The European Union (EU) Framework 7-funded project entitled CALLISTO (Companion Animal multisectoriaL interprofessionaL and interdisciplinary Strategic Think tank On zoonoses) ran between 2012 and 2014 and investigated zoonotic infectious diseases transmitted between companion animals and man and food producing animals. There are large numbers of companion animals throughout Europe and these animals, of varied species, play an integral role in human society, providing very real human health and welfare benefits. There is, however, some risk that close human contact with companion animals may lead to the transmission of zoonotic infectious diseases of numerous different types. Companion animals may also be a source of some infections transmitted to farmed livestock. This risk must be communicated to the pet owning public in a balanced fashion by veterinary and human healthcare professionals, the pet industry and governments. The risk may be somewhat ameliorated if the owners of companion animals subscribe to the principles of responsible pet ownership. Nevertheless, there are further policy and research actions that could be implemented by the EU and/or national governments to further reduce the risks associated with the close integration of companion animals into human society. These include the development of systems for identifying and registering the most common companion animal species and establishing surveillance programmes that capture data on zoonoses that occur in these animals. Closer attention should be paid to the health status of animals entering or re-entering the EU from third countries and the welfare surrounding companion animal cross-border movement. Data collection and pathogen assessment in the less studied exotic companion animals being kept is also needed to better understand risks. Disease and disease vector spread within Europe should be monitored and solutions found to limit such spread. The emergence of antimicrobial resistance in companion animals should be monitored. Controls should be placed on the use of human critically important antibiotics in companion animal species, but new approaches to companion animal antimicrobial therapy must be developed in parallel.
- Companion animal
- European Union