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CHARLESTON, WV -

Dr. Koren Custer, an assistant state veterinarian at the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, has completed her training as a Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostician at Plum Island, N.Y. 

The course involves two weeks of 10-to-12-hour days, according to Custer, and provided her with the chance to work with several different species and to see foot-and-mouth disease first-hand.

Extremely contagious, foot-and-mouth disease caused the destruction of an estimated 7 million cattle and sheep in Great Britain in 2001.

The school is offered just six times per year and educates approximately 30 students per session. Students are typically federal and state veterinarians and laboratory diagnostic staff, military veterinarians, veterinary school faculty and some industry veterinarians.

Once they finish their courses, they become de facto surveyors for foreign animal diseases across the United States. 

Scientists at the facility have the capability to diagnose more than 30 exotic animal diseases, including foot-and-mouth disease, swine fever, African swine fever and other ills listed by the World Organization for Animal Health.