Monday, April 11, 2011

The 6th Canine Vector Borne Disease Forum Calls For Greater Awareness

Veterinarians And Pet Owners Urged To Act Upon Evolving Dangers Posed By CVBDs

Leading experts from around the world came together today to share their latest research findings at the 6th Canine Vector Borne Disease (CVBD) forum in Nice, France and call for greater awareness of the dangers posed to animals and humans by these increasingly important diseases. "A number of the CVBDs cause real suffering and even death in dogs, and many represent a zoonotic risk. It's vital that veterinarians and pet owners everywhere understand the seriousness of the threats posed, and take action to prevent transmission of these diseases" said Prof. Dwight Bowman of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, USA.

"Data presented here highlight the underestimation and underreporting of serious diseases such as Tick-Borne Encephalitis (TBE), despite their potential to threaten the life of infected animals" according to Prof. Martin Pfeffer of the Institute of Animal Hygiene and Veterinary Public Health, Germany. "Like many of the CVBDs, TBE has spread beyond its traditional home and is being found across Europe and Asia, exposing previously unaffected populations to this serious disease. In light of the increasing geographical spread of diseases like TBE, veterinarians should ensure all dogs are protected from the threat of CVBD transmission and should consider even 'exotic' or 'rare' diseases when diagnosing sick animals."

This theme was taken up by Prof. Luís Cardoso of the Department of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal, whose group reported the first cases of clinical babesiosis by Babesia microti-like piroplasm outside Spain. "This finding is important as this form of babesiosis is previously unknown in Portugal and we found not just two infected adults with a history of travel to endemic areas, but also infection in a puppy with no history of travel outside the country. This suggests that either the disease is capable of being transmitted from mother to pup or that there is now a reservoir of infection in Portugal."

Further evidence of the changing face of CVBD management came from Dr Filipe Dantas-Torres of the Department of Veterinary Public Health at the University of Bari, Italy, who presented data suggesting that the common Brown Dog tick (Rhicephalus sanguineus) has the potential to be involved in the epidemiology of leishmaniosis, a disease that can prove fatal to dogs and humans. Dr Dantas-Torres explained "If our hypothesis is confirmed, we would in a next step investigate whether ticks could also transmit Leishmania infantum to dogs which would dramatically increase the geographical reach of leishmaniosis. Currently however, only sand flies are proven biological vectors of the Leishmania parasites."

According to Prof. Domenico Otranto of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (Universitá degli Studi di Bari) Italy, "These findings reinforce the message that tick bite and sand fly prevention through a repellent parasiticide is a must for all dogs travelling to CVBD endemic areas. Not just because of the threat posed to the animal itself, but also to prevent the CVBD pathogens establishing in new, non-endemic areas and spreading via blood-sucking parasites."

Many of the discoveries presented at this year's meeting were made possible due to major advances in the field of molecular biology and genomics. In his keynote address, Prof. Robin Gasser from the Faculty of Veterinary Science of The University of Melbourne, took an evolutionary perspective and explained how the discovery of DNA, the development of nucleic sequencing and the initiation of large-scale biological and biomedical research, have driven changes in veterinary medicine, particularly over the last decade. Prof. Gasser spoke of challenges and of the major impact that next-generation sequencing and bioinformatic technologies are having in many fundamental and applied areas of infectious diseases, as they become more accessible. "These 'omic technologies will completely change the way we study CVBDs and will substantially deepen our understanding of parasites, vectors and host relationships, pathogenesis, epidemiology and ecology at the molecular level. These fundamental insights will underpin the design of radically new interventions and management strategies against these important diseases into the future."

In this context, Dr Xavier Roura of the Hospital Clinic Veterinari of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain, presented promising new applications of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnostics at the meeting and emphasized the value of these new techniques; "The advent of Real Time PCR means that it is now possible to track disease development through reliable quantitative results. Veterinarians need to be aware of these new advances in diagnostics that make identification of CVBDs more accessible and accurate and take action to ensure that they take advantage of their benefits to improve prognosis and treatment decisions."

The CVBD World Forum is supported by Bayer Animal Health as part of its ongoing commitment to advancing research into CVBDs worldwide. "We are committed to advancing the scientific understanding of CVBDs by bringing together the latest researchers from around the world in this unique forum - we are proud to have played our part in ensuring the next chapter in global CVDB management and prevention is written in 2011," said Maria de Lourdes Mottier, Global Veterinary Services Manager, Bayer Animal Health.

Further information on the diseases discussed in this release can be found along with video interviews with key speakers from the 6th CVDB Forum here.

Live updates made during the forum are available here.

Bayer HealthCare AG

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