NASPHV History

The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) began in 1953 as the Association of State and Territorial Public Health Veterinarians (ASTPHV). It was organized as an independent affiliate of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers (ASTHO), which is the national organization of the State Directors of Health.

The primary function of ASTPHV was to help direct and develop uniform public health procedures involving zoonotic disease in the United State and its territories. The ASTPHV promoted veterinarians in public health positions by influencing the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to accept more veterinarians as Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officers, and encouraging state health departments to maintain public health veterinarians on staff. Epidemiologic research on rabies at that time was very active and population control of foxes was being tested. During this period, ASTPHV adopted a National Standard Rabies Vaccination Certificate for animals that is still used today. The organization also formulated a policy statement that animals were a major source of Salmonella and were involved in promoting a ban on the sales of small turtles as pets. At that time baby turtles were being raised in garbage-contaminated settings and sold in pet stores, ultimately resulting in Salmonella infection in children. The ASTPHV was a catalyst for the Department of Agriculture's programs on eradication tuberculosis and brucellosis from animals.

ASTPHV activity centered around the CDC since at that time that agency had an active Veterinary Public Health Unit. With the passing of the Veterinary Public Health Unit, CDC support diminished. ASTPHV was also finding it increasingly difficult to obtain action on the annual resolutions through ASTHO. As a result, in 1970 ASTPHV voted to become an independent incorporated organization and changed its name to the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV).

In the early 1970s, major changes were occurring in the manufacture of rabies vaccines as companies changed from nervous tissue and chick embryo vaccine to tissue culture. This inspired Dr. Keith Sikes at CDC to publish in 1971 the first "Compendium of Animal Rabies Vaccines". CDC continued to publish the compendium in 1973 and 1974, but conflicts between United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) and CDC bottlenecked further publication. NASPHV accepted the responsibility and since 1975, there has been a Compendium Committee which has met to update the Compendium every year. With the assistance of the United States Department of Agriculture, CDC, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Conference of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, and the commercial rabies vaccine manufacturers, the Compendium Committee has developed national rabies control recommendations standardizing vaccination procedures and rabies control practices for animals.

During the 1980's CDC support continued to dwindle and NASPHV began meeting annually with the AVMA. At this time, NASPHV published the Zoonotic Infection Practice (ZIP) Papers. Topics included toxoplasmosis, brucellosis, and psittacosis. These were developed with cooperation of experts in these disease fields for use by states as practical information regarding epidemiologic, clinical, and laboratory assessments of theses diseases having public health significance. Resolutions adopted during the 1980's addressed the requirement that dogs and cats imported from countries endemic for rabies be vaccinated at point of entry and that the USDA extend the quarantine and treatment of imported large psittacine birds from 30 to 45 days because of psittacosis.

In 2003, the Compendium of Measures To Prevent Disease and Injury associated with Animals in Public Settings was first drafted. This was in response to the increasing recognition of the risks of infectious disease, human injury, and allergic reaction associated with animals in public settings.

Currently the NASPHV has a membership of about 160 veterinarians and has been having its annual meeting in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) since the early 1990s. The organization continues to address public health issues such as the epizootic spread of raccoon rabies throughout the northeastern United States and West Nile Virus, and infection control practices in veterinary clinics. The NASPHV has supported efforts to have the USDA make animal rabies vaccine a prescription biologic. Many members worked to advance the development and field trials of an oral raccoon rabies vaccine. The advent of a canine Lyme borelliosis vaccine prompted NASPHV to petition the USDA for a more responsible scientific and epidemiological approach to this disease with responsible advertising. Other current issues include foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella enteritidis in whole shell eggs; drug and chemical residues in the food chain; antibiotic resistance; and a Psittacosis Compendium. The NASPHV also continues to promote the role of the veterinarian in public health as evidenced by their involvement in the 1991 AVMA Public Practice Workshop, sponsorship and involvement with the International Conferences on Emerging Infectious Diseases in 2000, 2002, and 2004, and participation in a number of meetings on zoonotic, vector-borne and food safety topics.

We would like to acknowledge Drs. Keith Sikes, Ken Crawford, and John Emerson for supplying historical background for this report.