APHIS recruiting veterinarians for deployment during a foreign animal disease outbreak

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If and when a foreign animal disease outbreak occurs in the United States, the USDA-APHIS will activate its Regional Emergency Animal Disease Eradication Organization (READO) to deal with the outbreak. APHIS employees from around the country would be deployed to ensure that disease prevention, control, and eradication actions are being taken. Were a large outbreak to occur, the agency would look to many sources to obtain the services of temporary personnel to help meet the emergency staffing needs.

APHIS, with the cooperation and assistance of the AVMA, is working to establish a roster of veterinarians who can be activated quickly and brought onto the personnel rolls of the federal government. The veterinarians will supplement the agency's existing employees for periods of up to 30 to 60 days, depending on the circumstances. These temporary employees will serve as veterinary medical officers during the emergency situation.

Dr. Ty Vannieuwenhoven, a senior staff veterinarian with USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services, Emergency Programs, said, "Veterinary Services has been downsizing, so we don't have as many veterinarians to meet emergency needs. In fact, fewer veterinarians are in the field now than were involved in the avian influenza outbreak in 1984. So we worked this out as a way to shore up our resources.

"We modeled the program after the way the members of the AVMA/AVMF Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams are federalized."

According to Dr. Vannieuwenhoven, the greatest shortfall would occur during the second and third week of an outbreak when the USDA would be hiring veterinarians for the long haul.

The type of work done at emergency sites may include examining herds for clinical signs of disease, vaccinating, conducting postmortem examinations, collecting specimens, collecting epidemiologic information, euthanatizing diseased animals, supervising disposal of animal carcasses, and inspecting livestock markets, trucks, and vehicles.

Current salary rates will be either $16.56 per hour or $20.04 per hour, depending on the veterinarian's education and experience.

Dr. Vannieuwenhoven said that at least one of the species practice groups has shown its support for the program. Each year APHIS has been paying to send several practitioners to undergo foreign animal disease training at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, Greenport, Long Island, NY. In 2000, for example, the agency sent several swine veterinarians. When APHIS sent out its letter recently to the practice groups inviting them to nominate veterinarians to train this year, one group said it will nominate only those who volunteer for the emergency staffing program.

Veterinarians interested in being considered for this type of work during an emergency outbreak should reply to this notice by submitting their name, address, and telephone number to USDA-APHIS, Minneapolis Business Site (Attn: Martha Gravagna, Human Resources), 100 N 6th St, Ste 510, Minneapolis, MN 55403; fax, (612) 370-2082; martha [dot] l [dot] gravagnaatusda [dot] gov (martha[dot]l[dot]gravagna[at]usda[dot]gov).

Correspondents should specify that they are inquiring about the Emergency Eradication VMO positions. An application package will be provided to each inquirer along with additional information about this program.

Questions or requests for additional information about this endeavor should be addressed to Dr. Ty Vannieuwenhoven, APHIS, Veterinary Services, Emergency Programs, at (301) 734-4917.