Why are Veterinary Hospitals Considered an Essential Business?

As I write my second blog in 2 weeks during the COVID-19 era, and Governor DeSantis has issued a “Safer at Home” mandate.   It has been questioned “Why are veterinary services considered an essential business and regular veterinary hospitals remain open?”  I have been fortunate that the East-West Animal Hospital family appreciate that we are still open. I have yet to receive any backlash due to being open during this pandemic.  Many colleagues across the country have not been fortunate and have been targeted on social media for remaining open.

The common perception among the general population is that all we do is play with puppies and kittens all day and give shots.  While we do get to see puppies and kittens, (often the highlight of our day).  And yes, we do give “shots”—i.e. vaccines for the health and well-being of our pets.  Many of our duties, and services not only benefit the health and well-being our patients but the pet parents and humankind in general.

Veterinarians help, diagnose and prevent zoonotic diseases (diseases that can be transmitted between humans and animals), assure that our food supply is safe for consumption, free of infectious disease and harmful drug residues.

Many may argue that those duties listed above are for large animals (horses, cows, etc.)  Do veterinarians who treat small animals (dogs and cats) really play a role in public health?   Absolutely!!!!

While right now the main focus today is COVID-19, which can cause death if infected especially in certain demographic groups (elderly & and immuno-compromised individuals).  We also deal with other diseases that can be 100% fatal—Can we say RABIES?  Yes, rabies is still a concern.  If an individual is exposed (bit) by a rabid animal the death toll is 100% if post-exposure treatment is not started.  So, this task is to give “rabies shots”- which not only protects our patients but also the human populous at large.

Other Zoonotic conditions of importance….

Prevention and treatment of Leptospirosis.  This is a bacterial agent that is spread from urine of rats, and wildlife including deer, squirrels, and raccoons.  Leptospirosis is the #1 zoonotic disease world-wide. Having your dog(s) vaccinated for this disease is important if you live near lakes, ponds, or near conservation.  Cattle can develop this disease as well, so if you happen to have cows or live near cows, consider vaccinating your dog (s)for this disease.

Control of intestinal parasites, including but not limited to Giardia, Hookworms and Roundworms, Whip worms, and various types of tapeworms. Hookworms and roundworms are very prominent and can infect people. There is the biggest concern especially for children who often will eat dirt on a dare, run in the grass barefoot and roll in the grass.  Fortunately having your pet on heartworm prevention will help control these parasites.

Treatment and control of fleas.  Fleas are not only annoying to you and your pet, but also can spread disease such as cat scratch fever and bubonic plague.

Treatment and control of ticks.  Ticks probably gross people more than any other parasite we deal with.  While everyone knows ticks can carry & spread Lyme disease, but also Ehrlichia, and Anaplasmosis.

Ringworm—While ringworm is not a worm, it is a fungal infection.  If anyone has ever had ringworm, it can be uncomfortable and unsightly.  It is also highly contagious.  Our pets can be silent carriers, especially long-haired cats.

We also help alleviate pain and suffering, which is the one of the ultimate goals of compassionate veterinary care.

If you are interested in more information on the Zoonotic disease mentioned in this blog.

Companion Animal Parasite Council                 https://capcvet.org/

AVMA- American Veterinary Medical Association—zoonotic diseases

https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/one-health/veterinarians-and-public-health

CDC- Center for Disease Control

https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/ringworm/index.html

Keeping in mind that the transmission of COVID-19 is human to human.  Particular emphasis is ensuring that hand washing and not touching your face (infection entry is the respiratory system) goes a long way in preventing the spread of this virus.  Granted if you feel ill and your pet needs care, EWAH will be happy to provide curbside service for you and your pet.

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