in dairy cattle, a practice used to prevent dirty tails from contaminating udders.

Anyone interested in animal health and well-being would find the site informative and might be surprised by what they find tucked away on its virtual shelves.

For more information, contact:

Jean Larson, AWIC Coordinator, Beltsville, MD

Research Briefs

An ARS researcher and her colleagues developed a test to detect brucellosis-causing bacteria in goat milk.
Louisa Tabatabai
(515) 294-6284

An ARS researcher evaluating a capsule containing a temperature sensor and transmitter for cows reports that the system could be more effective than the current methods of measuring the animal's body temperature.
Tami M. Brown-Brandl
(402) 762-4279

ARS and collaborating scientists created new swine influenza viruses using a technique known as reverse genetics so they can study the viruses' components and develop new vaccines.
Juergen Richt
(515) 663-7366

A device called the "4-Poster" was developed by ARS scientists to control ticks plaguing white-tailed deer and is now available commercially.

Although cattle and horses don't like it, some sheep will eat leafy spurge, an invasive weed infesting U.S. rangelands. ARS scientists want to know why.
Brent W. Woodward
(208) 374-5306

Supplementing turkeys' diets with vitamin E stimulates their immune responses and helps control Listeria monocytogenes, ARS scientists and university scientists have found.
Irene Wesley
(515) 663-7291

ARS scientists have patented selection techniques to find "good" bacteria that help protect live chickens from becoming ill and causing foodborne illness in people.
Annie Donoghue
(479) 575-2413


Scientists who developed a diagnostic test for avian influenza and a faster-growing catfish topped the list of winners of 2003 ARS technology transfer awards.

Nelson Cox, an ARS microbiologist who developed technology to reduce foodborne pathogens in broiler chickens was named the agency's Distinguished Senior Research Scientist of the Year for 2003.

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Last Modified: 2/6/2007
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