The Evolving Role of Veterinarians in Public Education and Communication About Parasites

Shelby M. Cagle, BS, Ashley K. McGrew, DVM, PhD, Nicole C. Kelp, PhD


Issue: Volume 69 Winter 2022

Online Publication Date: 26 December 2022


Parasitic zoonoses, which are rising in the wake of climate change, impact the interface of human and animal health. In this perspective paper, a historical analysis is presented regarding the role veterinarians have played from the 1990s to 2022 in addressing parasitic infections. Utilizing a thematic analysis of popular veterinary science articles and a discussion of the peer-reviewed literature, a need is demonstrated for both veterinarians and physicians to contribute to the education of clients/patients, as well as the general public, about zoonotic parasites and prevention practices. In order to mitigate parasitic zoonoses via improve health communication and education, it is critical for veterinarians to be aware of public perceptions and misconceptions about parasites, to augment their professional training on best practices for communicating about parasites, and to advocate for the vital role of veterinarians in integrated, One Health-centric conversations. While broad-scale campaigns directed at disease education and prevention are often delivered by public health agencies and non-profit organizations, the explicit pleas in the Veterinarian’s Oath to promote public health and benefit society serve as tangible reminders of the opportunities for veterinary professionals to communicate and educate about parasitic zoonoses.