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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Veterinarians join animal disease emergency response team

ALBUQUERQUE - In case of a state or regional animal disease emergency, a team of private large animal veterinarians, as members of New Mexico's Agriculture Livestock Incident Response Team, will assist state agricultural agencies.

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture, New Mexico State University's College of Agriculture and Home Economics, the New Mexico Livestock Board and the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management created the New Mexico Agriculture Livestock Incident Response Team (NM-ALIRT). The team is also supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

NMDA and NMSU held the first NM-ALIRT conference Oct. 5-6 in Albuquerque.

"This conference consisted of keynote speakers with a national reputation in their fields covering threats of domestic terrorism, bioterrorism, foreign animal disease, necropsy techniques, diagnostic specimen collection and preparation, and personal protection equipment training," said Jeff Witte. Witte is NMDA's representative in the director's office of agriculture bio-security at the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center, located at NMSU.

"It was attended by individuals from different agencies, many of whom will be in a supporting role during a response," Witte said. "Twenty-five large animal veterinarians have agreed to participate in this program covering the entire state, and will receive training and equipment necessary to properly respond to an emergency under the direction of the New Mexico Livestock Board. This will be one of the largest private veterinary response teams in the nation. New Mexico is on the leading edge nationally with this program."