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Note to editor: Tiffany Moses is a graduate of Colby High School.
News release prepared by: Kayla Chrisman, kaylac@k-state.edu

Monday, Aug. 16, 2010

VETERINARY STUDENTS SPEND SUMMER TRAINING FOR DISASTER

MANHATTAN -- Four Kansas State University veterinary medicine students experienced a summer filled with disease and disaster -- and that's just what they wanted.

The students, who are in the Veterinary Training Program for Rural Kansas, took part in two different U.S. Department of Agriculture preparedness programs: the foreign animal disease practitioner's training course and agriculture emergency response training. The programs train veterinarians to aid in relief efforts and protect the public in hazardous situations.

Jodi Wright, Burrton, Tiffany Moses, Manhattan, both third-year veterinary medicine students, took the foreign animal disease practitioner's course at the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa. They participated in interactive lecture sessions on foreign animal diseases that are a potential threat to the United States. Some of the speakers were webcasted from the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York. The training also included various hands-on labs and a mock foreign animal disease outbreak that let them apply the proper measures to handle the emergency.

"It was a good refresher course on the different foreign animal disease viruses after just completing a semester of virology," Wright said. "It also gave us a look at what state and federal veterinarians do, how to respond in an outbreak and what role the local veterinarian can play."

Michelle Colgan, second-year veterinary medicine student from Lawrence, and Amy Gerhardt, third-year veterinary medicine student from Netawaka, took part in agriculture emergency response training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Ala. They learned how agroterrorism and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives hazards can potentially affect agricultural resources and the community. Lecture subjects included disease surveillance; prevention, control and eradication; foreign animal diseases; response actions; and more. The hands-on training included proper use of personal protective equipment and surveying and monitoring tools. They also learned about crime scene preservation.

Because of the number of feedlots in the state, Kansas could be a prime target for agro-terrorism. The students said the training helped them develop skills needed to be effective helpers in case of an incident -- accidental or intentional.

"As veterinarians it will be our responsibility to diagnose the first case so that we can control the agent, rather than let it take control of the food supply and the state's economy," Colgan said. "The training I received will help me be a better veterinarian in Kansas and a better responder in case of any agro-terrorism or agricultural emergency."

The students said the training also provided an important opportunity for networking. They worked with veterinarians, veterinary technicians and law enforcement officials from across the United States.

"All of the veterinarians, even those who were there to learn, took time to teach us and help us during the labs," Wright said. "The two state veterinarians from Kansas who attended were wonderful to us."

The students said the connections made and training received from the programs will be useful in their careers.

"I learned more information from than any books or classes could have taught me," Colgan said. "You never know when these services will be needed right here Kansas."

The Veterinary Training Program for Rural Kansas was passed by the state Legislature in 2006 as a way to bring new veterinarians to rural areas. Program participants are eligible for up to $20,000 in loans per year to pay for college expenses and advanced training. Upon earning a doctor of veterinary medicine degree, each student is required to work at a full-time veterinary practice in one of the 91 counties in Kansas with fewer than 35,000 residents. For each year the student works, $20,000 worth of loans is forgiven by the state. Students can work a maximum of four years through program, receiving up to $80,000 in loan waivers.