A UF College of Veterinary Medicine professor is traveling across Latin America to create a universal standard for vaccinating animals.
Cynda Crawford, a faculty member of Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program in the college, is one of four researchers heading the Vaccinations Guideline Group. The researchers plan to create a global standard for vaccination guidelines, including what vaccinations are needed for animals based on their health, Crawford said.
She wants to unify veterinary practices through the three-year project, she said.
Crawford said the researchers chose Latin America because they’ve already done studies in North America, Europe and Asia. Latin America faces many of the same problems as Asia, including similar animal diseases and the amount of resources available.
“It is very important to recognize culture and to factor that into making available any resources or recommendations,” Crawford said. “It cannot be ignored.”
The research team will assess the conditions and needs of different areas while in Latin America, including infectious diseases in the region, current vaccination practices, regulatory challenges unique to the areas and the level of veterinary education, Crawford said.
With this information compiled, the team members will create a paper outlining recommended vaccination practices, she said. Results and suggestions are tailored to each area.
The Latin American region specifically sees high cases of Leptospirosis, a potentially fatal bacterial infection, she said.
The Vaccinations Guideline Group is the only group undertaking this effort, Crawford said. After the group finishes in Latin America in 2019, it will go to Eastern Europe.
Crawford said her interest in the international veterinary community developed over time. She said she hopes to help veterinarians in other countries learn more about new methods for obtaining resources that are used to keep animals healthy.
“I think there’s a lot of work and need and focus for international veterinary medicine,” Crawford said.
Crawford, who has more than 20 years of expertise, said she brings knowledge of small animal immunology and infectious diseases to the team.
Crawford is credited with discovering the canine influenza virus, commonly known as dog flu, in 2004. This breakthrough allowed for the development of vaccinations and other treatments.
Julie Levy, a member of the college’s program and a longtime colleague of Crawford, said she thinks Crawford will help the researchers come up with a way to meet the needs of the vets and the animals.
“Dr. Crawford is relentless in solving medical issues, especially infectious diseases problems for animals in shelters,” she said.