Wisconsin’s new state veterinarian says she’s ready to continue work that has helped keep some major animal-health outbreaks at bay in the state.
Darlene Konkle, who for the past year has served as the interim state veterinarian at the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, was named to the full-time role on Sept. 16 by DATCP secretary Brad Pfaff. She will replace Paul McGraw, who left the position in June of 2018.
“We’re always on the lookout and always trying to provide outreach and information to the industry,” Dr. Konkle said in a Mid-West Farm Report interview.
Dr. Konkle said awareness is a major part of keeping animal diseases under control, and that prevention can be as simple as washing hands.
Premises identification, which Dr. Konkle said has been big in helping contain diseases when there have been disease outbreaks, is a program she said is important in animal-health programs.
“I can’t really overstate how big that program has been to us in helping us respond to disease incidents and helping us inform people at risk when we need to,” she said.
Dr. Konkle said being able to respond when diseases have been discovered in flocks or herds cut the time required to track the diseases’ sources and to notify other producers about the diseases.
“We’re really fortunate to have such a robust system,” the veterinarian said.
Some factors are outside of management control, but “a lot of good work and preparation goes a long way,” she said.
Increased biosecurity awareness and continuing to expand abilities to trace diseases are among some of the biggest things Dr. Konkle said she sees as factors in continued disease control.
The department also continues to expand its attention to the health of companion animals, according to Dr. Konkle. She said those animals continue to play ever-increasing roles in people’s lives.
Dr. Konkle has worked with DATCP since 2005 as an outreach veterinarian in the Johne’s disease program, and in 2007 became the department’s veterinary emergency program manager. She was named assistant state veterinarian in 2013, and in 2015 led the state’s response to an avian influenza outbreak. She’s also overseen the department’s response to a bovine tuberculosis outbreak in Wisconsin.
She was raised in Outagamie County and earned her veterinary degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Konkle also has worked in private practice in Wisconsin, Montana and Kentucky and has taught at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatchewan, Canada.