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Author: Joann Lindenmayer, DVM,MPH

1. Introduction

At Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine (TCSVM) and elsewhere, approximately 85% of graduates begin their professional lives as clinicians in small and large animal practices. Practitioners frequently encounter animals with zoonotic diseases that can be spread to their human owners. Because of this, veterinary practitioners are inherent members of the public health system because actions they take to vaccinate animal companions and to educate clients can directly affect the health of animal owners. This may be the most obvious connection to human health but there are many others that involve infectious and noninfectious diseases and conditions. In spite of this, however, veterinarians are not often viewed as partners in the public health system.

In fact, with a few notable exceptions, e.g., emerging zoonoses and bioterrorist agents, it’s almost as if public health and veterinary public health are proceeding on parallel tracks. The goal of this class is to begin thinking about why and how that has happened, and to begin to change that.

2. Learning Objectives

At the end of class, students should be able to:

  • Define public health and the scope of the public health system

  • Discuss the relationship between public health and population health

  • Discuss the similarities and differences between population health and clinical medicine

  • Describe the general organization of the public health system and the distribution of veterinarians at all levels and all agencies

  • Know which websites to go to for information about public health and veterinary medicine

  • Discuss the distribution of national funding for key elements of the public health system and for prevention activities

  • Articulate your opinions about the “Lifeboat” article

  • Briefly describe the frameworks that underlie the function of public health

3. Required Reading

Leighton FA. Veterinary Medicine and the Lifeboat Test: A Perspective on the Social Relevance of the Veterinary Profession in the 21st Century. Can Vet J 2004; 45:259-63.

McGinnis JM and WH Foege. Actual causes of death in the United States. JAMA 1993; 270:2207-12.

CDC. Ten Great Public Health Achievements – United States, 1900-1999 . MMWR 1999; 48:241-243.

Noah DL, Grayson JK, and LC Caudle III. Ten great veterinary public health/preventive medicine achievements in the United States, 1901 to 2000. In Symposium: Public Health in the New Millennium. JAVMA 2000; 217:1834-1836.

JH Steele. The history of public health and veterinary public service. In Symposium: Public Health in the New Millennium. JAVMA 2000; 217:1813-1821.

5. Required Websites

Federal Government Home Page

Federal government organization

Federal government Executive Branch

Federal government agencies: Department of Agriculture

Department of Agriculture – Home Page

Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS)

Department of Agriculture – Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)

Federal government agencies: Department of Health and Human Services

Department of Health and Human Services Home Page

Department of Health and Human Services – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Department of Health and Human Services – Food and Drug Administration

Department of Health and Human Services – National Institutes of Health

Federal government agencies: Department of Homeland Security

Department of Homeland Security Home Page

Department of Homeland Security – Plum Island Animal Disease Center

Federal government agencies: Department of the Interior

Department of the Interior Home Page

Department of the Interior – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Massachusetts State Government Home Page

Massachusetts State Government – Executive Branch

Massachusetts State Government - Executive Office of Health and Human Services

Executive Office of Health and Human Services – Department of Public Health

Bureau of Communicable Disease Control

Center for Environmental Health

Center for Environmental Health - Food Protection Program

Commonwealth of Massachusetts – State Agencies

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources

Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game