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Tracking Vector-borne Disease

Video of Dr. Breitschwerdt interview at CVBD Symposium.

Dr. Edward Breitschwerdt, professor of internal medicine in the Department of Clinical Sciences and director of the CVM Intracellular Pathogens Research Laboratory, helped lead discussions at the 5th Annual Canine Vector-Borne Diseases Symposium held recently in New York City. Leading global experts in veterinary medicine, human medicine, and parasitology participated in the international meeting and outlined the growing threat of canine vector-borne diseases (CVBD) and the impact these diseases have on canine and human health.

In the U.S., veterinary researchers are finding an increase in CVBD in geographic areas not typically associated with the diseases. This increase is a growing concern to experts because U.S. veterinarians generally have limited experience in CVBD diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.

"Vector-borne diseases once considered exotic or unusual are now commonly found in well-populated areas," said Dr. Breitschwerdt. "Veterinarians are often the first responders, from a public health perspective, to see evidence of the geographic spread, but may not recognize the symptoms or fully understand the public health ramification of these diseases. In the past 20 years, we have gone from two known Bartonella species to 22. Because we have seen an increase in the types of vectors transmitting these bacteria, we are beginning to recognize the human impact of bartonellosis. It is imperative that we increase the use of preventative methods for not only this disease, but all vector-borne diseases.”

Sponsored by the CVBD World Forum, the CVBD Symposium includes veterinary and human experts from the U.S., UK, France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Brazil, and Korea. Scientific data presented at the meeting cited global animal movement and climate as major contributors to the increase in parasites, bacteria, and viruses spread by ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, and sand flies. Among the more prevalent and virulent of these are Borrelia spp. (Lyme Disease), Rickettsia rickettsii (Rocky Mountain spotted fever), Bartonella spp. (Bartonellosis or Cat Scratch Fever), Ehrlichia spp. (Ehrlichiosis), D. Immitis (Heartworm Disease) and Leishmania spp. (Leishmaniasis).

The CVBD World Forum is a working group of leading experts in natural sciences, veterinary and human medicine from Europe, North America, Latin America, Australia, and Asia. The Forum was founded in April 2006 during the 1st International CVBD Symposium as a consequence of the increasing global threats through canine vector-borne diseases. The main goal of the CVBD World Forum is to exchange knowledge and findings about ectoparasite-pathogen-host interaction as well as the characterization and assessment of the distribution of pathogens and vectors in order to increase awareness for the specific regional risks of CVBD and to foster preventative measures. This work is supported by Bayer HealthCare, Animal Health Division.

Posted April 22, 2010