Tufts Animal Expo: Futuristic "First" for Health Conferences

They came, they learned, they looked, and they even laughed. More than 4,000 animal health professionals descended on Boston in October for the inaugural Tufts Animal Expo, hosted by the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine and a roster of supporting organizations and associations ranging from the Delta Society to the New York and Massachusetts veterinary medical associations.

Organizers envisioned an interdisciplinary conference where all parties with an interest in animal health could meet under one roof. As it turned out, one roof wasn't enough, as the conference overflowed the Hynes Auditorium, Boston's largest convention facility, and spread into nearby hotel ballrooms and even the New England Aquarium.

"Something for everyone" is a noble premise, but often a tough bill to fill. Organizers designed "tracks" of one-, two-, and three-day lectures so that mini-conferences were in session for in-depth study of a subject, such as integrated veterinary medicine or the human-animal bond. Alternately, individual lectures on specific topics or species were available if attendees preferred hopscotching around the Back Bay neighborhood. A trade show with 192 exhibiting companies was open for four consecutive days, and evenings were highlighted with lively "Meeting of the Minds" forums focusing on particular subjects germane to the future of animal health.

Within species tracks, lectures were identified as being appropriate to veterinarians, technicians, therapists, animal groomers, or students, with opportunities for crossover and co-mingling among professionals.

Equine-specific topics outnumbered most other species, although ferrets, lizards, llamas, and tropical birds had their share of professionals in attendance. For equine specialists, lecture tracks and hands-on laboratories were available in sports medicine, dentistry, geriatrics, rescue, hoofcare/lameness, and neonatal medicine.

Subjects included diagnostic specifics of recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis (a type of tying-up) presented by Stephanie Valberg, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, of the University of Minnesota. A full-day program on hoof and stifle injuries included in-depth diagnostic imaging and medical management of cases presented by J.P. Walmsley, MRCVS, of the Liphook Equine Hospital (UK).

Equine health professionals with an interest beyond hands-on medical management found unusual opportunities to cross into behavior and public health topics related to horses. There were workshops on the specifics of horse rescue presented by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and challenging seminars on bio-terrorism, zoonotics, humane issues, horses in human therapy, and genetic disease control. Seminars on business management for veterinary practices and hospitals insured that all roles in animal health, directly and indirectly related to medicine, were represented.

The next Tufts Animal Expo is scheduled for Oct. 9-12, 2001, in Boston.

About the Author

Fran Jurga

Fran Jurga is the publisher of Hoofcare & Lameness, The Journal of Equine Foot Science, based in Gloucester, Mass., and Hoofcare Online, an electronic newsletter accessible at www.hoofcare.com. Her work also includes promoting lameness-related research and information for practical use by farriers, veterinarians, and horse owners. Jurga authored Understanding The Equine Foot, published by Eclipse Press and available at www.exclusivelyequine.com or by calling 800/582-5604.

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