By Sue Moore
Vicksburg’s Dr. Ron Smith will see the fourth edition of his book, “Veterinary Clinical Epidemiology, From Patient to Population,” published on November 5. It’s expected to sell several thousand copies and be a big success in the veterinary medicine field, according to his publisher in London.
CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group describes it as the most beautiful book it has ever published. That may be directly related to the cover art that Smith obtained depicting a collage of more than 60 domestic and wild animal species. The content describes how epidemiologic methods apply to questions directly relevant to the practice of medicine at the individual or herd or flock level.
Smith explains that the term epidemiology derives from three Greek words, defined more broadly as the study of disease in its natural habitat, away from the controlled environment of the laboratory. Epidemiologists ask questions such as how common a disease is, what are the risk factors, how accurate are diagnostic tests, what is the prognosis with and without treatment, and how can a disease be prevented in the first place. Outbreak investigations are much like a detective novel where the epidemiologist plays the role of a medical detective. Epidemiologic studies rely heavily on statistical methodology.
Smith’s professional career began as a veterinary medical student at Michigan State University (MSU) in the mid 1960s. He was especially interested in exotic animals, so he joined the Peace Corps soon after graduation and was sent to Ecuador, hoping to work with animals in the wild and gain credentials for an eventual job as a zoo veterinarian. Instead, he wound up working with livestock on local farms and chose to specialize in preventive medicine. After serving three years there he came back to the U.S., looking to study infectious blood diseases of animals. After receiving MS and PhD degrees, he joined the faculty of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine at Urbana/Champaign. His research focused on a number of tick- and mosquito-borne blood diseases of domestic animals such as heartworm, Lyme disease, Texas cattle fever, and canine ehrlichiosis.
While lecturing in the classroom, Smith kept updating his class notes and as the years went by, his class notes became progressively more comprehensive. The representative of a publishing house suggested that he turn his lecture notes into a book. “I believed him but found it was a long way from being a good idea to a real book,” Smith said. That was in 1991 when the first edition of Veterinary Clinical Epidemiology appeared.
His fourth edition will be available as hard copy, paperback, and in Amazon Kindle format. Smith will be attending a meeting in Chicago November 2-5 where he will promote the book at the Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases, of which he is a member. Approximately 500 research scientists from around the world will be attending.
Smith’s wife, Lupe, and their daughter, Veronica, have opened a store front called the Village Works at 102 S Main Street in Vicksburg. His wife is from Ecuador and is a practicing artist, specializing in pottery and paintings that are sold in the shop and online. Their daughter makes and sells jewelry and graphic artwork. Both offer classes as well. Smith, a Vicksburg native, retired from the University of Illinois in 2005 after 32 years, serving as department head the last 3 years. He served six years on the village council and also gave four years of his time as treasurer of the Vicksburg Historical Society.