Educating the public about zoonoses

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The American Animal Hospital Association has teamed up with Merial and created a TV and radio public service announcement titled "Protect your pets. Protect your family." The PSA informs viewers about the dangers of zoonotic diseases and educates them on how they can protect their pets and their families. The call to action encourages pet owners to consult their local veterinarian for more information about parasites and preventive measures.

"Our goal is to prevent the transmission of zoonotic diseases by educating pet owners and encouraging them to visit their veterinarian on a regular basis," said Dr. Zack Mills, executive director of Merial Veterinary Services.

In the PSA, a woman, Jennifer, tells the story of her son, whose roundworm infection was diagnosed just after his fourth birthday. He is now partially blind in one eye. The child contracted the roundworm infection from a public sandbox.

"By giving Jennifer a platform to tell her story, more pet owners will become aware of the dangers of zoonotic diseases and know how to protect their pets, their families, and others," says Dr. Dennis Feinberg, president of AAHA.

The television PSA was distributed to 600 stations nationwide and the radio announcement was distributed to 1,000 stations. Distribution was timed to achieve maximum press exposure; southern climates received the announcement in March and northern climates received it in April.

The PSA was showcased at the annual meeting of AAHA, held in March, and the North American Veterinary Conference, held this past January.