A former state veterinarian is the new director of the prestigious California Animal Health and Food Safety system at the University of California, Davis.

As of Nov. 4, Richard Breitmeyer directs the laboratory system that is a partnership between the  UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

With labs at Tulare, San Bernardino, and Davis, the system diagnoses animal diseases for California’s veterinarians and livestock and poultry producers. 

The lab played a prominent role in conducting surveillance for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease), West Nile virus, H1N1 influenza and exotic Newcastle disease, and in testing seafood from the Gulf oil spill and pet food for chemical contamination.

“Dr. Breitmeyer has an outstanding record of working effectively with livestock producers, veterinarians and public health officials at the state and federal level,” said Bennie Osburn, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, in a news release.

A UC Davis graduate, Breitmeyer served as California’s first state veterinarian from 1993 through 2010.  He grew up on an egg-producing farm in California’s Orange County.

As state veterinarian for three California governors, Breitmeyer was empowered to quarantine domestic animals or food from animal products.