September 10, 2012
Dr. Charles Aisu has the tough job of keeping a watchful eye on the health of animals coming and going in Uganda where he works as a veterinary inspector.
Not every country is so lucky with veterinarians in many developing countries still learning veterinary epidemiology techniques. Veterinary epidemiology is the study of risk factors of disease and distribution of disease in animal populations, particularly in livestock critical in international trade.
Dr. Mo Salman, director of the Colorado State University Animal Population Health Institute, has spent the greater part of his 30-year career working with veterinarians such as Aisu to identify, monitor and treat animal diseases that can impact human health.
Today, he’s finishing up a two-week training program in Fort Collins with Aisu and 27 other veterinarians from around the world.
Last month, Salman was awarded four grants totaling approximately $250,000 from the U.S. government and international agencies to develop a field epidemiology training program for veterinarians, support animal health officers in East Africa in combating their animal diseases, and bring veterinarians and government leaders from the country of Georgia to Fort Collins for training on U.S. agricultural health systems.
Salman’s two-week training program that ends today hosted veterinarians and government officials from 20 countries including Egypt, Mexico, Tanzania, Kenya, the Philippines, Vietnam, South Sudan and Tunisia. They talked about field data, diagnostic test results and the use of economic principles in animal health – all directed at controlling such debilitating livestock diseases as anthrax and foot-and-mouth disease.
“Almost all veterinarians here are involved with their country’s animal health,” Salman said. “They’re trying to control disease and maintain disease-free regions.”
For Uganda, Aisu hopes to learn some strategic interventions and how to intervene when it comes to trade and animals crossing borders.
“You need data collection on animals and animal disease both in space and time,” Aisu said. “If you don’t have the capacity to do that, you cannot say that the information we’re gathering and giving to a country is genuine or fake. This information also goes to OIE (the World Organisation for Animal Health) so we want to make sure our system of reporting is standardized so that our data is accepted worldwide.”
The International Veterinary Epidemiology Training Course is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and implemented in cooperation with USDA Centers for Epidemiology & Animal Health, CSU’s Animal Population Health Institute and the Association for Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine.
At one point, Salman encouraged Aisu and his group of trainees to do what’s best for their countries.
“We try to follow the book and the book is written by people like us,” Salman told the group. “Try to think how you could satisfy your need, your culture, your economic, and social wellbeing. We need to think in a very open mind – what options are available for us?”
Salman is a professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences, and founder and director of the Animal Population Health Institute of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. In 2008, Salman was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from CSU’s Office of International Programs and also received the Scholarship Impact Award, one of the highest annual honors given by the university.
Contact: Emily Wilmsen
Phone: (970) 491-2336