World Rabies Day 2017

World Rabies Day is tomorrow on September 28th, 2017, and marks the anniversary of the death of Louis Pasteur who developed the first rabies vaccine. Fortunately, this zoonotic disease doesn’t directly impact our pets in the UK; however, globally, over 50,000 human deaths are due to canine rabies, with domestic dogs causing 99% of the deaths.  World Rabies Day is promoted by numerous international organizations including the WHO, FAO, OIE & CDC and aims to promote global advocacy and awareness about the impacts of the disease. This year’s theme is Rabies: Zero by 30, which reflects the objective of eliminating all human deaths caused by canine rabies by 2030. With the help of your university’s Shelter Medicine Clubs, show your support by fundraising for one of many non-profit organizations like Mission Rabies & GARC. You can find more information about these organizations in the links provided. You can register any events you have organised at:

Radha Varadharajan, IVSA UK & Ireland Veterinary Public Health Officer


Rosie Goes to the World Health Assembly

In May, Rosie Herrington (IVSA UK & Ireland President), Sandra Stelzer (Germany) and Caroline Bulstra (Netherlands) represented IVSA at the 70th World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva. Let’s share our adventures!

70th wha

The WHA is the highest decision-making body of the WHO, held every year in May. During this event, delegations from all UN member states, intergovernmental organizations and non-state actors (like Doctors Without Borders and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for example) get together to determine WHO’s policies and strategies on global public health topics. This to work towards WHO’s mandate: “Building a better, healthier future for people all over the world”.

The International Federation for Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) and the International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF) are both non-governmental organizations in official relations to the WHO, and therefore can take their delegations to the WHA. They are so kind to offer spots for IVSA officials to join their delegations!

one health gals at WHA

For us, as veterinary students and young vets, several topics were of great interest to us. Firstly, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) was high on the agenda at this year’s assembly again. In 2015, WHO adopted a Global Action Plan to provide guidelines for countries on how to address AMR and currently more and more countries implement their national action plans. Secondly, multiple zoonotic infectious diseases were on the agenda, like tuberculosis for example. Since 75% of infectious diseases originate from (either domesticated or wild) animals, vets play a crucial role in preventing transmission to humans. This brings us to the third topic: Health emergency preparedness, surveillance, and response. With Ebola and Zika we have learned how fast a disease outbreak can spread and threaten global health. A current threat is that of avian influenza in wild birds and poultry, which can become highly infectious to humans.

So although the WHO’s goal is to improve and protect human health, vet students and vets can contribute towards achieving this goal.

At the WHA we spoke to veterinarians working at the WHO, attended many plenary discussions and side events and strengthened our relations with IFMSA and IPSF. Also the new Director General was elected, the Ethiopian Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus will take over the position from Margaret Chan. It was a huge honour to attend the WHA and a great opportunity for our association. Our full report will be published in the next IVSA Veterinary Public Health Journal!

Mind Over Matter…

Check out the mind over matter journal from our great Standing Committee on Wellness!

IVSA Animal Welfare Committee Post#33: Carriage Horses

Especially in the western world, horse-drawn carriages often shape the cityscapes and are seen as a part of their tradition. These tourist attractions are widely promoted carried out at the expense of the animals.

carriage horse welfare

Urban carriage horses suffer from a range of different issues:
First, walking on hard ground all day everyday does great harm to their joints and hooves, even when they are properly shod. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that horses be periodically maintained on soft surfaces (i.e., pasture), to avoid damage and facilitate circulation within the hoof (AVMA Urban Horse Fact Sheet, 2014) (1). But most carriage horses barely ever get this kind of “holidays” and have no regular access to pasture in most urban settings.

In addition to this, the animals have to struggle with air pollution, leading to many respiratory conditions, including bronchitis, rhinitis, inflammatory airway disease, and reactive airway disease. Furthermore, they are exposed to high levels of noise, which is extremely stressful for animals, which have a natural flight response. In cities like New York, carriages have to fight their way through hundreds of cars and people, sometimes leading to horrible accidents when the horses start panicking.

The weather also has a huge impact on the horses’ welfare. Hot, humid or very cold conditions impede the animals’ hard work even more. Especially in combination with too little excess to water, it has already happened several times that carriage horses collapsed in the middle of the street.

Urban carriage horses are purely a tourist attraction—not a necessity. Given the many documented health and welfare issues for the horses, the only sensible solution is to ban them from use. Slowly the laws for using horse-drawn carriages are getting stricter but it is on us to achieve a complete ban of urban horse carriages as tourist attractions.