veterinary medicine

veterinary medicine

veterinary medicine, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of animals. An early interest in animal diseases is found in ancient Greek writings on medicine. Veterinary medicine began to achieve the stature of a science with the organization of the first school in the field in Lyons, France, in 1761, followed soon by similar schools in other parts of Europe. In the United States, veterinary schools came into existence about the time of the Civil War, and there are now a number of accredited schools of veterinary medicine affiliated with colleges and universities. In 1884 the Bureau of Animal Industry was established in the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to deal with animal disease problems in the fast-growing livestock industry. Veterinary research has made important contributions to medical science in general. Vaccination methods devised by Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch for animals were found effective for humans also. Veterinarians inaugurated the inspection of meat and milk to prevent the spread of tuberculosis. The development since World War II of live-virus and modified live-virus vaccines and of antibiotics, sulfonamides, and other biological products has brought about a marked change in veterinary medicine. An important innovation was the mass immunization of poultry through sprays, dusts, and agents added to drinking water. Many animal diseases hitherto considered incurable can now be prevented or controlled by these new therapeutic agents, and this in turn has greatly increased the output of livestock and poultry products.

See The Merck Veterinary Manual (7th ed. 1991).

Medical field dealing with animals and with diseases that are transmissible between animals and humans. It was practiced as a specialty in ancient Egypt and Babylonia; the first veterinary schools in Europe were founded in the mid-18th century. Veterinarians practice internal medicine, surgery, and preventive medicine, using the same techniques used on humans. They serve worldwide in private and corporate clinical practice, academic programs, private industry, government service, public health, and military services. Many specialize in either small animals (pets) or large ones (livestock); a few specialize in wild animals.

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