Thursday, March 2, 2006

MD State Animal Health Labs

The following article appeared in the February 27, 2006 edition of the Frederick (MD) News-Post, and it describes the difficult circumstances under which the Maryland Animal Health Labs are operating.

State Animal Labs Strained

HAGERSTOWN (AP) —State laboratories that look for contagious diseases in farm animals are being strained by staff defections to higher-paying jobs in homeland security, said State Veterinarian Guy Hohenhaus.

Veterinary pathologists can earn 15 percent to 70 percent more in federal and private jobs, leaving some state regional Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratories chronically understaffed, Hohenhaus said.

A staff shortage prompted the state lab in Frederick to suspend animal autopsies, or necropsies, Nov. 1 for three months, Hohenhaus said. During that time, all necropsies were referred to the agency’s College Park lab, one of five in the statewide network.

The Frederick lab resumed doing necropsies three days a week Feb. 1, but it and others in the network remain short-staffed, Hohenhaus said. The Salisbury lab’s director left for a higher-paying job earlier this month, and the College Park lab hasn’t had a full-time director for almost two years, he said.

Beside pathologists, who investigate the nature of diseases, there is strong demand for epidemiologists, who study the causes and control of epidemics, Hohenhaus said.

The agency is responding by raising the fees for services it offers to the public, such as animal necropsy, disposal and cremation. For example, the fee to necropsy a horse weighing more than 300 pounds rose Jan. ito $275, plus 50 cents a pound for disposal, from $125 with no disposal fee, Hohenhaus said. Increased fees for other species take effect March 1.

1 comment:

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