During the 20th century, the health and life expectancy of Americans improved dramatically. Since 1900, the average life span of people in the US has increased by 30 years, largely because of advances in public health. To commemorate these advances, CDC named the following as the Ten Great Public Health Achievements—United States, 1900–1999: 1) vaccination, 2) motor-vehicle safety, 3) safer workplaces, 4) control of infectious diseases, 5) mortality decline from coronary heart disease and stroke, 6) safer and healthier foods, 7) healthier mothers and babies, 8) family planning, 9) fluoridation of drinking water, and 10) recognition of tobacco as a health hazard. (See also CDC's Ten Great Public Health Achievements—Worldwide, 2001–2010.)
To further commemorate national advances in public health and to specifically highlight the veterinary public health contribution to the overall effort, the following were named as the Ten Great Veterinary Public Health/Preventive Medicine Achievements in the United States, 1901 to 2000.
Eradication of animal disease: Largely attributable to national programmatic efforts involving local, state, and federal veterinarians, the following diseases have been declared eliminated from animal populations within the US: infectious pleuropneumonia Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia is a highly infectious pneumonia due to Mycoplasma mycoides mycoides small colony type. Clinical signs include fever, anorexia, and signs of pneumonia... read more (1892), fowl plague Avian Influenza Avian influenza is a viral infection found in domestic poultry and a wide range of other birds. Wild waterfowl and shorebirds are often subclinically affected carriers of the virus. In poultry... read more (1929), foot-and-mouth disease Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Animals Foot-and-mouth disease is one of the world's most economically important viral diseases of livestock. The virus infects cattle, pigs, and sheep and many cloven-hoofed wildlife species. The infection... read more (1929), glanders Glanders in Horses and Other Animals Glanders, an often fatal contagious disease of solipeds, now found in remote areas of the world, is caused by Burkholderia mallei. The disease is characterized by purulent nasal discharge... read more (1934), dourine Dourine Tsetse-transmitted trypanosomiasis refers to a group of diseases caused by protozoa of the genus Trypanosoma and affects all domesticated animals. The major veterinary species are T... read more (1942), cattle tick fever (1943), vesicular exanthema of swine Vesicular Exanthema of Swine Vesicular exanthema of swine (VES) is an acute, highly infectious disease characterized by fever and formation of vesicles on the snout, oral mucosa, soles of the feet, coronary bands, and between... read more (1959), screwworm myiasis (1959), sheep scabies Mange in Sheep and Goats Only a limited number of compounds are registered for treatment of mange in sheep and goats. Hot lime sulfur spray or dip is labeled for use against sarcoptic, psoroptic, and chorioptic mites... read more (1973), exotic Newcastle disease Newcastle Disease in Poultry Newcastle disease is a severe, systemic, and fatal viral disease of poultry due to virulent strains of avian paramyxovirus type 1. Clinical signs in unvaccinated birds include sudden death,... read more (1974), and classical swine fever Classical Swine Fever Classical swine fever (CSF) is a highly contagious and often fatal viral disease of swine. Infected pigs develop fever, hemorrhages, lethargy, yellowish diarrhea, vomiting, and a purple skin... read more (hog cholera; 1978).
Laboratory animal science: The first professor of laboratory animal science in the US was Dr. Carl Schlotthauer, appointed in 1945 at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Charles Griffin oversaw the development of pathogen-free animal colonies at the New York State Board of Health Laboratories from 1919 to 1954. Other veterinary pioneers in laboratory animal medicine included Dr. William Thorp at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. James Steele at CDC, and Dr. Karl Meyer at the University of California at San Francisco.
Infectious disease control: In 1900, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in people in the US and commonly resulted in malformations in the bones of children. Of this disease burden, 40%–50% was reported to be bovine in origin, as the result of drinking unpasteurized milk. Constant public health (Pasteurized Milk Ordinance; FDA) and veterinary disease control (USDA eradication program) measures have eliminated this route of transmission in the US. The early 1900s also saw the discovery of the etiologic agents for many prevalent animal diseases. Among these were African horse sickness African Horse Sickness African horse sickness (AHS) is a life-threatening hemorrhagic disease of equids characterized by respiratory and circulatory impairment. It is caused by the AHS virus (AHSV), genus Orbivirus... read more (1900), rinderpest Rinderpest Rinderpest was the first animal disease to be globally eradicated. Because it was such a scourge and re-emergence remains a possibility, it is vital to maintain current information. Rinderpest... read more (1902), sheeppox Sheeppox and Goatpox Sheeppox virus (electron microscopy). Sheeppox and goatpox are serious, often fatal, diseases characterized by widespread skin eruption. Both diseases are confined to parts of southeastern Europe... read more (1902), rabies Rabies in Animals Rabies is an acute, progressive encephalomyelitis caused by lyssaviruses. This zoonosis occurs worldwide in mammals, with dogs, bats, and wild carnivores as the principal reservoirs. Typical... read more (1903), hog cholera Classical Swine Fever Classical swine fever (CSF) is a highly contagious and often fatal viral disease of swine. Infected pigs develop fever, hemorrhages, lethargy, yellowish diarrhea, vomiting, and a purple skin... read more (1903), and the first discovery of a viral cause of a cancer, avian leukosis Lymphoid Leukosis in Poultry Lymphoid leukosis is a neoplastic disease of poultry caused by avian leukosis virus. The disease is characterized by B-cell lymphoma, occurring in chickens approximately 16 weeks of age and... read more virus (1908). On a broader scale, the first cancer-preventing vaccines, which are to protect against Marek disease and feline leukemia virus, were developed by veterinarians and are contributing to development of human applications.
Herd health and production optimization (food-producing animals): Dr. C. L. Cole, who was at the North Central Experiment Station at Grand Rapids, Minnesota, was the first to demonstrate that large numbers of cows could be bred successfully by artificial insemination (1937–1938). The first calf sired by artificial insemination of frozen semen was born in 1953. A 10-year dairy production study in the late 1940s found that among the many benefits of annual physical examinations for dairy cattle was an average increase in milk production of 40%. More recently, widespread application of preventive medicine and environmental health best practices serve to maximize dairy cow health and comfort, all but eliminating milk as a source of foodborne illness. Moreover, annual milk production increased from 5,000 to 21,000 lb per cow.
Food safety (human): Although the 1904 publication of Upton Sinclair’s provocative book The Jungle led to the dismissal of Dr. Daniel E. Salmon from the fledgling Bureau of Animal Industry, the resultant public furor successfully reinvigorated his mission and facilitated the promulgation of the Meat Inspection Act of 1906. Dr. Salmon’s contribution to foodborne disease control was considered so valuable that the genus Salmonella was named for him. In 1900, the first local community instituted routine microbiological examination of milk. In 1908, Chicago required pasteurization of dairy products and, in 1948, Michigan was the first state to require milk pasteurization. In the 1920s, veterinarians also accomplished the basic work in developing the US Public Health Service, or USPHS (FDA) Pasteurized Milk Ordinance and Code. Although slow to achieve industry acceptance, irradiation of food has substantial beneficial effects on the safety and quality of many foodstuffs. Previously approved for items such as spices, fruits, vegetables, and poultry, ionizing radiation was approved for use in 1999 to reduce bacterial loads on frozen raw meat and meat by-products.
Recognition and enhancement of the human-animal bond: Throughout recorded history, humankind has benefited from association with domesticated animals. The dairy cow is recognized as the “foster mother of the human race,” and the horse, ox, donkey, camel, water buffalo, reindeer, and yak have provided humankind with transport and tractor power for thousands of years. Indeed, the histories of all animals, including humans, cannot be dissociated. That mutually beneficial relationship, perhaps the cornerstone of veterinary medicine, became the life work of Dr. Leo Bustad, who once stated, “One cannot have a healthy community without a strong human-animal bond.” An enhanced understanding of that inextricable bond has led to relationships between humans and animals, including guide dogs for those with vision and hearing impairments and military working dogs and dolphins. The positive physical and psychological benefits of human-animal relationships (eg, lower blood pressure) have been well described.
Border inspection and surveillance: USDA has primary responsibility for preventing the introduction or reintroduction of foreign animal diseases into the US. Inspecting representative samples of imported animals and animal by-products is the direct or indirect task of USDA veterinarians. Since 1954, this effort has been greatly aided by USDA's Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (FADDL) on Plum Island, New York, which provides valuable research toward the prevention and control of these biologically and economically devastating diseases. Similarly, veterinarians employed by the CDC Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (Department of the Interior, DoI) oversee programs to control importation of nonhuman primates, vector species, and potentially dangerous or injurious wildlife species.
Surgery and medicine: Regional anesthesia via the spinal route was first introduced in the US at the 1926 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) meeting. Dr. Otto Stader developed the first steel pin method for external fracture fixation. In the 1950s, Dr. H. A. Gorman developed the first prosthetic hip joint, and Dr. F. L. Earl discovered the tranquilizing effects of reserpine.
Uniformed services veterinary medicine: In 1916, with the establishment of the US Army Veterinary Corps, the US was the last of the industrialized countries to commission a corps of military veterinarians. During World War II, army veterinarians were credited with providing higher-quality rations for troops as well as more space for armaments on cargo ships by thoroughly trimming meat products and freezing them in compact containers. Dr. Robert A. Whitney, Jr. (USPHS) served as deputy surgeon general and later as the acting surgeon general in 1993. Today, veterinarians in the US Army, US Air Force, and USPHS contribute substantially to military and civilian public health missions, such as human and animal disease control, occupational health, food safety, medical research, deployment health surveillance, and biological warfare and terrorism defense.
Integration with public health practitioners: Under the leadership of Dr. Karl Meyer, an early architect of veterinary public health, the Hooper Foundation of Medical Research became a leading institute for the study of comparative medicine and zoonotic diseases. In addition, he developed the original curriculum for the University of California School of Public Health. One of the many important achievements by Dr. James H. Steele was the status elevation of veterinarians in the USPHS from sanitarians to veterinary medical officers. Dr. Calvin Schwabe’s seminal work, Veterinary Medicine and Human Health (1964), provides one of the most concrete examples of this integration. For more information, see Healthy People 2020 Leading Health Indicators and WHO Indicator Metadata Registry.