Veterinarians at Home Fight the War on Terror April 4, 2008
Ask anyone to describe the work of a veterinarian and they will likely draw a picture of a doctor in a white coat, healing sick puppies and kittens. But veterinarians are also on the front line of an ongoing war. They are the best defense for our bio-security. Since the horrors of September 11, 2001, we are all acutely aware of the devastation associated with terror attacks. Organizations from our local police to the FBI and National Guard continue to upgrade plans to protect us and our borders. but who oversees our defenses against germs, bugs and other things too small to notice? Who is on watch against Mad-Cow disease, anthrax and food contaminants? Soon after the terror bombings in New York and Washington, another threat surfaced. Letters containing anthrax, a deadly bacterium, were sent to Senate offices and news media offices, killing five people and infecting 17 more. These incidents focused attention on the potential risks of bio-terror attacks and the need for a coordinated system of response. Due to its high mortality and ease of transmission, anthrax is considered a risk to national security by the Centers for Disease Control. Because of their background in zoonotic diseases, veterinarians are increasingly important to national security and public health. By recognizing diseases in animals, our veterinarians can often prevent illness in humans and minimize the loss of animal life. Often veterinarians are the only ones trained to recognize these diseases and threats. Veterinarians are essential to sound the early warning system.