As public awareness of zoonotic diseases increases, some new marketing opportunities are created. One is offering screening of pets for "protection" of the family. One company, Healthgene, offers a Family Protection Program that involves screening pets for selected zoonotic pathogens. Unfortunately, it involves the use of non-validated PCR tests for pathogens for which screening of healthy animals is not considered useful. They make various unsupported, illogical and sometimes downright incorrect statements such as "If, by chance, any positive results should occur, not only should the animal be treated immediately, but the client and anyone having contact with the animal should also notify their family physician." Despite the fact that the tests themselves are of questionable quality and the results are essentially useless, I’m sure they are developing a market.

Also, it’s pretty concerning that this company misspells the names of various microoganisms for which they test on their website – they even misspell "protection" in one of their Family Protection Plan info sheets! Inability to spell isn’t necessarily linked to inability to test properly, but it shows a lack of care and attention to detail that raises further red flags in my mind.

Zoonotic diseases ARE a concern. We need to pay attention to them and try to reduce the risks of transmission to people. Screening healthy animals is almost never a component of this. Save your money when it comes to "routine" screening of healthy animals – talking to your vet about potential problems and washing your hands are much better ways to reduce the risk of infection.