Page 58 - ShowSight Express, June 8, 2020
P. 58

Polio hit the United States’ population around 1916 and, dur- ing its peak year of 1952, over 3,000 people died. In 1955, after the vaccine was developed, Congress put the Polio Vaccination Assistance Act in place. Today, the majority of the world is cer- tified “polio-free” but the virus still exists in some areas of Asia and Africa.
A vaccine for Measles was developed and licensed in 1963, yet a huge outbreak between 1981–1991 saw this common disease have an annual death rate of between 2,000 and 10,000 people. Even though there is a vaccine available, the disease is common amongst communities that have not been vaccinated.
As recently as 2010, cases of Whooping cough or “pertussis” have become more common. Doctors recommend that pregnant women get the vaccine, but many do not and their children can suffer from this highly contagious disease.
Starting in the 1980s, and to this day still, one of the leading causes of early death is HIV and AIDS. HIV first appeared as a rare lung infection in 1981. It is now known that HIV damages the body's immune system and compromises its ability to fight off infections. AIDS is the final stage of HIV and the 6th leading cause of death in the United States among people 25–44 years old. There is still no cure for HIV.
As you can see, we’ve encountered and have survived numer- ous epidemics and pandemics throughout our history. The devel- opment of vaccines and various antibiotics has allowed our lives to continue pretty much as normal for centuries. Yet, throughout history, new viruses and diseases have continued to appear causing loss of life and the taking of new measures to control the spread of each.
Covid–19 is another that is claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and infecting millions of others. It is also the first in our his- tory to cause a virtual shutdown of life as we know it. It is amazing how rapidly we went from record-setting unemployment lows to new record unemployment highs. The pandemic has turned not only our economy upside down, it has done the same to many throughout the world. Until more is known in the way of treat- ments, vaccines, and preventative measures, we will all be at some form of risk even after our lives return to some sort of normalcy.
It needs to be understood that when we return to our sport we will have some type of responsibility to our fellow exhibitors, judges, spectators, and all mankind to do our best to minimize the risk of exposure to others.
We will all need to make changes to our behavior and be aware of how some of the little things we do can affect others.
It has been mentioned that the majority of people who have lost their lives to COVID-19 have had some sort of secondary medical issues. Those with high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity have had the highest rates with eventual loss of life.
It is no secret that we have many fellow exhibitors, judges, han- dlers, and the like who are getting older and, in some cases, suffer from various afflictions.
It does not seem feasible that “social distancing” would be prac- tical at a dog show. How big would a ring need to be to allow for six feet of space between each exhibitor? How would we control those exhibitors who like to race and run up on the dog in front of them on the go around? How can we be sure that an exhibitor or judge is not a current carrier of the infection?
Some of the things we will be able to do: Keep our grooming areas clean; minimize our use of dryers and blowers that spread germs and particles everywhere; be sure to thoroughly clean up after our dogs and disinfect, if possible; practice good hygiene, wash our hands; quit putting bait in your mouth and then shar- ing it with other handlers; and cut down on handshaking. Maybe all of us will need to wear a mask (might create a few issues with some dogs). Have the ring steward wipe down examination tables between each dog and provide some type of cleaning disinfectant in every ring to treat areas after an accident. Will judges need to wear gloves? The experts say there is no evidence of transferal between humans and animals, so does that mean as long as the judge does not touch the human handler he can go from dog to dog wearing gloves to safely examine the exhibits?
The future is always unknown. Research continues and slowly our country will reopen. I do not know when or if things will ever get back to what they were. I do know that Covid–19 has changed a lot of things for all of us. I also know that the stay at home orders have allowed many of us the opportunity to enjoy more time with our beloved canine friends. I am sure many of them will not be happy when we do return to normal as they truly love to spend as much time with us as possible. I hope and pray that it will be sooner rather than later that we resume a sense of normality in our lives and we are eventually able to enjoy the wonderful world of purebred dog competitions again.

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