March 12, 2018

Be a Hero for Healthy Pets, Prevent Infectious Diseases

Ineffective prevention methods and uneducated veterinary professionals might be reasons for the sharp increase of canine influenza already detected this year. But the new Heroes for Healthy Pets certification program aims to help practices better understand infectious diseases.
By Kerry Lengyel
As of this month, 1 or both strains of canine flu (H3N2 and H3N8) are present in every state except for Hawaii, Alaska, North Dakota, and Nevada. And as of February 22, there have been more than 490 positive cases of canine influenza in California and Nevada alone.

As incidence rates continue to climb, canine flu shows no signs of slowing down. Something has to change. And proper prevention is being highlighted as the missing piece.

The Heroes for Healthy Pets Infectious Disease Management Certification Program, which launched at the 2018 Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, plans to help veterinary teams better understand how to prevent infectious diseases like canine flu and properly intervene before the spread of illness becomes rampant.

“Dogs that are social or visit pet facilities, such as doggie daycares and boarding kennels, are at higher risk for infectious diseases, such as canine influenza,” Ernie Ward, DVM, America’s Pet Advocate, said. “Fortunately, through better understanding of infectious diseases and preventative care, including effective vaccination and cleaning and disinfecting protocols, we can help keep pets healthy when they enjoy travel and play.”

A collaboration between Clorox Healthcare and Merck Animal Health, Heroes for Healthy Pets is intended to educate veterinary professionals on best practices for preventative care, including vaccination, cleaning, and disinfection protocols.

The infectious disease online certification program, which is broken up into 2 educational modules, is free for veterinary professionals. To become certified, participants must complete both modules: “Understanding Infectious Diseases” led by Jason Stull, VMD, MPVM, PhD, DACVPM, and Michelle Evason, BSc, DVM, DACVIM, and “Effective Infectious Disease Control” led by Melissa Bourgeois, DVM, PhD, DACVM (Virology, Immunology). A certification examination follows the 2 courses and must be passed for complete accreditation.

In addition to receiving 2 hours of Registry of Approved Continuing Education credits, veterinarians will also have access to:
  • A collection of educational podcasts on infectious diseases hosted by Courtney Campbell, DVM.
  • A handbook written by experts in infectious disease, including information on viral and bacterial pathogens and best practices for infection prevention.
  • Other promotional materials to help pet businesses promote their “Hero status.”

“Vaccination, hand hygiene, cleaning, and disinfecting all play vital roles in preventing infectious diseases,” said Sarah Bell-West, PhD, scientist for Clorox Healthcare. “These practices serve as the foundation of efforts to help keep pets happy and healthy and the Heroes for Healthy Pets program will help empower more veterinary and pet care professionals with the education and resources they need to keep their facilities clean, healthy, and infection-free.”

When selecting a veterinary clinic or boarding facility, 43% of pet owners view a facility’s reputation as their top consideration. Help keep your veterinary practice safe and healthy—as well as the patients you care for—by better understanding infectious diseases and how you can prevent and control them.

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