Why Should We Track Diseases in Animals?
People and animals share the same environment,
and even share many of the same diseases.
Certain diseases in animals can be directly
spread from animal to human (e.g.
rabies). Other diseases
are spread to both people and animals within the
environment (e.g. West Nile
mosquitoes, fungal diseases like
coccidioidomycosis through the soil).
diseases in animals provides a more
complete understanding of a disease in the
community than just tracking it in people. In
some cases, diseases are found in animals
before they are found in humans (e.g. parasite eyeworm called
Onchocerca lupi in dogs in Los Angeles
most of the world, there is little or no
ongoing surveillance data on diseases in dogs, cats and wildlife. Since many diseases in
animals are zoonotic, this lack of data
constitutes a large gap in public health
Dogs and cats live in very
close proximity to people in LA County, and can therefore
transmit diseases directly or may bring infected
fleas or ticks into homes. Multiple
species of wildlife, especially birds, raccoons,
skunks, opossums, and several bat species,
thrive in urban and suburban settings, and can
also bring zoonotic and vectorborne
diseases into human living areas.
The Origins of Animal Disease
Surveillance in LA County
Los Angeles (LA) County has access to more data
on companion animal infectious disease than most
jurisdictions due to
established in 1926. These ordinances require
reporting of infectious diseases in animals.
They were created after one of the largest
Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreaks in United
States history affected LA County and other
parts of California.
county urbanized during the 20th century, these ordinances were rarely
used. The Veterinary Public Health Program (VPH)
re-established surveillance for animal diseases
after the anthrax attacks in the United States
in 2001. Veterinary
clinics and animal shelters were first notified
of the renewed reporting requirement in 2002. In
2007, a list of priority diseases for reporting
was created and distributed. Since then, data on
a variety of infectious diseases has been
collected. This data is summarized, analyzed,
and then shared with
the public to encourage preventative efforts