One Health is a collaborative, coordinated, and connected movement focusing on the interwoven aspects of environmental health, animal health, and human health. Now more than ever, collaborative health is essential to the health of our communities. Three out of four new or emerging infectious diseases come from animals.* These infectious diseases can be easily spread through the overlapping environments between animals and humans. One Health issues include zoonotic diseases, antimicrobial resistance, food safety and food security, vector-borne diseases, and environmental contamination.
How Do Germs Spread Between Animals and People?
- Direct contact - Coming into contact with the saliva, blood, urine, mucus, feces, or other bodily fluids of an infected animal
- Indirect contact - Coming into contact with areas where animals live and roam, or objects or surfaces that have been contaminated with germs
- Vector-borne - Being bitten by a tick, or an insect like a mosquito or flea
- Foodborne - Eating or drinking something unsafe, such as unpasteurized milk or undercooked meat or eggs
- Waterborne - Drinking or coming in contact with water that has been contaminated with germs from an infected animal
What is a One Health approach?
A One Health approach focuses on building strong partnerships with human, animal, and environmental organizations. Through education, connection, and collaboration/partnerships, we can create an alliance between human, animal, and environmental health organizations and use collaborative problem solving to achieve optimal health outcomes for everyone. When properly implemented, a One Health approach will help protect and save millions of lives in our present and future generations.
What can you do to protect yourself and your family from zoonotic diseases?
Zoonotic diseases are caused by germs that spread between people and animals. More than 6 out of 10 infectious diseases in people can be spread from animals, so it’s important to learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones.* Zoonoses cause 2.5 billion cases of sickness and 2.7 million deaths each year, so their impact on the world is extensive.*
- Avoid bites and scratches from animals.
- Take care of your pets and stay safe around them - healthy pets=healthy people.
- Keep hands clean- washing hands often or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Prevent bites from ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes.
- Learn more about how to safely handle your food.
- Be aware of zoonotic diseases both at home, away from home, in childcare settings or schools, and when you travel.
Practicing One Health for the Clinician
For information on how to incorporate One Health into your daily work, click here.
One Health in Action Near You
For more information on fungal diseases, visit Fungal Diseases.
- Dr. Stephen Cole and Isabella Healy from Penn Vet have provided two firsthand accounts of One Health in action around Philadelphia.
- Spiro, a four year old husky presented to Penn Vet because he had been vomiting and had not eaten for four days, and was very tired. Spiro had killed a raccoon a few weeks before feeling ill. Upon Spiro’s physical exam, his ears, eyes, and gums had a yellow discoloration which indicated jaundice. Lack of appetite, tiredness, and jaundice are all clinical signs of leptospirosis. Leptospira bacteria are released in the urine of infected animals and dogs can become infected from eating infected animal tissue. Because of Spiro’s history of being in contact with a raccoon, his veterinarians performed a rapid Leptospira test, which tests for Leptospira antibodies in the blood, and it came back positive. Spiro was treated with antibiotics, antinausea medication, and intravenous fluids but he failed to improve. Leptospirosis can cause severe damage the kidneys and liver. Unfortunately, Spiro required dialysis to recover from his kidney injury. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease that can also be transferred to humans through the urine of infected animals, therefore, extreme care must be taken when caring for infected animals. A yearly Leptospira vaccine is available for dogs in order to prevent infection.
- Itchy, a ten week old Yorkshire Terrier presented to Penn Vet for her first puppy exam. Itchy was noted to be tired and had a patch of hair loss on the tip of her tail, as well as flaky, crusty skin on her nose, elbows, and ears. Because of Itchy’s crusty skin, her veterinarian was concerned that she may have a ringworm infection. Ringworm is a fungal infection caused by “Dermatophytes” which can be easily transmitted between pets and humans. Itchy’s skin and hair culture came back positive for Dermatophytes indicating she was infected with ringworm. To treat this infection pets can be bathed with an antifungal shampoo or take oral medications. Extra care should be taken while treating a ringworm infected pet because handling of the animal can transfer this fungus to the pet owner. Other pets in the house can also become infected and it can be difficult to eliminate this fungus from your home environment.
*For more One Health facts like these, check out CDC’s One Health website.