World Veterinary Day: AVMA and COVID-19


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It was a coast-to-coast TV special airing on all three TV networks, called One World Together at Home, among the guest speakers former first Ladies Laura Bush and Michele Obama, who thanked essential workers, and Mrs. Bush recognized veterinarians.

Today, (April 24) is World Veterinary Day, and there’s no question regarding the contribution veterinarians have made at this historic and very tense time. While protocols for seeing veterinarians have changed their care hasn’t.

Dr. Jodi Lulich

Veterinarians have been there for us when arguably we most have needed them.

Of course, veterinarians are only human and not immune to pressures themselves, and Dr. Jodi Lulich , professor University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine expressed in this op-ed piece in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, “I am a veterinarian, but also a pet parent, and this epidemic has heightened my feelings for my own dog and cat. And I am not immune from worry — who would care for them if I and my husband should fall ill and die? I look into their eyes with new intensity and appreciation of their silent empathy and affection. In this perilous time, pets offer their innocence and love, and their comfort is needed more than ever.”

The statement below is from the American Veterinary Medical Association:

World Veterinary Day 2021 (April 24) will celebrate the extraordinary work of veterinary professionals to protect animal health and welfare and public health during the pandemic. In honor of this observance, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) today launched a new page on its COVID website commemorating the response of the U.S. veterinary profession to COVID-19.

“Veterinary professionals across the nation have responded to COVID-19 with innovation, creativity, courage and commitment,” said Dr. Douglas Kratt, AVMA president. “We applaud the World Veterinary Association and Health for Animals for dedicating this year’s World Veterinary Day to highlighting veterinarians’ remarkable work.”

The new webpage can be found on the AVMA’s COVID-19 website, AVMA.org/Coronavirus, which was launched February 28, 2020, as the organization ramped up its multi-faceted response to the world-wide emergence of SARS-CoV-2—the COVID-19 virus.

Veterinarians and their teams play a critical role in protecting animal health, animal welfare and public health; safeguarding the nation’s food supply; monitoring for zoonotic pathogens; and supporting biomedical research and medical countermeasures, such as development of COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.

When the pandemic began, veterinary professionals—supported by the AVMA—needed to quickly adapt and respond to changing conditions and recommendations to keep veterinarians, members of their healthcare teams, clients, veterinary and veterinary technician faculty and students safe, all while still providing essential and needed veterinary services for all types of animals.

Veterinary practices and schools of veterinary medicine and veterinary technology addressed these initial challenges with creative solutions, and even now continue to invoke strategies that reduce risk of exposure to the virus and keep their clients, students and teams safe; appropriately utilize personal protective equipment (PPE); and ensure provision of quality care for their animal patients.

For example, more than 30 percent of U.S. veterinary practices used telehealth to deliver services to clients and care for patients during the pandemic, compared with about 10 percent prior to it. Despite the pandemic, veterinary visits in 2020 were about equal to those in 2019.

The new webpage illustrates how veterinarians and their teams have been delivering veterinary services, supporting food supply chains and responding with a One Health mindset throughout the pandemic. Because more than 75 percent of emerging diseases (such as COVID-19) originate in animals before infecting humans, veterinarians might often be the first line of defense against new viruses. And veterinarians have not just been treating animal patients during this pandemic; they have been working collaboratively with other medical professionals to learn more about the novel coronavirus and find ways to protect human health.

From the outset of the crisis, the AVMA has told the stories of how the profession—in practices, the food supply chain, government offices, research laboratories and academia—responded to the COVID-19 crisis. The new AVMA webpage includes many stories recently published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association chronicling these efforts:

The World Veterinary Association (WVA) created World Veterinary Day in 2000 as an annual celebration of the veterinary profession, to be observed on the last Saturday of April.