fbpx
Print this page
Friday, 18 October 2019 13:55

Vaccinations protect people, animals

Written by  Mark Ross, chief executive of Agcarm
Mark Ross. Mark Ross.

As we struggle to fathom how we ended up in the throes of a measles outbreak again, we’re reminded of the importance of vaccinations to protect us from life-threatening diseases.

This is no less true for animals which can share diseases with people. Vaccination vastly improves the health of people and animals and is vital for continuing to meet the health challenges of growing populations.

Vaccinating animals protects them from life-threatening diseases such as distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and leptospirosis, which affect New Zealand animals. 

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease shared between rats, dogs, pigs, cattle and people.  The Accident Compensation Corporation says New Zealand has one of the highest rates of leptospirosis in the world.  It puts farmers, particularly dairy farmers, at risk as it can spread from infected urine in dairy sheds.  It is also an occupational risk for meat workers, who can contract the disease in the same way. The New Zealand Veterinary Association says anyone in contact with cattle could be at risk.

The spread of disease between humans and animals remains a constant threat.  With a growing global population, the risk of zoonotic diseases spreading will increase as humans and animals live closer and closer together. This coincides with an increasing demand for food when resources for agriculture are increasingly under pressure.

As well as affecting human and animal health, animal diseases harm livestock, wildlife and agriculture. They also result in revenue and trade losses.  

Many killer diseases have been kept in check by responsible animal owners maintaining vaccination programmes. Rabies, for example, is a completely preventable virus that is fatal if left untreated. It kills more than 59,000 people each year, mostly children in Asia and Africa.  If this isn’t tragic enough, the impact of the virus is estimated to cost in excess of US$6000 million, says the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Many animals die of rabies. Its transmission to livestock reduces food productivity. Bovine rabies causes one million cattle deaths in Central and South America every year.

Dogs are subject to unnecessary cruelty in attempts to eliminate the virus. The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) says millions of dogs are needlessly culled each year due to a fear of rabies. 

Rabies is prevented by vaccinating dogs. Through research and pilot programmes, WSPA found that vaccinating at least 70% of a community’s dogs creates ‘herd immunity’.  This occurs when a significant proportion of the population (or herd) is immunised, providing a level of protection to unprotected individuals.

When a large number of animals in a community are vaccinated, it breaks the cycle of transmission between dogs. This prevents it from spreading to people.

The World Health Organization, World Organisation for Animal Health, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control have committed to ending dog-mediated rabies in people by 2030.

Continuous investment in breakthrough technologies and innovation is imperative to control diseases among animals as well as their spread to humans, as are appropriate government strategies for disease eradication.  

We should take advantage of life-saving vaccines to limit the spread of disease and ensure people and animals remain healthy and productive.

• Mark Ross is chief executive of Agcarm, the industry association for companies which manufacture and distribute crop protection and animal health products.

More like this

Mastitis prevention move pays off

Dairy farmer Enda Hawe’s focus on mastitis prevention and teat condition rather than blanket use of DCT during dry off is paying dividends.

Pig virus on the march

A new report warns that a virus decimating parts of the global pork industry could spread to more countries next year.

Facial eczema – the hidden killer

Most of the damage caused by facial eczema (FE) is subclinical (no obvious external signs) and goes unnoticed until it’s too late, comments Agritrade.

Featured

Longest running ag field days all go

The South Island Agricultural Field Days, held in Kirwee on the outskirts of Christchurch, will celebrate its 70th year in March 2021 with a bigger demonstration area.

 

National

Global movers and shakers

Dairy companies around the world are facing a dilemma – whether to expand or divest assets, says Rabobank’s Mary Ledman.

Live cattle exports in limbo

The fate of 28,000 cows in quarantine in New Zealand and supposedly destined for China in the coming weeks hangs…

Machinery & Products

Mowers get a makeover

Well known throughout New Zealand over the past 18 years, Pottinger has redesigned its rear-mounted Novadisc mowers to incorporate a…

Hardy spotlight

High quality, reliable lighting is essential for anyone involved in agriculture or the great outdoors.

Simmm twin water blasters

Italian made Simmm Power Cleaner 100/11 and Power Gun 100/11 single-phase (230 volt) electric water blasters are proving popular in…

OPD argument raging on

A stoush is brewing with the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) heavily criticising Farmsafe Australia’s recent Safer Farm Report.