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Workshop "Pets & Zoonoses"

Pets often live in close proximity to humans and are sometimes seen as part of the family. The diseases that can be transmitted to humans through the animal, so-called zoonoses, are often ignored. In cooperation with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine ( VMF Veterinärmedizinische Fakultät ) of the University of Leipzig, the National Research Platform for Zoonoses held an interdisciplinary workshop for the Public Health Service (ÖGD) and research on "Pets and Zoonoses" in Leipzig from 8th to 9th May 2014.

Under the scientific direction of Prof. Dr. Martin Pfeffer from the Institute of Animal Hygiene and Public Veterinary Science of the VMF Veterinärmedizinische Fakultät , human and veterinary physicians had the opportunity to present the current state of knowledge in this field and to discuss relevant zoonoses in various pets. The aim was to raise awareness of this topic and to strengthen the interdisciplinary exchange across professional boundaries.
Participants from various areas of human and veterinary medicine were represented, including public health authorities, university and non-university research institutions, industry and veterinary practice.
The programme of the workshop included overview lectures on zoonotic risk in relevant animal groups as well as lectures on specific pathogens. Besides well-known topics such as salmonella in reptiles or ornithosis and ornamental birds, there were also lectures on pox viruses, small mammal-associated acaridosis and dermatopythosis, fish tuberculosis, humpback fly myiasis or the transmission of the rat roundworm by agate snails.

More intensive data acquisition and interdisciplinary cooperation necessary

In a subsequent panel discussion, the lack of meaningful data on the number of pet animals kept and associated zoonoses was pointed out and possibilities for generating such data (e.g. through anonymous citizen surveys) in the sense of risk assessment were discussed. Subsequently, possibilities for improvement with regard to general hygiene in pet keeping and the differentiated information transfer of this topic to the general public were discussed. The participants unanimously expressed the wish to deepen the interdisciplinary cooperation between human and veterinary medicine in the prophylaxis, diagnosis and therapy of pet zoonoses in the sense of "One Health" and to take this more into account in the training and teaching of human and veterinary medicine.
The feedback on the workshop from the participants and speakers already heard during the event was extremely positive. A continuation of similar events on this topic was unanimously welcomed, whereby an even stronger thematic inclusion of human medicine in the future was desired.
As a result of the workshop and the associated public relations work, a television report on the workshop was published in the MDR-Sachsenspiegel programme and a report in the Tagesspiegel Berlin.

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