Although the majority of veterinary students will choose to become small animal practitioners as their career path, public health is still an important topic in daily practice. We don’t have to be an ACVIM to pass the NAVLE, and the same is true for public health, we don’t have to be an epidemiologist to deal with some of the public health issues in veterinary medicine.
We are told by one of our professors that rabies should be on our differential list in animals with neurologic signs. Public health is just that close to all of us as small animal practitioners. Another great example is the recent outbreak of avian influenza in an animal shelter in New York affecting hundreds of shelter cats.
We may not always have outbreaks of zoonotic diseases, however, we may have a dog come in with leptospirosis, a cat with sporotrichosis, or a pet bird with chlamydiosis. Zoonotic diseases impact different body systems and are involved in numerous aspects of veterinary medicine. In addition, cases of human infection with Salmonella are increasingly being reported because backyard chickens are a fast-growing pet population and people get infected by kissing their pet chicken just like we do with our dogs or cats. Again, public health concerns affect all of us – animals and people, small animal practitioners and all other kinds of veterinarians. No matter which type of veterinarian that we choose to be, our oath states that as veterinary professionals we strive to promote public health. And this is also the beauty of veterinary medicine, it’s so special that every species is different yet reflected in many common aspects of the profession.