Melissa Cleavinger, a U.S. Department of Agriculture medical veterinarian for Southwest Colorado, is stationed in Cortez.
She told the Montezuma County Board of Health about her role as the interface between veterinarian medicine and public health.
Cleavinger said six state and federal medical veterinarians are stationed throughout the state. One of their jobs is to monitor and control transmissible diseases between animals and humans, such as rabies, mad cow disease, trichinosis, foot and mouth disease, and Q fever.
The vets also work with local health departments to keep informed of other breakouts such as salmonella and E. coli in order to keep other veterinarians and their clients informed.
Cleavinger’s territory is Montezuma, Dolores and Alamosa counties.
She does a lot of work with dairy farmers in the Monte Vista area.
She said one of her goals is more outreach onto Native American reservations to help control rabies in dogs and horses.
A recent problem being monitored is the presence of virulent Newcastle disease in commercial chicken operations in California, Cleavinger said.
It previously only showed up in backyard chickens. The commercial problem could negatively affect the U.S. chicken export market.
“We are responding to try and contain the disease,” she said.