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3 November, 2017 11:16:00 AM

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Zoonotic diseases and one health concept

The goal of One Health Day is to build the cultural will necessary for a see change in how planetary health challenges are assessed and addressed
Mohammed Abul Kalam, PhD
Zoonotic diseases and one health concept

Initiated in 2016 by three leading One Health groups (One Health Commission, the One Health Initiative Autonomous pro bono Team and the One Health Platform Foundation) — International One Health Day is celebrated around the world every year on November 3. The goal of One Health Day is to bring attention around the world to the need for One Health interactions and for the world to ‘see them in action’.

 

The goal of One Health Day is to build the cultural will necessary for a see change in how planetary health challenges are assessed and addressed.

One Health Day will bring global attention to the need for One Health interactions and allow the world to ‘see them in action’.  

The One Health Day campaign is designed to engage as many individuals as possible from as many arenas as possible in One Health education and awareness events and to generate an inspiring array of projects worldwide.

One Health is defined as a collaborative, multisectoral, and trans-disciplinary approach — working at the local, regional, national, and global levels — with the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment. Animals provide many benefits to people. Many people interact with animals in their daily lives, both at home and away from home. Pets offer companionship and entertainment, with millions of households having one or more pets.  We might come into close contact with animals at a county fair or petting zoo, or encounter wildlife while enjoying outdoor activities. Also, animals are an important food source and provide meat, dairy, and eggs.

The One Health concept recognizes that the health of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment. Public health professionals uses a One Health approach by working with physicians, veterinarians, ecologists, and many others to monitor and control public health threats and to learn about how diseases spread among people, animals, and the environment.

Emerging zoonoses with pandemic potential are a stated priority for the global health security agenda, but endemic zoonoses also have a major societal impact in low-resource settings. Although many endemic zoonoses can be treated, timely diagnosis and appropriate clinical management of human cases is often challenging. Preventive ‘One Health’ interventions, e.g. interventions in animal populations that generate human health benefits, may provide a useful approach to overcoming some of these challenges. Effective strategies, such as animal vaccination, already exist for the prevention, control and elimination of many endemic zoonoses, including rabies, and several livestock zoonoses (e.g. brucellosis, leptospirosis,          Q fever) that are important causes of human febrile illness and livestock productivity losses in low- and middle-income countries. Every year, tens of thousands of Bangladeshi will get sick from diseases spread between animals and people.

These are known as zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic means infectious diseases that are spread between animals and people, and these diseases can cause sickness or death in people.

However, some animals can carry harmful germs that can be shared with people and cause illness – these are known as zoonotic diseases or zoonoses. Zoonotic diseases are caused by harmful germs like viruses, bacterial, parasites, and fungi. These germs can cause many different types of illnesses in people and animals ranging from mild to serious illness and even death. Some animals can appear healthy even when they are carrying germs that can make people sick.

Zoonotic diseases are very common, both in Bangladesh and around the world. Scientists estimate that more than 6 out of every 10 known infectious diseases in people are spread from animals, and 3 out of every 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in people are spread from animals. Every year, tens of thousands of Americans will get sick from harmful germs spread between animals and people.

How do germs spread between animals and people? Because of the close connection between people and animals, it’s important to be aware of the common ways people can get infected with germs that can cause zoonotic diseases.

These can include: (1) Direct contact: Coming into contact with the saliva, blood, urine, mucous, feces, or other body fluids of an infected animal. Examples include petting or touching animals and bites or scratches (2) Indirect contact: Coming into contact with areas where animals live and roam, or objects or surfaces that have been contaminated with germs. Examples include aquarium tank water, pet habitats, chicken coops, plants, and soil, as well as pet food and water dishes (3) Vector-borne: Being bitten by a tick, or an insect like a mosquito or a flea; (4) Foodborne: Eating or drinking something unsafe (such as unpasteurized milk, undercooked meat or eggs, or raw fruits and vegetables that are contaminated with feces from an infected animal).

Who is at a higher risk of serious illness from zoonotic diseases? Anyone can become sick from a zoonotic disease, including healthy people. However, some people may be more at risk than others and should take steps to protect themselves or family members.

These people are more likely than others to get really sick, and even die, from infection with certain diseases. These groups of people include: (1) Children younger than 5 (2) Adults older than 65; and (3) People with weakened immune systems.

There are many examples that show how the health of people is related to the health of animals and the environment. For instance, some diseases can be shared between animals and people. These diseases are known as zoonotic diseases. Examples include: (1) Rabies (2) Salmonella infection (3) West Nile virus fever; and (4) Q Fever (Coxiella burnetti).

Animals also share our susceptibility to some diseases and environmental hazards. Because of this, they can serve as early warning signs of potential human illness.

For example, birds often die of West Nile virus before people get sick with West Nile virus fever.

One Health is not a new concept, but it has become more important in recent years. This is because many factors have changed interactions between people, animals, and our environment. These changes have led to the emergence and reemergence of many diseases.

Successful public health interventions require the cooperation of human, animal, and environmental health communities. By promoting this collaboration, our national disease control institutes achieve optimal health outcomes for both people and animals.

The writer is Former Head, Department of Medical Sociology,

Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control & Research (IEDCR),

Dhaka, Bangladesh

E-mail: med_sociology_iedcr@yahoo.com

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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