The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) relies on a state public health veterinarian for the surveillance, prevention and control of zoonotic diseases such as rabies and tularemia, which are spread from animals to humans. A veterinarian in this position also provides technical assistance in the agency’s preparedness and response efforts for bioterrorism threats such as anthrax and plague.
LeMac’ Morris recently joined the OSDH to serve as the state public health veterinarian after many years of practicing veterinary medicine in Sulphur. After leaving private practice, he went back to school to pursue a master’s degree in public health from the University of Iowa. While enrolled in the program, he worked for the Center for Food Security and Public Health, which is a specialty center for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Upon graduating, he became a technical advisor working for companies manufacturing animal health pharmaceuticals and biologics.
As the state public health veterinarian, his duties will focus on zoonotic diseases and how they impact public health.
“A large portion of my responsibilities involve working with our team of epidemiologists evaluating the risk of exposure in rabies cases involving both humans and animals,” said Morris. “Perhaps one of my most important responsibilities is gathering and conveying pertinent information regarding zoonotic diseases to the veterinary community, to the public, and when needed, responding to assist in controlling disease outbreaks.”
He will work with teams performing mosquito surveillance to monitor diseases such as West Nile virus. His duties also consist of consulting with county health departments, health care providers, laboratory personnel and animal disease experts at Oklahoma State University and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Morris also works closely with local, state and federal partners to formulate and interpret laws, rules, and regulations for administration and enforcement of communicable and zoonotic disease intervention and control efforts.