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Dr. J.H. Steele bestowed as 'Father of Veterinary Public Health'.

The year 2013 is witnessing the Veterinary profession celebrating the contribution of Dr James Harlan Steele, who has been honoured with the title of 'Father of Veterinary Public Health'.

Dr Steele was born in 1913 and graduated from Michigan State University (1941) and Master in Public Health from Harvard University. On 1st November' 1943, he was commissioned as Sanitarian in the United States Public Health Services (USPHS) and was responsible for milk and food sanitation and evaluated zoonotic threats on the Puerto Rico and Virgin islands. He then researched on brucellosis, bovine tuberculosis, rabies and Venezuelan equine encephalitis.

In November 1945, Dr. Steele presented a report outlining the risks of zoonotic disease and benefits of employing Veterinarians to research and respond to the causative pathogens. This was the first time, the world and medical professionals listened and understood 'Veterinary Public Health (VPH)'.

Under the tutelage of Dr. B.T. Simms, then chief of Bureau of Animal Industry, Department of Agriculture, Dr. Steele spent two years working in Brazil, Maryland, Indiana and Michigan investigating outbreaks and human health implications of diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease, brucellosis and salmonellosis. His report on progress of VPH program in March' 1947 was well received and Dr. Steele urged the Assistant Surgeon General to consider establishing a Veterinary Medical Officer (VMO) category within USPHS. Alongside an impressive cadre of Veterinarians, Dr. Steele was inducted as the first Regular Corps VMOs in February' 1948.

Dr. Steele's VPH framework served as a model for many programs undertaken by WHO, FAO and others. Dr. Steele became Chief Veterinary Officer of USPHS in 1950 and retired as the first Assistant Surgeon General for Veterinary affairs in 1971. During his tenure, Dr. Steele worked as WHO Consultant with late Dr. Martin Kaplan, the first director of Veterinary Public Health.

On behalf of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Steele attended the first WHO Expert committee on Zoonoses meeting in 1950 and then chaired the second meeting in 1965. The meetings brought together eminent scholars globally and emphasized the need for international collaboration and common goals.

After his retirement from USPHS, Dr. Steele joined the faculty at School of Public Health, University of Texas, Houston. In 1983, he was appointed Professor Emeritus and continues to remain active providing wisdom, insight and words of encouragement to countless students and professionals alike.

During his tenure at University of Texas, Dr. Steele helped to compile and edit 'Handbook Series in Zoonoses', the first comprehensive collection to address diseases shared by humans and animals. The book is today a staple of public health curricula worldwide and a testament to his dedication to public health.

During his career Dr. Steele has received numerous recognitions and awards viz USPHS Order of Merit (1963)--Honorary member of Epidemic Intelligence Service of the CDC (1975), XIIth International Veterinary Congress Prize by AVMA (1984), Surgeon General's Medallion (2006) and Medal of Merit from OIE (2012).

Dr. Steele, a pioneer in Veterinary Public health, legend and an inspiration all. He has set up tremendous, unparalleled example of intelligence, passion and tenacity in VPH for others to emulate. Dr Steele today at the age of 100 is a mentor for many and an idol for the Veterinary profession and Veterinary Public health in particular.
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Publication:Intas Polivet
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2013
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