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To analyze data for death of veterinary professionals and veterinary students, with manner of death characterized as suicide or undetermined intent from 2003 through 2014.


Death records for 202 veterinary professionals and veterinary students.


Decedents employed as veterinarians, veterinary technicians or technologists, or veterinary assistants or laboratory animal caretakers and veterinary students who died by suicide or of undetermined intent were identified through retrospective review of National Violent Death Reporting System records. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) and 95% confidence intervals were calculated, and mechanisms and circumstances of death were compared among veterinary occupational groups.


197 veterinary professionals and 5 veterinary students had deaths by suicide or of undetermined intent. Among decedents employed at the time of death, SMRs for suicide of male and female veterinarians (1.6 and 2.4, respectively) and male and female veterinary technicians or technologists (5.0 and 2.3, respectively) were significantly greater than those for the general US population, whereas SMRs for suicide of male and female veterinary assistants or laboratory animal caretakers were not. Poisoning was the most common mechanism of death among veterinarians; the drug most commonly used was pentobarbital. For most (13/18) veterinarians who died of pentobarbital poisoning, the death-related injury occurred at home. When decedents with pentobarbital poisoning were excluded from analyses, SMRs for suicide of male and female veterinarians, but not veterinary technicians or technologists, did not differ significantly from results for the general population.


Results suggested higher SMRs for suicide among veterinarians might be attributable to pentobarbital access. Improving administrative controls for pentobarbital might be a promising suicide prevention strategy among veterinarians; however, different strategies are likely needed for veterinary technicians or technologists.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


OBJECTIVE To assess proportionate mortality ratios (PMRs) for suicide among male and female US veterinarians from 1979 through 2015.


SAMPLE Death records for 11,620 veterinarians.

PROCEDURES Information for veterinarians who died during 1979 through 2015 was obtained from AVMA obituary and life insurance databases and submitted to a centralized database of US death records to obtain underlying causes of death. Decedent data that met records-matching criteria were imported into a software program for calculation of PMRs for suicide stratified by sex and indirectly standardized for age, race, and 5-year calendar period with 95% confidence intervals.

RESULTS 398 deaths resulted from suicide; 326 (82%) decedents were male, 72 (18%) were female, and most (298 [75%]) were ≤ 65 years of age. The PMRs for suicide for all veterinarian decedents (2.1 and 3.5 for males and females, respectively), those in clinical positions (2.2 and 3.4 for males and females, respectively), and those in nonclinical positions (1.8 and 5.0 for males and females, respectively) were significantly higher than for the general US population. Among female veterinarians, the percentage of deaths by suicide was stable from 2000 until the end of the study, but the number of such deaths subjectively increased with each 5-year period.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results of the study indicated that PMRs for suicide of female as well as male veterinarians were higher than for the general population. These data may help to inform stakeholders in the creation and implementation of suicide prevention strategies designed for veterinarians.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To describe the epizootiological investigation of an outbreak of Q fever (Coxiella burnetii infection).

Design—Epidemiological study.

Animals—17 goat herds in Washington, Montana, and Oregon.

Procedures—In April 2011, an abortion storm at a commercial goat farm in Washington was determined to be caused by C burnetii. A joint epidemiological investigation by public health and veterinary professionals was subsequently performed to assess the extent of the outbreak by performing a trace-forward of goats sold from the index farm, to determine risk factors associated with infection, and to implement control measures. A herd management plan was developed to control the outbreak and reduce risk of human exposure. Quarantine and temporary holds preventing the sale or movement of goats allowed time for trace-forward investigation, education of farmers regarding disease risk, and testing to determine the scope of the outbreak.

Results—17 farms were affected; 21 human Q fever cases were identified. Bacterial shedding in feces, vaginal fluid, or milk was confirmed in 156 of 629 (25%) goats tested by PCR assay. Seroprevalence of antibodies against C burnetii in goats, determined by ELISA, was 12%. The risk for C burnetii infection in goats was highest among females, those on farms associated with human Q fever, and those on Washington farms. A protective effect was observed for goats at farms where the primary form of goat carcass disposal was burial.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—This outbreak illustrated the importance of a joint investigation for zoonotic pathogens and the need to expand and strengthen relationships between medical, public health, and veterinary partners. Heightened awareness and enhanced veterinary diagnostic capabilities for C burnetii are needed to identify and control outbreaks expediently.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association