I’m Brian McCluskey, Chief Epidemiologist for Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services. I’ve been with APHIS for more than 20 years and served in many different capacities.
I decided to become a veterinarian during my junior year in college, as a way to combine my interests in science, medicine and dairy cows. As soon as I graduated and went into practice working with dairy cows, I found my skills challenged right away! In my first five calls for calving assistance, four of them involved uterine torsions. Now, this is a rare condition with a twist in the uterus making it difficult for the calf to come out. I was able to successfully handle the calls, but I was really questioning my career choice at the time.
When I started out in practice, I helped individual animals and herds in a small area of Washington State. It’s been very fulfilling to see the growth and progression of how I’ve been able to help animals and animal agriculture during my career. I left practice and took my first APHIS job as a field vet. There I could help all kinds of herds and flocks in a wider area. As an area epidemiology officer, I worked with all of the herds and flocks in a state. My next stop was as the dairy specialist at the National Animal Health Monitoring System. I was able to affect the entire nation’s dairy herds. I designed a survey, implemented it, received the data, analyzed and interpreted what was gathered, and then shared it with the dairy industry and its farmers. For a guy who spent his high school summers milking cows, it was pretty cool to be able to give back to the industry that way.
Next, I developed the National Surveillance Unit, which designs animal health surveillance systems, from inception into a fully operating unit. All herds and flocks in the country benefited from our work at NSU. Then, as Western Regional Director for APHIS Veterinary Services program, I oversaw the many veterinarians and technicians APHIS has in the western states, and worked with the many programs and issues in the western states. In July, I became the Chief Epidemiologist for APHIS Veterinary Services. I look forward to continuing to serve APHIS in this new capacity. It is very rewarding to work with good people who make livestock agriculture better for the nation.