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This Card Can Be a Lifesaver

Animal care and control officers who receive membership cards when they join the Kansas Animal Control Association will find more than simple proof that they’re members—those cards contain information that could possibly save a life.

For more than a decade, the group has printed a list of zoonotic diseases on the back of each card; an officer can show the card to his doctor to make sure she’s aware of the diseases he may be exposed to on the job, says KACA president Eric Thompson.

The card could also be used in a crisis situation: if an officer falls seriously ill, those who come to his aid may find the card invaluable. That’s especially important for officers who respond to natural disasters and are prone to injury in the field, says Thompson.

The zoonoses listed on the card include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and leptospirosis, among others. Plans to update the card include the addition of West Nile virus and other diseases, says Thompson.

Although some of the diseases, such as plague, are relatively rare, Thompson says it’s important to include them. “Everybody is concerned about rabies. ... They don’t think about some of these other things,” he says.

Officers appreciate the information, which for many serves as a “wake-up call,” says Thompson. Although he hasn’t yet heard of an officer contracting one of the diseases listed, many officers carry the card, he says. His own doctor photocopied it, filed it in Thompson’s medical records, and occasionally will test for one of the diseases if the cause of Thompson’s symptoms is unclear, he says.

KACA has considered changing its membership card but decided that the zoonotic disease list was essential to members, says Thompson, adding, “It’s a dangerous job.”

For an overview of diseases that can be passed from animals to humans, visit www.cdc.gov/healthypets.

 

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