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Veterinary Public Health
Section Newsletter
Winter 2011

Message from Chair

We are looking for partners/crafters to help develop pamphlets/handouts for local practicing veterinarians, physicians and public health officials to advance the one health concept at the point of service.  The Ohio State University has already produced outstanding pamphlets on MRSA, and is currently working on a similar pamphlet on shared parasites.  Other topics such as fungal infections, human and animal abuse connections, reporting of zoonotic infections, and a pet's role in asthma may be good for starters.  If any member is interested, please contact Dr. Bill Courtney at
As you know, the VPH SPIG postponed plans to rename itself the "One Health" SPIG as there was broad was confusion in the term.  As an example one APHA leader thought it referred to holistic medicine.  Although "veterinary" is often defined too narrowly, it does have a certain name brand recognition among the public health community.
Lastly, the VPH SPIG will submit formal proposals supporting oral rabies vaccination campaigns, and supporting trap-neuter-vaccinate-return as a public health measure to manage community cats.  Note that "vaccinated" was added to focus on the public health benefits, and the "R" was changed to "return" as a more accurate description than the previous "release".  The term "community cats" was also adopted as that is also a better overall description of stray and feral catsNo rabies, no babies - Thank you!

Bill Courtney

Thoughts from the Editor

If you own a pet, it is only natural that you share many activities with your beloved animal companion such as going on leisurely walks through the park, quietly reading on the porch, watching movies on your television or computer, eating a nighttime snack, or even sharing a gourmet meal.  And for good reason: You genuinely LOVE your pet.  This strong bond between human beings and animals, the so-called “human-animal bond,” has become an integral part of how we live and interact with our environment, including the sentient beings we choose to bring into our homes. 

In fact, according to a recent article published by the CDC (Chomel & Sun, 2011), >60 percent of U.S. households have pets.  Entitled “Zoonoses in the Bedroom,” this study attempts to delineate the health implications of the intimate relationships that people have with their pets and some the zoonotic consequences of these regular interactions.  The study cites various zoonotic diseases such as plague, Chagas disease, and Pasteurella spp. infections. 

Given the content of the study, it has attracted some media coverage, and more importantly, may have distressed animal lovers that partake in the various “risky” behaviors highlighted by the study.  The contention is that just because one partakes in affectionate behavior such as kissing his/her dog on a regular basis may not necessarily mean that he/she is more likely to be afflicted by one of the aforementioned zoonoses.  The public as well as the media must interpret the study carefully and critically to evaluate the value of pet ownerships vs. health risks.  It should be noted that pet ownership does not necessarily equate with transmission of these zoonoses, and as such, pet ownership should carefully be put under scrutiny for health risks as to suffer from public outcry from sensitive animal owners.

However, the study does raise the point that pet ownership as a demographic “risk” variable for health should be an epidemiological consideration when investigating the transmission of zoonoses.  Moreover, such studies illustrate why Veterinary Public Health and its related disciplines such as animal welfare and control, one health, or disaster preparedness are relevant “special interests” of APHA.

What do you think?  What is the extent of the health risks posed by living with pets?  How can we prevent or avoid some of the potential dangers highlighted by the study?   Or is that even necessary? Are the ways that we show our love to our pets something that cannot be criticized despite the scientific health awareness of certain risks?  

It’s Just a Snow Day… or Weeks… or a Disaster

Everyone is familiar with havoc caused by the recent abundance of the glistening white precipitation covering the American landscape this winter.  Travel has been severely affected with flights and other modes of transportation being horribly delayed or canceled.  Schoolchildren, for better or worse, are left stranded at home with parents who may not have the flexibility of finding a caretaker.  If you happen to live in an urban area, you are faced with the inability to park your car…

When compared to the destruction caused by massive flooding or violent earthquakes, sometimes it is easy to overlook the consequences of heavy and frequent snowstorms as “natural disasters.”  Nevertheless, the implications of such wintry “disasters” are devastating, although the immediate damage is not always readily apparent.  Accumulations of snow and ice can be heavy and have destroyed mammoth structures such as the Metrodome.

From an agricultural perspective, various crops will deteriorate as they freeze over.   Not only has the cold weather affected plant life, but there is also concern for how it can affect animals, whether they live on a farm, within your home, or outside in the wild.  It is important for farms to consider contingencies to deal with the cold weather.  General recommendations include having a 10-14 day stockpile of feed for the animals, as delivery of such items may be limited by the lack of road clearance.  Just as precautions must be taken during hot weather, provisions for shelter from the cold must be available as well as maintenance of watering systems.  For your pets, it is important to bring them indoors during the inclement weather, and to account for the daily necessities of pet food, water, and litter or bedding.

For those of you interested in what you can do during an animal health related emergency, please contact your local Animal Response Team (ART) for more information and training.


Registration is now open for APHA’s Midyear Meeting: Implementing Health Reform — A Public Health Approach. Join public health colleagues and partners in Chicago, June 23-25, to better understand the health reform law and its implications from a public health perspective. Gain the tools needed for implementing the provisions of the Affordable Care Act and for improving health outcomes in communities across the country. The early-bird registration deadline is April 15. To register or for more information, visit