Parasitology specialty gets provisional recognition

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The parasitology veterinary specialty practice area gained provisional recognition in April under the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists.

The AVMA Executive Board approved the provisional recognition on the basis of reviews by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties and the AVMA Council on Education. The COE forwarded a petition submitted by the specialty group's organizing committee and recommended the provisional recognition.

Dr. D. Scott McVey, ACVM president, expects the parasitology specialty will add strength and expertise to the college as well as expand its membership. He noted that disciplines such as immunology and parasitology already interact, and he thinks members in those specialty groups will gain from one another.

"A lot of the problems that we face in veterinary medicine are multidisciplinary, in the sense that they involve multiple species, pathogens, vectors of pathogens," Dr. McVey said. "In the real world, animals often have multiple problems. They may be parasitized as well as dealing with chronic infections, so I think this really fits that one-health concept, where we can deal with diseases and problems of animals with an increasing breadth of knowledge and expertise."

Dr. McVey expects about 25 veterinarians will initially become certified as diplomates under the specialty, and he knows of others who are interested in eventually gaining such certification.

Specialties have to spend at least four years with provisional recognition, after which they can petition the ABVS for full recognition. Such a petition needs to be received within the 10 years after the organization gained provisional recognition.

Dr. Patrick F.M. Meeus, chair of the specialty's organizing committee, expects the parasitology specialty will help identify credible experts with clinical experience who can provide sound and nuanced advice. And he thinks the specialty will give diplomates opportunities to show they are qualified to teach courses on parasitology without necessarily gaining additional doctorates.

The diplomates "should be able to speak with a voice that is believable as far as making diagnosis and recommendations on parasites of people's pets or safeguarding the food supply," as well as to provide guidance on foreign parasites and trade restrictions, Dr. Meeus said.

The specialty's organizing committee saw a need for recognized specialists who have broad, clinically based training beyond the parasitology-related education typically provided in a veterinary medical degree program or parasitology-related doctoral program, Dr. Meeus said.

"We felt that there wasn't really dedicated certification and training to become a clinical veterinary parasitologist," Dr. Meeus said. "A lot of the parasitology training that veterinarians get these days is during veterinary school, which is good education, but it only scratches the surface of what there is to know about parasitology."

The organizing committee hopes to gain full recognition in about four years, he said.