Growing Number of Colleges Offer, Require Homeland Security Courses

Responding to widespread national-security concerns, Auburn University became one of at least eight veterinary colleges in the United States to offer or require a course on bioterrorism last fall. Several colleges have partnered with outside entities and incorporated the subject matter into other courses, such as the Emerging and Exotic Animal Diseases (EEAD) course offered online by Veterinary Information Network. Even more colleges have gathered to discuss ways to pool research efforts to address bioterrorism. Auburn professionals worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Homeland Security to cover everything from microbiology to anatomy in its elective bioterrorism course. It will eventually become part of the required coursework and may be available to private practitioners as early as 2005, according to Gary Beard, DVM, assistant dean for outreach. Meanwhile, Mississippi State University offered sophomores a Veterinary Preventive Medicine class for the first time last fall. It incorporates topics from EEAD with epidemiology, zoonotic diseases, foreign animal diseases and outbreak investigation, said Carla Huston, DVM, assistant professor of epidemiology at Mississippi State University. The Auburn course has about 90 students, and Mississippi has had about 40 students sign up, including graduate students who “wanted the opportunity to take it,” Huston said. Overall, students and practitioners realize that they are on the front lines of bioterrorism and are interested in learning more about ways to identify, treat and prevent such diseases, Beard said. “We have an obligation to our community to help diagnose and fight disease, and I’ve never met a veterinarian who wouldn’t be willing to assume that role,” Beard added.