The European Union (EU) Framework 7-funded project entitled CALLISTO (Companion Animal multisectoriaL interprofessionaL and interdisciplinary Strategic Think tank On zoonoses) ran between 2012 and 2014 and investigated zoonotic infectious diseases transmitted between companion animals and man and food producing animals. There are large numbers of companion animals throughout Europe and these animals, of varied species, play an integral role in human society, providing very real human health and welfare benefits. There is, however, some risk that close human contact with companion animals may lead to the transmission of zoonotic infectious diseases of numerous different types. Companion animals may also be a source of some infections transmitted to farmed livestock. This risk must be communicated to the pet owning public in a balanced fashion by veterinary and human healthcare professionals, the pet industry and governments. The risk may be somewhat ameliorated if the owners of companion animals subscribe to the principles of responsible pet ownership. Nevertheless, there are further policy and research actions that could be implemented by the EU and/or national governments to further reduce the risks associated with the close integration of companion animals into human society. These include the development of systems for identifying and registering the most common companion animal species and establishing surveillance programmes that capture data on zoonoses that occur in these animals. Closer attention should be paid to the health status of animals entering or re-entering the EU from third countries and the welfare surrounding companion animal cross-border movement. Data collection and pathogen assessment in the less studied exotic companion animals being kept is also needed to better understand risks. Disease and disease vector spread within Europe should be monitored and solutions found to limit such spread. The emergence of antimicrobial resistance in companion animals should be monitored. Controls should be placed on the use of human critically important antibiotics in companion animal species, but new approaches to companion animal antimicrobial therapy must be developed in parallel.
This supplementary issue of theJournal of Comparative Pathologypresents the major outcomes from the European Union (EU) Framework 7-funded project entitled CALLISTO (Companion Animal multisectoriaL interprofessionaL and interdisciplinary Strategic Think tank On zoonoses), which investigated zoonotic infectious diseases transmitted between companion animals and man and food producing animals.
The work of the CALLISTO consortium involved seven Expert Advisory Groups (EAGs) working within five project work packages over three cycles of one year each (2012–2014). The stated objectives of the CALLISTO Project, and the cycles during which they were addressed, were:
To develop a detailed overview of the role of companion animals as a source of infectious diseases for man and food animals, including available information on disease incidence and geographical distribution in these host categories (cycle 1).
To identify knowledge and technology gaps in the management of the most important zoonoses transmitted by companion animals (cycle 2).
To propose targeted actions that contribute to reducing the risk for infectious disease outbreaks in man and food animals associated with keeping companion animals (cycle 3).
To disseminate the results of CALLISTO to relevant stakeholders to contribute to the uptake of the CALLISTO-proposed actions and to promote risk awareness in healthy and balanced human/animal relationships (cycles 1–3).
The detailed final reports from each cycle may be found on the CALLISTO website (www.callistoproject.eu/). The purpose of this Editorial is to overview the findings and recommendations from the CALLISTO project. More detailed reviews of the findings are presented in the manuscripts that comprise this Supplement issue to the Journal.