Infectious Disease Management in Animal Shelters, Shelter medicine is a relatively new specialty area in veterinary medicine. In the past, euthanasia has been the most common response to infectious disease in sheltered animals.
Infectious Disease Management in Animal Shelters
Even when shelter staff had the desire and resources to seek alternatives, veterinarians and fellow shelter professionals may have advised depopulation. This did not reﬂect a lack of compassion, but simply a lack of knowledge regarding safe alternatives that addressed the needs of individual animals while protecting the health of the shelter population and surrounding community. Balancing these concerns in the resource – limited shelter environment is a complex task, but veterinary science need not shy away from complexity. The same principles of evidence – based medicine and herd health, applied so effectively in other settings, create a powerful set of tools to maintain the health of this most vulnerable population.
While the challenges inherent to shelter medicine are substantial, the potential rewards are great. Because so many animals pass through shelters, the effects of policies, both good and bad, are magniﬁed. Effectively managing outbreaks, preventing infection, and establishing wellness programs in shelters have the potential to save countless lives, prevent tremendous suffering, and even save shelters money and staff time that can be devoted to other urgently needed programs.
Shelter Medicine for Veterinarians and Staff was the ﬁrst textbook for veterinarians devoted solely to the care of animals in shelters. It was published in 2004 and very ambitiously tackled a variety of medical and management issues that veterinarians working with shelters would need to know, but only touched on the speciﬁcs of managing disease in shelters. It very quickly became clear that a textbook was needed that focused entirely on the management of infectious disease in animal shelters. This text-book was conceived in 2005 and work began shortly thereafter.
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