Every local vet plays a critical role in animal and human health sectors, ensuring animal and human health on a daily basis. Similarly, every vet and paravet in the developing countries plays an equally important role of ensuring the health and well-being of many people’s precious assets – livestock.
Tropical diseases of which many are zoonotic diseases (transmittable between livestock and people) are a major public health concern in developing countries. Many of these diseases lack the focus from governments to begin understanding and combating these diseases and generally no effective and affordable medicine has been developed through research efforts in many cases.
In its most simple application, a regular dewormer in your dog and cat administered by or on the advice of your veterinarian will ensure both animal and human health. On a grander scale, veterinarians and other animal scientists are continuously involved in global research and development initiatives that will ultimately protect animals and humans from zoonotic diseases. When it comes to livestock, the process is sometimes not as straightforward, most of the administration of drugs and vaccines require specialised training, often done by veterinarians only. In some cases especially in remote areas of developing countries, these services are hard to come by usually putting the lives of the animals and humans at risk.
GALVmed, in partnership with the University of Melbourne and India Immunologicals Laboratory and with funding from the UK government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has begun to focus research and development on understanding and combating porcine cysticercosis in South Asia and Africa. International multi-site field trials, with the incorporation of the veterinary profession, are currently underway to establish the effectiveness of an anthelminthic and vaccine combination therapy in the reduction of prevalence of the disease in developing countries where the disease is rife.
Veterinarians involved in research and development projects ensure that these studies comply with current research practice standards to ensure the quality, reliability and integrity of results from the data. Such research and development can result in marketing approval of effective and safe new drugs. This drug combination research is expected to markedly reduce the prevalence of cysticercosis in pigs by prevention of infection through large-scale mass drug administration in pigs. With the pigs being protected from infecting human carriers, there will be a major reduction (and in time hopefully eradication) of infected pig meat that is the source of infection to humans. Through national mass drug administration programmes, this research and development undertaken with the expertise and knowledge of veterinarians in collaboration with development and funding partners will ultimately ensure the well-being of animals and people worldwide. We want to rid the world of cysticercosis, just like rinderpest!
This post was originally written as part of World Veterinary Day focusing on Vector-borne diseases with Zoonotic potential. Vector-borne zoonotic diseases are becoming a major public health concern in fact Scientists estimate that more than 6 out of every 10 infectious diseases in humans are spread from animals. At GALVmed, we work on a number of zoonotic diseases not only to protect livestock from these diseases but humans as well.