Veterinarians play a unique role in emergency preparedness and response, and federal agencies and academic institutions therefore allocate considerable resources to provide training to enhance their readiness. However, the level of preparedness of veterinarians in many rural regions is yet to be improved. This article reports an assessment of the bioterrorism preparedness, specifically the experience and training needs, of rural veterinarians in North Texas. The study employed a cross-sectional design with a study population that included all veterinarians (N = 352) in the 37 counties within Texas Department of State Health Services Regions 2 and 3. Data on veterinarians practicing or residing in the target region were obtained from the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. The response rate was 35% (n=121). Results indicate that chemical exposure was the condition most frequently seen and treated, followed by botulism and anthrax. The majority (80%) of respondents indicated that they had not previously participated in training related to bioterrorism preparedness, and many (41%) also indicated a willingness to participate in a state health department-initiated bioterrorism response plan. However, only 18% were confident in their ability to diagnose and treat bioterrorism cases. These results suggest that many North Texas veterinarians practicing in rural regions could benefit from additional training in bioterrorism preparedness and response. An area in particular need of further training is the diagnosis and treatment of Category A agents. Federal, state, and local health agencies are urged to increase training opportunities and to make additional efforts to involve veterinarians in bioterrorism preparedness and response.
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