The International Federation for Animal Health (IFAH) has commended World Veterinary Day for raising awareness of vector-borne diseases (VBDs) with a zoonotic potential.

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The annual initiative, which this year takes place on Saturday April 25, was created to highlight the lifesaving work performed by vets around the globe.

With vector-borne zoonotic diseases becoming a major public health concern in all world regions, and the fact they are not limited tropical and subtropical areas, the selected theme for 2015 is “Vector-Borne Diseases with a Zoonotic Potential”.

IFAH executive director Carel du Marchie Sarvaas said: “We’re delighted that this year’s World Veterinary Day theme will highlight the issues caused by vector-borne diseases.

“VBDs is a topic that IFAH has had a strong focus on for the last 12 months, acknowledging the significant and growing potential for these diseases to affect both animal and human health.”

Vector-borne diseases currently account for 17% of the global burden of all infectious diseases. Taken as a group, vector-borne diseases are responsible for high levels of morbidity in human populations throughout the world, economic losses in production animals and reduced animal welfare.

For example, Trypanosomiasis (known as African sleeping sickness in humans) affects 36 sub-Saharan African countries, with more than 17,000 human cases reported annually and accounting for cattle production losses of up to $1.2 billion a year. African sleeping sickness is considered fatal without treatment.

Mr du Marchie Sarvaas concluded: “It is essential that everyone appropriate involved in human and animal health tackle vector-borne diseases collaboratively and head on, to prevent further devastation and loss of life where we can. This is what IFAH hopes to facilitate.”
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