250th anniversary of the veterinary profession-Seychelles boasts remarkable freedom from disease


22-October-2011

      

To commemorate the year, and also World Veterinary Day which was celebrated earlier this year, we have today published some highlights about the profession in this feature, which also carries advice given by veterinarians on how best to look after your pets.

Also published are photographs showing some of the work veterinarians do, highlighting also the fact that ladies are today deeply involved in this field, which was previously dominated by men.

Mad cow disease, foot and mouth, swine flu and bird flu have never reached Seychelles but were breaking news on both the international and local media which were causing a wave of panic across the globe not long ago.

The veterinary service in Seychelles is not as old as that of the world but its services go far beyond caring for domestic pets. One of its core activities is to prevent, detect and monitor animal diseases, including those harmful to humans.

Today more than ever, outbreaks of some animal diseases – particularly those that are harmful to humans – can cause considerable economic and social upheaval. A serious health event for the animal kingdom can have a global impact on the rural economy and consumers and constitute a threat to public health.

60% of human pathogens are of animal origin and around 75% of emerging animal diseases can be transmitted to humans.

The control of these diseases makes a vital contribution to the fight against poverty throughout the world, in terms of both public health and support for the economic and social development of the populations and countries concerned.

Globalisation is a factor which eases the appearance of emerging and re-emerging diseases and considerably magnifies their impact. National veterinary services are important in preventing, detecting and monitoring these animal diseases, including those transmissible to humans.

Role of the Seychelles Veterinary Services
The veterinary service which is the official veterinary authority in Seychelles falls under the Plant and Animal Health Services of the Seychelles Agricultural Authority.

Its main objectives is to contribute to the production of food of animal origin by improving animal health and at the same time protect the public health against animal diseases transmissible to human.

Veterinarians (vets) have a major role to play in matters of animal health, public health and animal welfare.

The veterinary services is responsible:
-To enforce the veterinary laws and regulations in Seychelles
-To protect animal and human life and health against diseases
-To prevent and control the spread of animal diseases in the country
-To ensure that all animals or animals products entering Seychelles are from countries that have a level of health standards that meet the Seychelles requirements
-To give rapid, accurate diagnosis of animal diseases
-To give a comprehensive field and clinical services for food producing animals and pets
-To give a 24hour emergency service to farm and companion animals (pets) in the absence of private veterinary surgeries.
-To contribute to the economic development of Seychelles by giving advice and guidance in veterinary and other related field of work.
-To minimise public health threats associated with animal pathogens, veterinary drugs residues and other substances injurious to health.
-To safeguard animal welfare and protect the environment.

The veterinary services have three units:
The Veterinary Public Health unit is responsible for inspecting animals, meats and products of animal origin imported into the country. Veterinary officers inspect containers with foods of animal origin imported by firms, ensure all documents are in order and the foodstuff is correctly packaged and wholesome.

   

The Veterinary Field Services monitors the health status of all livestock on farms throughout the islands. Veterinary officers routinely visit the farms to check the health of livestock and are responsible for medical and surgical procedures on the livestock station.

Small Animal Clinic and Quarantine ensures the wellbeing of companion animals by providing the basic animal care and advice to pet owners. Treatment, preventive and surgical procedures are carried out on a daily basis to ensure the health of the country’s increasing pet population is taken care of and to promote responsible pet ownership.

It also maintains an adequate supply of veterinary medicine and equipment for pet and farm use. The unit also enforces the regulations that prevent the introduction of foreign animal diseases in the country.

2011, a landmark year for the veterinary profession around the world
This year has been declared World Veterinary Year, marking the 250th anniversary of the birth of the veterinary profession and of veterinary science.

The slogan adopted for this year of celebration is "Vet for health. Vet for food. Vet for the planet!" –  a motto that evokes the all-important role that veterinarians play in safeguarding human and animal health, in working to enhance food security and in protecting the environment.

    

Everybody knows veterinarians as animal doctors, but few know that they truly play a pivotal role in preventing and controlling infectious animal diseases, including those transmissible to humans.

But vets are involved in much more than treating diseases and injuries in domestic and farm animals.

Over the years veterinary professionals have been playing significant and contributory roles in the health and welfare of both animal and humans, in the quality, safety and security of food, ecology, ethology, epidemiology, physiology and psychology, development of drugs and pharmaceuticals, biomedical research, are other fields where these professionals have played vital roles.

They have also played important roles as educators and trainers, in wildlife conservation, and the protection of the environment and biodiversity.

Gearing up to join the WTO
The current veterinary legislation is very old and poorly adapted to current and future challenges. It must be updated to address emerging threats and modern societal expectations. The Animal (Diseases and Imports) Act 1981 is currently being revised to be in compliance with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement (SPS).
In 1994 the WTO recognised the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as the international standard setting body for matters dealing with animal health and zoonoses.

The OIE standards contained in the Terrestrial and Aquatic Animal Health Codes are measures to be used be veterinary, or in some cases, other competent authorities, of importing and exporting countries. They are useful to prevent the transfer of pathogens for both animals and humans, while avoiding unjustified sanitary trade barriers. Standards also apply for the surveillance and control of animal diseases, including zoonoses.

  

The OIE has created a tool for the Evaluation of Performance of Veterinary Services designed to assess national veterinary services compliance with the OIE standards of quality…

As a country, we need to have sanitary measures in place to protect the life and health of our people, the animals and the environment through local production or importation of safe food of animal origin. Furthermore, upon the country’s accession to the WTO, Seychelles will have to gradually be in full compliance with the WTO SPS agreement. The measures set out in the agreement are to ensure safe trade – import and export – of food of animal origin.

As a veterinary service and Seychelles being a net importing country for animal and animal products, it is the VS’ duty to protect our borders from unwanted animal diseases and above all as much as possible to protect the health of consumers.

This includes the prevention of the spread of diseases among our animals and to ensure that we are being supply with safe food. In doing so, we also have to ensure that locally we have similar measures in place with regards to our animal disease situation and sanitary controls of animal products.
We know that we have a highly favourable animal disease situation but we have to demonstrate it and we have to apply these measures to both imports and food produced locally.  The VS is trying its utmost to put safeguards in place and it plays a vital role in this aspect as besides the local animal population, it has more than 250,000 consumers – locals and visitors – to protect every year.
 
World Veterinary Day
World Veterinary Day was initiated by the World Veterinary Association (WVA) in 2000 to be celebrated annually on the last Saturday of April.

Activities are organised worldwide but in Seychelles so far no major activities have been organised to commemorate our day.

  

Tips on animal care
Got a new puppy or kitten? This is what you’ll need to know to keep your companion feline and canine happy and healthy:

Vaccination- Primary vaccination for puppies should begin at six weeks, however any dogs older than that can be vaccinated. Vaccines protect your pet from contracting contagious disease which can be fatal such as Parvo virus, distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, corona virus and leptospirosis. After the initial vaccination, every dog should visit the vet for an annual health check-up and annual vaccination booster. Cats in Seychelles do not need to be vaccinated unless they are travelling abroad and require vaccination against specific diseases.

Worms - Dogs and cats are commonly exposed to worms and possible infestation. Dogs especially puppies need to be dewormed frequently. You can start deworming your puppy as early as when it is two weeks old. Deworming should be done every two weeks until three months old, there after every month until six months old and from then deworming should be done every three to six months. Female dogs should be dewormed before mating and before whelping to prevent puppies picking up a worm infestation. Kittens should be dewormed at six weeks old and it should be repeated every two weeks until they are three months old and there-after, every three months.

Ticks, fleas and lice - Daily inspections of your dog or cat for fleas, ticks and lice are important. There are several products on the market to prevent infestation of these parasites, ranging from spot-on products, shampoos, powders and parasite repellent collars. See what works best for your pet.

Heartworm -This parasite lives in the heart and is passed from dog to dog in its larval stage by mosquitoes. Heartworm infections can be fatal. Your puppy can start monthly preventative medication against heartworm as early as four months old. A dog older than six months old should have a blood test for heartworm and if negative should be put on a monthly preventative medication throughout the year.

Sterilisation - Animal as young as five to six months of age can be sterilised. Sterilising your pet helps to prevent unwanted pregnancy thus cutting the population of strays. It also prevents individual health concern; chances of female getting mammary tumours, ovarian cancer or infection of the uterus are eliminated; and in male prostate and testicular cancer are avoided. It can also help eliminate unwanted behaviour in male such as urine spraying, decrease the urge to escape outside to look for a mate, and reduce fighting between males.
Dental health - Bad breath is most commonly an indication that your pet is in need of a dental check up. Thick plaque can form on your animal’s teeth and cause extremely bad periodontal disease. To maintain good oral hygiene, you can clean your pet’s teeth with canine or feline toothpaste or a baking-soda-and-water paste once or twice a week using a child's soft toothbrush or a gauze pad.

Housing -Your pet needs a warm, spacious, quiet place to rest. It can be in the form of a crate or a wooden box with blanket or pillows inside that are washed often. If your dog will be spending a lot of time outdoors, be sure she/he has a warm dry and sheltered area to protect from rain and sun.

Litter tray (for cats) -All indoor cats need a litter box, which should be placed in a quiet, accessible location.. If you have a more than one cat, then you would need more than one litter tray. Keep in mind that cats won't use a messy, smelly litter box, so clean out the box at least once a day. Dump everything, wash with a mild detergent and refill at least once a week.

Grooming – Bathing and brushing your dog frequently keeps their skin/coat healthy, reduces shedding of fur and provides an opportunity to check for fleas and ticks. Most dogs need to bathe only a few times in the year. Frequent bathing of your dog can cause dry and irritated skin and can predispose them to skin condition. Most cats stay relatively clean and rarely need a bath, but you should brush or comb your cat regularly. Frequent brushing helps keep your cat's coat clean, reduces the amount of shedding and cuts down on the incidence of hairballs.

Exercise - Dogs need exercise to burn calories, stimulate their minds, keep healthy and also provide a good opportunity for your dog to socialise with other animals and yourself. Exercise also tends to help dogs avoid boredom, which can lead to destructive behaviour.

Training and socialising - should start in puppyhood. It will ensure that your puppy learns how to behave around people and other animals and reduce the likelihood of behavioural problems emerging later.

Medication and poisons - Never give your dog medication that has not been prescribed by a veterinarian or has previously been prescribed for another animal. The dosage and type of medication can prove to be more harmful depending on the different medical conditions and species of animal. For example, did you know that paracetamol and grapes can be FATAL to a cat and that onion, chocolate or chocolate based food can be poisonous to dogs? Keep rat poison and other insecticides away from your pet. If you suspect that your animal has ingested a poisonous substance, call your veterinarian and apply the basic first aid of stimulating vomiting by administering table salt.

Note: Your dog and cat should see the veterinarian at least once a year for a health check and annual vaccination, and immediately if sick or injured.

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