Public health is primary mission for shrinking number of veterinarians!! Chagrin Falls, Ohio- March 6, 2008-When you sit down to dinner tonight, make sure you take time to thank a veterinarian. Without the thousands of veterinarians working hard to protect the safety of our food supply, we could be in danger from a variety of diseases. Their training in zoonotic disease makes veterinarians ideal sentinels for the public health.
While 75 percent of all emerging diseases in people are transmitted from animals, The New York Times reports that less than 4,500 of the 75,000 veterinarians in the US are considered to be large animal doctors. What’s frightening is that number continues to drop. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century’s, veterinarians have been crucial to the prevention of food-borne diseases in livestock as well as helping to maintain the public health. Without these guardians, diseases such as anthrax, foot and mouth disease, and even rabies could have had a much stronger impact on human and economic health.
Experts predict a 12 to 13 percent increase in demand for large animal and public health veterinarians over the next several years. However, veterinary schools and organizations expect four out of every 100 jobs won’t be filled.
Legislation allowing forgiveness of student loans for veterinarians who opt for large animal or public health work has been enacted, but funding for the program has not been consistent. The good news is that veterinarians are still manning the front lines, ready to do their part in our nation’s defense. The big question now is: When can we expect reinforcements?