Rural Students - An Asset in 'Foreign' Disease Control

KANSAS - Foreign diseases are currently the focus for Kansas State University students. It National Agricultural Biosecurity Center and the College of Veterinary Medicine has enlisted first class rural veterinary scholars to study the state's plan and the role of the college should a disease from overseas - such as Foot and Mouth -arrive here.
calendar icon 17 March 2008
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K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine is already a key partner in the state's response plan, which was developed by the Kansas Animal Health Department in cooperation with other state agencies. The state plan lays out who will do what in case of an outbreak. For example, if foot-and-mouth disease were discovered in Kansas, significant manpower would be needed to diagnose and quarantine animals, as well as depopulate the herd which is why preparation is so vital.

Those with the college and center believe that enlisting rural veterinary students in an educational exercise delving deep into the college's plan would help equip the future veterinarians with the tools needed to tackle animal disease and emergencies, as well as keep the college's preparedness efforts moving forward.

Addressing Rural Vet Shortage

The rural veterinarians program is a student loan forgiveness program designed to address a shortage of veterinarians in rural parts of Kansas.

During the educational exercise in summer 2007, students, all now in their second year of the veterinary medicine program, spent time absorbing volumes of material on animal disease response and emergency management, as well as contacting practically each and every person in the college who would be involved in a coordinated response.

"We just basically immersed them into the foreign animal disease world," said Craig Beardsley, program administrator with the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center.

Justin Kastner, an assistant professor of food safety and security at the College of Veterinary Medicine, said that today's veterinary students are tomorrow's leaders, so teaching them to prepare now will be invaluable.

"We're trying to get into their DNA that this issue is not going to go away. Diseases change and the circumstances change. Twenty years from now we're going to need leaders who can think critically about foreign animal disease," he explained.

This exercise was one of several supplementary experiences designed to acclimate the rural veterinary students to their future responsibilities.

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