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Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2010;(199):113-38. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-10324-7_5.

Population medicine and control of epidemics.

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Novartis Animal Health Inc., Schwarzwaldallee 215, WRO-1032.2.44, CH-4002, Basel, Switzerland.


Population medicine is an important component of veterinary care in livestock (farm animals) and companion animals (pets). This chapter covers some of the chemotherapeutic approaches undertaken at population level to control infectious diseases in domestic animals. Optimisation of health, productivity and welfare in livestock commonly entails implementation of whole-herd or whole-flock strategies to effectively counter the negative impact of infectious diseases. Gastro-intestinal and liver parasites of grazing cattle and sheep are endemic in most parts of the world and can result in significant production losses. Strategically timed anthelmintic treatments are instituted with the double objective of reducing worm burdens in infected animals and ensuring reduction of pasture contamination with infective larvae. Mastitis is another major endemic problem, particularly in cattle, which causes significant economic losses to dairy farmers globally. As a painful inflammatory condition of the cow's udder, clinical mastitis also raises animal welfare concerns. Prevention of clinical mastitis requires rigorous post-milking hygiene, identification and culling of chronically infected cows, attention to the cow's environment and therapeutic management of udder health during the dry period. A third condition that can cause high levels of morbidity and mortality is bacterial respiratory disease. Pneumonia in young livestock is often exacerbated by stressful transportation and co-mingling of animals from different herds. The welfare consequences and production losses can be significant. Antimicrobial treatment of pneumonic animals and, when appropriate, of in-contact animals living in the same air-space is an integral part of whole-herd respiratory disease management. The role of the veterinary profession is to also ensure that principles of population medicine are understood and adhered to by pet owners. The increase in pet ownership and the importance of the human-animal bond in modern developed societies give rise to zoonotic risks, which require vigilance and intervention. Regular internal parasite control in dogs and cats, particularly in endemic areas, contributes to animal welfare and minimises public health hazards.

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