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The needle and the damage prevented

Veterinarians practising in affluent countries of Europe and North America often take it for granted that infectious diseases of dogs and cats are under adequate control. Recently of course we have all received a vivid lesson about infectious diseases and how constant vigilance is required to prevent the havoc they can unleash. Perhaps the current pandemic also provides an ideal background against which to appreciate the immense efforts made in other areas of the world to get common infectious diseases in small animals under control. Here, we introduce and highlight the JSAP online supplement Recommendations on vaccination for Latin American small animal practitioners: a report of the WSAVA Vaccination Guidelines Group.

This document is the end result of a 4-year project conducted in Latin America by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association's Vaccination Guidelines Group (VGG). It includes discussion of the veterinary profession and veterinary education in the region and an evidence-based review of small companion animal infectious diseases in Latin America, including canine rabies virus infection and canine visceral leishmaniosis. The VGG obtained this information by visits to Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, a questionnaire survey completed by 1390 respondents in five Latin American countries, discussions with key opinion leaders and a comprehensive review of published scientific data. Based on this information, the VGG has made evidence-based recommendations to veterinarians in the region for the vaccination of dogs and cats, both now and into the future. The document, together with 70 accompanying frequently asked questions and answers, addresses regionally important issues such as product availability, licensed duration of immunity and the incorporation of vaccination as just one element of an annual health check programme. Concurrent with the publication of the guidelines in English, the complete manuscript will be translated into both Spanish and Portuguese and made freely accessible from the VGG pages of the WSAVA website. It is hoped that the document will precipitate considered discussion in Latin America, led by the national small animal veterinary associations, and that, over time, there will be changes in the delivery of vaccination in veterinary practice for the benefit of clients and the companion animals themselves.

These guidelines complement similar guidelines produced by the WSAVA VGG for application in Asia, where there are unique challenges related to companion animal vaccination. In common with previously published guidelines, the document provides the first evidence-based approach to providing consistent regional information, while taking into account local background and specific challenges. The fundamental principles enshrined in these regional guidelines are of importance all over the world and might give new insight to other emerging economies where similar changes are required in order to move towards the long-term goal of a standardised global vaccination policy. Improving herd immunity by extending core vaccination, while at the same time minimising vaccination frequency and antigenic load through individualised protocols based on lifestyle and risk, are key messages of the WSAVA guidelines.

The guidelines are published online under the JSAP banner partly because of its role as official journal of the WSAVA but, hopefully, more traditional European and North American readers of this journal will also come to appreciate the difficulties encountered by their counterparts elsewhere in the world and perhaps be inspired to contribute in some way. The practicing veterinary community is now part of a global industry and there is increasing international movement of veterinarians between countries. For colleagues contemplating a move from veterinary practice in countries with highly developed economy to practice in Asia or Latin America, these regional guidelines from the WSAVA provide an essential information base for understanding how the fundamental procedure of vaccination might currently be delivered differently in those countries, and what challenges remain to redress differences between the different markets.

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