Turks and Caicos, July 22, 2017 – Providenciales – The Animal Health Services Division is the that section of the Agriculture Department that is charged with the responsibility to prevent the introduction and spread of animal disease, to protect and promote animal health, to control the movement of animals and animal products, into, from and within the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), coupled to that is the control of animals.
To prevent the development of a disease or to prevent its spread, we must destroy the agent, host and environment link. The combination of medicine and non-pharmaceutical measures work best to break such link. Veterinary care along with keeping our environment clean while reducing the number of animals roaming are some of the things we can do to prevent the development and spread of diseases.
This vaccination program is a direct result of a suspected parvovirus outbreak that occurred on Grand Turk during the month of April of this year. It happened just one month into my acting as CVO commenced. As a result, the AHS put measures in place to combat the spread of the disease. Some of the steps inconvenienced those people who wanted to take their pets for walks, it also affected those traveling with pets. In the end, the measures served its purpose. After the situation in Grand Turk, I put a disease surveillance program in place where the clinics report on the animal disease for the month. This surveillance mechanism led to an early detection of Canine Distemper in the later part of June.
Further, the parvovirus crises provide us the opportunity to be proactive as such we have this vaccination campaign as a second intervention, I thought about it for a while, then I shared it with the AHS team, then with Mr. Dexter Gordon who was Ag. Director at the time. Both Mr. Gordon and the AHS team endorsed the idea, I then called the veterinarians and welfare groups on the island to ask what are their thoughts about us collaborating on the First National Vaccination Campaign for Dogs in the Turks and Caicos Islands. They too thought it is what we need, as such lend their support, hence here we are today, putting our agendas aside in the interest of the animals.
Why a vaccination campaign?
Vaccines provide the best protection against viruses, to this end we have secured the Canine Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza, and Leptospirosis combination vaccine along with some Rabies vaccines. In the absence of vaccines, dogs are at risk of being infected with some of the most contagious diseases among canines. Two of the diseases mentioned that the dogs would receive immunization against are zoonotic (can be spread from animals to humans). According to Center for Disease Control, 6 out of every10 infectious disease are of animal origin, and 3 or of every 4 new emerging diseases are also of animal origin. The interdependent relationship between humans and animals, for food, cloth, shelter, transportation, recreation, and companionship put people at risk of contracting a zoonotic disease. Therefore, we would be wise to promote and protect animal health, for by so doing we are protecting our health and the health of our loved ones.
How will the program work?
There will be an in-clinic and an outreach aspect to the campaign. From Monday, July 24, 2017, until August 12, 2017, animal owners can take their dogs to Bark and Bliss, Wooding Vet Service or TCveterinary Association any day during their opening hours and they will administer the vaccines free. As it relates to the outreach aspect, three teams will be in an area at three different locations on Saturdays between 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. Again you can take your animals for the free vaccines. Tomorrow Saturday, one team will be at Walkin Marine Gas Station, another at the Jetty, opposite the government clinic and another at Grant’s Gas Station at the junction of Phase 2 and Millennium Highway. The next Saturday we will be in Kew Town and Five Cays. Then we will move to Glass Shack, Leeward Highway, The Bight, Jubba Sound, Long Bay and Leeward.
After completing Providenciales, we will move to Grand Turk for one Saturday then on to South Caicos.
Since there exists that interdependent relationship between humans and animals, we are encouraging all pet owners to take advantage of the free vaccines, to protect your animal’s health, in so doing you will be protecting your health and the health of your loved ones.