Public Health Veterinarian

Public Health Veterinarian

Public health veterinarians, sometimes also called veterinary medical officers, work for government agencies to conduct research and promote animal and human health.

They fight diseases carried by animals that harm human and animal health. These could include rabies, foodborne diseases, the West Nile Virus, avian flu, and others.

Among other duties, public health veterinarians:

  • Promote food safety practices that prevent foodborne illnesses;
  • Regulate the production of meat and poultry products;
  • Research how, when, and why animal disease outbreaks occur;
  • Help communities recover after man-made or natural disasters;
  • Evaluate the safety of medicines on certain animals; and
  • Communicate with the general public, legislators, schools, and health departments to share information about foodborne and animal-borne diseases.


Most public health veterinarians are practicing veterinarians who hold a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM or VMD) degree.

A veterinary technologist who holds a bachelor's degree may also work in public health and national disease control programs.

Careers and Salary

The largest employer of veterinarians in the U.S. is the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which employs about 1,100 veterinarians. These vets are trained in public health and regulatory medicine.

Public health veterinarians are also employed in agencies such as

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
  • National Institute of Health (NIH)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHSCC)

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