The nurse’s role in One Health - Veterinary Practice
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The nurse’s role in One Health

Raw food, pet travel and outreach work were some of the topics discussed in the One Health lecture stream at BVNA last month

One Health is a global initiative forging collaborations
between health and environment disciplines; at its
heart is the unity of the veterinary profession with human physicians and scientists to advance healthcare
through accelerating research, enhancing public health
efficacy, expanding the knowledge base and improving
medical education and clinical care. The One Health stream
at the BVNA Congress attracted many interested vet nurses
– some of whom hadn’t heard of the initiative.

Raw feeding

Matt Bernard, from APHA, described several key One Health
issues that may affect veterinary nurses. The first was raw
pet food, which is becoming increasingly popular and may
have risks for food safety.

The food undergoes different bacteriological checks
to human food, with fewer pathogens tested for, Matt
explained. An owner’s decision to feed his or her pet raw
food is usually an educated one, but there is advice that
should be given to owners to reduce the concern about
pathogens from a One Health perspective; Matt suggests
advising that owners:

• Keep raw pet food separate from human food
• Always label raw pet food to avoid accidental human consumption
• Defrost the food outside the human fridge (or at least make sure it is in a sealed container)
• Use Tupperware rather than bags, which may leak
• Use separate utensils for raw food
• Give the thaw juice to the pet – it has nutritional value and pouring it down the sink will contaminate the surrounding area
• Remove the pet’s bowl after feeding, especially if there are children in the house
• Wash hands thoroughly after touching raw food
• Be very careful when disposing of faeces

Pet travel

Matt also spoke about rabies transmission and the
importance of vet nurses in noticing potential issues with
how an owner acquired their pet. If you are suspicious that
an animal may not have been imported legally, you should
report it to the local health authority and/or APHA. But talk
with your practice beforehand, says Matt, and come up with
a practice policy if there isn’t one in place.

Joy Howell is a veterinary nurse, now working as a practice support adviser for
Bayer. Her talk focused on
parasitic disease threats,
which are on the rise due
to increased pet travel and
pet importation, expanding
distribution of established
vector-borne diseases, and
emerging parasitic diseases.

In 2012, the pet
passport rules changed.
Requirements for ticks were removed and tapeworm
requirements were altered. Joy explained that following the
legal requirements is not enough because pet passports
exist to protect humans, not pets.

She recommends using ESCCAP (European Scientific
Counsel Companion Animal Parasites) for information and resources. The site has editable,
downloadable PDF sheets about pet travel and maps
showing the distribution of parasites across the world.

The benefits of good control are immeasurable. Joy
said vet nurses should educate owners to make sure they
are protecting their animals, use products that will repel
vectors and/or prevent disease, and consider heartworm-
preventive treatments and available vaccinations.

Outreach

Welfare is an important aspect of One Health and the final
speaker of the day, Sue Bartlett, discussed the importance
of outreach work in building relationships with clients and
gradually changing behaviours.

A startling proportion of dogs are fed scraps as their main
meal and many have had no primary vaccinations. The vast
majority of cat owners underestimate the lifetime costs of
ownership and owners often say their cat has a behaviour
they would like to change. Sue thinks these statistics can be
changed through an increase in:

• Specific vet/nurse clinics
• Client information sessions (perhaps with guest speakers)
• Posters/advertising (but keeping messages simple and not telling people off) • Social media (posting at least two to four posts per week)
• Stocking relevant over-the-counter products

• Practice open days with behind-the-scenes tours
• Collaborations with pet charities to offer discounts and free services
• Attending local community events
• Education sessions for kids, youths or adults
• Practice competitions
• Editorial in local papers and magazines

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