Measles outbreak a reminder to pet owners to vaccinate

Tuesday, 17 September 2019  

The measles outbreak is a reminder to pet owners to vaccinate their animals, which is the best way to protect them from certain infectious diseases, says the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA).

“Animals can’t contract measles from people but they can contract other animal-specific diseases that can cause serious ill-health and even death,” says NZVA Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Helen Beattie.

“There are significant risks to animal health if owners don’t vaccinate their pets from diseases like canine parvovirus, or feline panleukopenia, which can cause diarrhoea, vomiting and lead to death.

Earlier this year parts of the country saw outbreaks of parvovirus, which can be more prevalent in summer. Unvaccinated puppies are at most risk of contracting this disease.

“Pet owners can help to protect their animals from diseases like parvovirus by ensuring their pets get the appropriate vaccinations at the right time, and by making sure vaccinations are kept up to date.

“The best way to do this is for owners to take their pets for regular health check-ups,” says Helen.

A high level of successfully vaccinated individuals in a population results in ‘herd immunity.’ This benefits human and animal populations by reducing both the number of individuals at risk from a disease and its prevalence in a population.

“Herd immunity is important for both humans and animals because it reduces the risk of a disease spreading. Pet owners can help to achieve herd immunity by vaccinating their animals,” says Helen.

Companion animal veterinarians are moving away from a ‘one size fits all approach’ to vaccination and are increasingly looking at disease risk in individual animals.

“This helps pet owners to get the best level of protection from infectious disease for their pet,” says Helen.