— Veterinary medicine as a profession was born 250 years ago with the founding of the first school of veterinary medicine in Lyon, France.
The World Veterinary Association, along with other leading veterinary organizations, have designated 2011 as the “Year of the Veterinarian”, and the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences is taking part in the effort to help promote the global spread of knowledge in veterinary medicine.
“The Year of the Veterinarian is recognizing the first veterinary school in Lyon, France, but it is also about encouraging the advancement of the education of veterinarians and sharing knowledge so that we can raise the bar for veterinary medicine throughout the world,” said Dr. Leon Russell, professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
During the late 18th century, Europe was facing a cattle plague that eventually led to the death of approximately 200 million cattle because of a disease referred to as Rinderpest. This began to significantly affect the food supply, and the Pope ordered a decree for a method to be developed to eliminate the spread of the disease.
King Louis the XV of France assembled a team in 1761, led by noted horseman Claude Bourgelat, in order to form a veterinary school in Lyon. The new school successfully stopped the spread of Rinderpest which eventually spurred the development of another veterinary school three years later in Alfort, France, whose original building still stands intact today.
Today, veterinarians play vital roles all over the world concerning people and animals alike.
“Almost three-fourths of diseases that have emerged within the last 20 years are zoonoses, or diseases transmitted between animals and humans,” explained Russell, whose teachings focus mainly on topics in public health and epidemiology.
Many diseases, such as HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), are believed to have originated in wild animals and then transmitted to humans.