Utah State University School of Veterinary Medicine Magazine

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Veterinary Medicine MAG AZ I NE

{ Winter 2022 }


TABLE OF CONTENTS IN THE COLLEGE Lessons Learned From the Pandemic 2 10th Veterinary Medicine Class Forms Bonds and Prepares for New Challenges 4

FACULTY/STAFF Dr. Shawn Zimmerman 6 Dr. Tom Baldwin is Utah's Veterinarian of the Year 8 Mystery Case: Dead, Possibly Deadly, Ducks 9


One Health: Understanding Where Public Health and Veterinary Science Meet, with Dr. Jane Kelly 10 Unexpected Consequences 11 Master of Bone and Beetle: Vet School Anatomist Prepares a Menagerie of Teaching Tools 12

ALUMNI Congratulations to the Class of 2021! 14 Passion for the Profession 15 Alumni/Donor Recognition 17 On the cover: The group of new students mentored by Dr. Ralph Meyer, associate department head in USU's School of Veterinary Medicine (at right), during orientation for the Class of 2025. Students are (left to right, back row): Henry Clinger (peer mentor, class of 2024), Matthew Govea-Thomas, Kasey Black, Tyler Braithwaite; (front row): Brendon Charlton, Aimee Thompson, Melanie Herring, Sydney Hewitt, Scyler Li.

WE TEACH WHAT YOU LOVE. PUBLICATION INFORMATION NOELLE E. COCKETT, President, Utah State University KENNETH L. WHITE, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences

MIKE WHITESIDES Director of Marketing


MICHELLE MERRILL Director of Development

MICHAEL WERNERT Graphic Designer

MICHAEL BISHOP Director of Student and Academic Affairs

ETHAN BRIGHTBILL Marketing Assistant

In its programs and activities, including in admissions and employment, Utah State University does not discriminate or tolerate discrimination, including harassment, based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, status as a protected veteran, or any other status protected by University policy, Title IX, or any other federal, state, or local law. Utah State University is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate or tolerate discrimination including harassment in employment including in hiring, promotion, transfer, or termination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, status as a protected veteran, or any other status protected by University policy or any other federal, state, or local law. Utah State University does not discriminate in its housing offerings and will treat all persons fairly and equally without regard to race, color, religion, sex, familial status, disability, national origin, source of income, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Additionally, the University endeavors to provide reasonable accommodations when necessary and to ensure equal access to qualified persons with disabilities. The following individuals have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the application of Title IX and its implementing regulations and/or USU’s non-discrimination policies: Executive Director of the Office of Equity, Alison Adams-Perlac, alison.adams-perlac@usu.edu, Title IX Coordinator, Hilary Renshaw, hilary.renshaw@usu.edu, Old Main Rm. 161, 435-797-1266. For further information regarding non-discrimination, please visit equity.usu. edu,or contact: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 800-421-3481, ocr@ed.gov or U.S. Department of Education, Denver Regional Office, 303-844-5695 ocr.denver@ed.gov. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Kenneth L. White, Vice President for Extension and Agriculture, Utah State University.

ASSOCIATE DEAN’S MESSAGE Our previous issue of the School of Veterinary Medicine Magazine was published in April of 2020, which coincided with some of the most tumultuous early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, as I write this some 18 months later, you will see in this issue that we are reflecting on what we, and you, have been challenged with, and overcome, as a result of the worldwide viral pandemic. As I look back, I recall my last pre-pandemic business trip to visit the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) in early March of 2020. The week prior, during USU’s spring break, USU President Noelle Cockett sent the first official email announcement regarding the pandemic (many, many more announcements/updates followed). President Cockett mentioned that although there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Utah at that time, the university would follow local, state, and federal health guidelines and had created an interdisciplinary task force to monitor the situation and provide guidance as needed. Since no travel restrictions were in place (USU subsequently cancelled all business travel), I proceeded with my trip to Reno a few days after President Cockett’s message was distributed. However, seemingly overnight during my trip, as I met with faculty and administrators at UNR, it became apparent that higher education — and essentially every aspect of day-to-day life — was going to be impacted in ways no one could have foreseen, and that played out in real time upon my return to USU just days later. On March 12, USU announced that all classes would be suspended for the following five days as faculty scrambled to prepare to deliver all USU courses via online instruction beginning on March 18. Initially, our veterinary school program was exempted from the planned transition to online learning, primarily because of our link to the broader Washington-Idaho-Montana-Utah (WIMU) Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine with its integrated instruction across multiple campus locations. However, that plan changed very quickly. Campus administrators across the entire WIMU program collectively decided that instruction for all veterinary students would go online beginning on March 23, just as students returned from WIMU-wide spring break. That sudden switch from our plan to continue in-person instruction to doing online instruction was the first of many times we had to embody terms that became common during the pandemic: “fluid” (as in, the situation is ...) and “pivot” (as in, be ready to ...). The transition from traditional, face-to-face instruction to remote instruction went remarkably well, which speaks to the extraordinary efforts of our faculty, staff, and students. I would also like to acknowledge the unwavering support throughout the pandemic from you, our dedicated alumni, friends, and supporters. This semester, we’re glad to be back. On behalf of the faculty, staff and students in the School of Veterinary Medicine, THANK YOU for your support during what has truly been an unprecedented time (to use another now-common phrase) for us all! Sincerely,


Associate Dean, School of Veterinary Medicine

CLASS OF 2024 PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE The USU SVM Class of 2024 started its veterinary education during the SARS-CoV2 pandemic. Many students at larger universities missed out on hands-on experiences during the pandemic. We adapted to ongoing changes and had a chance to show our resilience and commitment to the profession. Adjustments were made that allowed us to continue in-person lectures and labs, including masks, social distancing, smaller lab sections, and the use of larger lecture halls. As students, we went through some of the same challenges the rest of the profession faced. The pandemic didn’t stop us from learning, and I believe the overall impact was positive. Labs were still in person with fewer students per instructor. Digital course materials were made widely available. Shared challenges strengthened the bond we share as colleagues. Our class has been well prepared to become great and adaptable doctors. Sincerely,


President, Students of USU School of Veterinary Medicine





t’s no surprise that veterinary workers faced new challenges when the coronavirus pandemic began. Those difficulties included more than just the need for social distancing, and the solutions needed to overcome them have changed how many professionals in the field are approaching the way they treat patients and work with clients. One of the largest problems veterinary practices have faced is an increasing number of patients even while staff shortages and safety measures limited how many animals could be seen in a day. Emily Ione-Kinney, a veterinary technician in emergency and critical care at Mountain West Veterinary Specialists, attributed the shift to more people working remotely. “There’s been an increase in early recognition of chronic illness since owners are at home and watching their pets more closely,” Ione-Kinney said. "General practices are often fully booked as a result, which in turn leads to people bringing animals to the ER for situations that don’t require immediate care.” Some veterinary medical professionals have turned to telemedicine to keep up with the increased workload.


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Dr. Kara Tassone. Photo courtesy of Tassone.

By identifying which patients are in need of urgent care and which are not, doctors can see more patients and use their time more wisely. Dr. Kara Tassone, a veterinarian at Mountain West Veterinary Specialists and past president of the Utah Veterinary Medical Association, has seen the benefits firsthand. “It’s much easier to triage multiple patients at a time without running back and forth to exam rooms,” she said. “We can accommodate more patients per doctor at one time.” However, communication became more challenging with the pandemic, and telemedicine can’t help with that. “Without face-to-face conversation,” said Tassone, “Clients have a hard time trusting a new veterinarian and facility. It’s already difficult for people to trust a doctor who is not the one they normally see. Adding the inability to come into the building and see the faces of those who take your pet dramatically increases their stress.” That, in turn, often leads to staff taking the brunt of people’s frustration. Ione-Kinney noted that while many clients showed veterinary workers patience and generosity, others were less than understanding.

Dr. Isaac Bott. Photo by McKay Jensen.


“Over the last 20 months, veterinary medicine as a whole has seen the best and worst of clients,” she said. “We’ve

their animals is essential,” Tassone said. “I wondered when this all started if people would only have animals seen for very

that still hasn’t fully resolved. My energy levels have slowly come back over the past year, little by little.”

“There’s been an increase in early recognition of chronic illness since owners are at home and watching their pets more closely. General practices are often fully booked as a result, which in turn leads to people bringing animals to the ER for situations that don’t require immediate care.” — Emily Ione-Kinney been pushed to our breaking point, with caseloads increasing exponentially and clients demanding more of veterinary staff while offering less understanding about wait times, critical cases, or staff shortages.” Tassone noticed frustrations boiling over toward staff members. However, the rise in patient numbers and the urgency with which many pet owners brought in their animals for care highlighted for her just how important veterinary care workers are. “The pandemic has solidified for me that many people find the care we offer to

urgent issues and put off minor things, but it seems to have been the opposite.” She added that many veterinary workers are feeling both relief and stress over how much they’re needed. Dr. Isaac Bott, veterinarian and owner of Mountain West Animal Hospital, has also had time to reflect on how veterinarians fit into society after a first-hand experience with COVID-19. “The pandemic certainly has changed my perspective,” Bott said. “I became very ill, and for a while, I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be. The virus ravaged my body and caused damage to my heart

The experience made Bott slow down, consider his own mortality, and find a new appreciation for the veterinary community. “So many veterinarians reached out to me when we were shut down,” Bott said. “Neighboring clinics adjusted their schedule to be able to see our patients and clients. It reemphasized to me the fact that there is no industry more dedicated to its cause than ours … Care for the animals. Care for the people. Care for yourself. It’s that simple.”

By: Ethan Brightbill

Emily Ione-Kinney. Photo courtesy of Ione-Kinne.

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all semester kicked off in late August and Utah State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine welcomed its 10th incoming class of veterinary medical students. After a week of orientation activities and receiving their lab coats in the annual White Coat Ceremony, the 30 new students were ready to begin the challenge of becoming veterinarians. Aimee Thompson has been looking forward to attending USU for years. “I applied to USU because it was my top program,” Thompson said. “I've been looking at USU since I was in seventh grade, and I actually took pictures outside the vet science building way back then. I found out about the program through family who live here when the program first started. It's nice to be close to Nevada where I’m from and in a great program that I'm familiar with.” USU’s School of Veterinary Medicine is part of the Washington-Idaho-Montana-Utah (WIMU) Regional Program. Students at Utah State’s School of Veterinary Medicine spend their first two years in Logan before moving to the Pullman campus of Washington State University, where they focus on clinical work, specializations, and complete their doctor of veterinary medicine degrees. Another new student, Austin Haws, cites his love for Cache Valley, the split between schools and the program’s rigorous reputation as the reason why he applied. “I know several people who went through the program, and even worked with some of them, like Dr. Kyle Heaton, Dr. Dalen Wood. and Dr. Michala Lindley,” Haws said. “They weren’t at the USU site, but they had great things to say about the program in general. I also like the two-year split, the hands-on experience and the small class size. It just sounded really exciting.” While attending Utah State and the WIMU Regional Program marks a new chapter in the lives of many of the class of 2025, for some, it’s also a connection to family and the past.

“My mom’s a nurse, so I come from a medical background,” Thompson said. “However, I also have a deep passion for animals. My family has owned a ranch in Nevada since the 1870s, and I’m from the sixth generation, so animals have always been a big part of who I am. More importantly, I live in a very rural community where the closest medical help for people or animals is at least an hour and a half away, so I also have a desire to help underserved communities in rural areas and improve the health of humans and animals alike.” Michael Bishop, director of student and academic affairs for USU’s School of Veterinary Medicine, has watched the WIMU program grow over the years and interacted with many of the students. He notes that while the program has expanded to include new areas of veterinary knowledge as well as subjects like communication, conflict resolution, and financial and business management, the talent of the students continues to drive the program. “They’re an amazing group of people to work with, and it’s both interesting and satisfying to be a part of this phase of their professional journey,” Bishop said. “It’s a transformational experience that affects them not only on an intellectual level, but emotionally, socially, professionally, spiritually, and even physically.” While competition to get into the limited number of veterinary programs in the U.S. is fierce, Utah State emphasizes cooperation and collaboration once the students arrive in Logan. Orientation activities ranging from icebreakers and a ropes course to exercises that identify personal strengths all help the incoming class bond before the school year begins in earnest. “Everybody keeps mentioning how this is going to be such a family,” said Haws during a networking dinner for students and faculty. “I think that's going to be true. We’ll have genuine camaraderie between us and grow as a cohesive unit and succeed. And I think that'll be really cool.”

By: Ethan Brightbill Photos: Bronson Teichert

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DR. SHAWN ZIMMERMAN Dr. Shawn Zimmerman, DVM, Ph.D., DACVP


hawn Zimmerman is a proud Arkansan with a doctorate in infectious diseases from the University of Georgia and a DVM from Louisiana State University. When she’s not teaching or rooting for the LSU Tigers, she’s stopping the spread of diseases that harm animals and humans alike.

How did you decide to specialize in infectious diseases?

Dr. Zimmerman:

My first exposure to microbiology was when my mom was going to college. Sometimes I would go to campus with her, and her professors were always showing me cool things. When I went to college myself, I was focused on getting into veterinary school and being a wildlife or zoo vet, but I also did microbiology research on the side. At the time, I just thought of it as a fun hobby and never really considered it as a career. Once I got further into vet school, I realized what really excited me about medicine was understanding the “how” behind each case, and the infectious disease cases always interested me the most. I was also really annoyed by the cases that seemed preventable or when there wasn’t a good test for confirming a diagnosis. At some point, I just remember thinking, “Well, then maybe I should just figure out how to do THAT.” From there, I naturally gravitated toward research and pathology. I specialized in clinical pathology so I could get better at recognizing subtle indicators of disease. Once I felt confident about how


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to study things on the host side, I went on to get my doctorate and did postdoctoral training in infectious diseases to tackle the pathogen side. It was a lot more education than I initially planned, but it’s led to a very fulfilling career. Now I get to teach students about the things I love, and I get to do research that could make a real difference one day.

What research topics are you pursuing now?

Dr. Zimmerman: Right now, my lab is studying how entero-

toxigenic E. coli (ETEC) causes disease in order to find new drug and vaccine targets. We’re also working to see if we can make a better laboratory animal model of human ETEC infection.

ETEC is the causative agent of traveler’s diarrhea and the second leading cause of infectious diarrhea in the world, especially among children. Not only does it cause significant illness and mortality in children, but it’s also very problematic for piglets. This bacterium is just one of several types of pathogenic E. coli, and despite everything we know about commensal E. coli, we still don’t have vaccines against any of them. I find it frustrating that despite all our advances, children and animals are still dying from something preventable like diarrhea.

Has living through a pandemic changed how you think about your work?

Dr. Zimmerman: If anything, this pandemic has just reinvigorated my research program and made it timely. When you study infectious diseases, one of the first things you "Pandemics and antimicrobial resistance are constant threats, and without an equally constant supply of effective vaccines and medications, large numbers of people and animals will succumb to otherwise preventable diseases."

learn about pandemics is that it’s not “if” there will be one but “when.” Research in infectious diseases has and always will be funded, but in developed nations like ours, it does tend to fall in and out of fashion. While the circumstances of this pandemic are very unfortunate, it does remind us that we must remain vigilant in our efforts. My hope is that we don’t lose this sense of urgency. Pandemics and antimicrobial resistance are constant threats, and without an equally constant supply of effective vaccines and medications, large numbers of people and animals will succumb to otherwise preventable diseases.

With teaching, research and more, how do you balance work and personal life?

Dr. Zimmerman: I

feel like everyone asks each other this question but no one ever figures out the secret to doing it well. It’s like parenting: You have an idea of what you think you should do, and then there’s what actually happens. In my case, I just keep a revolving prioritized to-do list and try to complete something off that list every day. Some days, I can get lots of things off that list, and other days, I don’t get anything checked off. Over time, I’ve learned that it’s more important to be patient and forgive yourself. Each day, I just fight to do my best at work and home, and each night, I try to give myself grace and rest, so that I have the energy to do it again.

By: Ethan Brightbill Photos by: Bronson Teichert

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is work does not involve seeing patients large and small, but Dr. Tom Baldwin serves veterinarians and animal owners throughout the state and region as a pathologist and director of the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (UVDL). His exceptional service has earned him the honor of being named Utah’s Veterinarian of the Year by the Utah Veterinary Medical Association (UVMA). As director of the UVDL, Baldwin oversees services for veterinarians, animal owners, public health agencies, and animal health researchers in Utah and the region. He is also a professor of veterinary diagnostic pathology in USU’s School of Veterinary Medicine. He was nominated by his peers and fellow UVMA members, and his work and service were reviewed by a selection committee. According to the UVMA website, the Veterinarian of the Year is chosen for their exceptional service within the association and the community. “I was completely surprised, which rapidly transitioned into being humbled,” Baldwin said. “We have so many great veterinarians in our state that are deserving of such an award.” Dirk Vanderwall, head of USU’s Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences and

"I have been privileged to contribute to two such larger things: the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the USU School of Veterinary Medicine, and I couldn’t be more pleased with either.”

associate dean of USU’s School of Veterinary Medicine, said, “Through his role as director of the UVDL and as a founding faculty member of the USU School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Baldwin epitomizes the type of dedicated service to the UVMA, the veterinary profession, and the citizens of Utah that this award is designed to recognize. He is extremely deserving of this high honor.” Baldwin said he is grateful for the opportunities his work has provided. He was instrumental in early efforts to establish USU’s School of Veterinary Medicine in collaboration with Washington State University and the Washington-Idaho-Utah-Montana Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine, another lasting link to his alma mater since he earned his bachelor’s and DVM degrees at Washington State. Since 2020, the UVDL has been a key resource in USU’s efforts to continue educating students and conducting research in the face of the pandemic. The laboratory took the steps necessary to have its facilities and staff approved to process COVID-19 tests, providing results in a timely way and reducing the number of tests going to already-busy facilities. The diagnostic laboratory was also key in diagnosing cases of COVID-19 that emerged in Utah mink populations. “It is wonderful to be part of something that is larger than yourself,” he said. “I have been privileged to contribute to two such larger things: the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the USU School of Veterinary Medicine, and I couldn’t be more pleased with either.”

By: Riata Cummings and Lynnette Harris


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Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

MYSTERY CASE DEAD, POSSIBLY DEADLY, DUCKS By Jane Kelly, DVM, MPH, Clinical Professor, DAVPCM, DACVM The case described is loosely based on a case submitted to UVDL. Details have been changed and added or omitted by the author. In late spring, the owner of a small backyard flock of adult Muscovy ducks brought a dead duck to the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Spanish Fork for necropsy. The duck was an adult female. The ducks were kept outside and had access to an irrigation pond which they shared with migrating birds. Nineteen of 20 of the ducks had died in a period of two weeks. The only clinical sign observed in some of the ducks was shaking of the head.

Gross lesions included an enlarged, friable, and pale liver with disseminated pin-point white foci, a dark red spleen, and an intestine distended with gray foul-smelling fluid and multiple 1-2 mm white foci in the wall. No other gross lesions were detected. Formulate your differential diagnoses and go to the website for further test results, diagnosis and the case summary.

Find the the answer at


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Understanding Where Public Health and Veterinary Science Meet, with Dr. Jane Kelly

r. Jane Kelly is a veterinary diagnostician, director of the Central Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Spanish Fork, president-elect of the Utah Veterinary Medical Association, and part of Utah State University’s master of veterinary public health program. She is in a unique position to explain how public health and veterinary science intersect — and why that matters now more than ever.

How does veterinary medicine tie into public health?

Dr. Kelly: Veterinary science and public health are entwined in

many different ways. Graduating veterinary students take an oath to protect public health as well as to ease animal suffering and protect our animal resources. Veterinarians that work in food safety, such as meat and egg inspection, protect public health in prevention and early detection of pathogens that may cause severe foodborne illness in people.

In addition to having a doctorate in veterinary science, you also earned a master of public health (MPH) degree. How has that education affected your work?

Dr. Kelly: I have been interested in the MPH program for practic-

ing veterinarians offered by the University of Iowa since I first heard about it in 2007. Finally, in 2012, everything came together, and with support from ADVS, I was able to start the degree.

I have wanted to be a vet since I was about 8 years old, and I have been interested in public health since living in Zambia as a young person. I also work in veterinary diagnostics, and many of our cases have public health implications. For example, if we diagnose salmonellosis in an animal that died, we tell the owners to be careful when handling other animals in the group because salmonella is potentially zoonotic — it can spread from animals to humans, especially if they’re immunocompromised. The MPH degree increased my understanding of zoonotic diseases and public health. This is information I use in my role as a veterinary diagnostician and microbiologist at the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The degree also gave me the fantastic opportunity to be on the steering committee of the new master of veterinary public


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health program at USU. Without my MPH, I would have missed the chance to help design a new graduate program and interact with students, things that have really enriched my work life.

Can you speak a bit about the idea of One Health? How does it tie into the current pandemic?

Dr. Kelly: The concept of One Health is a local and international effort to gain insight into the interactions between human health, animal health, and the environment with the ultimate goal of attaining health for all, including our environment. As you can imagine, multiple people and agencies are involved, from the World Health Organization and Environmental Protection Agency to individual veterinarians, physicians, and public health officials. This idea has been around for several decades, but it relates to the current pandemic in many ways. For instance, there were reports of big cats at zoos that developed SARS-CoV-2 after showing signs of coughing and decreased appetite. Risk to other animals, workers, and the public was minimized because of the social distancing measures that have been in place. This is an example of using a One Health approach to minimize spread of disease to people and animals and reduce environmental contamination.

Where might new zoonotic diseases appear in the future?

Dr. Kelly: With climate change, deforestation, population growth,

movement of people into areas previously occupied only by animals, and other factors, there is great potential for new zoonotic diseases to appear. Approximately 60 percent or more of emerging infectious diseases in human populations are zoonotic. If you live closer to foxes and raccoons, for instance, the chance of you or your pet catching rabies increases. The wildlife was there first, and because we moved closer to it, problems occur. Increased average global temperatures mean that disease vectors such as ticks, mosquitos, and fleas can expand their range into areas that were previously too cold. For example, Lyme disease is an emerging disease in Canada because of the expanded northward range of ticks.

What lessons should the general public take from the pandemic and veterinary public health?

Dr. Kelly: Public health measures, such as social distancing, wearing masks, and hand washing, are remarkably effective in reducing transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The design, production and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines is nothing short of miraculous. The scientists that developed those vaccines should be given Nobel Prizes in medicine.

By: Ethan Brightbill Photo: Bronson Teichert



he theme of this year’s Utah One Health Symposium has been “Unexpected Consequences” which had me thinking about some of the unusual consequences of diseases, zoonotic and other, including historical diseases and very recent ones. We are all living in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and we have all heard about some of the unexpected positive and negative consequences of widespread quarantine. A much older example of unexpected consequences is a disease of cattle called rinderpest that has actually been eradicated and is not even a zoonotic disease. However, it had profound public health implications in Africa. Rinderpest, a viral disease of cattle and wild ungulates, such as wildebeest, was introduced to Africa by cattle from India in 1889. The cattle were completely naïve immunologically having never been exposed to the virus, and this disease (also called cattle plague) killed approximately 90% of the cattle in central Africa as well as countless buffalo and wildebeest. The Maasai people of Tanzania relied on their cattle for meat and milk. Cattle were their livelihood. With most of the cattle dead, there was mass starvation and two-thirds of the Maasai in Tanzania died. There are historical reports of hyenas dragging

off weakened villagers. Because of greatly reduced cattle and wild ungulate populations, the growth of vegetation increased leading to greater numbers of tsetse flies. Tsetse flies are vectors for a disease of humans called sleeping sickness (trypanosomiasis). The foot and mouth disease outbreak in the UK in 2001 is another example of an animal disease having farreaching consequences for human health even though it is not a zoonotic disease. Foot and mouth disease is a highly contagious viral disease of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and other cloven-hooved animals. Countries that diagnose it are required to notify the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) within 24 hours of the first diagnosed case. In 2001, there was a large outbreak in Britain. The cause was likely the feeding pigs improperly treated waste food and the disease rapidly spread to sheep and cattle. The OIE was notified as is required and within 24 hours the EU banned imports from the UK. Shortly thereafter, the United States and Canada banned meat imports from the EU. In this outbreak, vaccinations were not used. Instead, animal movement was restricted and there were mass depopulations of exposed farm animals and those within a 3 km radius of affected farms. Huge numbers of carcasses were incinerated. So, as well as the expected economic and trade consequences of the disease, there were unexpected and tragic mental health consequences. The mass euthanasia and burning of carcasses had a huge toll on people’s emotional health. An increased number of farmers dying by suicide was blamed on the FMD outbreak. As Mort et al. *stated in their paper on the psychological effects of the 2001 epidemic, “the disease epidemic was a human tragedy, not just an animal one.”

By: Dr. Jane Kelly, DVM, MS, MPH, DACVPM, DACVM

*Find the paper at:


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Museums have used flesh-eating dermestid beetles for preserving skeletons since the late 19th century.


inding Scott Hexum’s office in the Veterinary Science and Biology Building is an adventure. Not only is Room 210 nowhere near Room 209, but visitors need to enter what looks like a storage room before descending down a small number of stairs to get there. And upon arrival, you are greeted not by a usual university office, but bones. Most are skulls, but femurs, teeth, and other parts can also be found, and they come from dogs, cows, sheep, turtles, a great-horned owl, chameleons, a caiman, a capybara, and more. There is even a hammerhead shark skull. This lair of bones is the sort of space that might terrify some children while delighting others. However, Hexum himself is all delight, no terror. “My life has been kind of a series of mostly happy accidents,” said Hexum as he explained how he became an anatomy technician at Utah State University. “I don’t always plan things far in advance.” Hexum did not set out to work at a university. However, after working on and off again as a veterinary technician in Eugene,


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Oregon, he found himself enjoying lab work and training other technicians on the job. That interest led to a job as an anatomy preparator at the University of Illinois, where he created and maintained specimens for use by veterinary students. Eventually, he became an instructor as well. “As a kid, I didn't intend to be a teacher or anything like that,” Hexum said. “But once I did it, I liked it. And it was really rewarding.” While some of the bones in Hexum’s office were donated, other specimens were created by Hexum himself in Illinois. At first, he used a large boiler to prepare them, but there were significant downsides to that approach. “The flesh comes off really well,” Hexum said, “but sometimes, that damages the bone.” Teeth, nasal bones, and other delicate parts were often destroyed in the process. Hexum wanted to find a better way to make specimens, and that was when he had an idea: flesh-eating dermestid beetles.

that container, but the beetles would do the same process no matter what the specimen is.” After Hexum was hired as an anatomy technician in USU’s School of Veterinary Medicine nearly two years ago, he eventually started up a beetle colony here as well. Before that, the university used maceration — leaving the remains in water — whenever a specimen needed to be prepared. “The downside of that is it takes up more space and smells really, really, really bad,” Hexum said. “You can imagine.” Because the water needed to be heated, it also came with a tangle of unsafe extension cords right next to the tank. When it comes to dermestid beetles, however, imagination is likely to exceed reality. They are small, black, and largely unremarkable. Technically, the beetles are not even what do most of the work of cleaning the bones, but rather their larvae, and while an active colony can consume a quarter pound of dead or rotting flesh a day, they have no interest in the living. Like Hexum’s collection of specimens, dermestid beetles provide a learning opportunity once you get past their first impression. When Hexum opened the lid to his colony, the sight inside was almost peaceful. Instead of a mass of seething insects, the beetles were still and mostly solitary. The larvae, ravenous as they were, seemed no more disgusting than garden centipedes as they slowly explored their environment. And at the center of the box was the skull of a sandhill crane, smoothed down over three days to red feathers, black beak, and white skull, waiting to educate and enlighten.

By: Ethan Brightbill Photos by: Bronson Teichert and McKay Jensen

See Scott Hexum’s office, some of skeletons used to teach veterinary medicine students, and some of the dermestid beetles at work online at tinyurl.com/BeetlesBones-USUVetMed.

“Ever since I was a kid, I always loved insects,” he said. “I realized I had a cool opportunity to indulge in a bit of entomology and get a beetle colony for cleaning specimens.” Museums have used flesh-eating dermestid beetles for preserving skeletons since the late 19th century, so Hexum knew his plan would work. After consulting with the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, he bought his first beetles from a company in Montana and created a temperature-controlled habitat complete with Styrofoam for the insects to lay their eggs in. Unlike the boiler, beetles require no steam or electricity, no corrosive chemicals, and little human effort to do their job. “I usually take off as much flesh as possible, and then the beetles clean it up nicely,” said Hexum. “I can take the bones and build a skeletal limb or entire skeletons. The only limit is size. I couldn’t put whale bones in

2022 Winter






Like so many events of this year, Commencement 2021 for the Washington-Idaho-Montana-Utah (WIMU) Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine was different from its predecessors. Most of the students’ friends and family members heard their favorite newly graduated DVM’s name announced and saw them receive their diploma via live streaming video. Students and faculty smiled with their eyes above WIMU-branded masks and still felt the rush that comes with accomplishing a life-changing goal. The day didn’t look like graduations past, but was still a celebration of the diligence and resilience of the faculty and the new veterinarians in the WIMU Class of 2021.





Newly graduated Tyson Wayment with his diploma.


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Associate Dean Dr. Dirk Vanderwall and other faculty watch graduates receive their diplomas from a social distance.


Not the usual procession in a crowded auditorium. Graduates got their own moment with their name read by Associate Dean Dr. Leslie Sprunger, an occasional fist bump with administrators seated at the table, including USU’s Dean Ken White (in blue), and a photo with Dr. Dori Borjesson, dean of Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, as they received their diploma from her.


It’s a bit tricky to distinguish the students who began their vet school journey at Utah State University from their fellow graduates, but here is Landon Fitzgerald (second from left) ready for the procession.




r. Pam Nichols’ goals for her informal lunchtime talk to veterinary medicine students at Utah State this fall were clear: Share passion for veterinary medicine and do it “before the world poisons you into believing that vet medicine is terrible, it’s too hard, and that it's going to suck you dry.” Dr. Pam—her preferred title—is the immediate past president of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), chair of the Utah Veterinary Licensing Board, and the founder and CEO of Animal Care Daybreak in South Jordan, Utah, the fifth private practice she has launched since the start of her medical career in 1996. Some takeaways from her talk.

Why vet med?

“I went into veterinary medicine to change lives and do amazing things every day. To change clients’ lives, pets’ lives. To make a difference.” “If in five years, you call me and tell me that work exhausts you, I’ll say, ‘Wait, wait. Tell me about your patients. Who did you fix today? Whose life did you change today?’ Every single patient, every single day, every single client that you interact with, you have the ability to change lives.”

On private practice

“Who has heard terrible things about owning a private practice? Here’s what people won’t tell you: You can own a practice and still achieve a great work-life balance. In fact, practice owners report higher happiness levels than associates in the most recent studies!” At the first AAHA conference she attend-

ed, a speaker’s philosophy stuck with her: “Someday there will only be what you have in your head and what you have in your heart, and that is what you’re selling to a client, a patient, an employer. Your knowledge is valuable.”

Creating magic

“Nothing magical happens when you do what is expected. You can be compassionate, intelligent, quick to the diagnosis, quick to win over an angry dog, or quick to connect with a client, but that's not magic. That’s being really good at your job. What makes magic? Doing a little extra. Doing something unexpected… It takes some time to create magic but it’s not hard. I built my practices by doing the unexpected—like calling to check in on a pet over a weekend. I teach my associates to take a list of post op patients or sick ones to call on their way home. It’s not a huge imposition to my associates but to clients it means the world. Just acknowledging that a procedure may have been scary for them is magic. And the next day, they tell 20 of their friends that you called to ask how their dog was doing.”

No compassion without passion

“It’s not that hard to keep stoking your passion for patients. Pouring your heart and soul into being great vets will help you develop resilience. Being passionate won’t detract from your work-life balance, it will feed it. You’ve heard the term ‘compassion fatigue,’ right? Okay, can we just have a pinky promise swear that we're never going to use that term again? Compassion does not have to be

exhausting. Yes, there are important things like clinical depression and that is different. But I want us talking about passion and how passion fuels our compassion.”

Office culture is not a motivational poster

“Lest you believe that you are victims of whatever practice culture you walk into, I need you to know that culture is one very simple thing: It is a set of BEHAVIORS that we agree to adhere to. It's not about motivational posters on the walls. It is simply knowing what behaviors we will accept and what we won’t. If you don’t like the "culture" of a practice, change your (and their) behaviors. Set expectations, rather than boundaries and I think your life will go much better.”

By: Lynnette Harris

2022 Winter



ALUMNI/DONOR Recognition



t’s been quite the roller coaster ride over the past year and a half. However, it’s an incredible sight to see students back on campus! The last time I wrote this message, we had just endured a sudden and extreme shift in our learning atmosphere and approach. Everything was quickly moved online, and campus, along with the rest of the country, was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I was impressed with the courage, strength, and resiliency of the students and faculty as they navigated this new way of life. Even though we are still working through this pandemic, the optimism and “get'er done” attitude I have see in our School of Veterinary Medicine is inspiring. Moreover, the beautiful kindness and sincere concern for the students from our incredible donors and supporters over the past year and a half has been the most rewarding experience for me. It is a true testament to the power of a quote by the great Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I will never forget how I felt when I visited with a scholarship recipient about how much that scholarship influenced them monetarily and emotionally as they tried to understand the chaos of the pandemic. I will also never forget how I felt when a sweet donor, who pledged to support an endowment through her estate planning, expressed to me how important this industry and our future veterinarians are to our world and the animals we all love! It was so important to her that she did not hesitate to invest in their future. Thank you for being a light in dark times and a compass in crazy winds. Your kindness will not be forgotten! Please reach out to us if you would like more information on giving to the School of Veterinary Medicine. We Teach What You Love!

DONOR LIST Dr. David Gardner Barbara Troisi Aggie Family Scholarship Benny and June Benninghoff Scholarship Cache Veterinary Practitioners Association Scholarship Dr. Dirk K. Vanderwall and Dr. Allison R. Willoughby Scholarship Dr. Don B. and Joyce C. Olsen Scholarship Dr. Doug and Beth Murphy Scholarship Dr. Glen Esplin Scholarship Dr. J. Brent and ReNee Mckinnon Scholarship Dr. James P. Gibson and Dr. Paul B. Sanders Aggie Family Scholarship Fanwood Foundation Scholarship George B. Caine Dairy Scholarship John Mathis Scholarship Joyce Nation Scholarship Jennifer Pastori Memorial Scholarship Michael and Melisa Bishop Servant Leadership Scholarship Dr. Ray Anderson Scholarship Ross A. and Darlene Smart Scholarship Scott and Marla Boyer Humane Scholarship Utah Veterinary Medical Association Scholarship


Director of Development, USU SVM

Kate Theurer Memorial Scholarship Mountain West Veterinary Humphrey-Collins Scholarship Professor A.A. Heravi Scholarship

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4815 Old Main Hill Logan, Utah 84322-4800





to the Utah State University School of Veterinary Medicine's 10th incoming class of future veterinarians! Typically, new students from throughout the Washington-Idaho-Montana-Utah Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine gather for a week of orientation and a White Coat Ceremony at Washington State University. Like many events of the past 20+ months, this year's pandemic version looked a little different. Our 30 new students attended orientation at USU, and their families, friends, and our faculty participated virtually in the White Coat Ceremony streamed from WSU.