What is Veterinary Pathology?

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Veterinary pathology is the science that studies disease in animals


Why is Veterinary Pathology Important? Veterinary pathologists advance animal and human health by:

  • Diagnosing disease in companion animals, zoo animals, and wildlife. Veterinary pathologists examine tissues and body fluids to diagnose disease and predict outcomes.
  • Diagnosing disease in food-producing animals. Veterinary pathologists help maintain herd health and establish if there is a risk to humans who handle or consume products of food animals.
  • Contributing to drug discovery and safety. Veterinary pathologists serve as key members of pharmaceutical research and development teams.
  • Conducting research. Veterinary pathologists study diseases of multiple species and are thus uniquely qualified to perform studies to advance our understanding of the cause of disease in animals and humans as well as studies to develop new methods to prevent and treat diseases.

What are Examples of Contributions of Veterinary Pathologists? Veterinary pathologists:

  • Are often among the first to recognize a new disease or health hazard. For example, veterinary pathologists were the first to recognize that a new disease agent, West Nile Virus, had invaded North America.
  • Performed pioneering research on the potential applications of stem cells
  • Conducted scientific experiments on the Space Shuttle
  • Contributed to conservation efforts of African cheetahs
  • Helped restore Prince William Sound after the Exxon Valdez oil spill
  • Assisted investigations of the nuclear power plant accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl
  • Play critical roles on research teams to alleviate AIDS, SARS, cancer, chronic wasting disease, monkeypox and bioterrorism

Where Do Veterinary Pathologists Work?

  • Diagnostic Laboratories. These include private and state diagnostic laboratories, contract laboratories, academic institutions, zoos, and wildlife agencies.
  • Academia. Institutions include veterinary or medical schools and research universities.
  • Industry. This includes pharmaceutical, biotechnological, chemical and agrochemical industries, and supporting contract research organizations.
  • Government. Examples of these agencies include the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Centers for Disease Control, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Institutes of Health.