This post is sponsored by Vetmedica.
There’s little doubt among those who love pets and wildlife that people and animals are connected, yet this year the public gained a clearer understanding of what veterinarians have long known: Human health is inextricably intertwined with that of other species, the cats on our beds and the bats in our backyards. Animal health matters to us all.
Never was this link more starkly apparent this year than when the Ebola crisis in West Africa ballooned and public health experts in Spain and the U.S. wrestled with difficult decisions about companion animals and the zoonotic disease. Complicated emotions accompanied the cases, and the AVMA collaborated with public health organizations to develop a protocol for handling possible exposure among animals.
But the deadly virus is one of many connections between people, animals and our shared environments, and many zoonotic threats run far lower on the radar yet pose a more immediate threat to people everywhere. Rabies. Leptospirosis. Parasitic infections. Veterinarians know how to protect people and animals against many such pathogens, yet preventable cases of euthanasia and other sad scenarios continue, underscoring the continued need to educate pet owners and the public at large. A major global initiative announced this year seeks to eradicate rabies from companion animals. Momentum is growing to attack infectious disease with renewed vengeance, and people and animals will benefit.
There was much more to 2014 than infectious disease headlines. The Veterinary Mobility Act was finally passed, allowing veterinarians to deliver life-saving care outside brick-and-mortar practices (although challenges and questions remain). Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus continued to wreak havoc in the food animal community, but vaccines have given veterinarians needed tools to fight back. Advantage Multi, Bravecto and other approvals gave companion animals additional options for preventive care. Compelling clinical cases like evidence of marijuana and cocaine exposure in a dog (this publication’s single most-clicked story of the year) and an arrow embedded in a bear caught attention. Illness and death associated with pet jerky treats persist with no clear answers. And the human-animal bond is alive and well, as illustrated in this veterinarian’s poignant remembrance.
2015 will surely bring new emerging diseases as well as advances in prevention and treatment. We will be reporting all of it, and we are so glad you’re joining us for the ride.
The Animal Health SmartBrief team.