Early warning system: Pets

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This article from Medical News Today explores some interesting work being done to track the potential for human outbreaks, including avian flu, by monitoring the health of our pets. From the article:


    The National Companion Animal Surveillance Program was originally designed to alert people to potential anthrax or plague outbreaks. New findings on tests of the program are detailed in the current edition of Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, a medical journal that focuses on diseases transmitted to humans by vectors such as mosquitoes or directly from animals.


    Larry Glickman, a professor of epidemiology in the [Purdue] School of Veterinary Medicine, designed the National Companion Animal Surveillance Program in collaboration with Banfield, The Pet Hospital, a nationwide chain of veterinary hospitals. Between 2002 and 2004, tests were conducted on more than 10 million pet records to determine how the database could be used to monitor disease outbreaks.


    "We discovered we can use analytical techniques to target specific geographic areas where vaccines need to be developed," Glickman said. "This early warning will become critical to stop the spread of avian flu virus and other diseases that might affect humans. The quicker we can identify the problem in the more than 150 million dogs, cats or pet birds that live in approximately 40 percent of all households in the United States, the greater the probability we can contain a disease before it spreads to humans."



I know my dogs help keep me de-stressed and force me to exercise regularly. Here's yet another way our animal friends help safeguard human health. Very cool. (Thanks, Debbie, for the pointer!)

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