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N.J. State Veterinarian Earns National Award for Contributions to Animal Health

For Immediate Release: October 30, 2002


Hope Gruzlovic




New Jersey State Veterinarian Dr. Ernest W. Zirkle was recently honored for his leadership role in addressing animal health issues by the National Assembly of Chief Livestock Health Officials.

Zirkle received the Assembly's annual award Oct. 20 during the joint general session of the U.S. Animal Health Association and the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians. State regulatory officials from across the United States attended the session, which was held in St. Louis, Mo.

The Assembly recognized Zirkle for his outstanding contributions to U.S. animal health in a regulatory field, citing his efforts to address viruses in live-bird poultry markets and his work to develop a system for tracking the West Nile virus in horses.

Zirkle also helped develop the current version of the Animal Health Protection Act, which Congress approved earlier this year. The Act modernizes and updates ways the nation should keep out foreign animal diseases and how to respond to those diseases should they occur in the United States.

He also participated in a number of international forums to foster a better understanding of animal health issues worldwide.

"Dr. Zirkle has been instrumental in spearheading the Department of Agriculture's efforts to protect New Jersey's livestock and develop cooperative solutions to address animal health issues nationwide," said Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus. "This is a well-deserved honor for someone who has made significant contributions to protecting and improving animal health over more than 20 years of service to the State of New Jersey."

Zirkle, 66, has worked for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture's Division of Animal Health for 23 years. He has served as State Veterinarian and Director of the Animal Health since 1989. He is a resident of Fairton, Cumberland County.

The Division of Animal Health maintains disease control programs to protect the health of New Jersey's livestock. The division tracks information about emerging diseases around the world that may impact New Jersey, conducts epidemiological investigations of livestock diseases and drug residues, operates an animal health diagnostic library, manages a quarantine facility for imported horses and supports an aggressive Johne's disease program to control this bacterial gastrointestinal disease in dairy cows.