WSAVA’s One Health committee has called for a coordinated global infectious disease monitoring system to be established for vets who work in small companion animal practice.
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s (WSAVA’s) One Health committee has called for a coordinated global infectious disease monitoring system to be established for veterinarians who work in small companion animal practice.
The call follows a new study published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, which lists the key infectious diseases that may be transmitted between dogs and cats and man (zoonotic diseases) and recommends a global system is needed to monitor infectious diseases of companion dogs and cats.
The study claims that the knowledge gained through surveillance would permit more effective global control of small companion animal zoonoses and reduce the risks inherent within this most fundamental of human relationships.
The study’s author Michael Day – professor of veterinary pathology at Bristol vet school and chair of the WSAVA’s One Health Committee – said: “It is well recognised that most of the major new diseases of mankind will have an animal origin and that dogs and cats are a potential source of such ’emerging diseases’.”
According to Prof Day, the number of small companion animals is particularly significant. For example:
- there are an estimated 8-10 million dogs living in up to 31% of UK homes, and
- in the USA there are 72 million dogs in 37% of homes.
He said: “The benefits of pet ownership on human health, well-being and development are unquestionable but, as they have moved from the barn, to the house, to the bedroom, the potential for disease spread to humans increases.
“Control of diseases among dogs and cats is a good way to prevent spread to humans.”
Programmes of active surveillance for infectious disease in human, livestock and wildlife heath – similar to that proposed by the study − are already underway to monitor the global distribution and movement of key infectious agents.
However, Prof Day concluded: “The development of such a scheme would require the significant political will, scientific application and financial support that could be achieved through a public-private partnership. The aim of our position paper in Emerging Infectious Diseases is to initiate stakeholder discussions with that end goal in mind.”