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Protecting people and animals from sharing disease

5 July 2018

On World Zoonoses Day, Agcarm reminds pet and livestock owners that good hygiene and vaccination is vital for protecting the health of people and animals.

Diseases such as Campylobacter, Leptospirosis and rabies are ’zoonotic’ and are transmissible between animals and humans. Research shows that 75 percent of all new human pathogens originate from animal sources.

Campylobacter, which is normally associated with eating undercooked chicken, can be associated with pets, especially dogs. Recent research shows that many dogs carry these bacteria without showing any signs of disease. Poor hygiene, such as not hand-washing before eating can spread the disease from dogs to people.

Leptospirosis is a common zoonosis caused by exposure to an infected animal’s urine. New Zealand has one of the highest rates of Leptospirosis in the world and incidents of the disease tripled in the first half of 2017.

The disease is shared between rats, dogs, pigs, cattle and people. It puts farmers, particularly dairy farmers, at risk as it can spread from infected urine in dairy sheds. Meat workers can also contract the disease. According to the NZVA, anyone in contact with cattle could be at risk.

Leptospirosis can be prevented by ensuring at-risk dogs and livestock are vaccinated.

World Zoonoses Day is on 6 July and celebrates the discovery of a vaccination against rabies 133 years ago. This marked the beginning of the end of rabies - one of the most devastating diseases in history. It also highlights the difficulties we still face when controlling zoonoses.

It’s estimated that there are 150 zoonotic diseases in the world and each year they sicken over two billion people. But eradicating all zoonotic disease is impossible. Only by implementing a collaborative One Health approach across human and animal health will we be able to control zoonoses effectively.

ENDS

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