“At least 60% of all human diseases have their origin in animals. Effective prevention and control of infectious diseases at the animal-human-ecosystems interface are key to combating the spread of diseases in animals and humans, enhancing food security, and fostering poverty reduction. Increased transparency in the animal health situation contributes to better public health.”
Bernard Vallat, former OIE Director General
Of the nearly 1,500* infectious diseases we know affect people, almost two thirds can pass between animals and people. Those diseases are called zoonoses.
The increasingly crowded nature of our planet – on which man and animals live in increasingly close proximity – has enhanced the ability of zoonotic infections to jump between species. And once present in human populations, the unprecedented flow of commodities and people across the world enables pathogens to spread as never before.
Like the millions of animals they benefit, the role played by veterinary medicines is often overlooked. The impact of animal health products over the past 60 years has been truly revolutionary and has transformed the health and welfare of animals globally.
Highly effective parasites controls have enhanced the health and welfare of cattle, sheep and pig populations, and have helped farmers to combat the huge losses that can be caused by worm and fluke infections. And foot-and-mouth disease – which is among the most feared of all ruminant infections – has been controlled or eradicated in many regions, thanks to the development of effective vaccines and to concerted efforts on the part of policy makers, public health officials and veterinarians.
Parvovirus, once such a common cause of canine deaths, is now prevented routinely – alongside a growing range of other potentially fatal infections – by safe, effective vaccines. Cats, horses and other companion animals have benefited from similarly dramatic developments in veterinary immunology, while revolutionary new products have enabled the effective control of parasites such as fleas and ticks to which companion animals are exposed.
While the range of preventative products available to veterinary surgeons and pet and livestock owners continues to grow, animals still get sick. And a sick animal, like a sick person, needs treatment. Here again, the range and complexity of available products continues to grow, spanning anti-infectives, parasite controls, reproductive aids and metabolic drugs, as well as novel treatments for chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease and even cancer.
Download the Contributing to One World, One Health strategic framework document.