This week is a busy one. With Earth Day on Wednesday, World Laboratory Day on Thursday, and Pig in a Blanket Day on Friday, I just don’t get a breather to adequately prepare for World Veterinary Day on Saturday. This reminds me to ask: Have you planned your party yet?


If not, don’t feel too bad. World Veterinary Day is still a fairly new holiday, designated in 2000 by the World Veterinary Association. It’s always on the last Saturday in April, so now you know to mark your calendars for next year.


This year’s theme is: “Vector-Borne Diseases with a Zoonotic Potential.” Let’s break this down for a second. “Vector-borne” means a disease that is spread by an animal, usually an arthropod, like fleas or mosquitoes or ticks. “Zoonotic” means a disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans. Now, think about all the possibilities here! (Which is, I suppose, the point of this theme—the gee whiz factor that there are so many diseases passed between humans and animals.)


But more importantly for Saturday, could decorating ideas for this theme be any more fun?? You’ve got your West Nile Virus (have any fake black crows from Halloween decorations?); an entire slew of gut parasites (cooked spaghetti for roundworms, for example); and of course Ebola and avian influenza, but those would be almost too obvious. Plague of course would be super fun if you went with the whole Black Death and Dark Ages look. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease) could be a fun one, too.


But maybe you’d want to go a little more… exotic? Leishmaniasis is a gross one to consider, caused by a protozoa spread via sandflies and resulting in open wounds on the skin that can also affect dogs. Or how about the creepily named Q fever? Caused by the bacteria Coxiella burnetii, this disease is carried by cattle, sheep, and goats, and can make humans very sick with flu-like symptoms.


One reason I’m trying to get you all excited about having a party for World Veterinary Day (besides the fact that I love any excuse to have cake) is because there is actually an award for the most successful celebration: $1000!


Of course, the fine print reads that the reward goes to “the most successful celebration of the contribution of the veterinary profession to society,” so that may require a little bit more effort than just a really big cake in the shape of a dead chicken or something, but still.


I mean, I’m having a party. It might be just me if my husband doesn’t want to eat cupcakes shaped like tuberculosis lesions, so I guess I can extend an invite to you all, but let’s get a few things straight: I will not tolerate my house getting trashed, and if a lamp shade ends up on anyone’s head, the pictures WILL appear on this blog. Remember: It’s all fun and games to practice corneal fluorescein staining—until someone gets an eye poked out.



Dr. Anna O'Brien





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Image: Bacteria Balloons, composite image: jakkapan and Ramona Kaulitzki / Shutterstock