CVMA | News & Events | Animal Health Week 2020 — October 4 to 10: Understanding Zoonotic Diseases: Community Health — Animals and You
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Animal Health Week 2020 — October 4 to 10: Understanding Zoonotic Diseases: Community Health — Animals and You

September 4, 2020

Animal Health Week is an annual national public awareness campaign organized by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and hosted by veterinarians across Canada. The CVMA is proud to have celebrated Animal Health Week across the country for 35 years!

From October 4–10, 2020, the CVMA will showcase how Canada’s veterinary professionals occupy unique positions within the national One Health community to support the fight against zoonotic diseases and how protecting animal health, protects everyone’s health. This year’s theme, Understanding Zoonotic Diseases: Community Health — Animals and You, will empower the national veterinary community through awareness, recognition, and knowledge of threats, in-turn improving public health and animal welfare.

The 2020 Animal Health Week campaign key messages are:

  • Zoonotic diseases may be transmitted from animals to people, but they can be easily prevented.
  • Regular veterinary wellness checks can help protect you, your family, and your pet from zoonotic diseases.
  • Always wash your hands after being around animals, even if you did not touch them.
  • Talk to your veterinary team for information on zoonotic diseases.

Our 2020 Animal Health Week campaign key messages will be supplemented with the following proof points in the form of prewritten shareable social media posts:

  1. Travelling to areas where specific zoonotic diseases are prevalent may require extra precautions. Speak with your veterinary team about your travel plans for more information and advice on how to protect yourself and your pets.
  2. Regular veterinary wellness checks and a deworming program for your pets protect you, your family, and your pet. Speak with your veterinary team for more information and advice on zoonotic diseases.
  3. Children under 5 years of age, adults over 65 years of age, and anyone with a weakened immune system should not have contact with rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and poultry. Speak with your veterinary team for more information and advice on zoonotic diseases.
  4. Easy ways to help prevent zoonotic diseases include supervising children around animals, not kissing animals, and preventing animals from licking faces. Speak with your veterinary team for more information and advice.
  5. Help prevent zoonotic diseases by keeping pets and their supplies out of the kitchen or other areas where you prepare, serve, or eat food. Speak with your veterinary team for more information and advice.
  6. Help prevent zoonotic diseases by enjoying wildlife from a safe distance. Speak with your veterinary team for more information and advice.
  7. What you don’t know CAN hurt you. Rabies, ringworm, and certain strains of the flu are just a few of the diseases shared between animals and humans. Speak with your veterinary team for more information and advice on zoonotic diseases.
  8. Can your pet make you ill? Can you make your pet ill? Speak with your veterinary team for more information and advice on zoonotic diseases.
  9. Our community includes animals and keeping animals healthy, which keeps humans healthy. Speak with your veterinary team for more information and advice on zoonotic diseases.

These prewritten social media posts, additional promotional tools, and more information are available to help clinics across Canada promote the importance of understanding zoonotic diseases. Visit the Animal Health Week section under the Practice & Economics tab of the CVMA website to find tips and tools to help plan your celebrations.

Sponsors

Generous support of the 2020 Animal Health Week campaign is provided by Program Plus Sponsors, IDEXX and Merck Animal Health, and Program Sponsors, iFinance Canada (Petcard), Petsecure, and Virbac.

This month we highlight one of our Program Plus Sponsors, Merck Animal Health:

An estimated 59 000 people worldwide die from rabies annually and children under the age of 15 account for 40% of these deaths. Outbreaks can be controlled when more than 70% of an area’s canine population is vaccinated since 99% of human rabies cases are caused by rabid dogs. Merck Animal Health donated over 3 million vaccines to date to help deliver mass canine vaccinations in high-risk world regions. These mass vaccination campaigns are a proven, effective way to eliminate the disease in addition to creating a safe and healthy dog population.

Merck Animal Health has supported research on rabies control, mass canine vaccination in high-risk regions of the world, and education initiatives raising awareness in high-risk regions of Africa and India for more than 20 years.

Merck Animal Health also contributes to protecting against the important zoonotic disease Influenza A in swine. Influenza (flu) is a respiratory illness in humans caused by 2 main types of viruses: Influenza Type A and Type B. Influenza B circulates only among humans, Influenza A viruses are found in many different animals, including pigs. Influenza A viruses are constantly evolving through mutations (antigenic drift) and/or reassortment (exchange of gene segments during coinfection). New influenza viruses affecting humans can be created by mutations and antigenic shift when infecting pigs.

The bidirectional transmission between humans and swine, and occasionally pig infections with avian viruses, facilitates the origin of new influenza viruses. The 4 pandemics in the last 100 years that occurred in humans were related to antigenic drift. Antigenic drifts occur when the virus’s genetic structure changes and the virus that infects animals causes disease in humans and vice versa. Infections in humans and pigs are highly related, the human seasonal H3N2 and the pandemic H1N1 were introduced by humans into pig populations. Preventing swine influenza infections reduces the possibility of creating a new strain that could infect humans. In addition, swine influenza virus is part of the respiratory disease complex affecting growing pigs, a disease that impacts pork production costs and is the main driver for antibiotic usage.

Furthermore, influenza is costly for human healthcare. The average case cost in Canada of patients admitted to the ICU with influenza during 2018, was $14 000. The National Institute on Ageing (NIA), a new policy and research centre based at Toronto’s Ryerson University, estimates human respiratory illnesses costs around $2.8 billion. Influenza is the 7th leading cause of death in Canada and the leading cause among preventable diseases. Its economic impact on work productivity leads to 1.5 million workdays lost each year.

Veterinary preventive medicine is also important to Merck Animal Health. Reducing infections in sows and protecting piglets against pathogens that could be zoonotic such as rotaviruses, E. coli, Salmonella, and parasites are part of the solution.

Merck Animal Health products are available directly from Merck Animal Health Customer Service team at (vet.customer.service.kirkland@merck.com). You can also contact Merck Animal Health staff at 1-866-683-7838 or simply order through your preferred distributors.