Most closely related to clinical practice and pet health care are the clinical and anatomical pathologists who provide diagnostic support to veterinarians caring for pets. These pathologists assist in the interpretation of laboratory findings and surgical biopsies to help make the correct diagnosis so the proper therapy can be delivered to the pet. Because pets are living longer due to vaccines and better general medicine, more animals live long enough to develop cancer, just as humans do. The development of sophisticated imaging techniques such as CT scans and MRIs help veterinarians find tumors, but the pathologist makes the diagnosis from the biopsy that allows for proper treatment.
The "global community" which has resulted from a more closely connected world has brought new populations of people into contact with older diseases. For example, the West Nile virus, an emerging disease of humans typical of many diseases well known in isolated parts of the world, is popping up in new places. It was Dr. Tracey McNamara at the Bronx Zoo, New York and Dr. Keith Steele of the U.S. Army at Ft. Detrick, Maryland who first recognized the occurrence of West Nile fever in the United States. They made the diagnosis in dead birds and connected it to the epidemic of flu-like illness in New York City.
Veterinary pathologists have been studying infectious disease of humans as well as animals for decades. This is dramatically illustrated in the book The Hot Zone by Richard Preston, a true story about the outbreak of Ebola virus in a monkey colony near Washington, D.C. Ebola virus is a highly lethal hemorrhagic fever of humans and other primates that periodically pops up in Africa. The central characters in the book are Dr. Nancy Jaax, a veterinary pathologist at Ft. Detrick, and her husband, Dr. Jerry Jaax, a laboratory animal veterinarian, who were both involved in diagnosing the disease and managing the outbreak.
Infectious diseases are also of interest for their potential use in bioterrorism and its lesser-known form, agroterrorism - the use of biologic agents to attack our agricultural resources. Accidental or purposeful introduction of these diseases could be an economic and medical catastrophe.Veterinary pathologists are on the forefront of this effort. Pathologists working in federal and state diagnostic laboratories as well as those working for the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) will be the first ones to know about foreign animal diseases in our country that could devastate our agriculture industry.
One has only to read the recent accounts about Mad Cow Disease in Europe and North American with its impact on both human health and the beef industry to understand its importance. The outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Great Britain a few years back is another example. Although there is little risk of human disease with foot and mouth disease, the economic impact to Great Britain was very negative. The USDA spends considerable resources to keep these foreign diseases out of our country, some of which are less than 90 miles from our borders. Veterinary pathologists familiar with these diseases are busy improving the detection and containment of this threat.
The Department of Defense maintains a cadre of veterinary pathologists in uniform who are working to limit the risk of infectious diseases to soldiers deployed overseas. From studying the basic mechanisms of exotic fevers, to the development of vaccine, disease control, risk management and rapid detection of biological and chemical agents. Army veterinary pathologists are crucial members of the effort to protect our soldiers. Lt. Col. Dana Scott studied the Ebola virus in the famed "Hot Zone" and served for two years as special liaison for biologic warfare to The Pentagon. Lt. Col. Jo Lynne Raymond was deployed in Iraq in 2004 commanding a biologic and chemical warfare detection unit.
From mortality in sea otters to the world wide decline of amphibians, it is likely that human activities are impacting our environment and affecting the health of wildlife. Veterinary pathologists are engaged in identifying these problems and forging solutions. Dr. Linda Munson of the University of California at Davis is deeply involved in studying cheetahs and their narrow diversity that places them at risk of extinction. She is also involved in a fascinating study of the ecology and biology of Channel Island foxes off the coast of California. The Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska is a classic example of the work of veterinary pathologists who assisted with the clean-up groups to study the effect of oil spills on animals.
Zoological parks in the United States are becoming an important refuge for endangered species. Those with the resources employ veterinary pathologists as part of their conservation efforts. Walt Disney World has veterinarians and a full time veterinary pathologist on staff to care for their animals in the Animal Kingdom.
Veterinary pathologist investigates intestinal disorder in dairy cows.(Bruce Anderson at the University of Idaho)(Brief Article)
Sep 18, 2000; CALDWELL, IDA. -- University of Idaho veterinary pathologist Bruce Anderson is investigating a mysterious intestinal disorder...