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Brush Up on Zoonotic Disease Prevention


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This year has seen its share of zoonotic disease issues. The Seoul Virus outbreak in February, the Salmonella outbreak this summer, and the Campylobacter outbreak this fall show that zoonosis issues are a challenge for the breadth of the responsible pet trade.

As the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council’s (PIJAC) new director of government affairs, my responsibilities will include leading PIJAC’s efforts to limit zoonotic disease outbreaks. I am excited to be PIJAC’s liaison with our zoonosis committee and continue the great work the committee has done to avoid and limit outbreaks. As a former senior advisor to the under secretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the former director of government relations for Elanco Animal Health, I know firsthand the importance of industry and government collaboration to ensure animal and public health. 

Many of the responsible pet industry’s members are familiar with PIJAC’s zoonotic prevention tools. A more recent tool is PIJAC’s Zoonotic Disease Prevention Series for retailers. Created by former Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Exotic Species Coordinator Scott Hardin and other experts on zoonosis, the series covers everything from disease names, routes of transmission from animals to humans, symptoms of disease, treatments and more. Hardin, who currently serves as PIJAC’s science advisor, finalized the series this fall. 

PIJAC is providing the series to all of our members in their membership renewal packets; they are available for the entire industry and the public on our website

Readers may be familiar with other ways PIJAC works with public officials and industry to ensure animal and human health. Health Alerts have been a staple of our Memorandum of Understanding with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These alerts go out to our entire membership. PIJAC’s Healthy Herp Handling posters are popular with veterinarians, teachers, and others who attend four large reptile conferences in Texas and Arlington. And our Best Management Practice documents cover a range of companion animal concerns.

As I adjust to my new role at PIJAC, I welcome any and all constructive feedback those who work directly with America’s pets are able to provide. Feel free to contact me at Savonne@pijac.org. 


Savonne Caughey is director of government affairs for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC). Her nearly 20 years of government relations and public affairs experience includes high-level positions in public service as well as in the corporate and non-profit sectors. She has worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Elanco Animal Health, the state of Texas, and the American Heart Association.  

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