Experts at the 2019 Companion Vector-Borne Disease (CVBD) World Forum met to discuss the changing world of vector borne diseases and share advice to veterinarians on travelling and imported pets.
The spread of disease transmitted by vectors like ticks, mosquitos or sand-flies to non-endemic regions is a growing problem. There are many factors influencing this spread, but increasingly the importing and travel of pets between countries is being implicated.
CVBD Forum Member, Professor Barbara Kohn, from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, at Freie Universität Berlin, shares her insights:
“The number of imported dogs is increasing strongly in many countries of the world. Be it through well-structured or sometimes dubious rescue organizations or by private people who bring animals home from their travels. But some of these furry refugees carry parasites, bacteria and viruses rarely seen in the countries to which they are imported - pathogens that pose a serious threat not only to imported dogs but also to local pets and sometimes even to people.”
“Ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, leishmaniosis or dirofilariosis are so-called Companion Vector-Borne Diseases (CVBD) transmitted by blood-feeding external parasites like ticks, mosquitoes or sand flies. The distribution of these infections is increasing due to climate change and more frequent to pet travel. We are seeing more and more cases of diseases in areas where they had not previously been found. Dogs imported from endemic areas are of particular concern for spread of a disease.”
In Germany, a study of imported dogs from the Mediterranean region found 35% were positive for at least one pathogen. Concurrent infections with two to four pathogens were detected in 8% of the dogs.
What can veterinarians do?
Vets play a vital role in preventing the spread of vector borne diseases in their area. An important part of this is in biosecurity, through early detection and vigilance for vectors and the diseases they spread, especially if they are non-endemic to the regions.
For imported and travelling pets, it is important for veterinarians to check with a vet early to find out which examinations are necessary and to be well informed on the latest entry regulations in their country, and to pass this information on to pet owners whenever possible.
Dogs that are taken to endemic areas for specific vector borne infections should be protected with repellent agents against sand flies, mosquitoes but also against ticks and fleas to reduce the risk of infection and transmitting the disease back home. The use of anti-vector 'no bite' products that not only kill but also repel, will have the greatest impact to reduce the risk of infection in your patients and help preventing the spread of VBDs in certain regions.