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  • Writer's pictureDr. Nicole Vumbaco | DVM


Updated: Jun 16, 2021

It is important to recognize that human health, animal health and environmental health are closely linked. In 2016, it was estimated that 75% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic while 28% are vector-borne. [Citing Article].

"The wide-ranging – and often substantial - economic impacts of epidemics are increasingly recognized far beyond the health sector. Yet few studies apply a One Health or multi-sectoral lens to consider costs and benefits of prevention versus response effort during planning exercises to ensure optimization of resources. With recent zoonotic disease prioritization exercises being conducted under the Global Health Security Agenda, countries have an opportunity to consider the focus and scope of their investments. Where possible, investments should seek to strengthen overall human, animal and environmental health systems for multi-hazard preparedness and broad societal benefits"- Citing Article

Zoonotic Diseases are defined by the spread of disease between human and animal. The type of microbe (bacteria, virus, parasite or fungi) depends on the vector, host and environmental conditions that may allow it to flourish. All of these factors play an integral part to understanding infection. Animals can infect humans and humans can infect animals. Mammalian bodies are very hospitable for certain diseases (ie- an animal can be infected but not appear sick) while the microbes are highly evolved in adaptation. That is where a "One Health" approach becomes imperative. When your Veterinarian emphasizes the importance of Flea and Tick Prevention, it is not to increase revenue. It is for your safety as it it directly correlates to disease prevention for YOU, YOUR FAMILY, your PET...and your VET!

Have you heard the term "One Health"?

It is a foundational principle in the practice of Veterinary Medicine and of great relevance for human health. It has recently gained a spotlight with discussions on the current Covid-19 pandemic. The term "One Health" is a constantly evolving study of the relationship between humans, animals and our environment. For decades medical professionals (of all backgrounds) have been working hard to collaborate on the mutual dependent relationships we (humans) share with animals and the environment. We are constantly crossing paths with possible vectors for disease transmission. Just think about how much we interact with animals in our day-to-day life! There is plenty of opportunity for disease introduction.

So, how can you be exposed?

It is easier than you may realize. You can become exposed in multiple ways including drinking contaminated water (water-borne), contaminated food (food-borne), being bitten by a blood sucking insect (vector-borne), contacting objects that are contaminated (indirect contact) and direct contact with an infected animal (bites, scratches, petting allowing for the exchange of saliva, blood, urine, feces while potentially exposing you to Vectors like fleas and ticks).

What is "One Health"?

At it's core, it is the the study of identification, surveillance, diagnosis and control of zoonotic disease. This requires an interdisciplinary collaboration (the combining of two or more fields of study) and systematic communication between wildlife, human and veterinary services. This leads to a new understanding of complex situations and respective solutions. Essentially, "One Health" is the understanding and recognition of the Human/Animal interface and the evolving/emerging concerns locally, nationally and globally...with ONE GOAL in mind...The optimal health for people, domestic animals, wildlife, plants, and our environment. We are all interconnected. It can be symbiotic or it can be of detriment. In order to understand the complex biodiversity's and their correlation, a One Health approach is not only required, it is imperative.

It "is rooted in understanding the interdependence of human, natural systems and promoting interdisciplinary collaboration. Some of the global issues One Health works to address include environmental contamination, habitat use conflicts, biodiversity loss, emerging infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance and ecosystem function degradation. In addition, the social determinants of health (e.g. socioeconomic, education, neighborhood and built environment, social and community context) play a critical role in health and thus, there’s a strong social and environmental justice aspect to One Health."  Evan Griffith, M.S., DVM  / MPH candidate at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Resources and Reading Material exemplifying the One Health principle for Bartonellosis:


Scholarly Reads pertaining to societal and economic impacts:

DONATE HERE to support the Bartonella Project at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine via the Bartonella/Vector Borne Research Fund

Check out the newest blog category, ZOONOSIS (Coming soon)

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