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Shortage of Veterinarians Worry Public Health Experts in US

detect and spread quickly, so a farmer likely wouldn't notice an illness until many animals were sick, potentially wiping out a whole herd.

? Foot and mouth disease could enter the United States through imported animals or meat. Because the disease can spread rapidly by air, it could hit multiple producers if not detected, leading to a regional outbreak.

The shortage is blamed on graduates of veterinary schools who opt for the regular hours and assumed better pay of small animal medicine, though surveys indicate the pay difference is largely unfounded. There is no denying, however, that working with food animals can mean days and nights of messy, back-breaking work.

Two years ago, a writer had wondered, "who can blame young vets for eschewing the helter-skelter, jack-of-all-trades pace needed to make a living in the country. Life becomes a lot easier (and more lucrative) for those who can settle in pet-rich suburbia or concentrate their efforts in specialized practices.

And while the path that vet medicine as an institution appears to be taking may leave many ranchers high and dry, there's more to the story. With increased concern about the emerging issues of bio-security and agro-terrorism, the fear is livestock-producing states may become less capable in early detection of animal diseases."

Even at that time it was warned that the shortage was expected to worsen in light of the national trend toward a higher vet school enrollment of city kids compared to students with livestock experience.

"It wasn't too many years ago that most of our students grew up on dairy farms, lived in small towns, and came to veterinary school to be dairy veterinarians, or food animal veterinarians, and then went back to those small towns," said an official of the Minnesota university had said.

"Now it's more likely our students will come from Bloomington, Edina or Plymouth, and they're usually female, and they're of
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