the NEWS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE
Co-discoverer of HIV virus encourages UFs collaboration with other nations
to fight spread of HIV/AIDS
BY CZERNE REID
J ay Levy, M.D., one of the discoverers of HIV the virus that causes AIDS, has called on
the University of Florida to partner with Caribbean and Latin American nations in the
fight to control the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The scientific expertise at the university and physical proximity to these regions lend
themselves to such collaboration and influence.
The Caribbean has the second highest rate after sub-Saharan Africa- of people living
with HIV/AIDS. Compared with other regions, the area's total population is low, but a greater
proportion of its citizens are infected with HIV: One in 100 adults has the disease, a rate that
equates to about 230,000 people. In Latin America, one in 200 adults is infected, or about 1.7
Levy, whose group was also the first to demonstrate that condoms reduce HIV transmission,
also talked about his latest research on a white blood cell product that can block HIV
Levy spoke Jan. 28 at the second annual meeting of the fledgling Florida Center for AIDS
Research, which is based at UF and led by Maureen Goodenow, Ph.D., the Stephany W.
Holloway university chair for AIDS research at UF's College of Medicine.
He outlined the state of the global pandemic, and highlighted current areas of research such
as trials in which circumcision resulted in reduced HIV transmission in certain populations.
Shortcomings in study design have hampered other research, such as the use of diaphragms.
Thirty-three million people around the world are infected with HIV and 2.7 million are
newly infected each year. In the United States, 1.1 million people are living with the disease,
and more than 56,000 are newly infected each year, according to Kaiser Family Foundation
"This is becoming and has now become the worst epidemic to hit humankind," Levy said.
HIV is the fourth leading cause of death globally, and the leading cause of infectious
Levy's research involves trying to determine why some people who are infected with HIV
survive for very long periods without progressing to an AIDS diagnosis. Levy in 1986
discovered that a certain type of immune system cell called CD8+ cells produced a protein he
called a "CD8-cell antiviral factor" that suppresses viral activity. That work has spurred
research efforts by others to try to determine what the factor is made of and how it works. The
research could fuel the development of new anti-viral agents.
"I think it's going to be very important for HIV, but also for other chronic viruses such as
hepatitis C," said virologist James Maruniak, Ph.D., who is an associate professor in UF's
entomology and nematology department.
"We're positioned geographically, and if we position ourselves
professionally to pursue that, we could have an impact on the
epidemic in apart of the world we have access to."
Dr John Dame, chairman
CVM Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathology
Levy is collaborating with Janet Yamamoto, Ph.D., co-discoverer of the feline AIDS virus,
discoverer of the feline AIDS vaccine, and a professor in the department of infectious disease
and pathology in UF's College of Veterinary Medicine.
Advances in AIDS research at the University of Florida could, in time, have a direct impact
on HIV infection rates in nearby countries, faculty scientists say.
"We're positioned geographically, and if we position ourselves professionally to pursue
that, we could have an impact on the epidemic in a part of the world we have access to," said
molecular biologist John Dame, Ph.D., chairman of the department of infectious diseases and
pathology in the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Jay A. Levy spoke at the University of Florida Health Science Center as part of the University of Florida
Distinguished Professor Lecture Series and the 2nd Annual UF Center for AIDS Research Symposium. Levy is
director of the Laboratory for Tumor and AIDS Virus Research at the University of California/San Francisco
School of Medicine and a renowned AIDS researcher. His lecture, "The Global Threat of HIV/AIDS: How Science
Faces the Challenge," was hosted by the College of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Infectious Diseases
and Pathology, The Emerging Pathogens Institute and The Florida Center forAIDS Research and Continuing
Medical Education. (Photo by William Castleman)
Dr. Jay Levy, left, poses with Tameka Phillips, a Ph.D. student studying small animal reproduction.
Phillips holds a copy of Levy's book, "HIV and the Pathogenesis of AIDS", which she won in a raffle during
the meeting he held at the college with CVM graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
(Photo courtesy of Tameka Phillips)
Utah dog owner shares gratitude for help offered through UF pacemaker study
Efr ,-il,,1r E ,Ir1,J, 111 -i irCar, ,:-.inj IIdl, ir ,Ir,, ji i v .,'I ..J,._" .l I n'. l_,.ii,,Fll l r 1,l I- :I r,
BY GARY ANTHON
O ur adventure started in the winter of 2007. Our family dog, Scooby, a black Lab,
started having fainting spells. One night he was up in the kids' bedroom and we
heard a big thump. Scooby had just fallen over.
He got right back up, so we didn't think much of it. We even laughed about it, calling
him clumsy. Over time, however, the fainting spells got worse. Scooby started losing
weight and would faint a dozen times a day. He would be standing there and look up at us
with sad eyes, and just fall over! Then he would jump back up,thinking he had done
something wrong. It was just heartbreaking to see him go through this and waste away.
We took him to the vet and they ran some tests. When they came to us with the diagno-
sis, we were devastated. Scooby had a heart condition called a third degree heart blockage
and he needed a pacemaker. If he didn't get one, we were told he would die within weeks.
We couldn't even imagine a dog getting a pacemaker. We didn't even think they put
pacemakers in dogs. Our family was told that pacemakers were typically implanted at
veterinary teaching hospitals, and so we hit the Internet. We found a few vet schools
Cardiology docs send Scooby home for last time
Scoob\. a black Lab fioia Umli \\ ho recel ed a pacemakci tx\ o \ ears-. ao
at ULF as part of a isesaich stud\ returned home for t'ood in inid-Jiiinti aliel
LIF \eiennaN cndiologis1s conducted ,a final check-up and gal\e hiim clean
bill of health
S\\e looked at the fiiiicon of tile pcemakei. hoi mntich lifespan the
battcln Iiad left. lio\\ Ills hic ln \\,as fuhilctio101 ii d lid ho\\ he \\ as doiii
o ermll." s.d Di Amaia Estrada. caidioloin sen ice chief 'or JF's \ eteniian
MNcdicil Centci ScoobN looks grcat His paceciakec is fuictioiui% \\ell and
lie lhas- gained too nich cit\ewll
In the futiurc. Scoob% \\ ill continue to need ccclcks once a eaj i to
cisti llctIi eC Ci tl.I is still oikiniwu correctly 'jid to keep tabs on hi-
battci and \\k htlic it need. 10to bc replaccd.' Estmda said
Thie inmost ijeceiu t clickti-up uat UF rcealed ihat Scoob'- pacemikler lias si\
to sc\ cn \ cas of life rcinaii11uiw so it is not likely. ieplaceicntl \\ ill kb
llecesNs... Estiada said., adduii tllat she hlioped to anime for a Nledtliouic
icepiesenitli\ e to iil Scoob\ '; homne eticnnrnii's prnIcticcC to peiforii tlhe
lieces..ir\ moiiitorig. no\ I hit echocaidiolim-.n aie no longer required
NTedtionic is tlic comipain that sponsored tlic lIF picciaici tlud \\ Iuchli
enabled Scoobh 's treatment to be co ejed as pan of hlle research piOlect
relatively near our home in Utah, including one in Colorado and one in California.
They said the cost would be in the thousands of dollars, and we would have to take
Scooby there. Spending thousands of dollars on a pet was out of the question for us,
but we loved Scooby so much, we couldn't give up.
So we broadened our Internet search to include third degree heart blockage and
pacemakers and that's where we found Dr. Amara Estrada at the University of Florida.
Dr. Estrada was conducting a clinical trial putting pacemakers in dogs to correct third
degree heart blockage. What could be more perfect! We didn't want to tell the kids
until we knew we had found a solution but we now had some hope. We sent Dr. Estrada
an e-mail and she immediately wrote back that she was interested in helping Scooby
but there was an obvious problem: she was in Florida and we were 2,000 miles away.
All of the other dogs in the program were local, but she was willing to try. Now that we
know Dr. Estrada, we should not have been surprised. Her love for animals and
willingness to try to cure them seems boundless. She was able to get permission from
the school to let Scooby into the program. Now all we had to do was get him to
Florida -- and get him home!
The challenges of having Scooby in the program were not easy. Scooby had to
travel from Utah to Florida for the operation and recover for several days. The study
also required him to have a three-month checkup. We were not able to stay and then
return for the checkup, so Dr. Estrada asked for volunteers to dog-sit Scooby for three
months! On March 27, 2007, Scooby received his pacemaker. He was saved! Ulti-
mately, Dr. Estrada wound up taking Scooby in herself most of the time. We could not
believe how dedicated and giving she and her team have been throughout this ordeal.
Scooby returned home to Utah that June and he was cured. It was as if he never
had a problem at all. He was healthy and full of energy; he was completely back to
normal. We cannot imagine what that spring would have been like watching Scooby
die. Instead, thanks to Dr. Estrada and the team of doctors, technicians and students
Scooby is now running around, playing with the kids and his new "brother" a
cockapoo named Bodee.
In your life you hope to meet extraordinary people like Amara Estrada -- people
who are gifted at what they do and are willing to sacrifice for others, even total
strangers. Dr. Estrada saved our dog's life.
Some might say that Scooby is just a dog, but he is part of our family. Having to sit
by and watch him die would have been devastating. But, a potentially devastating
experience turned into a great experience. We got to meet these amazing people in
Gainesville: Dr. Estrada, her colleague and fellow cardiologist Dr. Herbert
Maisenbacher, veterinary technician Melanie Powell (Scooby's best friend) and many
others at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine. We now consider Amara our friend
and we could never repay her for what she has done for us.
Editor 's Note: Gary Anthon, Scooby s owner, shared his personal write-up on
Scooby s experience with the Veterinary Page. We ;li. s/iht our readers
would find it, i,.. 'ini and are including it in his own words.
l"r ;' r -l,5 I I hrr,[ lf -_'r l hl -_'r .: lrj.,:.l.:..,
.h. r. 11 h.--. .jr .ir *
,h -. 1. 1--ir i' i. lurE :ir ,j _, -, l- nI.I
," .I I
UF's equine intensive care unit saves lives
of critically ill foals
Dr. Amanda House comes face to face with a foal in the Equine Neonatal Intensive Care Unit last year.
When Ocala resident Irene Bryan's Appaloosa mare, Skippa Secret, gave birth to a
premature foal recently, both mother and baby needed immediate medical care. Thanks to
veterinarians at the University of Florida's Hofmann Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, both horses
"Our personal veterinarian, Dr. Andy Bennett, responded to my call in the middle of the
night," Bryan said. "Based on what he saw after coming out and performing X-rays on site, he
recommended that we get both horses to the foal unit at UF as soon as possible."
When Bryan arrived at UF's large animal hospital, Bryan said veterinary emergency team
members were waiting for them outside the facility with a gurney.
"I was immediately impressed," she said. "The overall experience was very satisfying."
The foal was treated for eight days with antimicrobials and supportive care for prematurity
and sepsis. In addition, Skippa Secret was successfully treated for a retained placenta. UF
veterinarians continue to monitor the pair's progress, although both animals are successfully
recuperating at home.
"I was immediately impressed The overall experience was
Irene Bryan, owner of Skippa Secret
Meanwhile, Bryan's 9-year-old granddaughter, who witnessed much of the horses' ordeal,
has decided she wants to become a veterinarian.
"The foal was a gift to my granddaughter so that she could show her in halter competition
through 4-H," Bryan said. "She's now spending a lot of time with the foal and hopes to learn
more about veterinary medicine because of this experience."
UF's neonatal intensive care unit, commonly referred to as the "foal unit," was established
in the early 1980s and was the result of a unique partnership between veterinary specialists and
human neonatologists at the UF Health Science Center. Neonatology research at UF has been
funded by the Morris Animal Foundation and Florida's Pari-Mutuel Trust Fund as well as by
the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders & Owners Association.
The state-of-the-art facility is staffed by board-certified specialists who can provide
immediate medical attention and handle any level of care quickly. The foal unit is Florida's
only equine neonatal ICU that provides treatment by board-certified internists round-the clock
for critically ill foals and their dams, 365 days a year.
"We've got the crash cart ready to go," said Dana Zimmel, D.VM., a board-certified internist
specializing in equine medicine and an assistant professor of large animal medicine at UF.
Most foals treated at UF's foal unit are born prematurely or are under a month old. Among
the most common ailments treated at the unit are bacterial infections, which can produce
clinical signs within the first 24 hours after birth or the first month of life.
The vast majority of cases seen at UF's foal unit are considered emergencies.
"Primarily, we see foals with sepsis, or bacterial infections in their bloodstream; foals who
have diarrhea or foals who have problems because they suffer from hypoxic-ischemic
encephalopathy, or a lack of oxygen around the time of birth," Zimmel said. "Those foals,
known as dummy foals, appear normal at first and then within the first 48 hours of life they lose
the ability to nurse. They also lose their affinity for the mare and often progress to not being
able to stand and even experience seizures."
Many foals who have been treated for "dummy foal syndrome" have gone on to become
outstanding athletes, Zimmel said. Strike the Gold, the 1991 Kentucky Derby winner, is just
Thoroughbred breeding season takes place between Jan. 1 and June 30, but occasionally
foals will be admitted to UF in the fall months, Zimmel said. The unit will accept patients from
referring veterinarians as well as from individual clients who would like to bring their foals
directly to UF's large animal hospital.
Anyone seeking more information about the foal unit should call the large animal hospital
front desk at 352-392-2229.
Development of neuropathic pain in spinal
cord injury patients
A recent study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma by Dr. Rick Johnson, a
professor in the UF College of Veterinary Medicine's department of
physiological sciences, shows that a type of neuropathic pain does not develop in
male rats with a complete spinal cord injury. The paper by Johnson and
colleagues* found that "at-level" neuropathic pain felt at and just above the
level of spinal injury was absent in animals whose spinal cords were completely
severed, but did develop in most animals when the spinal cord was incompletely
Up to 85 percent of spinal cord injury patients experience pain. Of those, 40
percent experience pain to stimuli that normally is not painful, such as light touch
like the stroking of a pet, for example. Because it produces extreme discomfort,
treatment of this condition, called allodynia, is given a high priority by spinal
Johnson's work suggests that the undamaged neurons "wires" that send
information, such as touch and pain, from the body to the brain with incomplete
spinal cord injury are a critical factor in the development of "at-level" neuropathic
pain following spinal cord injury. Finding the underlying cause for neuropathic
pain is critical to finding new therapeutic regimens directed at improving the
quality of life in those with spinal injury.
*(Hubscher, C.H., Kaddumi, E.G. and Johnson, R.D., 2008: Segmental Neuro-
pathic Pain Does Not Develop In Male Rats With Complete Spinal Cord
Transections. Journal of Neurotrauma 25:1241-1245)
Dr. Rick Johnson
Freeman named interim chair of LACS.
chief of staff of large animal hospital
D I DaN id Fi cimani an ieqtuiin, suirucon and pioflssor in tlic Unier-i.rsu'
of Flondai Collcec of \;iciiiunl Medicine
Ils bccn ilincd intenin clkniiman of llc collei,'
dcjxinninciii of laile dnil clinical sciences
Ficc-ntan also \%ill sc.n a- cis ef of stf of ithil
Alcc P anid Louise H C(otels Eqiuin. Hosplul.
\ Ilnch lla on of til lar'cqicst euin casloTds of
all Siiua r icdr l'cn al teachixu llihospiils in the i S
H hlias bcn a i nibcni of lFI"s eticnNl
lfacutli sincc 21114 His icsceuc ll ntereSlts I ncl idc
ithe patlihopli soloo' aind tiaiticnt of discilcs
Ith 1 cI .1SLC colic iI n houses. 1 llh speci l 111 ricosti Oil
sclininuc disclSes of tiK. snill aind lare auniml
He- also sn c as director of tic Island \\lill
EqLuine Colic Laboiuioon and \%ill conltinLue in
tihal 1ol. fi lie [K aissti.les lus neu\ apponltmiint
\\h Ich is l'ectil c N Ilaich I
(ollcx Dean Glen Hoffsis appoitcd
F centin. N\ ho hald ed as issociate dlpainitent
Cl,,1.1rnun. o oIlK PosiLiOi nf'ic- fColllcr dcpalllneitc Dr. David Freeman
clhainoniain Eleanor Grc n. D \ NI. w.is namnied
dciin it iIci ('ollc-' of \ Vctennal NdicinIc it Tei-A & NI Lin csisl
Ficenlan ill1 o\ eiS ce the tleadcl ires cacl. e\ nsion and sic le iisSionls of theil
LIF N clenitur collect in Ilthe prninan. aics of cquinc. food aninial. aquatic aiinnitl lnd
companion aiimil licalhli