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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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FDA Veterinarian Newsletter November/December 2001 Volume XVI, No VI

by Isabel Arrington, Ph.D., D.V.M.

Recent events have focused attention on terrorist incidents aimed at the civilian population. An agricultural attack involving biologicals or chemicals could be surreptitious and thus difficult and time-consuming to detect. Symptoms might not occur among victims for days or weeks and those initially presenting themselves to physicians and clinics might be geographically dispersed. A strong public health network would be needed to piece together early reports and determine quickly what had happened. Similarly, if animal feeds were contaminated by acts of terrorism, the human population could be potentially affected by consuming resulting residues in meat products, direct contact with contaminated pet foods in the home or contact with certain animal disease conditions caused by feed contaminants.

I was hired by CVM to be the point person on agricultural-terrorism for the Center and to lead CVM's working group on those activities. Currently, CVM is in the process of organizing the work group to formalize plans and attending many meetings with CFSAN and other Agencies to keep abreast of the latest ideas in agricultural and bioterrorism relating to foods. It is expected that most of CVM's activities will be about improving communication and coordination among State and Federal labs that deal with animal feeds and providing scientific expertise in feed contamination issues. I previously worked at USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service in Field Operations, first as an Inspector in Charge, and later as a technical expert at headquarters and in the Technical Service Center, Omaha, NE.

Dr. Arrington is a Veterinary Medical Officer in CVM's Division of Animal Feeds.