​Governor Tom Wolf today honored Dr. Aliza Simeone, of Chester County, with the Governor’s Award for Excellence, recognizing her leadership while serving as Pennsylvania’s acting state veterinarian. During her five-month appointment, Pennsylvania overcame an outbreak of a potentially severe equine disease and managed to improve its response capabilities against avian influenza.

The Governor’s Awards for Excellence recognize commonwealth employees for exemplary job performance or service that reflects initiative, leadership, innovation and/or increased efficiency. Dr. Simeone is among 37 employees to receive the awards for 2016.
“We owe a great deal to those who make a commitment to agriculture, not just for their communities or our state, but also for the safety of our country and the food supply around the world,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Dr. Simeone is an exemplary public servant who clearly deserves this honor and our appreciation.”
Dr. Simeone is the veterinary medical field officer for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s southeast region. She supervises a team of three domestic animal health inspectors who work with her to monitor and control animal disease.
 
In December 2015, an Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) outbreak at a boarding farm threatened the equine community in southeastern Pennsylvania. The four-month investigation and quarantine involved 52 horses, more than 35 owners, and seven veterinary practices. Dr. Simeone’s response and innovative methods were met with appreciation from the region’s equine community.
At the time, Dr. Simeone was serving as Pennsylvania’s acting state veterinarian, supervising 35 employees within the department’s Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services. She held the position for five months while a search for a permanent replacement took place.
In July 2016, Pennsylvania state veterinarians had detected an outbreak of low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) in Philadelphia’s live bird markets. This strain is a less-lethal form of the high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) that continues to threaten the nation’s poultry industry. Dr. Simeone played a leading role in the multi-state effort to eliminate the virus by coordinating prompt responses between the live bird markets. Working with many different parties and across multiple language barriers, Dr. Simeone’s leadership built trust and partnership to effectively remove the virus from the marketing system.
In addition to coordinating responses to major disease outbreaks and managing the department’s statewide team of animal health professionals, Dr. Simeone also manages Pennsylvania’s veterinary accreditation program in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She conducts training for nearly 2,300 accredited veterinarians and other stakeholders on compliance and regulatory issues. She frequently consults with experts in state and federal government, laboratories and universities to find the best ways to apply state regulations.
 
A native of Chester County, Dr. Simeone served three years in private large animal practice in southeastern Pennsylvania before joining the state Department of Agriculture in 2004.
For more information on the work of the Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services, visit www.agriculture.pa.gov, click “Protect”, then “Animal Health and Diagnostic Services”, or call 717-772-2852.