Dr. Torres made his decision to become a veterinarian a little earlier in life - at age ten. He grew up on a ranch in Colombia, South America, where he saw first-hand the economic impact that animal diseases like Foot-and-Mouth Disease had on the farmers. Since then, he’s spent most of his career teaching, researching and providing outreach educational activities at major universities, helping a new generation of veterinarians develop their skills. He enjoys the extraordinary multiplying effect of teaching professional veterinarians and veterinary students, as they will interact and transmit learned knowledge and skills to others within their circle of influence. This expands the network of knowledge even further.
It is critical to have knowledgeable personnel ready and able to identify and respond to high-impact animal diseases. In this course, animals are experimentally infected with specific diseases for the students to study. The Plum Island staff and students take great care to provide the best animal welfare possible to these animals, as they are the best teachers. They show the class critical clinical and pathological manifestations that are key in the early recognition of these serious diseases in the field. There are no books that can do the same.
Being able to recognize and respond early is key to successfully combating these diseases. The longer it takes to contain a disease, the chance of it spreading to new areas increases. And when dealing with these types of diseases, containing the disease means stopping or severely limiting animal movement – which can have a devastating effect on trade and the economy in an affected country.
“Only by exchanging our knowledge and working together can we build a strong global network to protect agriculture—and, crucially, our ever-expanding international trade in animals and animal products,” said Shea. “Working together, we can do collectively what no one of us can do entirely for ourselves.”
Dr. Torres agrees, “The unique opportunity of having veterinary participants from several countries in the same course creates linkages of international collaboration that help promote a sense of global responsibility in the fight against the prevention and control of very serious animal diseases.”
As part of its capacity-building program, APHIS offers five courses each year at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York to train veterinarians on foreign animal diseases. APHIS offers training for U.S. and international veterinarians on foreign animal diseases. In FY13, APHIS trained 139 veterinarians from the U.S. and 23 other countries, increasing the number of highly-trained individuals who can quickly address animal disease outbreaks across the globe - protecting animal health and agriculture. Plum Island is the only facility where these courses can be held because they involve inoculating animals with ten severe foreign animal diseases, including Foot and Mouth Disease.