Experts Say Vector-Borne Disease Risks Increasing

A meeting of global experts has highlighted the increasing threat from potentially lethal diseases carried by ticks, fleas and sand flies.

Many life-threatening conditions such as Lyme Disease, Leishmaniasis and Ehrlichiosis are transmitted by "vectors", which carry the disease from host to host. These vectors include ticks, mosquitoes, fleas and, in some countries, sand flies, which are critical to the spread of the diseases. The Canine Vector Borne Disease (CVBD) World Forum, a working group of leading global experts in natural sciences, veterinary and human medicine, have warned that diseases that were once considered exotic or unusual are now commonly extending their distribution.

Dr Torsten Naucke from the Institute for Zoology, Division of Parasitology, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany called for veterinarians and pet owners to recognize the risks posed by failing to adequately protect dogs, particularly when traveling into higher challenge areas when holidaying with their owners. "Many people think these parasites are just an unpleasant but harmless nuisance, but far from it. The diseases they spread pose a real threat to the health of dogs and humans. An important prevention measure for dogs from disaeases is to ensure they are treated with an effective, repellent insecticide to minimize the risk of disease transmission."

Edward Breitschwerdt, DVM, of North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine pointed out the role veterinarians play in preventing the spread of CVBDs: "Veterinarians are often the first responders, from an animal and public health perspective, to see evidence of their spread, but may not recognize the symptoms or fully understand the public health ramification of these diseases. I would call on all veterinarians to pay attention to the possible appearance of CVBDs, even in areas where they have never been seen before."

Sarah Weston, Global Vet Services Manager, Bayer Animal Health says that the latest data from the CVBD World Forum signals that there is a need for increased disease prevention. "Dogs are dearly loved members of many families around the world, sharing the homes and day to day lives of their owners. It is essential for veterinarians to remain vigilant for these diseases that can lurk unseen in family pets and to work with owners to educate them about prevention. For veterinarians who are not yet seeing many dogs with these diseases, we hope that they become better-versed in the prevention of CVBD and that they become alert to the signs and symptoms of these potentially lethal diseases."

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