Neglected tropical diseases

Announcement – Dogs, zoonoses and public health, 2nd edition

23 January 2013 | Geneva
The second edition of "Dogs, zoonoses and public health" provides a comprehensive account of the changing world and our culturally and individually diverse relationships with “man’s best friend”, the domestic dog.


The size of the world’s canine population is unknown but is positively correlated to that of the human population. Based on a number of observations, it could be as high as one-tenth of the world’s human population, with 700 million dogs. A majority of those dogs, particularly in parts of Africa, the Middle Eas, and Latin America, are or are regarded as strays.

People’s attitudes towards dogs vary greatly, from being beneficial only to humans to being a serious public-health nuisance. As dogs are present and closely associated with humans and/or their activities in almost all places, most people will have a strong opinion regarding their role and impact on human society.

A number of studies have demonstrated that the human–dog bond has a positive impact on human health, child development and the quality of life. The use of dogs as companion animals, and companion animal "medicine", are increasingly recognized as important areas contributing to the betterment of human health.

Dogs may permit people to live healthier, happier lives, and recent studies have shown the benefits dogs impart to many segments of the population including children, elderly people, those isolated by stigmatizing diseases such as AIDS, and the handicapped.

However, there are problems associated with dogs: they contribute to zoonotic infections, and foul pavements and public parks. They also pose a public-health nuisance through bites; harassment of pets, livestock and wildlife; their persistent barking particularly at night; scavenging from rubbish sites; and their involvement in road accidents.

The positive and negative attributes polarize opinions about dogs.Because of the strong opinions held on both sides it is difficult to get a balanced view, but whatever one’s opinion, dogs are now an important part of our society in every corner of the world. Appropriate solutions to the issues, adhering with international animal welfare principles, need to be found: a number of solutions are provided in different chapters in this book.

The aim of this second edition is to provide, for those interested in dogs and the world we share with them, a comprehensive updated account of the complex public-health aspects of this encounter. It also aims to examine how human interaction with dogs in different cultures and socioeconomic conditions contributes to beneficial and harmful processes, and how zoonotic diseases are being controlled.

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The second edition of Dogs, zoonoses and public health, edited by Calum N.L. Macpherson, François-Xavier Meslin and Alexander I. Wandeler will be available in February 2013. It updates and expands the first edition published in 2000, with three additional chapters.