Veterinarians today not only handle the health needs of the family pet, they are also responsible for helping identify diseases that risk the health of humans. Dr. David Smith, Chancellor of the Texas Tech University System, explains how veterinarians are using their expertise to research infectious diseases.
Many diseases around the world have been identified by veterinarians. Ron Warner, a professor at the Texas Tech Medical Center, says veterinarians have an edge in the research on infectious diseases.
"The primary contribution veterinarians bring to the table is their training in the biology and medicine of seven species in addition to primates. I think the other thing that is unique to veterinary medicine is its strong emphasis in population health or herd health, if you will, and to understand the dynamics of disease transmission in large groups," explains Dr. Warner.
Large numbers of new and emerging infections are diseases of both man and animals.
"By helping to understand the disease transmission between animals and man or between multiple animal species, and finally I think veterinarians certainly help by controlling the disease in the animal source or reservoir," says Dr. Warner.
Veterinarians have been critical to identify such diseases as SARS, Monkey Pox, West Nile Virus, Bird Flu, and Tuberculosis.
Dr. Smith adds that 75% of all new diseases originate from animals and that veterinarians help control these diseases.