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Increased incidence of zoonoses, coupled with veterinarians’ occupational exposure, led to this study examining the knowledge of licensed US veterinarians on zoonoses and their disease prevention practices. This online survey supported by the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians received 466 responses from 36 US states; 67% of the respondents were female, and 72.5% were small animal medicine practitioners. The One Health concept was familiar among 82% of respondents, 51.3% knew of continuing education training on zoonoses, and 68% had attended such a training in the last 5 years. Respondents were unaware of which zoonoses to report to public health departments. For 3 out of 8 questions on standard operating procedures, statistically significant differences in protocols followed among small, large, and mixed animal medicine practitioners were observed. Most respondents believed they play a critical role in zoonoses prevention but would like more information on zoonotic diseases. Results indicate that assisting veterinarians with regularly updated information on zoonoses, providing targeted education and training to adhere to standardized infection control measures, and increasing communication with public health agencies and physicians may help prevent and reduce incidence of zoonoses.

Open access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective

To assess knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) of veterinary personnel and pet owners regarding ticks and tick-borne diseases in Alaska and to conduct a serosurvey for tick-borne disease pathogens among domestic animals visiting veterinary clinics for preventative care.

Sample

Across 8 veterinary clinics, we sampled 31 veterinary personnel, 81 pet owners, 102 client-owned dogs, and 1 client-owned cat.

Procedures

Information on KAP among veterinary staff and pet owners was collected via self-administered questionnaires. Tick and tick-borne disease prevalence were assessed via tick checks and benchtop ELISA antibody tests detecting Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Anaplasma platys, Erlichia canis, Erlichia ewingii, and Borrelia burgdorferi.

Results

The veterinary personnel KAP survey showed a low average knowledge score (53.5%) but a moderate attitude score (71.7%). In contrast, owner average knowledge score was higher (67.5%) and attitude score was comparatively low (50.6%). Both veterinary personnel and owners had low average practice scores (64.5% and 56.3%, respectively). One dog was positive for anaplasmosis (unknown species) antibody, and 1 dog was positive for B burgdorferi antibody. No ticks were found during the study.

Clinical Relevance

This study was the first of its kind in the state and indicated a low prevalence of ticks and tick-borne diseases in the domestic pet population and highlighted significant knowledge gaps that could be targeted by public health efforts. Our results suggest the value of a One Health approach and of the veterinary-client relationship to address ticks and tick-borne diseases.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association