Pet Matters- One Health by Melissa Wash, DVM

One Health by Melissa Wash, DVM
We all want to keep our pets happy and healthy. However, most people don’t realize protecting their pets from many diseases and parasites can help to protect their family too. Diseases and infections that are naturally transmissible between humans and animals are termed as a zoonosis or having zoonotic potential. There are over 200 well documented zoonosis, and the number is growing. Some can be transmitted directly while others are “vector borne,” such as those spread through mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. The One Health Initiative is the collaborative efforts of many disciplines of human and veterinary medicine working locally, nationally, and globally to help attain optimal health of people, animals, and our environment.
So what can you to help protect your pet and family? Vaccinations, parasite control, and good hygiene are the important first steps. For example vaccinating against Rabies is not only the law but also protects against a very deadly virus that is transmitted through bite wounds and saliva. Another vaccine we recommend for dogs is Leptospirosis, a transmissible bacteria that can cause both liver and kidney damage.
Flea and tick prevention helps reduce the chances of vector borne zoonosis by reducing your potential exposure. Heartworm disease is a real threat to both dogs and cats, and monthly year round prevention is important. However, you may not realize many heartworm preventives also help prevent your pet from developing many intestinal parasites, such as roundworms and hookworms that can infect people especially young children.
Good hygiene is also important. Remove pet waste from your yard promptly. Wash your hands after handling your pets and their waste, especially prior to eating. Also preventing your pet from eating feces, scavenging, and interaction with wildlife will help protect them from getting sick and picking up parasites. Any cuts, scrapes, and skin lesions on your pet should also be evaluated by a veterinarian.
It is recommended that you consult your veterinarian to help tailor a preventative health plan for your pet. If your pet has contracted a zoonosis you may be directed to your primary care physician for your family’s health.
Melissa Wash, DVM is a 2012 graduate of Mississippi State and joined Companion Animal Hospital as an associate veterinarian in January. She has a special interest in preventative medicine, pain management, wound care, pediatrics, and persnickety kitties.

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