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IFAH Commends World Veterinary Day for Raising Awareness of Vector-borne Diseases

IFAH has commended WVD, which was created to highlight the lifesaving work performed by vets around the globe, for raising awareness of vector-borne diseases (VBDs) with zoonotic potential.

Carel du Marchie Sarvaas, IFAH Executive Director, says: “We’re delighted that this year’s World Veterinary Day theme will highlight the issues caused by vector-borne diseases. VBDs is a topic that IFAH has had a strong focus on for the last 12 months, acknowledging the significant and growing potential for these diseases to affect both animal and human health.”

In 2014, IFAH produced an industry-first white paper ‘The growing threat of vector-borne disease in humans and animals’ with support from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This formed the basis of a roundtable discussion, where a group of world experts from all areas regarding vector-borne diseases considered the key challenges that prevent these diseases from being tackled effectively.

As a result of this discussion, a smaller taskforce has agreed to work together to further consider one specific challenge identified in tackling VBDs, as identified at the roundtable. The kick-off meeting for this activity is taking place in June, with the intention of developing a robust plan of action that will deliver a measurable positive impact.

Vector-borne diseases currently account for 17% of the global burden of all infectious diseases. Taken as a group, vector-borne diseases are responsible for high levels of morbidity in human populations throughout the world, economic losses in production animals and reduced animal welfare. For example, Trypanosomiasis (in humans; African sleeping sickness) affects 36 sub-Saharan African countries, with over 17,000 human cases reported annually and accounting for cattle production losses of up to 1.2 billion dollars a year. African sleeping sickness is considered fatal without treatment.

“It is essential that everyone appropriate involved in human and animal health tackle vector-borne diseases collaboratively and head on, to prevent further devastation and loss of life where we can. This is what IFAH hopes to facilitate,” Carel concludes.