H.B. NO.



H.D. 1
















SECTION 1. Zoonotic diseases are diseases that are caused by infection from viruses, bacteria, parasites, or fungi and can spread between animals and people. These diseases can cause illness of varying severity or even death in people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that zoonotic diseases are very common and every year tens of thousands of Americans will get sick from them.

Zoonotic diseases can be transmitted directly or indirectly to humans by consumption of contaminated foodstuffs or contact with infected animals. Leptospirosis, E. coli infection, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus infection (MRSA), ringworm, toxoplasmosis, salmonella infection, tuberculosis, H1N1 and H3N2 influenza virus also known as bird flu or swine flu, brucellosis caused by Brucella suis, and angiostrongyliasis cantonensis more commonly known as rat lungworm disease are examples of zoonotic diseases. Zoonoses are animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans and are very well understood and studied by veterinarians.

The legislature finds that in the past, the department of health had a public health veterinarian position that was filled by a doctor of veterinary medicine. David Sasaki, doctor of veterinary medicine and a world expert on leptospirosis, had filled the position and also oversaw the production of public health publications that were distributed to Hawaii physicians and veterinarians.

The legislature finds that the publications were well received and helped educate physicians about disease reporting requirements and informed them about the prevalence of a number of diseases in the State and the appropriate treatment for the diseases. Such information included resistance to or developing resistance to antibiotics of common venereal diseases such as gonorrhea, and information providing a deeper understanding of the risk of animal diseases to humans.

The legislature notes that most health departments have a position filled by a doctor of veterinary medicine that is usually designated as public health veterinarian. Establishing a veterinary medical officer position within the department of health will help combat the spread of rat lungworm and other zoonotic diseases in the State's human population and support statewide efforts to protect and improve human health. Furthermore, a public health veterinarian could also revive public health publications and disseminate the publications in electronic form, as well as couple the publications with continuing medical education for physicians, nurses, and veterinarians to help ensure the continued competence of the State's health care workforce.

Re-establishing a public health veterinarian position in the department of health will also help battle the current outbreak of rat lungworm disease in humans, dogs, cats, and horses in the State. The legislature also recognizes that global warming contributes to the increase of the number and types of viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi that are spread between animals and humans, which makes early detection and study of these vectors and the illnesses they cause imperative to protect public health.

The purpose of this Act is to establish and fund one full-time equivalent (1.00 FTE) permanent veterinary medical officer position within the department of health.

SECTION 2. Chapter 321, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"321-   Veterinary medical officer. (a) There is established within the department of health a veterinary medical officer to oversee the protection and improvement of human health through measures for the detection, investigation, assessment, prevention, control, and eradication of zoonotic diseases.

(b) The veterinary medical officer shall possess a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) degree from a veterinary college meeting all the standards established by the American Veterinary Medical Association and a license to practice veterinary medicine granted pursuant to chapter 471."

SECTION 3. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $         or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2018-2019 to establish and fill one full-time equivalent (1.00 FTE) permanent veterinary medical officer position within the department of health.

The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of health for the purposes of this Act.

SECTION 4. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 3000.



Report Title:

Veterinary Medical Officer; Department of Health



Establishes and appropriates funds for one full-time equivalent (1.00 FTE) permanent veterinary medical officer position within the Department of Health. (HB2498 HD1)




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