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Photo: Caitlin Taylor.

Companion Animal Surveillance Initiative for Western Canada

We have officially launched a western Canadian Companion Animal Surveillance Initiative (CASI), and we would greatly appreciate your participation!

While 50 to 60 per cent of urban households in Canada contain at least one companion animal, there is currently no active surveillance of this population. This initiative recognizes the importance of understanding current zoonotic disease occurrence in animals that share our homes, our food/water and our beds.

Surveillance of selected companion animal diseases will provide baseline information upon which to evaluate changes over time — specifically those driven by external forces (such as climate-driven diseases or even social contexts).

Who can participate? 

This initiative is open to all veterinary clinics/veterinarians that provide service to companion animals (dogs specifically) in Western Canada (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba). 

How do I register?

The surveillance initiative will involve registration for the WeCAHN online web portal (www.wecahn.ca; JOIN US) to access the Companion Animal Surveillance Initiative secure site. Once signed up, you will be asked to complete a demographic survey about your clinic for background on the representativeness of the surveillance network. Your clinic information will be stored separately from any survey data that you provide, which will be stored with only a clinic identifier. Your clinic information will never be used publicly, with survey information reported on a regional basis only.

What do I need to do?

Once enrolled, we will ask you to complete a survey every three months (four times per year) through a link to the survey provided on the secure site. The survey will focus on specific syndromes and diseases of interest. These areas were selected in the project's initial phase through a scoping of the literature and consultation with animal and public health stakeholders.

Project update

The first portion of the project has been completed and accepted for publication in the Canadian Veterinary Journal. Click the following links to view the appendices that list all pathogens identified in dogs:

The documents specifically note zoonotic pathogens that have occurred in Canada and where the dog plays a role in understanding disease occurrence.

Access to infographics, reports and other communications that result from the surveillance initiative will be accessible through the online secure web portal.

Funding and research project information

This study is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Infectious Disease and Climate Change Program. This research project has been approved on ethical grounds by the University of Saskatchewan Behavioural Research Ethics Board (Beh 2787).  Any questions about your rights as a participant may be addressed to that committee through the USask Research Ethics Office (ethics.office@usask.ca; 306-966-2975 or toll-free 1-888-966-2975).

If you choose to participate in this initiative, you consent to the use of the data for scientific purposes and possibly policy/decision-making purposes. However, you are free to withdraw from the surveillance initiative at any time. This initiative is intended to run long-term, so if you withdraw, your clinic information and past survey data will be maintained but no further surveys will be collected after withdrawal.

For more information, contact tasha.epp@usask.ca or compan.surv@usask.ca.

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