A new study has called for global monitoring of infectious diseases in dogs and cats after research found that the spread of disease is not currently checked between companion pets.
Led by Michael Day, professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Bristol, the study has found that “most infectious diseases in humans comes from animals”, and international health agencies monitor humans and livestock but not companion dogs and cats.
Emerging Infectious Diseases, working in partnership with the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) One Health Committee, recommends that a co-ordinated global disease monitoring system is established for small companion vets.
Michael Day said: “The number of small companion animals is significant. For example, there are an estimated eight to ten million dogs living in up to 31 per cent of UK homes and in the USA there are 72 million dogs in 37 per cent of homes.
“In developed countries the relationship between man and dogs and cats has deepened, with these animals now closely sharing the human indoor environment. The benefits of pet ownership on human health, wellbeing and development are unquestionable.”
“But as dogs and cats 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.”
In human, livestock and wildlife heath there are programmes of active surveillance for infectious diseases, which monitor the global distribution and movement of key infectious agents. For example, the World Health Organisation (WHO) monitors human influenza virus infection through a network of 111 centres in 83 countries. In contrast, there is no such monitoring for the infections that may be transmitted between small companion animals and man.