Therapy Animals and a Review of the Risk for Zoonotic Transmission
Post & News
May 24, 2023
Newswise — Animal-Assisted interventions (AAI) are implemented in hospitals and rehabilitation centers to produce many advantages for the patients but could expose them to pathogens transmission, a process known as zoonosis. It is therefore important to consider the possible occurrence of pathogens during the AAIs, and to deﬁne the state of the art of AAIs through a careful beneﬁts/challenges analysis.
Positive animal welfare, as preventative medicine to avoid incidents or transmission of pathogens, is a relevant aspect with implications for human and animal health and wellbeing. For this reason, the authors propose a synergy among veterinarians, public health professionals, and epidemiologists, who have a key role in preventing zoonotic disease transmission to safeguard the health of humans, animals, and the environment, in accordance with a One Health vision.
The efﬁcacy of AAIs is based on interspecies interactions between an animal and the patient. Such interaction might be impacted by different factors, such as the characters of both the animal and the handler, the selection of the animal species, an appropriate animal educational protocol, the relationship between the handler and the animal, and mutual relationship among the animal, the patients, and the members of the working team.
“AAIs constitute a tangible representation of the One Health perspective,” says Giovanna Ligouri, lead author of the paper. “And therefore, we need a multidisciplinary, intersectoral approach between the different health professional ﬁgures who, each according to their own skills, work in a specialized team for the prevention and control of zoonoses, the health and welfare of people, the animals involved, and the environment.”
“Different international experts in the ﬁeld of AAI must join forces and develop an action plan,” says Giordano, “in order to determine standardized hygiene, health, and behavioral procedures.”
“Di“This recommendation should be aimed at establishing health and behavioral certiﬁcations for animals performing AAI services in the health sector,” says co-author Orlando Paciello, Professor, University degli Studi di Napoli Federico II.