Penn Vet & food supply
Many Pennsylvanians trust their beloved pets to the care of their veterinarian because they know veterinarians provide compassionate care for companion animals. However, few Pennsylvanians are aware of the role veterinarians play in protecting the food supply.
Penn Vet, the only school of veterinary medicine in Pennsylvania, has received funding from the state until the most recent budget proposal. This funding is critical to protecting both public health and Pennsylvania's food supply. Consider:
• Penn Vet has both the personnel and facilities to fight re-emerging threats such as rabies. There is no other facility in the state with the diagnostics capable of a timely rabies assessment, as well as the ability to pursue other diagnostics in the event of a negative result.
• Penn Vet's Swine Center collects data on where swine viruses occur, helping farmers and truckers see where disease is present to prevent its spread. The program maintains a map covering 1.29 million hogs in the state and has resulted in a 30-percent reduction in the number of pigs in the program with viruses.
• During the last budget impasse, Penn Vet conducted 70,000 tests for avian influenza without payment at a time when the disease was causing billions of dollars in losses in the Midwest.
• Penn Vet's role in developing an egg quality assurance program in Pennsylvania results in 99.99 percent of Pennsylvania eggs making it to market without salmonella.
Let's take the steps to ensure Pennsylvania has a safe food supply by restoring funding for Penn Vet.
Dr. Joan C. Hendricks
The writer is the Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.