Control of Pet-Related Zoonotic Diseases: How to Prioritize Efforts
World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2015
Gad Baneth, DVM, PhD, DECVCP
Koret School of Veterinary Medicine, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel


An increasing number of pet animals are kept in close interaction with humans. As companion animals share the same environment with people and can be carriers of microorganisms pathogenic for humans, there is a crucial need to understand the role of companion animals as sources of zoonotic infectious diseases. Such understanding could promote the employment of better preventive measures to reduce the burden of zoonotic diseases in humans. CALLISTO (Companion Animals Multisectorial Interprofessional and Interdisciplinary Strategic Think Tank On Zoonoses) is an EU Framework 7-funded project that investigated zoonotic infectious diseases transmitted between companion animals, man and food-producing animals and formed recommendations for the research and management of these diseases in Europe. One of the main tasks that the CALLISTO project had was to create lists of zoonotic diseases and to prioritize these diseases.


CALLISTO was coordinated by the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE). Its mission was to provide an overview of the current situation with regard to the role of companion animals, as a source of infectious diseases for people and food animals, to identify knowledge and technology gaps for the most important zoonoses and to propose targeted actions to reduce the risk of zoonotic diseases transferred via companion animals. Stakeholders and the general public are informed of CALLISTO results to contribute to the uptake of the proposed actions and to promote risk-awareness in healthy human-animal relationships.

The project included seven expert advisory groups under five work packages including groups on viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases. The groups have reviewed the role of companion animals as a source of infectious diseases for man and farm animals, including available information on disease incidence and geographical distribution in Europe, a list of priority diseases, risk assessment, and recommendations for targeted actions to be implemented in order to decrease the burden of pet-associated zoonoses and farm animal infectious diseases.

CALLISTO was organized in three main cycles of 12 months each. Cycle I focused primarily on the development of the overview of the current situation and crucial gaps in the existing knowledge. Cycle II linked the results of Cycle I towards the formulation of action recommendations in Cycle III by extending the activities of CALLISTO towards risk assessments. Cycle III concludes with translating the results of CALLISTO into priority areas for actions, including recommendations for intervention strategies, areas for further research, and priorities and recommendations for key target groups, messages and media educational and advocacy programs.

Zoonotic Vector-Borne Diseases

Infections transmitted by arthropod vectors comprise some of the most important pet-associated diseases that the CALLISTO project has studied, in addition to other contagious diseases transmitted by food or by other means. The main vector-borne diseases related to domestic animals prioritized by CALLISTO included bartonellosis caused by Bartonella henselae and transmitted between cats by fleas, leishmaniosis caused by Leishmania infantum and transmitted by sand flies, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus transmitted by ixodid ticks, and various additional infections.


CALLISTO has just completed its 3rd cycle and its members and advisory groups are currently summarizing and prioritizing their recommendations for actions and interventions. A substantial part of these recommendations will address the management and prevention of vector-borne diseases. These recommendations will be published in a final report available on the CALLISTO website in 2015, as well as presented in a collection of scientific publications.


1.  CALLISTO. (VIN editor: Original link was modified as of 3-25-2016).


Speaker Information
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Gad Baneth, DVM, PhD, DECVCP
Koret School of Veterinary Medicine
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Rehovot, Israel

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