Controlling disease in the United States or other developed countries where many horses are pampered pets or coveted athletes is challenging enough. Now imagine trying to control diseases in developing countries where education, hygiene, and medications are limited but people's livelihoods are often dependent on the health of their horses.

"Infectious diseases in developing countries are common and negatively impact animal health, productivity, and in some cases, household security," explained Gina Pinchbeck, BVSc, Cert. ES, PhD, Dipl. ECVPH, MRCVS, a lecturer in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Institute of Infection and Global Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, at the University of Liverpool, U.K.

According to Pinchbeck, a holistic approach to controlling infectious diseases in developing countries is needed that is:

  • Cost-effective;
  • Practical and acceptable to the livestock owners; and
  • Recognized by the owners as necessary and/or beneficial.

"Disease control can be an important part of poverty alleviation," she relayed. "Some of the problems standing in our way include scarce provision of veterinary and animal health services, suboptimal cooperation between the owners and animal health authorities, and finances. The question is, 'who should pay for disease control measures?' "

During her presentation at the 12th Congress of The World Equine Veterinary Association, held Nov. 2-6 in Hyderabad, India, Pinchbeck indicated that the list of diseases that developing nations need to control is extensive, and there is little data available to help experts develop realistic, practical, affordable control measures.

"In developing countries control programs need to benefit the livestock owner and will be most successful if they are understood and applied by the community," suggested Pinchbeck. "Vaccinations and medications are ideal, but product availability, cost, maintaining the products in a cold environment during transport and storage, and unofficial traders limit the use of these methods of controlling disease in some areas."

Other disease control measures include compulsory slaughter and quarantine, which are problematic as the former is usually not acceptable to owners and the latter is impossible where open borders and lack of policing exist. National surveillance programs, like the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in the U.S. for example, are simply too expensive for developing nations.

"Long-term control requires long-term commitment and close partnerships with donors, governments, the pharmaceutical industry, and the communities to devise robust control measures," Pinchbeck concluded.

Pinchbeck's full summary of her presentation will be available for free on the International Veterinary Information System.




About the Author

Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she's worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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